I came to work at Williams Electronics in March 1986, just in time to help (a VERY little) with bringing to life the 1st pinball sound system that featured a dedicated music synthesizer, and to help usher in a new era of game sound. Over the course of the next 7 years the sound system, based on a Yamaha YM2151 FM synthesizer chip, evolved about as far as you would imagine a printed circuit board could evolve; we used to describe what we did to squeeze every last cycle of performance from that system as “getting the rowboat up to 90 mph.” By the end of its run in 1993, there were better sound systems in many games…but no one produced soundtracks with the dynamism, variety and care that the sound department at Williams/Bally/Midway did. This archive is at least in part a tribute to that company; to the game designers who inspired us & spurred us on; and to the assembled members of that legendary sound department who did such incredible work (in chronological order, not counting me): Bill Parod, Rich Karstens, Brian Schmidt, Mark Locascio, Dan Forden, Robin Seaver, Jon Hey, Paul Heitsch & Matt Booty.
The guy to whom we really owe the existance of the archive is Marcel Gonzalez, a Florida-based composer & avid gamer, and the one guy in the world willing to take the time to produce the tracks in this archive. Using the original game electronics & software, and a nifty device set up to emulate the game as it made sound requests, Marcel called up each music track & each sound effect for each of the games listed below, and recorded the audio into his computer. Then, using standard Wintel-based audio tools (which by the way allowed him to apply some very nice DSP enhancements to the audio), he assembled the soundtracks you hear below, sound by sound, AS THOUGH A GAME MIGHT BE MAKING THEM. He actually produced a reference recording of actual game play in each case, to know what sounds to put when. If you’re familiar with these games, listening to these tracks will take you right back to the last time you played the game; it’s really an amazing experience and, like I say, actually sounds better than the original.
But even if you’re not a fan of any of these games, this is an opportunity for you to acquaint yourself with a style of soundtrack design and gestural grace that we were very proud of at “uncle Willy’. And although the tools have gotten more sophisticated and the resources are vastly enhanced today, I think there’s some awfully good work here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I first heard these tracks. Thanks, Marcel!
The intellectual property herein presented is embodied in the pinball & video games from which these tracks were excerpted, and as such the copyrights are held by WMS Industries, parent company of Williams/Bally/Midway at the time of these games’ manufacture. These tracks are used by permission and are not offered for sale.