Tower of Heaven Original Soundtrack
Tower of Heaven Original Soundtrack
July 24, 2010
Download at Bandcamp
Askiisoft’s Tower of Heaven is a surprisingly challenging free-to-play Flash game released by Newgrounds during 2010. With its Game Boy-esque visuals, platforming gameplay, and chiptune soundtrack, it certainly brought back memories. In his breakthrough work, flashygoodness created the 16 minute soundtrack for the game and released the results through Bandcamp. Despite its short length, the soundtrack went on to generate much acclaim and for good reason.
“The Lonely Tower” introduces the main ideas of the soundtrack in beautiful fashion. At the heart of the track is a memorable, richly shaped melody that captures the adventurous yet solemn quality of the game. This melody recurs in practically every other track on the soundtrack, creating a sense of continuity during the climb towards heaven. The other distinctive feature of this track is that is rendered purely in 8-bit. But rather than imitate the harsh sounds of the NES or GB, flashygoodness created custom-generated waveforms throughout, giving a warmer, distinctive feel for the soundtrack. The final timbres created are as beautiful as those on Etrian Odyssey.
While the rest of the soundtrack maintains the same melodies and palette, it is a surprisingly diverse experience. Shifting from a tense opening to an exciting core, “Stairway to Revelation” is a perfect accompaniment for the opening levels. Despite limiting himself to four channels — melody, countermelody, bass, and percussion — flashygoodness brings so much life and variety into the piece. “Indignant Divinity” increases the tempo, turns up the bass, and shakes up the melody. Whereas “Stairway to Revelation” is filled with the youthful pop vibes reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog, this piece exerts a harder rock influence similar to Mega Man X.
However, flashygoodness reserves the most incredible shift in soundscape to the climax of the game. For the final levels, “Luna Ascension” rearranges the main theme into a motivating anthem; the optimism of the traveler still prevails, but there is a sad, desperate undertone. With “Atop the World”, the sound suddenly transitions from chiptunes to an acoustic piano rendition of the main theme. In conjunction with the visuals, it certainly makes the ending of the game all that more revealing and liberating. This semi-improvised track was, in fact, the first that flashygoodness composed and it served as the basis for all the preceding themes.
There are several additional tracks on the soundtrack. The ending track “Eternal Sanctity” inspires spiritual reflection with its longing reprise of the central melody, above a choppy bass line. “Pillars of Creation” is a delightful medley of the three level themes, composed exclusively for the flash version. Used in the secret ending, “Farewell, Traveller” is a synthetic orchestration of the ending theme. Despite deviating from the simple personal feel of the soundtrack, it is still bound to inspire many emotions. The release ends with a jingle.
Tower of Heaven reaffirms two things retro gamers have known for decades. One, a soundtrack doesn’t need to span four discs to leave a memorable impression. Two, chiptunes — when supporting rich melodies and substantial compositions — can be just as emotional as any orchestration. No doubt, Tower of Heaven and its soundtrack are definitely worth checking out.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.