Crash Nitro Kart Rescore

by Patrick Chong

Crash and Burn
And do it all over again

Inspiration #

I’ve always had fond memories of the Crash Bandicoot racing games because they remind me of the days in middle school when I used to play the game with my friends on the Playstation. Here’s a snippet of gameplay footage when four people are playing at the same time:

If you noticed, the backing track is pretty quiet and simple during the race. There’s just a little percussion to keep the pace of the race going, and the main sounds that the player hears are the exhaust of the cars and sound effects of the power-ups. So I thought, why not try to create a more interesting backing track for the race? For the piece to sound more like the real deal, I decided to take certain motifs from the main theme of Crash Nitro Kart and build on them to create a brand new race track. Here’s the Crash Nitro Kart Theme:

Composition Process #

In terms of the vibe of the game, Crash Nitro Kart is a wacky and fun racing game. I tried my best to stay true to the feel of the theme music, which has a lot of syncopation with a certain funkiness that comes from the C minor pentatonic scale centered note choice.
I also attempted to imitate the instrumentation of the theme music by using similar sounding marimbas and brass instruments because I felt that they were iconic to the theme, and developed the other instruments around those sounds.

Software #

I used Ableton to do my composition and arrangement. However, I found the drum sounds in Ableton really subpar so I used Garage Band’s Drummer feature on my iPad to create some drum loops that fit what I needed for the track, exported them to Google Drive, and then imported them into Ableton on my laptop. I played all the other instruments (Marimba, Bass, Strings, Brass) using my laptop keyboard.

I added the gameplay video in because I feel that it gives listeners a good sense of what’s going on. I also found some royalty-free sport car sounds from and added them to the track because the “feel” was incomplete without it. What’s a racing game track without the sound of car engines right?

After I was done with the race track, I decided to try a hand at creating some pre-race sounds and a post-race victory track to make a more holistic video game rescore experience. Here’s the completed piece, enjoy!

Final Thoughts #

I found the rescoring process quite difficult when using existing motifs because it was hard initially to break away from the preexisting melodic lines that I’m used to hearing, but it worked out with some experimentation. Overall I was quite satisfied with what I created, and it was a very refreshing experience sitting in the driver’s seat (pun intended) to dictate how the music should affect the game experience.