Before reading this post, I’d recommend visiting this site. If you’re puzzled or captivated by the interactive flash that greets you (or even if not), read on!
If you’re a gamer or anime fan of a certain age, your awareness of what were then called “dating sims” in Western fan vernacular probably began with a few titles ported to English in the late 90’s and early ’00s. Games that were originally produced for DOS or PC-98 machines, could often fit on a few floppies, were unvoiced and didn’t use CD-sourced music. If you’re someone who remembers these games fondly as an artifact of a pre-moe era – complete with beautifully stylized pixel art and synthetically rendered melodies – then the new album coming from sound unit Yogurtbox will be right up your alley:
Tree of Knowledge – Chie no Ki (TREE OF KNOWLEDGE ～知恵の樹～) is an independent album of original music produced in tribute to the dating sims and adventure games of a bygone era. The concept was developed by sound artists coda and surasshu, who recruited visual artists Diana Jakobsson and Jordan Chewning to create art assets for the album cover and mock game title screen, as well as character designs and game art for the flash video promotion for the album.
I’m not an expert on digital sound synthesis, but it seems the album was created using a Yamaha YM2608 sound chip (or emulator), the same chip that drove sound on the PC-98. Those familiar with the chiptunes genre will recognize the distinctive sound in a heartbeat; for me, it’s a reminder of a time when games didn’t need voices or premeditated moe tropes to tell a story, when walkthroughs weren’t widely available and when platform limitations enabled makers to experiment more within the format. What really sold me, though, was the interactive flash game-style promo they put together. It’s a wonderful stroll down memory lane, and I’d recommend it to anyone reading this.
Tree of Knowledge is scheduled for release on May 1st 2011, both online at the Yogurtbox site and in physical CD form.