Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

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Rainmak3r
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Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by Rainmak3r »

Hi all,

while I'm working on some classical stuff, and I have 5-6 tracks from last year half-ready that I have no idea when I'll have the time to finish, I wanted to share with you this little gems from my (very old) past! They were not created using Linux (if we exclude stitching them together with Ardour :mrgreen: ), and I didn't touch them at all in the meanwhile, but I thought it would still be fun to share stuff from so many years ago... at the very least, hopefully they will bring a little smile to your face!

Before we get to the music, a bit of context. I've always been a fan of point and click adventure games (à-la Monkey Island, if you know the genre), and I used to lurk around forums of other "aficionados" like me here in Italy. About 20 years ago (actually exactly 20 years ago, it was the 2000!!) some guys decided to start working on a freeware point and click adventure: I had been working a lot with MIDI at the time (mostly sharing or rewriting music from existing games), so one way or another I got involved, and I started writing the soundtrack for the game! I ended up writing a dozen of different tracks: some were closer to themes, other were loops for specific locations, etc., and all were created after some mail exchanges with the game authors; they'd share some screenshots or ideas they had, and asked me to come up with something that could fit, and I'd send them the resulting MIDI file for review. Eventually, only a demo of the first chapter of the game came out, which did feature most of those themes:

Image

As you can see, it was pretty much a traditional point and click game, with (if you're familiar with it) a SCUMM menu below; it's not very visible in the screenshot, but there's actually a cameo of yours truly, as I appear in a poster behind the main character playing guitar (it was the poster for a fake concert). The game was called "Wonder World" and, although it was completely free, it's now pretty hard to find: the guys working on it had created a small company called "Nexus Entertainment", but their website doesn't exist anymore. That said, you can still find some images and a few other resources on a snapshot kept by archive.org.

Anyhow, what's really relevant is that I still have all those tiny pieces of music, and after a bit of pondering, I decide to put it out in the world for your enjoyment :lol:

https://soundcloud.com/lminiero/wonder-world-ost

Don't expect anything groundbreaking or particularly memorable... I basically mimicked the style of existing point and click games with cartoon elements, and so it's incredibly derivative. Besides, as I anticipated these are exactly the tracks I worked on at the time (I think the MIDIs were converted to MP3 using Timidity last year, but I may be wrong), with no changes or improvements from things I might have learnt this past year. Nevertheless, I still hum them from time to time, meaning they could indeed get stuck in your head when playing the game (which was the main purpose of tracks like that at the time).

I stitched all the tracks in a single one, so if you're interested in a track-by-track for some insight/commentary on how they came to life, you can peek in the head of young-me reading the following:
  1. [0:00-0:41] This was the theme for the first scene of the game, where the main character starts telling his story to his nephew, in front of a fireplace. The game was humorous, but I liked the "nostalgia" feeling of the music box at the time, which seemed appropriate for this quiet moment.
  2. [0:41-0:47] This super-tiny piece was meant to be the short theme that would play in between chapters. If you're familiar with Monkey Island, the equivalent of this!
  3. [0:47-0:58] An alternative theme for the chapter tune, slightly longer too. Eventually this one ended up being used in the demo, even though I personally like the shorter one more.
  4. [0:58-1:24] The first of the "loops", that is the tracks that would play on repeat when you were in certain areas, as was (and still is, most of the times) very common for point and click adventure games. This one in particular was partly inspired by one of the tunes in Touche, a commercial adventure game. This was also the very first loop to appear in the demo, as it played outside the house of the main character, where the demo starts after the intro.
  5. [1:24-2:22] Another loop, and a personal favourite of mine! I always liked the "jazzy" feel, and it was blatantly inspired by a very similar tune from Flight of the Amazon Queen, a game I adored. This was played in the house of the main character in the demo.
  6. [2:22-2:50] This loop was meant to be played when you reached a small pier next to your house: the developers sent me a screenshot of an old fisherman boat hanging by the pier, and so I felt I had to go over-the-top with the sailor themed music :mrgreen:
  7. [2:50-3:14] I can't recall exactly what this loop/theme was for, but from the "bucolic" feel it had to be for some pastoral scene, a feeling I think the track captured nicely.
  8. [3:14-3:42] A still "bucolic" but more joyful loop, probably meant to be played in the same setting as the previous track.
  9. [3:42-4:40] As you may have figured out from the wildly different music styles, the game wasn't stuck in a single setting, but changed quite a bit. Later in the game you were supposed to reach an Old Wild West kind of setting, and so I wrote a few tracks to capture that. This was meant to be the classical Morricone-style theme, with trumpet, guitar, strings and all that; I always liked the theme from Occhio alla penna, so I think it may have influenced the track a bit.
  10. [4:40-5:38] This was another loop/theme written for the western setting, but quieter, and with a pseudo-whistle singing the main tune, to be joined by a fiddle.
  11. [5:38-6:10] I'm sure you can guess what this was for! :lol: The classic saloon theme, with the Honky Tonk piano hammering some notes in the background. Pretty sure you have heard something like this a gazillion times, so not very original at all!
  12. [6:10-7:07] Another setting was an old and sacred cathedral, which is why I wrote this more solemn theme for church organ and choir. It was very heavily inspired by a track I listened to a lot at the times, the beginning of Symphony of the Enchanted Lands by Rhapsody (now Rhapsody of Fire). For some reason this was a favourite of many people that I shared the track with at the time, as I have several different versions of the rendered audio (people converting the MIDI file using different sound banks).
  13. [7:07-7:39] This last track was meant to be the "villain" theme, when you reached a castle towards the end of the game. It's not that bad, but I have never been particularly fond of this, as I feel it's pretty uninspired.
While there's nothing substantial in all this, I'm really interested in your feedback anyway, if not to figure out if some of those tunes did deserve being taken out of that dusty closet after all! :D

