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The PC-98 Remix base is a custom Sparta base invented by Jedi787plus, and it is considered to be the very first 16-bit custom base and the first to be arranged with old command-line computer music tools rather than sophisticated user-friendly software.

thumb|480px|left|This 16-bit Sparta Remix Contains Danmaku from the PC-98 Era

Technical Background

The PC-98 Remix base is based on an old-school music-synthesis technique known as Frequency Modulation Synthesis (FM-Synthesis for short). This was the basis for most electronic musical instruments of the 1980's and early 1990's, and it was also the basis for music generation on most 16-bit (and a few 8-bit) computer, arcade, and video game platforms, most notably the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, the SNK Neo Geo arcade and home systems, the Japanese NEC PC-9801 family of computers (also called PC-98 and thus the name of this base), and the early Creative Labs Sound Blaster soundcards for IBM PCs and compatibles.

Although most of its melody is done via FM-synthesis, this base also makes use of (also old-school) programmable sound generation (PSG) (called software-controlled sound generation or SSG by famous soundchip maker Yamaha) for square-wave (8-bit-ish) backing melody and percussion effects, just like the Neo Geo systems and most PC-98 computer games (most notably the original Touhou Project vertical shooter games), so technically it is an FM+PSG (or FM+SSG) Sparta base (rather than a pure FM-synthesized base).

History

V1: Version 1

This version used three FM channels (#1 for vibraphone, #2 for guitar, and #3 for bass) and two SSG channels (#1 for backing "buzzer" melody, and #3 for what could be considered some cheap, ill-rudimentary "percussion" effects, although they sounded more like pseudo-random noise; #2 was left unused); it was supposed to resemble music coming out of a Yamaha YM2203 (OPN) soundchip as used in old PC-98 systems. Jedi787 remixed this base with an intentionally-degraded, 4-bit ADPCM version of King Leonidas's famous "This Is Sparta!" quote and uploaded this remix as This Is Sparta in 16 bits! (PC-98 Remix) to YouTube on September 13, 2009 at 6:09 AM Pacific Time after several sleepless hours, then he went to sleep nine hours. When he woke up, he saw that his new video had surpassed the 300-view mark in less than nine hours, thus forcing him to immediately publish the base for use by other YouTube remixers (however, nobody seemed to make any other remix with this base). Never had Jedi gotten such an instant bump in viewership before in his YouTube career. Nobody, however, seemed to use this base for an actual remix, even though it was downloaded 15 times (in two different formats) from Jedi's MediaFire account.

V2: Version 2

Jedi787 was, however, not satisfied with the cheap SSG percussion effects he had inserted on his first version of the base. He originally wanted to exactly reproduce the percussion done by Jun'ya Ota (太田順也 or ZUN), the creator of the Touhou Project, but couldn't find any way to do this by directly typing MML note commands for SSG channel #3. So he consulted the SoundShock chipmusic forum for help; someone from the forum told him to use rather the virtual "K" channel (which indirectly maps anyway to SSG #3) and some special "@" preset commands preceding each percussion note. So he did, and this time he achieved real, ZUN-quality SSG percussion. He also decided to experiment with instrument switching on FM channel #1: instead of just having the vibraphone all the time on this channel, he alternated between brass, vibraphone (now at a lower octave), and some kind of synthetic organ. He also made use of the originally-unused SSG channel #2 for a lower-frequency "buzzer" melody. He released, using this new V2 base, This Is Sparta in 16 bits! (PC-98 Remix V2) on September 17, 2009, 6:29 PM Pacific. However, unlike the case with V1, this second version was not very well received by most of his subscribers, especially because of the brass and the lower-pitch vibraphone, and thus this remix was not bumped in viewership like the first one. The base was never released to public download, either, until after the V3 base was released.

V3: Version 3 (OPNA Mix) - "the definitive version"

thumb|480px|right|This Is Sparta! (PC-98 Remix V3: OPNA Mix) Jedi787 later worked on a third version of this base; unlike his first two versions, which made use of at most three FM channels (the maximum possible on the OPN chip), he decided to step it up and use six FM channels (as was the case of the Yamaha YM2608 (OPNA) soundchip used in the Speakboard PC-98 soundcard - the exact same soundcard for which the original Touhou music was composed). While he kept essentially the same instrumentation on his first three FM channels (save for a few newly-added or tweaked notes) from V2, he reintroduced his original high-pitched vibraphone from V1 into FM channel #4, added a second brass to FM #5 and a second organ to FM #6, increased usage of his first two SSG channels by adding more square-wave notes to the score, and also tweaked the percussion notes on the "K" channel (indirectly mapping to SSG #3). He also made use of the OPNA's available "Rhythm Module" (which on a physical Speakboard card would interface with some ROM chip containing Pulse-Code Modulation (PCM) percussion samples) to complement his SSG percussion for more realistic percussion effects (just like the Touhou games). In addition, he made adjustments to the overall FM and SSG volume settings to allow for better hearing of the "Rhythm Module" percussion effects.

