The ConsolEAtion of Rob Hubbard October 24, 2017 18:38
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 EA work including the console work, and some of his OSTs from the Genesis/Mega Drive/3DO will feature on the Archive CD
This article covering Rob's Console work is sponsored by Rob's official Kickstarter (book, albums, SIDs, etc), Project Hubbard. Why not back it or pre-order now?
Skate or Die
The original theme was composed in August 1987 and originally appeared on the Commodore 64. However, it did see a NES release, and saw 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.
At this point in the timeline, it would have been nice to mention Kings of the Beach or Jordan vs. Bird: One on One, but these games were converted externally outside of Electronic Arts, and featured different soundtracks to the ones Rob composed, which you can hear in part 1 of our Electronic Arts series.
Budokan - The Martial Spirit
Appearing on multiple platforms (see this article), the Genesis version suffers a little from the limitations of FM synthesis, that aren't quite getting the kind of epic sound intended by Rob. While the arpeggio is there, the drums are gone and the sounds are thin. It's also slower than the original version. However, it's also atmospheric.
Laker Vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs
While it wasn't uncommon for different ports of the same game to have different music, it was unusual for them to both be by the same composer. The Genesis version is fondly remembered, but the title tune is markedly different to the PC iteration.
And of course it's easy to forget that were were in-game tunes too:
Ski or Die
As usual with Rob, the piece originated on the expensive MT32 synth and got converted downwards, but this is a great version.
Skate or Die 2
For such as best-selling game, it seems odd that this only appears on the NES.
The piece is best understood as "Skate or Die Unleashed": the DNA is clear. The PCM guitar samples that Rob put into this certainly made an impression, especially on the YouTube commentators:
The Immortal was converted to both the NES and the Genesis/Mega Drive, and the difference between 16-bit and 8-bit systems was pretty clear in the way the game was redesigned for the NES.
There was even a NES version... here with oscilloscope. Pulsey! Thanks Anna!
Check out the PulseBot channel for more of that.
According to Mobygames, both console versions featured a larger soundtrack and more tunes than their big PC brothers. Interesting!
Centurion: Defender of Rome
Despite various crediting snafus, Rob composed at least the title tune to this game. The Genesis version struggles a little bit with the epic nature of the tune.
John Madden's Football
An unusual SNES outing for Rob here: they later transferred SNES duties to fellow C64 veteran and legend David Whittaker. YouTube commenters generally prefer the Sega Megadrive/Genesis version, but like in football, you play with what you've got!
Wait, Rob programmed the SNES? Well, while credits do sometimes lie (thanks, Centurion), these don't:
And now to the Mega Drive/Genesis, which seems to be regarded as a "holy smokes classic".
PGA Tour Golf
"This first game in the series was originally released in 1990 for DOS computers, 1991 for Sega Genesis, Macintosh, SNES, and Commodore Amiga, and 1993 for Sega Master System and Game Gear. It was developed and published by Electronic Arts for DOS and Macintosh, ported to Genesis, SNES, and Game Gear by Sterling Silver Software, to Amiga by Bluesky Innovations, and to Master System by Polygon Games." - Wikipedia.
Rob put a lot of spirit into this, and it's one of his own favourite console outings:
The SNES verson was more challenging.
Rob on the Sega Master System? Yes and no! Composer Dave Lowe (Uncle Art) did the port from Rob's original, like he did on IK+ to the Amiga and Game Boy.
Most of the ports of Populous for a myriad of consoles were not done by Rob, but the Sega Genesis was.
Ports he didn't do, but which featured his theme are:
Sega Master System
Road Rash (1991)
Road Rash is probably the most famous Rob Hubbard tune on the consoles, and it originated on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. Some of the music in the game was by Michael Bartlow, though the title track was definitely by Rob.
A playlist of the OSTs is here if you're interested, but Rob confirms that two in-game tunes are his:
... and a very good guitar remix...
The Mega Drive's smaller brother the Master System also got a look in with the conversion handled by Probe, and the music was ported by Matt Furniess, for a satisfyingly chippy version of the tune. Some of the heavy metal feel is gone of course, but... square waves!
The Game Gear version sounds pretty similar, and was also handled by Matt.
The Game Boy Color version was ported by the also-mighty and Project Hubbard-related Allister Brimble in 2000.
I wonder who converted it for the Game Boy...?
Oh, OK, it was Ocean :)
I don't have confirmation, but given Jonathan Dunn was Ocean's Game Boy musician at the time (for instance, he put the Comic Bakery theme into Jurassic Park), I think that would be a good educated guess.
Road Rash really was a who's who of C64 talent... programming not on the C64!
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf (1991)
While Rob contributed music to this game, he wasn't responsible for the title screen music, not the music on the Amiga.
However, he did do these:
Opening (Part 1) - 1:26 - 3:12 in this video. It's VERY reminiscent of Lightforce.
Opening (Part 3) - 3:46 - 5:11 in this video.
Mission Briefing 3 - 9:51 - 11:24 in this video.
Ending Theme (Hail to the Chief) - 13:19 - 14:55 in this video.
Staff Roll - 14:55 - end in this video.
SNES-wise, he wasn't credited, and it seems only one of his tunes was ported.
Here's Opening (Part 1):
While the end tune was still "Hail to the Chief", it was a different arrangement to Rob's.
Team USA Basketball (1992)
And so, another sports franchise was enabled by Rob...
Rob seems to have charmed fans whereever he went:
That last comment sounds _awfully_ familiar to SID fans!
Road Rash 2 (1992)
A Mega Drive/Genesis-only release this time.
Youtuber "CloudTheLastSoldier" says it best: "This theme is fucking awesome. It truly makes me want to get on a motorcycle, whoop some ass, then ride away. Would be cool if someone did a guitar cover of this."
Rob did the title tune (above), the Arizona theme...
IMG International Tour Tennis (Sega, 1994)
Occasionally Sega would go begging to EA for talent...
Sherlock 3DO (1994)
And, since Rob was the King of 3DO soundtracks around this time...
Shockwave: Operation Jumpgate 3DO (1994)
An add-on to the original Shockwave, it dispensed with the orchestral stuff, and gained this rather spiffing Zimmer-esque track suite from Rob.
...and later on, Rob's reach extended to the PS1, thanks to this game and PGA Tour Golf 96.
Madden 3DO (1994)
Wikipedia missed this one, but Rob confirmed he was the composer.
Fanfares, and rocking action, unfortunately ruined by actual gameplay.
PGA Tour Golf 96 (1995)
PS1 - Rob's only game on the Playstation 1 except for the port of 3DO Shockwave Jumpgate.
"Most of my time later was spent out sourcing music and arranging dialog talent and setting up sessions. And sitting through technical design review meetings."
He left EA in November 2001 to return to the UK. The next game he was asked to provide music for was "Era of Eidolon" for Nokia in 2004 (unreleased, but will appear on Project Hubbard).