From my earliest days on FlashFlashRevolution in 2008, I was intimately familiar with a few of RushJet1’s compositions. ‘Almost There’ and ‘Fighting for Control’ are two pieces that I remember fondly as two of my favorite files in the game, and his complicated rhythms and use of numerous melodic voices gave me a deeper appreciation for the finer things in chipmusic before I was fully aware of the genre and community. Just after Christmas Day of 2018, a game called ‘Rikki & Vikki’ was released with modest, yet positive, acclaim. ‘Rikki & Vikki’ is a puzzle-platformer that can be played alone or cooperatively, and is highly reminiscent of the ‘Mega Man’ series, with each puzzle taking place on a single screen. In addition to its lovable visual aesthetic, RushJet1’s soundtrack perfectly complements the game and stands alone as a marvelous example of chipmusic done well. Let’s dive in!
For the sake of brevity, I’ll be tackling some of the game’s main pieces; several jingles are included in the album, including its game over screen, world completions (or caverns, in ‘Rikki & Vikki’), menu themes, and more. The first world the player is introduced to is the ‘Rock Cavern’, in which there are two themes present. The piece above is titled ‘Rock Cavern (Action)’, and it’s used as the theme for the first four levels of the game, in addition to the last few levels of the first cavern. Its simple, catchy hook is one that fits in well with the tutorial-esque nature of the game’s first few levels. Percussion throughout the track isn’t prominent, but rather solidly grounds the piece’s jazzier, improvised-feeling melodic voices, and the piece’s memorable melody is sure to be bouncing around in your head for quite some time.
‘Rikki & Vikki’ is a puzzle platforming game, as I mentioned previously; as such, there are numerous levels in which the player will find themselves wracking their brain for a solution to the challenges posited. ‘Rock Cavern (Puzzle)’ plays in a few levels in the first world, serving as exposition for some of the more difficult obstacles to come. A pensive, calmer melodic phrase is introduced immediately in this track, followed by the piece’s lower-pitched main melody. The absence of percussion and the deeper tones from square and triangle channels give this piece an exploratory and mysterious vibe that fits perfectly within the context of the game, and works quite well as a standalone piece.
At the end of each cavern, a boss will be encountered; these are known as Cavern Guardians, and will dare Rikki & Vikki to defeat them if the player seeks to conquer more intimidating challenges. The level of intensity is high in ‘1P Cavern Guardian’, staccato sawtooth chops and aggressive, punchy square voices set the tone for this frenetically paced piece. The percussion in this piece alternates between accentuating the quarter notes of each measure and chugging along through kicks and snares with the sixteenth notes that all of the other instruments are playing. Arpeggiated chords can be heard in the rhythmic square channel as well, and these permutations are of particular note in this piece, being simultaneously tension-inducing and slick in execution.
‘But wait, Aydan!’ you may be screaming towards my general area. (Which is in the central part of New York state, if you need a point in the right direction.) ‘Didn’t you say something about “Rikki & Vikki” being a coop game?! You haven’t really said anything about that!’ Most of the game’s music remains unchanged whether or not you play in single-player mode or in coop mode…but the game’s boss fights take on a completely different tone when both Rikki & Vikki are present! While the 1-player version of the song is wilder and more panic-inducing, ‘2P Cavern Guardian’ exudes a significantly more confident aura. While its introductory measures certainly build up anticipation, this stress is somewhat alleviated by its more upbeat, positive vibe. Knowing that Rikki & Vikki might someday rescue their children from the vicious talons of evil…it fills me with determination.
The soundtrack to ‘Rikki & Vikki’ is available through RushJet1’s Bandcamp page as a pay-what-you-want release, and the game itself is available in a few different ways! You can pick up the Steam version of the game (which I’m sure to do in the coming weeks; color me interested!) or a DRM-free copy for $9.99, or you can (hopefully sooner rather than later) pick up an authentic Atari 7800 ProSystem cartridge on the PenguiNet page for $59.99, alongside some other cool merch! ‘Rikki & Vikki’, overall, is a delightful sonic experience that really brought me back to the days of my youth, and truly warmed my heart with its remarkable and lovable aural aesthetics. I hope this soundtrack and game do the same for you!