Some of my most treasured memories of growing up are my early teenage years when I was pretty much inseparable from my Amiga computer, which set me on the course to go on to have a career in graphic design, create digital artwork and compose my own computer-based music. The Amiga opened up the avenues of music and digital art as well as heralding a new dawn for the computer game soundtrack, and no doubt in tandem with the music industry as analogue shifted to digital. Turrican : The Soundtrack Anthology is what now rekindles those memories.
Not only did the Amiga boast the very best quality games and graphics on the market in the early 90s, most of the time, the in-game music was outstanding. Out of all the hundreds of amazing games, one clear favourite would emerge for me, and that was the action-packed platform adventure, Turrican, originally published by German company Rainbow Arts in 1990. My friend had gone on about this game for ages, and when my 13th Birthday came, along with it, came Turrican, in his chunky silver robo-armour.
Not only did Turrican take you through another word on an exciting and explosive journey, it had the best computer game music I had ever heard – composed by Chris Hüelsbeck (his fantastic music would accompany many a classic game in the following years). Over time, I became as addicted to the game’s music as much as the game itself – to the point where I’d stick a tape recorder in front of the TV speaker and record the music, so I could listen to it, when I wasn’t lost in the world of Turrican. Who needed the radio, when you had an Amiga?!
In 1992 and 1993, we had two further Turrican games, both with fantastic music, but it was always the original game’s soundtrack that both stuck with me and would partly inspire my own music decades later.
I had been in touch with Chris Hüelsbeck on a number of occasions over recent years, following what he was up to today – but it came as a pleasant surprise in 2012 when, due to popular demand, Hüelsbeck announced a Kickstarter campaign with the plan of re-recording all the Turrican music into one big anthology. The campaign was a huge success, and as a result, we now have a lot of very happy Turrican fans, myself included! The anthology has its own website, and each volume of the anthology is now available on Bandcamp as a digital download.
Not only do we have fantastic and faithfully recreated artwork, but we have all the music, bigger and better than ever and still sounding as fresh and exciting as when I first heard it all those years ago. He has produced literally everything – the soundtrack to every game level, the end-of-level boss music, game loader tunes, the intro and outro… they’re all here, and more. And it’s brilliant!
I would say that the soundtrack was integral to the game’s success, and it certainly wouldn’t have been quite the same without it. Chris Hüelsbeck first issued a selection of updated recordings of the music on CD in the mid-90s. Finding videogame soundtracks on CD is fairly commonplace nowadays, but back then it was almost unheard of, which says something about the demand for both his work and this particular game. So it is really fantastic that all this time later, we can enjoy the game’s music all over again, faithfully re-created – over 4 hours of it!
I dare say you do need to be a fan of the game to appreciate this kind of music, but for us fans, it holds a very special place indeed.