"Rob Hubbard - The Official Reference" will contain the most detailed look yet at the timeline and content of Rob's releases on the Atari 8-bit machines (POKEY) and Atari ST (YM2149)
The "Project Hubbard" project also contains remixes of various tunes on this page, some by Rob himself, and a whole bank of unreleased Rob Hubbard tunes not tied to any chip. The remix albums are based on the music rather than the sound of the SID and can be enjoyed by all.
The first three Rob tunes that made it onto the Atari were The Last V8, Action Biker and One Man and his Droid on the Atari 8-bit (A8) range. While Last V8 had some charm, the results weren't really Rob.
Not Rob's implementation.
This neither. Also, it gets the tune wrong.
This is the weirdest music choice ever made in porting Rob Hubbard music and seems to be taking the piss out of the Finders Keepers music, but getting the piss-take wrong. It's clinically strange, and not very pleasant. Oh, how I wished this had the real music.
For a short while, Rob was king of the 8-bit fighting game themes! His debut on the A8 platform was "Ninja": written concurrently with the C64 version, but the Atari A8's hollow, echoey, quite hard-edged sound complements the echoey feel of the game. It even makes the room feel bigger!
It was a bit of a weird decision to make the music play only when he isn't fighting though. I guess players could just stand still to listen.
International Karate (A8)
Rob made a real splash on the Atari platform with a port of his International Karate C64 music™™, composed six months earlier.
This and Ninja were the first time I heard and saw the Atari 8-bit doing something that I thought could only be done by a C64. Mind. Blown.
There are two different versions of the Warhawk theme on the C64: The "Proteus" version (Warhawk was originally called Proteus, which was also the developers' name) lacked the long, echoey intro of the released Warhawk theme, and had a shorter structure.
The Atari 8-bit version is based on the earlier Proteus version, kicking straight into the melody. It's impressive how the ring-mod effects have survived without there being any actual ring-mod, though the POKEY chip's naturally metallic sound might have something to do with that.
Rob's first outing on the ST was one of his most famous, and of course reused his most recognisable tune from "Human Race" on the C64. The AY sounds gave it a plaintive nature, with a slightly different emotional tone to the C64 version. Very much a Sci-fi remix.
David Whittaker took over for Goldrunner II, kind of keeping it in the family!
Rob was no stranger to strategically re-using tunes, and here his seminal "Thalamusik" gets an Atari 8-bit rework: quite a challenge, but with triumphant results.
It's fascinating to hear how Rob himself solved the problem of implementing unimplementable bits of the original without gutting the tune. I especially like the rhythm breaks. Luckily the metallic nature of POKEY sounds and the beefy noise waveforms help beef up the tune where lesser waves might have failed.
Jet Set Willy (A8)
The last tune Rob did on the Atari 8-bit (though David Whittaker used his driver to continue his legacy!) was also one of the strangest choices: a platform-specific original track for a very old game (Jet Set Willy) that pre-dated his SID career.
However this happened, we should be glad it did, since Rob himself loves this tune, and it's a classic. If I was guessing, the fact that it's Tyne Soft doing the conversion, and Rob was local probably went a long way to explaining this!
Jupiter Probe (ST)
The ST was honoured to have an original track by Rob specific to the platform: a real badge of honour shared with its Atari 8-bit brother's Jet Set Willy.
Largely overlooked by Hubbard fans on other platforms it's sci-fi funky.
A month after Jupiter Probe, Rob delivered the ST port of Warhawk...
This time, the full track was implemented. As usual with Rob porting his own work, surprises were minimal.
At around the same time as Warhawk, Rob had finished his "Thrust" port.
As with the C64 version, the SID-FX-heavy intro was dispensed with to get to the tune more quickly. A very satisfying transition. It's a pity Spectrum and Amstrad CPC owners never got this version.
The honour of being the last tune delivered as a freelancer before moving to EA, this port of his Spectrum/Amstrad versions was as thorough as you'd expect.
Given the wildly variable nature of C64 filters, Thundercats was a variable-quality listen on the SID: and a lot more predictable here!
And so Rob went to Electronic Arts... and left Atari behind.
A much more detailed version of this article will be in "Rob Hubbard - The Official Reference".
Thanks to Jochen Hippel, the story for Atari ST fans doesn't end there...
Rob has told me himself he did not do Battleships. “defo not mine… the tune doesn’t go anywhere.”
Populous was a bit of a lazy port. This article was written before I realised that there was an ST version. Maybe it should go in for completeness sake?
A shame Rob did not do the music for the Atari 8-bit version of Thrust as it is one of the more memorable SID tunes. Its release year was the same as Ninja, IK and Warhawk (which has the same publisher as Thrust) so it was a possibility.
There seems to be one more Rob Hubbard YM tune on the Atari ST namely “Battleships” from 1987 or it re-release “Batleship” from 1988. But this tune is not mentioned in the “discography” on Rob’s Wikipedia and the music in not mentioned in the game credits. But according to lemonamiga.com, Rob did also the music of the Amiga version:
Also the title tune of Populous on the Atari ST is done by Rob Hubbard but this is a digi tune (probably the same tracker tune as the Amiga version) so I do not count it as an Atari ST YM tune.
@PG: I altered the text, cheers :)
@Joerg: Interesting stuff. I guess there’s a demand for a blog post about the pre-EA years which goes into the same detail…
Thanks for the great article, which sums up RH’s Atari appearances! Just a slight correction:
“Luckily the metallic nature of POKEY sounds and the extra noise waveform channel help beef up the tune where lesser waveforms might have failed.”
POKEY does not have any extra noise waveform channel, it has just 4 channels with 8bit pitch resolution, which can be (independently) combined into pairs with 16bit resolution. The waveform is freely selectable on any of the channels.
IK on PC speakers – I found this quite an effort back then, but it has aged terribly… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IU_itdww-k