Saturday, March 5, 2011

Adding Your Own Audio Style To Gaming

Anyone here like the Ridge Racer series? The original game, simply titled Ridge Racer, had a great arcade port on the Playstation. Not only did the game arrive very early into the Playstation's life, it was also one of the first 3D racing games to make it to the home console. It had a formidable rival in the form of Sega's Daytona USA, which was also given its own arcade port on the Sega Saturn. Both games featured ridiculous and infectious dance music, smooth gameplay, and only a handful of cars and tracks; it's the simplicity you would expect from early 3D console gaming.

Ridge Racer and Daytona USA both make for a fun racing experience, but Ridge Racer had a kicker: a customizable soundtrack. By the time you boot the game up and make it to the title screen, the entire game, apart from the audio tracks, has been loaded. This allows you to switch out the game disc with any Audio CD. Doing so will play those audio tracks during the races and replay video. I found myself accelerating to high speeds in my blocky polygonal car while jamming to alternative rock tunes of yesteryear. Sure, the tracks were choses at random (and sometimes they would just start playing in the middle of the song, oddly enough), but it was a neat feature that made for fun audio experimentation.

I encountered a similar feature on the Xbox's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Uploading music onto your Xbox's hard drive will allow you to play them while in automobiles in Vice City. My high speed police chases and drive-by's were soon featuring the likes of Rush, Lightning Bolt, Steely Dan, and Tortoise, to name a few. It was a simple idea that added countless hours of replay value to the audio lover in me. I wonder if any other Xbox game utilized the idea...

Nowadays, audio tracks can easily be uploaded and incorporated to any Xbox 360 (and probably PS3, not sure) game. You can even plug in your mp3 player and play your tunes through that if you don't feel like putting music on your system's hard drive. Playing Stravinsky over a zombie apocalypse or sludge metal set to a Middle Eastern war zone is now relatively simple to pull off!

Not that hardware limitations would stop me; I've been playing Bach's Brandenburg Concertos over Final Fantasy V for the past week now. I guess I'm just a fan of the atmosphere and synchronization audio can bring to the art of video games. And of course, I am still all for the delicate and intricate work put into the sound design and soundtrack of any video game (Silent Hill 2's soundtrack comes to mind).

I have one more thing I wanna try with my copy of Ridge Racer... and that is Twisted Metal's music. The game turns into a bloodthirsty demolition derby. Holly crap I gotta go find my copy.

1 comment: