The EAvolution of Rob Hubbard - pt 3
Project Hubbard: 1990-1991, Sports, Fantasy, PCs, a flirtation with the SNES and more.
This article is sponsored by Project Hubbard, The official Rob Hubbard Kickstarter, and gives an idea of the kind of topics we will cover in the associated book "Rob Hubbard - The Official Reference" - except with more supporting interviews and facts.
The definitive MT32 soundtracks from some of these games should also be on "The Rob Hubbard archive" album on "Project Hubbard Standard".
Read part 1 of this series of blog posts here.
Read part 2 of this series of blog posts here.
Skate or Die 2 (1990)
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:
At about this point Rob seems to have been paying careful attention to kind of sports themes that were on network TV, with a rousing theme that definitely conveys "World of Sports".
While there were many good speaker-only soundtracks during the history of PC gaming (and we can see from composers such as Tim Follin that a beeper is sometimes all you need), the composition process here focussed on isolating the lead line only, possibly because it didn't fit into the workflow, and wasn't prioritised.
But it's great with Adlib (below).
It would be even better with MT32 (not shown). We will be getting proper recordings of this full tune.
The end theme of this is going to be turned into a SID on the Alt-SIDs CD on Project Hubbard so we can get a taste of how it would have sounded had they done a C64 version.
With a game name like that you'd expect a Spellbound/Nemesis the Warlock vibe, and you'd be right. Right back to Kentilla and Master of Magic, through to Era of Eidolon, Rob has excelled at music that conveys a sense of place and time.
The game apparently started off on the Apple IIGS, but not with music by Rob, but by Doug Fulton.
The PC verson was created that features Robbological music... (here, the Adlib variant).
And the Amiga followed suit in a 1Mb-only release.
It also hit the Mega Drive/Genesis with Rob's music intact. I find it interesting that at this point the venerable NES (8-bit) was competing with the Mega Drive (16-bit), and the Sega Master System had been much downplayed.
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. Interesting!
And... also the Atari ST! Which was very unusual for an Electronic Arts game.
... and who would have thought there would be a remix?
Centurian:Defender of Rome
While only credited for the Amiga programming (which he can't remember doing), Rob composed at least the title track for this. Rob played his title tune from this game at the Back in Time Live 2003 event in Brighton on the piano.
As usual, we start with the MS-DOS version.
The Amiga version makes great use of Timpani samples to achieve a suitably epic effect.
The Genesis struggles a little bit with the epic:
The PC-98? We haven't a hope in hell of getting a YouTube video of Centurion running on that, but here's an interesting video.
Since the PC-98 was equipped with either 3-channel or 6-channel + samples FM chips (YM2203/optional YM2608), you'd expect the music to sound a lot like the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive sound (YM2612). The same would be true of the FM-Towns version... (the clue's in the name!)...
John Madden Football
SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Amiga
An unusual SNES outing for Rob here. 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".
It was a while before they got to the Amiga, and they used the extra time well. Rob's title theme starts at 1:12, and it soundns more mature now.
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.
What's immediately obvious is that Nic. tenBroek did the original music for the game, which was quickly replaced on other platforms by some of Rob's favourite EA work.
Above: not Rob. Below: Rob.
This is the first Rob Hubbard piece for the SNES, and he didn't like the machine. One of David Whittaker's first jobs when he was hired as to cater for the SNES.
You can just about hear Rob's music peeking out in the Mac IIGS version:
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.
No Game Gear music available. We really ought to look into that for Project Hubbard!
Next time: 1992 onwards - where Rob spends an awful lot of time being elementary, and curing a rash. A Road Rash!
See you then!