…hey, you got video games in my synthwave!
For a number of years now it seems as though synthwave and video games go together like peanut butter and chocolate, which honestly makes a lot of sense. Synthwave, to me, is very similar to another musical genre that I love and enjoy: chiptunes. Both tend to rely heavily on electronic sounds, have catchy beats, and produce great hooks. So it’s not all that surprising that so many video games utilize synthwave. In fact, from what I’ve heard from so many people, it would seem as though some choice video games helped introduce them to the world of synthwave; myself included.
For me it was “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon,” the soundtrack of which was done by the synthwave duo of Power Glove, who are sometimes confused with the video game metal band Powerglove; and for the record I love them both. The game, which is a send up of over-the-top action films of the 1980s, is a first person shooter that takes place on a neon-soaked island filled with cyborgs and the titular blood dragons. The soundtrack is amazing, filled with ups and downs, from the blood pumping and rising crescendo action pieces to the more haunting and somber sounds of ballads. Oh, and did I mention Stan Bush?
However, I get the sense that the video game which introduced most people to synthwave was in fact “Hotline Miami.” Obviously influenced by “Drive,” and crime-oriented films of the 1980s in general, the game sees you play as a hitman for hire in the seedy underbelly of Miami. With songs by Perturbator, M|O|O|N, Scattle and others it’s a solid soundtrack all around. Both of these games would receive sequels, with “Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number” and “Trials of the Blood Dragon,” as well as equally amazing soundtrack sequels too.
Of course these are but two of the heavy hitters, the ones that most people are aware of due to their gateway nature, but what happens once you’ve walked through that gate? In the years since those two games came out the synthwave genre and community have been on the rise, thus it should come as no surprise that others games with even more of an emphasis on synthwave have been released, although unfortunately they may often slip by unnoticed.
Therefore I want to highlight just a few of them today:
Neon Drive is akin to many a rhythm game, much like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, except instead of playing little plastic instruments you control a car on a track through a neon-soaked landscape. As you drive along, avoiding blocks in your way, you dodge and move to the beat of a synthwave song in the background. I have personally played this game and, while fun, it is quite challenging because you will die. A lot. Your hand/eye coordination needs to be perfect. It’s all about trial and error, which can get frustrating after a while, since the music will restart with you as well. This’ll cause you to get these songs stuck in your head, which I guess is fine after all, because the soundtrack IS great!
If you want a similar game, but without the obstacles and free moving, may I suggest OutDrive instead?
If racing games aren’t your forte, and you would rather run and gun, then perhaps Neon Chrome would be more to your enjoyment? It’s a top down rouge-like shooter with procedurally generated levels meaning that, when you die, the next time you try the level again it’ll be completely different. You’ve got different characters that you can choose from, you can find and access upgrades to make your stronger, and utilize many different weapons as you fight your way through level after level towards the final boss known only as the “Overseer.” Plus, you don’t have to go it alone as the game offers up co-op so you can bring some friends alone to help you out. Also, and this probably goes without saying at this point, but I’ll say it anyway: the soundtrack is awesome too!
Now, all of the above mentioned games have been out for sometime now, so are there any games out there on the horizon you ask? Yes, there are in fact, and today I want to highlight one called Super Psy Penguin!
Currently waiting for your votes over on Steam Greenlight, this game is in the style of a classic bullet-hell SHMUP, except instead of a spaceship or an airplane you’ve got a penguin! But wait, there’s more: the developer, SHOKIZM Interactive, has teamed up with TimeSlave Recordings to include a synthwave soundtrack for the game featuring artists under their label.
The synthwave community has always been about the support of up and coming projects, something that I can personally attest to with all the love that’s been show to me with this blog thus far, so why not show some of that same kind of love for this project? You’ll be glad that you did!