Episode 01 – Echoes of Ecco with Emily

Welcome to The VGMbassy! You’re listening to a brand new podcast celebrating video games, video game music, and the online community of fans who love them.

Welcome to The VGMbassy! You’re listening to a brand new podcast celebrating video games, video game music, and the online community of fans who love them. Each show will feature Ed Wilson (PixelTunes Radio, Impulse Project, Audio PanicRoom) and a rotating cast of guest host “VGMbassadors” who will share with us their gaming passions.

Our first episode features Emily (The VGM Jukebox) and one of her favorite game series of all time: Ecco the Dolphin. Please join us as we explore the fantastic music of the ocean and unravel the game’s mysteries! Stay tuned for a very special guest at the end of the show!

Bonus Content: The blog post that makes some neat comparisons between Metroid and Ecco the Dolphin: sparkylurkdragon  

A huge thank you to Indira J (The Misadventures of Buddy and Friend, Sacrimony) for the amazing VGMbassy artwork and design, and to Trevin Hughes (aka chiptune composer Jredd) for the podcast theme song!

Join our Facebook group for discussion and bonus content: facebook.com/groups/thevgmbassy

Follow The VGMbassy on Twitter: @TheVGMbassy

Check out the Instagram account for artsy-fartsy game-related images: @TheVGMbassy

The Tracklist:

Ecco the Dolphin (Sega Genesis)
Developed by Novotrade Software, 1993

1 – “The Lagoon” composed by Spencer N. Nilsen, Brian Coburn, and András Magyari

2 – “The Vents” composed by Spencer N. Nilsen, Brian Coburn, and András Magyari

Ecco the Dolphin (Game Gear)
Developed by Novotrade Software, 1993

3 – “Deep Water” composed by Csaba Gigor and Gábor Foltán

4 – “Title Theme” composed by Csaba Gigor and Gábor Foltán

Ecco the Dolphin (Sega CD)
Developed by Novotrade International, 1993

5 – “The Lagoon” composed by Spencer Nilsen

Ecco: The Tides of Time (Sega Genesis)
Developed by Novotrade Software, 1994

6 – “Crystal Springs” composed by Attila Dobos, András Magyari, Andy Armer, and David Javelosa

7 – “Inside” composed by Attila Dobos, András Magyari, Andy Armer, and David Javelosa

Ecco: The Tides of Time (Game Gear)
Developed by Novotrade Software, 1995

8 – “Atlantis” composed by Csaba Gigor, Gábor Foltán, and László Fazekas

Ecco: The Tides of Time (Sega CD)
Developed by Novotrade Software, 1994

9 – “Heart of the Giant (Epilogue)” composed by Spencer Nilsen

Ecco Jr. (Sega Genesis)
Developed by Appaloosa Interactive, 1995

10 – “Seal Rocks, the Enchanted Sea” composed by Andy Armer, Gábor Foltán, and László Fazekas

Ecco Jr. and the Great Ocean Treasure Hunt! (Sega Pico)
Developed by Appaloosa Interactive, 1995

11 – “Gameplay Theme” composed by Attila Heger

Ecco: Defender of the Future (Sega Dreamcast)
Developed by Appaloosa Interactive, 2000

12 – “Perils of the Coral Reef” composed by Tim Follin

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4 thoughts on “Episode 01 – Echoes of Ecco with Emily

  1. Woohoo! First episode! Congratulations on the new podcast Ed! I’m real excited for this one. You managed to find the world’s biggest Ecco fan in our dear Keyglyph. It’s great to hear someone talk about a game that is so deeply ingrained in their psyche that they can feel it in their bones. When Emily wondered if Ecco shaped her tastes, I thought “the answer is obviously ‘yes’ because, as Emily just explained, Ecco went back in time to make the Keyglyph.”

    Favorite Track of the Episode: Seal Rocks, The Enchanted Sea
    Whoa! What is this? The backing melody has the strangest staircased instrumentation panning around stereo positions to create arpeggios across instruments and stereo space. It gives it this dizzy feeling of being lost in a cycling spiral. And the melodies just lope around lazily inside that hypnotic whirl. It’s also interesting how the melodies also are not always completed by the same instrument. It feels like a melodic line is sometimes started in one instrumented, but shifts in and out of another, sometimes with both playing the melody in tandem. I’m listening to the song now on repeat, which is something I don’t often do, and it is surprising to me that it keeps revealing mysteries rather than getting boring. What a great find. More than any of the other tracks on this episode, I feel this one best captures that nonhuman music feel. That’s an interesting concept by the way. Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka explained on his composer focus on Legacy Music Hour that he was shooting for a similar goal with the Metroid soundtrack. Outside of videogames, I would also highly recommend the soundtrack to the old Sci-Fi movie Forbidden Planet, which has some very early electronic music from back in the days where you couldn’t just go buy a synthesizer, you had to make your own instrument. They describe their machines as an electronic nervous system, and it really does sound unhuman.