He remixed this newly-crafted V3 base with yet the same ADPCM-degraded "This Is Sparta!" quote and released it as This Is Sparta! (PC-98 Remix V3: OPNA Mix) on September 30, 2009, 2:20 PM Pacific. Its reception has been more favorable this time, and currently it has attained more than 1000 views, thus surpassing the nearly-1000-viewership status of V1. Supdawg444 and one of Jedi787's subscribers called this third version "the definitive one"; another subscriber later commented that this base "sounds like something from the old Touhou games". Indeed, this base was arranged to resemble classic Touhou music - not only the SSG percussion resembles Touhou percussion, but also the instrument settings for the brass, the vibraphones, and the organ were directly pulled from the OPNA's driver registers while playing old Touhou music on the Hoot Sound Hardware Emulator. Unlike the case of V1, V3 was immediately released to public download via MediaFire, and as of October 29, 2009, it has been downloaded 22 times in three different formats.

To stop the V1 remix from gaining any further viewership, he set it to "private viewership"; he also set the V2 remix to private as well, even though nobody got to download or use the V2 base. So, currently, V3 is the only remix that can still be accessed by everyone. Setting V1 and V2 to "private" has partly helped V3 get more than 1000 views.

Jedi787 has recently done a VERY SMALL tweak to his V3 base (basically a slight elongation of the final note played by three FM channels and one SSG channel; everything else remains the same), which results in the V3.1 base, available for download below. AND MOST RECENTLY, he again did another VERY VERY SMALL tweak to the V3.1 base (technically another slight elongation of the final note played by each one of all melody channels; everything else remains the same), resulting in the V3.2 base, also available for download below.

thumb|320px|left|Tonight We Dine in Hell! (200-Subscriber Special #2)

Usage

Currently, apart from the This Is Sparta! demonstration remixes, Jedi787 used his PC-98 Remix base (V3.1) for This 16-bit Sparta Remix Contains Danmaku from the PC-98 Era, a follow-up to his 8-bit counterpart based on Tachin1994's Mario base). He also plans to use this base again for The Hammer of Sparta PC-98 Remix.

cyanrazorCel also used V3 for his We've got to have money PC-98 V3 mix (AKA WGTHMSR V5), although in this case it sounds like Cel made some changes to the base.

Thunderbirds76 also used V3 for Santa Has a Sparta PC-98 Remix.

For his 200-subscriber special, Jedi787 intentionally degraded the famous "Tonight We Dine in Hell" quote from the movie 300 to 8-bit, 16-kHz quality (considered LO-FI by today's standards, but that was the maximum bit depth/sampling rate supported by the OPNA's ADPCM channel), then compressed it to 4-bit ADPCM format (to make it OPNA-correct) before remixing it into Tonight We Dine in Hell! (Sparta PC-98 Remix), so it sounds like "authentic 16-bit" old-school audio (or at least PC-98-hardware-correct audio).

Tools Used

This base (in all its versions) was written in Music Macro Language (MML), a plain-text-based approach to music composition that is typically used by old, experienced chiptune makers (younger chiptune makers prefer to use modern, more user-friendly "trackers" or even FL Studio, Supdawg's favorite tool) and was largely used by video game music composers for both 8-bit and 16-bit music. MML syntax varies from one gaming platform to another and also from one compiler to another; the specific kind of MML used for this Sparta base was PMD98 MML, invented by Masahiro Kajihara (梶原正裕 or KAJA) in 1989 and used by many PC-88 and PC-98 game music composers like ZUN.

The MML compiler used to compile this base into KAJA's P.M.D' or PMD98 music format (.M, .M2, .M26, .M86) was MC.EXE, a command-line compiler that can only be run on Microsoft's old MS-DOS operating system; to run it on modern operating systems like Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 (especially the 64-bit versions of XP/Vista/7), Linux, or Mac OS X, you will need a DOS emulator like DOSBox (which emulates an IBM PC-compatible) or Anex86 (which emulates a NEC PC-98-compatible - the exact same thing you would need to run those old Touhou games today).

The obscure P.M.D file format only stores the notes, note lengths, instrument definitions, and other music-control commands that are sent to the soundchip (in much the same way General MIDI stores notes, note lengths, instrument assignments, and other controls that are sent to the keyboard's, or soundcard's, MIDI driver), rather than actual waveforms as is done on sampled audio formats like uncompressed PCM (.WAV, .AIF, .AU), MPEG Audio Layer 3 (.MP3), Windows Media Audio (.WMA), and MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) (.AAC, .M4A). To convert the Sparta base from PMD98 (.M) to uncompressed PCM (.WAV), Jedi787 used a Windows-based PMD98 player called FMPMD2000.

Base Downloads

V1:

V2:

V3 (OPNA Mix):

V3.1 (slightly-tweaked OPNA Mix):

V3.2 (slightly-slightly-tweaked OPNA Mix):

MP3 format is not available for any of these bases because Jedi787 insists it is "as outdated as VHS".

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