Game That Tune


Drum And Space

VVVVVV’s soundtrack is an excursion into the danciest corners of the retro galaxy.

By Derrick Sanskrit • November 29, 2012

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

Song: “Pushing Onwards”
Composer: Magnus “SoulEye” Pålsson
Game: VVVVVV (2010)

Just because you’re trapped on an unfamiliar space station filled to the brim with death traps doesn’t mean you can’t get down to some funky jams now and then. Terry Cavanagh knew this as he was developing his lighthearted romp through certain doom, VVVVVV, which is why he brought noted chiptune wizard Magnus “SoulEye” Pålsson on board for the game’s original score. Just lo-fi enough to believably mesh with Cavanagh’s Atari 2600 aesthetic, SoulEye’s soundtrack brings you back to the old days when games were hard and you loved them for it, particularly when they had songs as brilliantly motivational as “Pushing Onwards.”

Do you feel that? That pounding excitement, equal parts dread and wonder pressing you to keep moving ahead? The constant three-note bass line is the driving force of motion, a steady reminder that forward is the only option. Staccato pulses and blips reinforce the sense of alien uncertainty while generating urgency. Dueling sine wave synths create a swirling vortex of booty-shaking from which there is no escape. Everything behind you is the past, dead and barren, brimming with one-hit kills and queasy stomachs. What lies ahead is the glorious unknown! It could be delicious pies! It could be a 10-story tall neon elephant! It could be more spikes. (It’s probably more spikes.) The only way to find out is to keep moving. Push onward!

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231 Responses to “Drum And Space”

  1. Wow, a couple of hours later and no scintillating comments?  Is Disqus broken?

    Anyways, this game = VVVVVery fun!  Hohoho!  Scintillating!

  2. Steve Lewis says:

    I love the VVVVVV soundtrack. I bought the soundtrack from SoulEye’s website and looped a few of the songs to triple their length (usually about ten minutes), and use them as workout music. They really are good motivators!

  3. Captain Internet says:

    My personal favourite from the soundtrack is Pressure Cooker

    Works best in-game, naturally, but if you don’t own VVVVVV you can simulate that by constantly saying “FUCK” to yourself while you listen.

    • Xtracurlyfries says:

      That’s how i listen to all music.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      From the yourubte comments: “It’s an orgasm of the ears! Modern day music can take this retro classic piece of art and SUCK IT!!!”

      I guess that dude didn’t know this game came out like 2 years ago, huh?

      I’m also with @twitter-23978536:disqus in that I like Positve Force more than Pushing Onwards. 

      I’ve been loving music in indie games for a while now. Hotline Miami is my latest obsession, but VVVVVV, Frozen Synapse, and Bastion (if that’s considered indie) have all had fantastic soundtracks the I bothered to add to my actual music collection.

  4. Mike Mariano says:

    So good.  I love VVVVVV, the soundtrack PPPPPP and the remix album SoulEye Adventure.

    This is the sound of spikes.

  5. RTW says:

    I love this song, yet I can’t help but feel that I’m one of only a handful of people who prefers Positive Force. They’re practically identical, and I guess it comes down to what you want from your VGM, but Positive Force just gets my adrenaline pumping so hard. Pushing Onwards is great but feels more like the jam that segues into the actual song.

    • Bowen Kerins says:

      Agreed.  The stuff at about 2:25 onward is great here, but Positive Force is pretty much all about that same greatness.  It’s a terrific “pump you up” song, totally appropriate for its spot in the game as well.

    • logicalDemoness says:

       Positive Force is my favourite track on one of my favourite game soundtracks of all time. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the final challenge that keeps you trying “just one more time” for hours. That said, its power in the game really depends on your hearing Pushing Forward first. It takes the first tune you heard in the game and punches it up even further, reminding you of how far you’ve come and creating a sense of closure. It’s like the reprise at the end of a musical.

  6. Brainstrain says:

    The soundtrack is actually called “PPPPPP” if you’re wanting to buy it on iTunes or something. Potential for Anything is my personal favorite.

    • BarbleBapkins says:

      Potential for Anything is my favorite song from the game, too, and probably one of my favorite videogame songs in general.

      On another note, the header for this article reminded me how bizarrely sad I always found the little frownie face and “BEEEEeeeww..” sound that plays whenever anything bad happens to those little stick figures to be.

  7. caspiancomic says:

    So I’ve always wondered: how do you pronounce this game’s name? Do you say every letter, like “vee vee vee vee vee vee,” or is it pronounced exactly as it’s spelt, like “vvvvvv,” like if you were imitating the sound a vacuum cleaner made?