October 8, 2020 — Black Future ’88 has been released on the Nintendo Switch, and brought with it an amazing retrowave soundtrack. The game is an excellent callback to side scrollers of its namesake era with a unique premise that gamers are loving.
The game feels as if Contra and Galaga had a baby but then cryogenically froze it to take advantage of future technology. The dark backgrounds and neon lights perfectly embody the electric ‘80s feel, but it is all tied together by a soundtrack that needs to be discussed.
The soundtrack as a whole is perfect for bringing out the ambiance of a game stuck in 1988. Every song on this SKYMELT-produced soundtrack is full of retrowave music that bounces off your ears like a gymnast doing summersaults. The soundtrack begins with the short but inviting “Warden Destruct” and keeps fairly steady energy throughout, only slowing for a few songs to let your brain catch up. At nearly an hour, its not just an excellent videogame soundtrack, it’s a superb blend of music for working out or cleaning the house.
Although you will love this soundtrack as a whole, a few songs seem to rise above the rest. “We Cling to You” offers a high energy, non-stop rhythm that is reminiscent of a montage workout scene from the ‘80s while “Intruder in the Dark” is impeccably named for giving listeners the sense that they’re being relentlessly pursued. My favorite track from the entire soundtrack is “Prom Night ’88,” which is more of a chillwave vibe but so reminiscent of an ‘80s flashback. It generates a dreamlike atmosphere that allows you to float into a different time and frame of mind. The whole album is capped by “Bloodbird,” another ode to ‘80s action synth, and creates visions of good guys sneaking into the enemy’s secret hideout.
SKYMELT doubles as the name of the tower you are storming in the game as well as the producer of the soundtrack. Don Bellenger stepped in to write produce the music for the game. He isn’t just the music composer, though, as he is also the head of the company that created Black Future ‘88. While both the game and the music are equally impressive, Bellenger could have a future in the music industry if he continues to make music like this.
It is not unheard of, but it is rare for a video game soundtrack to stand on its own like this. Hopefully, with Black Future ’88 coming to Nintendo Switch, both the underrated game and its soundtrack will get some much-deserved attention. If nothing else, it shows how well retrowave works to create ambiance in video games, whether they are set in 1988 or 2020. Fans of the soundtrack will be excited to know that it is being released as a standalone album in November.