Wizorb by Jean Chan
“Please master Cyrus, save Gorudo!”
Road to Melancholia
Grab your staff and join Master Cyrus on his quest to bust some boxes and save the doomed kingdom of Gorudo with Wizorb by Jean Chan! Pressed on blue and red orb picture disc vinyl by Yetee Records, this soundtrack is one of gaming’s greatest hidden gems. Join me as we take an in-depth behind the music look at what makes this album so special from composer Jean Chan herself. Being one of my favorite indie soundtracks of all time, I was immediately blown away when Yetee Records announced they would be pressing this to vinyl. Coming in at a little over seventeen minutes, what Wizorb lacks in length more than makes up for in pure, unequivocal enjoyment.
Based out of Montréal, Jean Chan’s gravitation towards video game music and development came as a natural evolution within herself:
“As far as I can remember, I grew up playing games and I have always loved the fictional universes and stories of them. But then I also like music and creating new melodies. So composing music for games was a way for me to mix those two passions together.”
Jean’s career with Tribute Games began back in 2011 when she joined the team to help bring the wonderful world of Wizorb to life. While this is the only soundtrack she has done, what she has accomplished here will be enjoyed by many for years to come. Who knows, there might be more Jean Chan coming soon…
The Waltz of the Forest Slimes
Set out with Reaper as her Direct Audio Workstation (DAW), equipped with “plugins peach, toad and triforce by Tweakbench, and the Magical 8-bit plugin by YMCK,” Jean began her own musical journey. With only a few sprites from the game for reference, she began to craft the framework that would become the compositional tapestry of Cyrus’ world. Drawing from the great games and composers that moved her early in her life and career, Jean gives some insight into what inspired her writing process:
“For the project at the time, I was exploring the world of chiptune and fiddling with various plugins that create "chiptuny" sounds. The sounds themselves were a source of inspiration. In terms of games, I'd say Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy VI's World Map Theme (epic!) and many of Nobuo Uematsu's works.”
With inspiration came muse, and much like the greats before her the music began to pour out of her soul like a chalice running over. She reminisced with me about a time when her writing truly moved her like it has moved anyone who has listened to her work:
“It took me only one whole day to write the piece The Waltz of the Forest Slimes, and while I was composing it, the melody struck my heart so hard that tears would be running down my cheeks as I was recording it. That's when I knew I nailed it on this one and that it was good hahaha.”
Echoes of Depth
Lackadaisical bits, cascading chiptune trills, and a triplet bassline carry you off into this perilous and challenging box-exploding, orb-bouncing adventure! Jean’s carefully choreographed and moving tones ricochet from channel to channel as you traipse through the doomed kingdom of Gorudo. The different town and locale themes guide you along this hypnotic and thrilling wall of tones. Squishy forest slimes and the menacing all-gazing eye of the Gorgon will trap you in the soundtrack’s nostalgic grip! Will you have what it takes to defeat the Demon King?
Dimension X Oddity
From “Tarot Village,” to “The Clover Beat,” throughout all the peaceful and methodical melodies sprinkled throughout the album, the listener is lead to an almost ominous and droning darkness in “Dimension X Oddity,” breathing new life into the reprise of Cyrus’ theme with “Peace & Joy” on side B. This album is quite rhythmic in its compositions that it makes for infinite enjoyment as you play each level over and over. The song “Bubbly Goodness” is definitely a highlight here, and one of my favorite tracks on the album. It never fails to bring a smile to my face -- perhaps it’s from all the riches I remember gathering to the bouncing tones? It’s just one of those tracks that you can’t help but dance along to as the record spins. Wizorb’s soundtrack is filled with many special moments like this. I often found myself humming the music long after I turned off my turntable and returned the magical wax to a protective sleeve. That’s the thing about Wizorb: no matter how many times I listen to it, I never get tired of the journey.
Yetee Records always does such a great job, and this release is more proof of their excellence. Released back in 2017 as a part of their Tribute Games lineup along with Curses N’ Chaos, Wizorb should be a mainstay in anyone’s collection. Coming as quite a surprise for many, including myself, as this was one of the soundtracks I had always wanted on vinyl. The pressing here is pretty good, especially for a picture disc (the technology has come a long way). Only a few minor pops or clicks here or there on what is overall a great sounding release mastered in house by Marc Junker. The orbs look fantastic and are a blast to watch as they spin around and around like their pixelated counterparts in game. The added “Level Complete” track to the end of this album was a cute touch, and really adds to the overall presentation of this album as a whole. Packaging here was designed by the legendary Drew Wise, and is a precursor, I believe, to his work on EQUIP's Synthetic Core 88 design. Arranged to mimic an Atari game box, the record is housed in a stunningly beautiful purple and highly stylized cover of characters from the game. The back features in-game screenshots and a description of the story you are about to discover with the legendary wizard, Cyrus. The stylistic flavor here is absolutely palpable, and oozes with the same love many of us share for this game!
Where to Buy?
Pressed to 250 copies, this soundtrack is still available in limited quantities over on The Yetee’s website. If you are a fan of this soundtrack or chiptune music in general, I feel like you couldn’t go wrong in owning this album. Jean Chan’s work here is, without a doubt, something that I think can be enjoyed by anyone. With so few copies available, I think that this is a win for anyone who’s looking for something new, or wanting to experience Wizorb again in beautiful analog format! The digital soundtrack is also available through Jean Chan’s Bandcamp page where you can stream and download the album in high quality MP3, FLAC, and more.