National Video Games Examiner Patrick Hickey Jr. chats with video game composer Dren McDonald, who discusses the new remastered mobile version of John Romero’s pre-Id Software classic, “Dangerous Dave in The Deserted Pirate’s Hideout.” McDonald, the man behind the game’s new score, as well as music for several other classic games such as the Ghost Recon series and Counterstrike also discusses his goals for the game and what else he’s working on.
For more information on McDonald and his game tunes, click here.
About the game:
Dave is a redneck on a rampage to reclaim his stolen trophies from the town bully, Clyde! Dangerous Dave is back in his classic adventure in the Deserted Pirate’s Hideout. This recreation of the original 1990 DOS game is just as action-packed and difficult as the original. There are only 10 levels, but, wow, are they hard.
Patrick Hickey Jr.: Why is this game still special?
Dren McDonald: The game has a fair amount of historical significance, which is neat. If Dangerous Dave didn’t exist, they wouldn’t have tried their hand at Dangerous Dave and the Copyright Infringement, which led to the beginning of Id Software. In the 90’s it was also the most popular game in India, installed way more than Doom was, largely because it ran with lower PC specs than Doom did.
It’s also a nice reminder that video games used to be quite difficult. Getting past a level was quite significant! This game starts out easy, but really ramps up and gets hard, fast.
Hickey Jr.: How is the remastered version different aside from new visuals?
McDonald: The controls, the game play, everything, is exactly the same as the original game. John re-coded it all in Corona SDK, but he wanted it to feel the same as the original for all those folks who had been asking for the game on mobile. Oh, there’s also music in the HD version, along with new sounds!
Hickey Jr.: How does the new soundtrack change the dynamics of the game?
McDonald: The soundtrack tries to pay service to two aspects of the game..the ‘hillbilly/Louisiana’ setting of Dave’s trailer and the adventure through the swamps into the deserted pirate lairs, and the “chip” type of sounds that the original game had employed. There’s also an ambient sense of space to the music, trying to give the player a sense of ‘place’ that isn’t instantly recognizable.
I didn’t want it to instantly sound like “Deliverance” when the game opened, as that would give the player the sense of being in that movie (maybe not a great place to be…), and I didn’t think that an 8-bit or 12-bit chip sound track, straight up, would really work either. It didn’t match with the new graphics, and it’s not all that original to do that sort of thing. The game also takes place at night, so I wanted to inject a feeling of being out at night, where it’s a bit mysterious, slightly spooky, wondrous, but there are banjos, dobros and gameboys out there in the swamp!
Getting back to your question, dynamically, I think it adds mood and a tone to the game that wasn’t there previously. Plus, now everyone will remember the short six-second cue that plays when dave runs across the screen after each level.
Hickey Jr.: How do you want it to be remembered?
McDonald: I hope the game is remembered as something fun…just like most games I contribute to. If the game experience leaves the player with a memory that is positive, or nostalgic, or something worth spending their time with, then I’ll be happy.
Hickey Jr.: Bottom line, why should someone pick this up?
McDonald: The game is free on iOS, so why the heck not try it out if you have an iDevice? If they enjoy the game, they should pick up the soundtrack to play for all of their friends, and at their next wedding, and give it as a present to their siblings and cousins because it’s Wednesday! “HappyWednesday! I got you some ‘chipbilly’!”
Hickey Jr.: What’s next?
McDonald: I have a few projects I’m working on – continued work on Cooking Dash with another Id Software founder, Tom Hall, and then we have another Romero Family project, Gunman Taco Truck, coming up soon. I’ve recorded all of the music for that (all live musicians, no sample libraries or midi) and I’m in the process of mixing it all now. That is a game about the post-apocalyptic, high-demand, taco scenario where you play as the last Mexican on the planet…bringing Tacos to the world (well, largely N. America), and as you drive from town to town (where you stop to sell your tacos), each highway is a gauntlet of radiated foes, cattle and poultry that you collect for taco ingredients! The music is based in classic mariachi (in fact, we cover a traditional mariachi tune on there) but it’s mixed with the trashiness of the apocalypse…so it’s a little rough around the edges.