Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol
Favourite Track: Pineapple Ocean
I was lucky enough to speak with not only the composer Skule Toyama but also the game's director Jose Luis Abreu. Here's what they had to say.
Jose: I’m Jose Luis Abreu, and I’m the director of PopSlinger! I also produced the tracks present in the dialogue cutscenes of the game and did the writing, game design, and overall creative direction of the characters.
Skule Toyama: And I’m Skule Toyama. I'm the game composer. I did SFX and mastering for the audio and some voice acting too.
Q1: PopSlinger is an unapologetic love letter to 90s anime. Did you draw inspiration from any specific anime series from that era?
A1: (Jose) PopSlinger is most definitely a love letter to the things that I watched growing up! There’s several anime that influenced a lot of the mood of the game’s plot and characters. Particularly to me there’s Birdy the Mighty, a 90’s ova. Patlabor the mobile police force, Bubblegum crisis, Corrector Yui, Gunsmith Cats, the list goes on. A lot of these shows have very peppy characters duking it out in situations that go from kooky to serious, and I think that’s something reflected in PopSlinger as well.
Not just that but also tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider, and Ultraman played a big part in the overall plot as inspiration, you can see it through some of the sequences and animations in the game!
Q2: There has been a lot of excellent chiptune, vaporwave and lofi hiphop coming out of Mexico. Do you see any chance of a Mexican future funk scene exploding any time soon?
A2: (Skule Toyama) Future Funk is blowing up in Mexico with the help of its modest but loyal fans. Macross and many other Mexican artists are making a lot of events that share the love of future Funk to the country. You need to pay attention to the many events that take place. It went down a little bit because of the pandemic, but fans are still waiting for more.
I’m not usually forward about being a Mexican composer since that's not my intention. But I'm always happy to support and push on the Future Funk scene in Mexico.
(Jose) Personally, I have seen a great number of producers like Iden Kai come out of the woodwork recently to make amazing stuff. I’ve noticed a good number of the audience in general comes from Mexico and Latin America as well! I didn’t look into it initially, but when I found out it was a pleasant surprise.
Q3: Citypop and Future Funk share close ties with mallsoft, vaporwave and other plunderphonics related genres. Are there any artists or specific albums from those genres that had an effect on you?
A3: (Skule Toyama) The Avalanches is one of my favorite bands, so much that I know too much of it, and I can talk for hours. But I guess the sample-based songs from them made me understand that sampling is not always about using other pieces of music. Instead, it is about modifying themes within the music. A lot of retro games did sampling and inner-interpolation, so there is no doubt that it is great to make new music and at the same time you feel you have heard the song before. For the album, I had to sample and take a lot of inspiration from Kirinji and L’imperatrice. There are samples around, so looking for them would be fun for listeners.
(Jose) City Pop-wise it was all about Tatsuro Yamashita for me! Not just the music but also on a visual level, his album’s covers made by the great Hiroshi Nagai on top of the music gave me a mood I wanted to recreate in the game (Hoping we achieved it via Set District!).
Daft Punk is also a major inspiration since it is what I listened to growing up 90% the time! I was lucky enough to attend their Alive 2007 concert so that was a sign for me! Finally, there’s Hatena’s Parader album, which is something I still listen to actively today. You can see a very clear influence from the tracks of that album in the game!
Q4: PopSlinger utilizes a VHS effect for a lot of the visuals. Did that have an effect on your decision making when composing the soundtrack?
A4: (Skule Toyama) Yeah, around the level of Purple Lounge III, the Track Dark Lounge has that effect of low quality since it's tied to the story. But, honestly, I don't enjoy overusing the VHS effect because it tends to be a little cheesy, and since the switch has “Decent” speakers, doing that would be difficult to handle. But many analog synths and effects took inspiration from that retro effect. But I guess it’s a job more fitted to the visual department.
(Jose) Funny enough, The VHS effect you see in the game was actually a very late addition! If anything, I would say that the music and the feeling that we had pushed us towards that direction in order to achieve a sense of completion.
It really was a constant relationship of feedback between the visuals and the type of music that we wanted to put in the game.
Q5: What have you been gaming lately?
A5: (Skule Toyama) I have been playing a lot of Risk of Rain 2. I don't know what it is about the story and its colors. But, I like it a lot. And the music is excellent too. It's normal for me to enjoy things outside the “Retro” aesthetics, but exploring things far from it is fun and implementing them in my music.
(Jose) I have been very busy lately because of the release of the game but when I find time for it, I play a lot of OutRun, Windjammers, and Jet Set Radio! I also spent a lot of time playing NEO: The World Ends With You and listening to its amazing OST. I think I’m just wired to play games like this.