Wednesday, 7 May 2014

[RFM] Hero Quest The 8bit Soundtrack

A brief musical interlude in the programming of Radio Free Magnamund, and indeed an extra dimensional trip  to the music of the computer game of the board-game that is Heroquest. Adaptive media being something of a theme developing here...

For your listening pleasure, the HeroQuest soundtrack.

Heroquest Title Theme 

Heroquest In-game Track 1 

Heroquest In-game Track 2 

HeroQuest soundtrack was composed by Barry Leitch. At turns wistful and melancholic, HeroQuest is oddly downbeat for its role-play-lite dungeon bash. While Heroquest was a multi-platorm release (Amiga, Atari ST, and PC) and these doubtlessly allow for greater subtlety of sound the constraints of 8bit gives it a darker edge - and there is something about the confines of dungeons and minimalism, be it the narrow multi-choice of gamebooks or the ANSII graphics of nethack, or the restricted physical spatial configuration of the Heroquest board.

While, the eletronica of proggy synth-based horror music soundtracks from the 70s and 80s - the likes of John Carpenter, Goblin  are firmly stuck on the dungeon-crawl playlist - they have a kind of cold sparseness that permeates the sound, that is amplified by the reduction into 8-bit computer music.

The unreleased Nintendo version by Neil Baldwin is decidedly more upbeat than it's home computer alternatives, but by no means lacking in quasi-medieval atmosphere, and well worth a listen (the other tracks are on Neils site), especially the final track...

Nintendo Hero Quest Final Track

The worlds of HeroQuest and Magnamund are bridged only by he arcane artistic powers of Gary Chalk, original artist of the Lone Wolf series, and card art for Hero Quest. We'll be returning to Magnamund to further the adventures of remedial rangers and diabolical wizards next week, assuming the Nadziranim magic doesn't lead us astray...

I Cast: Dimension Door!


  1. That opened up some memories. Many thanks. And yes, there's something about the constraints of composing for 8bit that forces a creative response. End result is a truly atmospheric if rather bleak set of compositions.

    1. Constraints informing the creativity is definitely part of the charm. There's also sense of something I can't quite put my finger on... sparseness? confinement? game-ness? something graphic / symbolic almost, perhaps the harsh mathematical, logical nature more like a labyrinth of twisty turny passages than the wide vistas of orchestral music. The darkness of bleepy staccatto arpeggios .

  2. As somebody who owned a Spectrum and then an Atari ST I was never quite sure if the Speccy 128 was blessed to have almost the same sound chip as the ST, or that the ST was cursed in having almost the same sound chip as the Speccy 128.

    1. Long standing BBC micro user - I never owned a Spectrum back in the day, had to bomb around to my mates house to play £2.50 tape games, read Crash and eat toast there. Vague memories of loading the example characters off a cover tape from Bards Tale into the actual game. . Think one of them had a Fire Horn or something. Have a 128 now tho, somewhere... although the beeb is plugged in.

      Also missed out on the Amiga / ST wars by not having either and relied on my mates to beat each other up about which was better.

  3. Many thanks for this. There is also an illustration in the Advanced Heroquest rule book that appears in LW2. It is the picture of the man in flames.