The Music of Super Time Force

If you’ve caught any videos of Capybara Games’ upcoming “Super Time Force” — a time-bending, side-scrolling shooter with some of the most beautiful pixel art this side of the 1980s — you’ve almost certainly heard the music of Jason “6955” DeGroot. The Toronto-based musician’s hypnotizing soundtrack forms the backdrop for “Super Time Force’s” frenetic action, adding a warped, wobbly layer of psychedelic frequencies to the proceedings.

“Everything is based around NES sounds — simple pulse/triangle/noise waves,” says DeGroot, speaking to us from his Toronto studio. “Those are then run through effects, to varying degrees. I’ve always enjoyed using those sounds to make what starts out as old-school game music… but after a minute or two, it’s evolved into an outer space journey. Well, sometimes.”

DeGroot says that while there was certainly an attempt to recreate the unique energy of the tunes from those classic games, that isn’t the whole story. “It’s hard to not sound like an ’80s sidescroller when I use these sorts of sounds, but I think I’ve warped, layered, and distorted things enough to create a departure, rather than an extension,” he says. He employed various Virtual Studio Technology plug-ins for the music’s source tones and utility effects, along with a collection of outboard audio gear for “adding dirt and dimension” to the sound (Capybara’s Sean Lohrisch created all of the game’s sound effects, which fit snugly with DeGroot’s compositions).

Working from the demos and artwork that Capybara sent his way, DeGroot would pass tracks over to the team, with suggestions as to where they should be used in the game. Others were slotted into the levels/worlds they seemed to suit, according to the designers.

Influences range from the soundtracks of “Mega Man” games to “Ninja Gaiden II” to “Metroid,” the latter of which DeGroot notes is “so sparse at times — a bold departure from most game soundtracks of the era.” When asked to describe the feel of the music he’s created for “Super Time Force,” DeGroot has no single adjective to sum it up: “All over the place,” he says. “Upbeat, dark, driving, ambient, broken, and dope beats.”