The EAvolution of Rob Hubbard - part 1, 1988

Posted by Chris Abbott on

Part 2 is here

Project Hubbard: 1988: Rob Hubbard hits EA with a bang. And sports. C64, Tandy 1000, Adlib, NES.

Rob Hubbard was the king of music in EA games from 1988 until the mid-90s when they started licencing music... and covered Commodore 64, Amiga, NES, Tandy Jr, PC, 3DO and even MSX.

"Rob Hubbard - the Official Reference" has a section devoted to his career at EA, and some of his archive album also covers this. 

Much of his work was overlooked by SID fans (though not Skate or Die!), so here's some YouTube videos for "What Rob Hubbard did in 1988!"

Do you love Rob Hubbard? If so, give something back: let's send him to Prague to record amazing C64 tunes with an 85-piece studio orchestra which you can enjoy on CD and in digital glory in your own home...


Skate or Die

The original theme was composed in August 1987, but it wasn't until Rob joined EA fully that he wrote the drivers for addressing the Tandy 1000-series, which used a variant of the Texas Instruments SN76496 sound chip also featured in the BBC Micro, the IBM PCjr and the TI-99/4A (and which was a competitor to the much-loved AY-3-8910).

As we know, a combination of factors led to Europeans becoming used to a much slower version of Rob's guitar-laden intro tune than Rob intended on the Commodore 64.

This is confirmed by listening to his Tandy version, which is fairly speedy. The speed makes sense given that skateboarding activities aren't known for their sluggish pace. Note that the Tandy version also has the 4-bit PCM samples. I guess this proves that not having a bug on the SN chip was no hindrance to doing samples, something Rob proved later on the NES with Skate or Die 2.

The samples seem a lot more polite in this version.

Skate or Die did see a NES release, and Rob's tune covered (without guitars) by Kouji Murata.


This video's comments also contain the first NES vs C64 flame war I've seen between grown adults!

If there had been an Amiga or ST version, it probably would have looked and sounded similar to the Apple IIGS verson:

PC owners not lucky enough to own sound hardware still got some funky pitch bending on the speaker version:

The ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC ports had no music.

Wikipedia mentions Atari ST, but it seems there was only a demo on that platform (although there was conversion activity through Codemasters/Kinetic).


Jordan vs. Bird: One on One

Otherwise known as "One on One 2", this was a sequel to one of EA's most successful early games. The title music to the first game was "The Entertainer", so this music was a big step up.

Highlight of this game was pulling the basket down. The game was also on the Apple II, one of EA's main platforms of the time.

So, the sequel was much better specific, with another sample-based Rob Hubbard track, and a lot better graphics.

In these days, EA was still cool enough to let the programmers take credit for things on the title screen.

The Tandy version manages to capture much of the spirit, thanks to reuse of the samples made famous in the C64 version, which were actually recorded on an Amiga.

Digitised photo FTW!

The NES version was programmed by RARE, and as you'd expect, doesn't share the soundtrack.

Hmm, not a huge fan. Sorry.


Kings of the Beach

Or, "VOLLEY" as Rob's source code directory put it.

Mmm.... source code directory....

Quite interesting that there's some Hockey stuff in here. What to make of that?

The C64 version. You can almost feel the breeze. Rob says this was based on a Soca band called "Arrow".

The Tandy version is quite chipper, too.

... and an Adlib recording surfaced too, from the MS-DOS version.

One thing's for sure: one of those YouTube commenters doesn't like the programmer very much.

The Adlib version sounds like if there was an extra level in Wolfenstein 3D that only had a party in it.

The NES version didn't have Rob's music, being programmed externally. 

 I'm kind of biased, but I preferred Rob's.


Powerplay Hockey: USA vs USSR

Shades of Shockway Rider here, though Rob says the guitar is missing from this.

There's some random gameplay footage here:


This was only released on the Commodore 64.  I wonder why? Maybe we need a Kickstarter...

Click here for Part 2: 1989, with all the joys of Rob, including Populous.




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