Hitting the High Notes

By Merman (Andrew Fisher)

This is the first in a new regular feature for Remix64. Each time I hope to highlight the work of an original composer, a gifted remixer, or a classic tune that keeps being remixed. We start with DELTA, a masterpiece from Rob Hubbard.


There are 13 subtunes in the game? Rob covered sections of his own Thalamusik tune and his version of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet from Sanxion to provide short jingles for collecting a power-up, an extra life and so on.

Gary Liddon, then a producer at Thalamus, suggested that Rob’s in-game music should sound like Pink Floyd? Rob took his inspiration from On the Run, a track from the band’s classic album Dark Side of the Moon.

Rob used a minimalist composition method, inspired by Phillip Glass? Tracks from Delta are partly inspired by Phillip’s music for the film Koyaanisqatsi.

ZZAP! 64 gave the game a 74% rating? Negative comments from Gary Penn dragged the overall score way down.

Thalamus called ARMALYTE the sequel to Delta as a marketing ploy.


After the fun of playing around with the Mix-e-load system, Delta hits you with a Hubbard classic on the title screen. Pounding drums and arpeggios get you ready for battle as you watch the smart demonstration mode, select your options and see how many points you need to get onto the high score table…

The in-game tune rates very highly in most people’s books. It is the perfect accompaniment to the action. As the enemies keep coming at you, so does the music, changing mood and tempo.

Should you ever manage to complete the game, you are presented with a Hubbard original. The victory theme is both joyous and sad at the same time, with the familiar Hubbard sounds creating a triumphant finish.


So, how does Delta sound on CD?

Chris Abbott starts and ends the first BACK IN TIME collection with tunes from Delta. DELTA 97 (the title tune) saw him collaborate with Rob himself; the final arrangement has a good drumbeat and some bubbling keyboards in the background. Many people have commented before on the trumpet lead, so I don’t have to.
The CD closes in laid-back fashion with the Champagne Supermix of the Victory tune. The acoustic guitar sample and twinkling chords stick close to the original and sound both victorious and introspective.

The Wonderful Ambience mix of the Victory theme appears on the KARMA64 album. Thanks to the Korg keyboard, the sounds are much richer.

BACK IN TIME 3 provides us with Chris’s swirling, intense interpretation of the in-game theme. The familiar lead is played in a deeper octave here, making it echoing and brooding. The ringing cymbal sounds build up to the orchestral middle section, the brass shouting out over some speaker-throbbing bass. This is an epic achievement from Chris and Boz, perfectly suited to the sci-fi storyline and THE VOYAGE HOME…

The BACK IN TIME 3 COMPANION also features more Delta – no less than 9 different remixes in fact. Chris shows us how the BIT3 mix developed, and gives us more of his own takes on the victory and title themes. Axeman steps up with some mad guitar work, while Terminal Storm brings us club beats and synth solos as he cleverly segues between the in-game theme and the title tune.


Perform a search for delta on RKO and you currently get no less than 28 tunes. Among the highlights are the two from Axeman and Terminal Storm, along with 02’s ambient mix (complete with Sash-style female voice), Tomsk who re-created the tune using Music 2000 on his Playstation, and Phil Bak’s Minimal mix which has some nice piano work. Also worth a mention is Pippo Noviello’s Spanish Guitar mix, which tries something different and works quite well.


Thank you for joining me on a journey into the soundsscapes of Delta, next time I’ll be concentrating on a well-known composer and seeing how the remixers of today have handled the task of interpreting his classic tunes…