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Famous Synths used in Video Games

Playing a lot of video games from the 90's and up to the mid 2000's, there's a lot of soundtracks that always caught my attention--and more importantly the sounds used. I sometimes think the 'sounds' used are just as important as the music itself; although this has generally been neglected as few wish to capture a specific sound at the risk of there's always 'something better' technlogically, but this ignores the fact that sometimes sounds are unique regardless of the technology.

Mark Knight (TDK) mentioned how plain and uninteresting most music in the video game industry is today both aurally and melodically; many musicians today are utilizing live orchestras and the cream of the crop in terms of technology which tend to be extremely ambient and don't lack the extra aural touches that some of these legacy ROMplers and samplers offer. For instance, I read a comment about one artist writing off the JV-1080 in favour of ONLY using East/West Quantum Leap sounds, but they still have quite a bit of magic in certain situations that both should be used, in my opinion. Use both!

Sune Pedersen is actually the guy who tipped me off about the JV-1080 and said it had million dollar sounds on the cheap, although physical JV-1080s have been climbing up in prices, and the Roland cloud JV-1080 VST doesn't include the SR-JV80 cards.

Sune Pedersen (Sonny Maestro)

Games in question: Drilling Billy / The Worlds of Billy
Website: http://www.sonnymaestro.com

Allister Brimble (The Demon / A.M. Brimble)

Games in question: Glover, Rollercoaster Tycoon I & II, Chris Sawyer's Locomotion, Descent I & II
Website: http://www.amigaworks.com

Kevin Manthei

Games in question: Mask of Eternity, Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, Civilization II: Fantastic Worlds
Website: https://www.kmmproductions.com

Robert Euvino

Games in question: Caesar 3, Stronghold 1, Stronghold Crusader
Website: http://www.nightowlproductionsinc.com

Keith Zizza

Games in question: Lords of the Realm II, Lords of Magic, Pharaoh
Website: http://www.keithzizza.com

Mark Knight (TDK)

Games in question: Warhammer: Dark Omen, Dungeon Keeper 2
Website: http://www.flitkillsmoths.co.uk/

Bjorn Lynne (Dr. Awesome)

Games in question: Seven Kingdoms, Seven Kingdoms II, Siege of Avalon
Website: http://www.lynnemusic.com

Glenn Stafford / Tracy Bush

Games in question: Warcraft II, Starcraft I

Seppo Hurme (Fleshbrain)

Games in question: Gubble 1, Gubble 2

Stephen Rippy (Big Al)

Games in question: Age of Empires 1, Age of Empires 2, Age of Mythology
Website: http://www.stephenrippy.com

Frank Klepacki

Games in question: Lands of Lore I-II-III, Red Alert, Nox
Website: http://www.frankklepacki.com

Jerry Martin

Games in question: Sim City 3000, Sim City 3000 Unlimited
Website: http://www.jerrymartinmusic.com/

Stan LePard

Games in question: King of Dragon Pass
*RIP ~ 2021*

Kevin Schilder

Games in question: Heretic, Hexen, Hexen II, Necrodome, Mageslayer
Website: http://kevinschilder.com

Chris Huelsbeck (Chippie)

Games in question: Turrican
Website: http://www.huelsbeck.com

Borislav Slavov (GloriaN)

Games in question: Knights of Honor

Remi Gazel (main composer) / Didier Lord / Stephane Bellanger

Games in question: Rayman 1
*RIP ~ 2019*

Jeehun Hwang / Gregory Alper

Games in question: Mechwarrior 2

Matt Uelmen

Games in question: Diablo 1, Diablo 2

Rob King / Paul Romero / Steve Baca

Games in question: Heroes of Might and Magic I, II and III.
Website: http://www.greenstreetstudios.com

Tapio Muley (Shao-Lee)

Games in question: Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood
Advisory: there's *so little* information about Tapio Muley and his equipment. However, I can say I hear identical sounds in Robin Hood as I do with Rayman 3.

Timothy Steven Clarke

Games in question: The Incredible Machine, Return of The Incredible Machine

Brent Christian (Burnt A. Christian)

Games in question: Dr. Lunatic, Spooky Castle: Kid Mystic, Eddie Galaxy, Loonyland

Peter Hajba (Skaven)

Games in question: Bejeweled, Bejeweled 2, Alchemy

Notice on Samplers

As you can tell from the above, a lot of these artists used samplers with sample products, diskettes, CD-ROMs, SCSI hard drives and the like--which are now virtually unobtanium or actually permanently lost. This is kind of sad because it can be next to impossible to get some of the sounds used on: Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, Caesar 3, Lords of the Realm II, Stronghold 1, etc. I wish I had the source for some of the more prominent samples used but it's a dead end. Recently I noticed that whatever sample pack Robert Euvino used on Caesar 3 and Keith Zizza on Lords of the Realm 2, was also used on Stargate SG-1 for various music regarding the specific choir sample.

It's one thing to find the sampler, but often a whole other story when trying to find the samples... part of the problem--especially during the earlier portion of the 90's, was that ROMplers were not very mature yet. The JV-1080 singlehandedly was the most used ROMpler for video games (and even film) due to the fact it was, indeed, a very high quality ROMpler. But a lot of samplers were still used before the ROMpler takeover. A big producer of samples then was Spectrasonics of course (of whom Mr. Persing also worked on the JV-1080 and D-50), but not everything came from the Spectrasonics library of course.

Paolo Di Nicolantonio at 'SynthMania' is one of the few individuals who (has) been collecting most of every kind of synthesizer and most importantly samplers. Some of his demonstrations showcase a few legacy sample packs that have been languishing.

Random Notes and Trivia

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