As you might have noticed by the content presented on this website, I have given some tribute to a computer game known as DX-Ball 2…
DX-Ball 2 is a classic brick buster game for the PC, that was initially released on December 16, 1998. It was developed by a family driven company, named Longbow Digital Arts, that was founded by a young man named Seumas McNally (1979–2000).
When I first discovered DX-Ball 2, I was already hooked on the original DX-Ball by Michael P. Welch; so naturally, I fell head over heels for the sequel, when I was introduced to its amazing 16-bit graphics with textured bricks and backgrounds, also sporting a brilliant soundtrack by Sidewinder.
The earliest moments that I spent with DX-Ball 2 were some of the most precious I’ve had to date. As a child at the age of ten, I was still in a state of being able to experience life through the heart. And with DX-Ball 2 being a perfect match for me, in terms of resonance, the experience of interacting with the game was one of deep satisfaction and awe, that was transcendental in comparison to anything else in my life at the time.
After downloading the additional Music Pack for the game, I eventually discovered a fascination for the game’s soundtrack, as I busted my way through board upon board. Track by track, the music began to grow on me, as I began to connect with and feel each song’s individual expression…
About two years ago, I was playing around with the idea of remastering the soundtrack, to bring each track into its most satisfying potential of listening pleasure. However, before I began harnessing this idea, I wanted to come up with a visual presentation for it, that initially started as an idea for a release on YouTube. I began to capture screenshots from the game’s board designs and played around with them, with the intention to give them an artistic touch. As I was capturing the screenshots, I also wanted each picture to be associated with specific tracks, that I personally felt represented its essence the most. A few of these were associations that I had already begun to discover as a child, like for instance the Christmas tree together with Ifu Love, or the slate gray cross shape together with In the Eyes.
I eventually took a hiatus from the project, after creating a draft of the visual presentation for each track, in the form of a picture with a coloured tracker module pattern displaying on top of it. It was not until the last quarter of 2012 that my work was resumed. The next step was then to begin the process of remastering each track, which was a bit of work to go through, as I also wanted to retune each song to the harmonic scale of A=432 Hz. I did the retuning per sample, so I had to record sequences of each sample into Audacity, in order to verify whether the tuning was correct. Unfortunately, I only got halfway through, before my laptop decided to say ‘good bye’ with a classic crash and burn. Surely, it was very disheartening to loose all my progress like that…but I rested assured that the files would still remain safe on the hard drive.
As I had done the visual work on a different computer, I eventually decided to revisit my previous stage of the project. The time was now early 2013. I went through the visuals and played around some more, achieving a very satisfying result. At this point, the idea occurred to me that it would have been really awesome if I could design this project to not only be presented on YouTube, but also as a physical CD jewel case soundtrack. Somehow, the realisation also occurred to me that December 16, 2013 were to be DX-Ball 2′s 15th anniversary. From this realisation, my idea of a remastered soundtrack expanded to become a desire to create a CD soundtrack in tribute to the game’s anniversary. However, fate would have it that also my desktop computer were to burn out, and suddenly everything was forced to a halt.
It was not until six months later that I, at last, was able to acquire a new laptop. To my great relief, I was also able to acquire an adapter that would enable me access both the hard drives, and successfully retrieve all the lost files. I then began a stage of intense work to prepare everything before the big date. The music was decompiled and basically rendered per instrument, to then be imported and remastered in FL Studio, reconstructing the stereo image for each song, as well as doing additional tweaks to enhance the sound. Everything went along nicely, and I felt optimistic about the project becoming successful. However, things did still not turn out exactly as I was hoping for.
While I had managed to reach a point where everything was basically ready for manufacturing, it turned out that Longbow Games were not able to take on a commercial CD, due to legal issues that they did not have time resolve in the midst of finishing their latest game.
Either way, I was fortunate enough to see another opportunity to still be able to express a celebration for DX-Ball 2′s 15th anniversary. And so, through the gift of inspiration, I was lead to the idea of creating a tribute page for the game on Google+, where I would post each of the 15 songs for the remaining 15 days of the year, starting the December 17. December 16 was not left to gather dust, though, as it became the date for the release of a megamix that I had put together, showcasing a snippet of each of the fifteen songs in their remastered glory.
It has been a satisfying experience for me to celebrate the memory of Seumas and DX-Ball 2, and to also honour Eric’s music, being able to present this remastered soundtrack to the world, or simply just those who care.
If you haven’t checked out the tribute page yet, I invite you to explore the exhibition for your own enjoyment, as it remains right here. Aside from the music videos presenting each remastered track, you will also find interesting facts, among photo collages with illustrations from the game, and other goodies.