“For Harmony of a Hunter Returns, Darren reached out to me after Chernabogue recommended me for the project back in November 2020. Darren was particularly looking for a chiptune cover for the album in order to add more genre variety. We discussed terms, and then I looked over the tracklist to see what I wanted to pick. I wanted to stick with a track that was both melodic and higher energy in order to play to both chiptune and my own strengths. I eventually landed on Metroid Prime 2’s Sanctuary Fortress.
My main sources of inspiration going in were branflakes’ 8-bit Torvus Bog rendition, as well as a recent Metroid synthwave cover I had made. I was initially going to try to blend the two and see what “8-bit synthwave” sounded like. I was even going to invite a guitarist onboard! The idea there was to have the guitarist solo over the track, and then I would transcribe the solo into Famitracker. My experiment did not pan out, haha.
As I worked through transcribing some of the arpeggiated background lines, I began to imagine the track being a sort of hacker-style minigame. Samus walks up to the entrance of Sanctuary Fortress, then hacks into the main computer in order to extend the light bridge to the rest of the facility. The typing heard at the beginning spells out “L-U-M—I-N—O-T-H”, a password of sorts. Then a login sound plays. Of course, Samus’ login hacker theme is her appearance fanfare! Then, the cover begins. As a quick aside, I wrote this track in Famitracker (2A03+VRC6), and then imported into FL Studio for a bit of mixing and panning.
Since ambience is not chiptune’s strength (or rather, I am not skilled enough to pull off ambient music with chiptune, haha), I filled out the track with more groove-styled elements. I kept the key rhythm of the original bass line, but fleshed it out to give the track a little more bounce. I also added in some more chippy-type elements, like slides and “glitches”. I replaced the original’s more orchestral/ambient drum rhythms with something more akin to a drumkit. After that, the melody of Sanctuary Fortress plays rather unaltered. I added in some rhythmic “stabs” for a little more punch. I also shortened some of the gaps in the original track to move forward.
At 1:48, I move into Sanctuary Fortress Depths, keeping the same sort of mentality used in the first half of the track. I took the opportunity here to add in some solos with my usual scheme of the first solo being more lyrical, the second more technical. The way the solos came to me were actually based off of other Metroid melodies! 1:57-2:14 is based off of the Luminoth’s general motif, as heard in tracks like Prime 2’s Sky Temple Gateway. 2:14-2:31 is based off of Metroid Prime’s Phendrana Drifts. The solos aren’t very close to the originals, but the source tracks were enough of a jumping off point for me at least! After that, it’s back to Sanctuary Fortress, and eventually to the end of the track where I cut the drums and focus more on chords.
Thank you so much for reading this somewhat lengthy write-up. I hope you enjoy reading others’ write-ups, along with listening to their tracks!”