Keep it reactive: Composer David Wise explains N64 cartridge advantage over CD

David Wise rare logo Nintendo 64 cartridges better than discs CD CDs

Developer Rareware was a force to be reckoned with back in the Nintendo 64 days. Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day…all of these titles are classics. Some of the most memorable moments that have come out of Rare’s games are their scores. A former composer of the company, David Wise, recently waxed nostalgic about Rare’s bygone days with US Gamer. Wise, alongside fellow ex-employee, Grant Kirkhope, actually made a surprising point when he mentioned the advantages cartridges had over CDs.

David Wise is responsible for many tunes I still hum today

While Nintendo took understandable heat sticking with cartridges for the Nintendo 64 (they didn’t hold as much space as CDs), Wise offered a positive for this decision during the interview:

With the N64 having MIDI, it meant that we could have dynamic responsive scores that react to the gameplay environments. Even though our competitors could use a CD, it was a fixed track and had limited scope for reactive music.

I know exactly what he means. Granted, CDs had ways to pull off reactive music, but Banjo Kazooie‘s soundtrack adapting to Banjo submerging himself underwater is what I remember most fondly all these years later.

Kirkhope agreed with Wise’s assessment, saying the console’s limitations meant one had to give it their all when designing music for it:

You had to try your best to write a good melody and set of chords, as most of the time that was the best you could do. Rare were huge Nintendo fans, so I was constantly being reminded as to how good the Nintendo OSTs were.

This just goes to show less powerful specs don’t mean a system is inferior to another. When you have talented musicians like Wise and Kirkhope, you can make magic with anything.

Enthusiasts, are you fans of both David Wise and Grant Kirkhope? Does the image of Rare’s icon bring back a flood of childhood memories? Let us know below.

[Source, /Via]

Arthur Damian
Arthur Damian is a writer, editor, educator, and lover of video games. Based and living in Brooklyn, NY, he has been gaming since the age of five, from the NES to the Nintendo Switch. His favorite system is the SNES, his favorite game is Chrono Trigger, and you cannot convince him otherwise. He loves dogs, rainbow cookies, Spider-Man, and songs with intricate drum patterns. Arthur is also the Editor-in-Chief at That VideoGame Blog.