Retro Game Soundtracks Are Getting Restored

A YouTube user named The Brickster has recently uploaded a full remastering of the soundtrack to Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver on to YouTube. This remaster came from a user named Kurausukun with The Brickster having permission to host the remaster on his channel.

This soundtrack remastering is different to most of the work present on the channel.

For Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, a special process was taken to create its remaster. DS games are able to be ripped into a format called .NCSF. This format is basically the DS sound engine, without some of the limitations of the DS Hardware, notably, memory. As a result, it’s possible to take a .sdat file from a DS game (a soundbank containing sequence data and samples), and replace the samples within, with higher quality uncompressed PCM samples. You still have to deal with limitations in terms of how long samples with loop points can be, but aside from that, you can insert any samples you want, including higher quality versions of the same samples you are replacing. This process, alongside the extensive research from the community on sounds used in Pokemon games (an extensive documentation of these games can be found here), is how Kurausukun created the high quality remasters for Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver.

For other projects on the channel, we usually rip the sequence data from a game into a MIDI file, that we then plug into a DAW of our choice. From there, we would have to do things like fix ripping errors, and getting the songs to play nicely with the full instruments. For Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, alongside Kurausukun’s work on games like Mario Kart: Super Circuit, and Pokemon Emerald, since he is hacking the original game’s sound engines, he can inject high quality samples, while still having a sound faithful to the original games, since it eliminates having to work in a DAW, and deal with possibly incorrectly ripped MIDI files.  -The Brickster

Now another thing you might be wondering is “hey, wasn’t this reported on by major news outlets a year ago, why’d you wait this long to write about it?” Yes, and the reason I waited was because of lack of time, and because I wanted to wait and let the library of music grow to have more variety than just Super Mario World music. So now I feel is the right time. I mean, now the channel has some tracks from games like Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Sonic CD, and Star Fox Adventures just to name a few.

And if you want something to scratch the nerd itch, there’s a huge spreadsheet with links to spreadsheets detailing what samples are use by specific games, and where that sample came from.

I freaking love that this project is a thing. While I’m all for accuracy to the original and keeping things stock, for cases like listening to a game soundtrack outside the game I want the highest quality I can get, and while I’m happy listening to game rips on YouTube if that’s all there is, I much prefer something like this or an official soundtrack release. I highly suggest checking out this channel and seeing what is on there if you love listening to game soundtracks outside of the game.