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Michael Willis
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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by Michael Willis »

Fun stuff, I'll give the music a listen when I can don a decent pair of headphones. That screenshot makes me want to play the game.

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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by lilith »

Awesome :D . Which Software did you use to make the Tracks?
As a child a played Police Quest and Space Quest. Later Zak Mckracken.

https://www.gamersglobal.de/galerie/38787
https://soundcloud.com/lilith_93
latest: https://soundcloud.com/lilith_93/deeper-and-deeper
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Rainmak3r
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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by Rainmak3r »

Michael Willis wrote:Fun stuff, I'll give the music a listen when I can don a decent pair of headphones. That screenshot makes me want to play the game.
Believe me, the headphones won't need to be decent at all! :lol:
The game was written in Java, and IIRC it was available in English as well: I still have a copy but it was in Italian. I'll have to see if I can find a download for the English version somewhere.

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Rainmak3r
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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by Rainmak3r »

lilith wrote:Awesome :D . Which Software did you use to make the Tracks?
I'm pretty sure it was some version of Cakewalk (whatever was available in 1999/2000 :mrgreen: ), which is what I used at the time on Windows.
lilith wrote:As a child a played Police Quest and Space Quest. Later Zak Mckracken.

https://www.gamersglobal.de/galerie/38787
I'm very familiar with those too! Even though I only played a few. I restarted Zak McKracken recently and got stuck right away, so while I may be fond of adventure games, I may be turning too dumb to play them!

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Rainmak3r
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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by Rainmak3r »

Rainmak3r wrote:I'll have to see if I can find a download for the English version somewhere.
Looks like it's still available through this old archive.org backup! (if you trust their .exe that is...)

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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by psyocean »

Music is charged with many energies, mystical forces of memory and time :idea: Pops up from the depths, it listens very brightly and freshly. Joker-style... :!:

If it interesting for you - fun video contains songs from soviet cartoon film :D
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOnnDrIuj9c

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Guitar and synth tales... https://www.youtube.com/user/Psyocean/

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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by milo »

I like to listen to my old music, even the stuff that I would never share online. The old open-air cassette tape recordings are full of playing errors and half-baked compositions, but also youthful bravado. When I listen to the old stuff I hear the song more than I hear the recording. (I call it listening with a "Platonic filter" - a reference to Plato's theory of forms from The Republic.)

My favorite tune from your Wonder World collection is the whistling theme from the Western setting. It makes a good prairie folk tune. I could hear Gene Autry whistling it. Maybe I just like the song because I live in the West, but I do think it is a good melody. It would be worth recording with acoustic instruments, I think.

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Rainmak3r
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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by Rainmak3r »

milo wrote:I like to listen to my old music, even the stuff that I would never share online. The old open-air cassette tape recordings are full of playing errors and half-baked compositions, but also youthful bravado. When I listen to the old stuff I hear the song more than I hear the recording. (I call it listening with a "Platonic filter" - a reference to Plato's theory of forms from The Republic.)

My favorite tune from your Wonder World collection is the whistling theme from the Western setting. It makes a good prairie folk tune. I could hear Gene Autry whistling it. Maybe I just like the song because I live in the West, but I do think it is a good melody. It would be worth recording with acoustic instruments, I think.
Yeah, sooner or later I'd like to pick the nicest themes from here, and re-arrange/re-record them in a different form, e.g., like a suite of some sort!
I really like your "Platonic filter" definition, I think I'll steal that and start using it myself too :mrgreen:

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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by modusjonens »

The loop in #4 made me laugh, but in a good nostalgic way! These are great sounds.

Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Wonder World game soundtrack (a blast from the past!)

Post by Rainmak3r »

modusjonens wrote:The loop in #4 made me laugh, but in a good nostalgic way! These are great sounds.

Thanks for sharing!
A laughter is a good reaction, it was for a humoristic game after all! :lol:
Thanks for listening and glad you liked it!

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