    The New Age of Spooky Track: The Lagoon (SegaCD ver)
    You guys said this track WASN’T going to be a creepy track, but all I could hear was something that sounded a lot like the theme from The Exorcist playing behind all the new age ocean wash. As I was listening to you guys talk I kept being like “yeah yeah yeah, but can’t you hear that! Ecco’s head is going to spin 360 degrees any minute now!”

    Misunderstood Track of the Episode: Atlantis
    When Ed said he thought there wasn’t much emotion to this track, I had this visceral reaction of “WHAT!? NO!!!” hahah. I was like a kid who just had his favorite blanket thrown in the garbage and told it was because he just didn’t need it anymore. And this was my first time hearing this track! As I was listening to it, I was loving the warbliness of tiny vibrato on the lead melody. It sounds so sad and fragile, but in this precious way. And the chord changes have this wonderful tug and pull where they feel like they don’t fully resolve, but they move forward. It’s like it approaches hopefulness, but instead is just resigned to keep moving forward with its sadness. When Emily said the chord changes spoke to a feeling of destiny I thought “YES! That’s right on point.” I don’t know Ed. I think you need to go back and give this one a second chance… but don’t smoke crack this time.

    I’m really looking forward to more VGMbassy! I think you are on to something cool here Ed. It’s a great concept that allows for a lot of depth inside an episode.

    1. Oh man, you’re totally on the money with the Atlantis track. Even as I was talking to Emily after it played, she was starting to change my mind about it, and upon listening to it while editing the show together, I myself am wondering what the heck I was talking about. I’m glad you were able to glean the melody’s true intentions at first listen, because somehow it escaped me! (Must’ve been all that crack LOL)

      I’m glad you enjoyed episode 1! For the longest time, I’ve listened to Emily talk about Ecco on VGMJB and in personal chats that we’ve had, and her emotions about it were so compelling that I felt a need to provide her with the proverbial soapbox for it. In fact, this need was instrumental in shaping what The VGMbassy is all about!

      (and as a side note, I’m going to tone down the spam filter to make sure messages like this don’t get held up in there again!)

  2. As a big fan of the VGMJB, VGM podcasts, and knowing Key personally over at RB forums, it was glorious to finally hear a 2 hour epic magnum opus covering her breakdown of this surreal series. I never thought of the Metroid comparison myself until now and it’s utterly spot on. I grew up with a JVC myself and like Ed, really enjoyed the Sega CD games at the time when nobody else really knew of it. To this day those Spencer Nilsen OST’s are still some of my all time favorites. I did own Ecco the Dolphin CD back then but never got too far, something never clicked, though I loved the music and my manual had some codes written in (I think one was for an Atlantis level), the disc was also scratched up so it would glitch out at times… it was a strange experience all around and just made the scope of the game even weirder to me. It wasn’t until a few years ago I tackled the game again via emulation and finally got through all of it. It is just as profound, surreal, imaginative, and dense as Key discusses here… nothing could have prepared me for how crazy this game is in such an awesome way. I followed the kickstarter for Big Blue but maybe it really is for the best it didn’t happen and the original creators have the Ecco IP again. I need more Ecco.

    The pro organic/technology end of Tides of Time was a fascinating point. I still need to play more of this one. I also loved when Key talked about the human aspect, since yeah, you have to imagine who built Atlantis and you see those sunken ships from time to time. Kind of like the dead soldier before Kraid’s door in Super Metroid. Why was that person there? These worlds are so lived in, fascinating little details of context to consider and let your imagination run wild.

    I have to give a shoutout to the CD version’s “Volcanic Reef”, one of my favorites. It has this droning like drive to the beat yet still retains all that mysteriousness to it, it just perfectly encapsulates the midpoint of the game or so. Such a huge journey that goes places you’d never expect.

    I also think “Tidal Tempest – Bad Future” from Sonic CD US (Spencer Nilsen) also give some similar Ecco vibes.

    Great first episode Ed! Can’t wait for more. This one sets the bar pretty high, heh.

    1. I totally agree with you about Tidal Tempest. I’m sure Nilsen had one game in mind when he created the other.

      I’m crossing my fingers for more Ecco too! I think the demand is certainly there… let’s hope the investors feel the same way!

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