Arcade Ambience Project Intro

By Andy Hofle

The arcade ambience project is an attempt of mine to simulate the audio ambience of a crowded arcade room during the golden age of arcades in the 1980s.  This is a sound I think that has been lost over the years and does not exist in today's pitiful arcades in my opinion.  My main motivation for this project was to create some ambience in my basement arcade, having a somewhat authentic arcade background hum while I or my guests  play on my MAME arcade cabinet. I thought that maybe others who have cabinets (or just miss real arcade nostalgia) could also benefit from my work.

About the first 1981 track, it is about 65 minutes long and took many many hours to master. Most of the samples were created with MAME. I used a program to record myself playing each of the games all the way through (until the game was over). Some games have more than one recording. I also recorded a few games in attract mode (like Gorf and Astroblaster, which have attract sounds). A few games I had to take samples from elsewhere, for example asteroids in MAME sounds terrible. Also, the coin changers (there are 3 distinct sounds) and background hum (kind of hard to pick up) I took from a local arcade. Once I had a big collection of wavs, I created a multitrack project in my sequencer/audio program. I basically made a separate track for each game/sound effect. I then randomly panned each track to the left or right to give the illusion of the games and coin changers being placed all around you. I also randomly adjusted the volumes for each track. I then placed several instances of the game recordings spaced out randomly. For example, there are about 6 identical plays of defender, randomly positioned on the CD. But there are so many games going at once, you cannot tell that the defender track is being repeated 6 times. Same goes for the other tracks. So basically I made sure that there is no repeating or looping in this sound (other than the repeat of each game wav, but that is almost impossible to notice since these games basically sound the same each time they are played).

For the first track, I basically picked some of the most popular (and my favorite) games created on or before 1981. The original thought was to later create a sound one might hear in 1983, then 1986, and so on.

First, here are a few low quality mp3 samples from the 1981 track:
 

bulletarcade1.mp3
bulletarcade2.mp3
bulletarcade3.mp3

The first iteration of this project (1981) includes the following games:

Asteroids, Astroblaster, Berzerk, Centipede, Crazy Climber, Crushroller, Defender, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Galaga, Galaxian, Gorf, Missile Command, Moon Cresta, Mousetrap, Ms Pacman, Omegarace, Pacman, Phoenix, Qix, Rally X, Scramble, Space Invaders, Spectar, Tempest, Venture, Wizard Of War

 

The second track (1983) features the following games:

Bagman, Bump n Jump, Burgertime, Congo Bongo, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong 3, Donkey Kong Jr, Elevator Action, Food Fight, Galaga, Gyruss, Joust, Jungle Hunt, Kangaroo, Mappy, Mario Bros, Millipede, Moon Patrol, Mr Do, Ms Pacman, Pengo, Pleiads, Pole Position, QBert, Robotron, Sinistar, Stargate, Star Trek, Tapper, Time Pilot, Track & Field, Tron, Xevious, Zaxxon, Zoo Keeper

bulletarcade83sample.mp3

 

The third track (1986) features the following games:

Arkanoid, Bank Panic, Bubble Bobble, Commando, Excite Bike, Flicky, Galaga 3 (Gaplus), Galaga, Gauntlet, Ghosts N Goblins, Gunsmoke, Hat Trick, Hogan's Alley, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Jail Break, Kid Niki, Mag Max, Marble Madness, Ms Pacman, Pacland, Paperboy, Punch Out, Rampage, Road Fighter, Russian Attack, Sky Kid, Spelunker, Super Sprint, Star Wars, Tiger Heli, Time Pilot 84, Two Tigers.

bulletarcade86sample.mp3

 

The 4th and final track (1992) features the following games:

Altered Beast, Arkanoid, Cyberball 2072, Galaga, Golden Axe, Klax, Neo Geo (Magician Lord, Baseball Stars Professional, Nam 1975), Mortal Kombat, Ms. Pacman, Raiden, Roadblasters, Street Fighter 2, Smash TV, Tetris, TMNT, Toobin, & Xybots. Pins: Black Knight 2000, Elvira, Fun House, Whirlwind.