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Extracted video game music

Introduction

For starters, as the name suggests, 'extracted' means it's taken out of something. Devote classic gaming fans dove into the programming of video games and pulled out the songs. With the proper software you can play these songs as if they were MP3 music files! Cool huh?! Extracted video game music offers three big advantages:

1. Their memory size is incredibly small!
2. Being that these are the actual programming of the songs, you're hearing them at their best possible quality!
3. They can be converted to WAV for custom audio CDs or converted to MP3 for your MP3 player!

Each video game system has their own format of extracted video game music. They are the following:

NSF - Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) music
GBS - Game Boy (GB) & Game Boy Color (GBC) music
SPC & RSN - Super Nintendo (SNES) music
GSF - Game Boy Advance (GBA) music
USF - Nintendo 64 (N64) music

GYM, VGZ & VGM - Genesis / Mega Drive music
KISS - Game Gear / Sega Master System Drive music

HES - TurboGrafx16 music

PSF - Playstation 1 (PSX) music

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Winamp and the Plug-ins

Ever heard of Winamp? It's one of the most popular music players on Windows. The cool thing about Winamp is that it accepts custom made plug-ins. Hence, the classic gaming community created special plug-ins that give us the ability to play extracted video game music with Winamp! To make installing these plug-ins easy you, the gaming community created Chipamp, which automatically installs ALL extracted music plug-ins into Winamp with one easy install wizard. Hence, setting yourself up only takes two steps:

1. Download Winamp from their site (it's free) and install it. During the install choose the Classic skin.

2. Download Chipamp from here (it's 3.38 MB) and install it.

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Extracting music collections (RAR files)

Highslide JSMost extracted game music soundtracks come in RAR files. To extract from RAR files you'll be needing software like Extract Now or 7-zip (which are free). Here are directions with Extract Now:

1. Drag the RAR file into the white box (as shown toward the right).
2. Click Extract (as shown toward the right).
3. A new folder will appear in the same folder where the RAR file is. That's the extracted files.

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Opening songs for the first time

All extracted video game music songs will first appear as an unknown file or some weird certificate file. Below are directions on how to change the association of a file format to Winamp on Windows 7 & Vista. (On Windows XP it's pretty much the same.)

1. Right-click the music file and go to Properties.
2. The Properties window will pop up. Click Change.
3. The Open With window will pop up. Click Browse.
4. As shown here, click the down arrow next to "OS(C)" and click Program Files (x86).
5. As shown here, scroll down and double-click Winamp to open it.
6. As shown here, click on "winamp.exe" and click Open.
7. Click Okay, Apply, Okay yadda yadda and you're done. From now on, that music format will open up in Winamp. This must be done (just once) for each format of extracted video game music.

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Super Nintendo SPC vs. RSN

In my FantasyAnime's shrines for SNES RPGs you'll notice a download for the SPC soundtrack and a download for the RSN soundtrack. So what's the difference? Well, it depends on your preference.

SPC soundtracks
SPC's consist of individual songs. You might prefer this if you're accustomed to playing MP3's. The only drawback with SPC soundtracks is that not all songs have a proper end time configured, which only poses a problem when you want to convert the songs to WAV or MP3. The SNES plug-in SNESamp defaults songs with no end time to 3 minutes. You can adjust this; check out Important Notes for directions.

RSN soundtracks
RSN's are a single file. All RSN songs have a proper end time configured, so RSN is ideal for WAV/MP3 conversion. You can browse among songs in an RSN soundtrack by:

• Click Previous Track & Next Track.

• Bring up the Winamp Playlist window to browse and choose a specific song. To do so: right-click Winamp and click Playlist editor, as shown here.

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Genesis GYM vs. VGM

They're both the same thing. Their difference is in how they were prepared.

GYM soundtracks
GYM songs are sloppy. Not all of them begin and end properly. To make matters worse, the Winamp GYM plug-in is buggy and crashes easily.

VGM soundtracks
VGM songs are perfect, just like soundtracks for all other extracted game music formats.

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Important Notes

Be gentle!

After clicking to open an extracted music song, wait a second or two before clicking the next one. If you open the next song too quickly then nothing will happen, or Winamp might stall or even crash.

No End Time

This applies to Super Nintendo SPC, Nintendo NSF, and Genesis GYM music. Most music ends at its proper time, just like an MP3. However, not all do. Having no end time poses a problem when you want to convert the music to WAV or MP3, because you'll end up getting a soundtrack with every song ending at 2 minutes. With Super Nintendo SPC music this isn't a problem, because you can just download the Super Nintendo RSN soundtrack which have proper end times. But with Genesis GYM and Nintendo NSF you're screwed. Once in WAV format, you'd have to download an audio editor and end the songs manually.

Adjusting End Time when there is none

For this I'll refer to Super Nintendo SPC music since that's the most popular. By default, the SPC plug-in SNESamp ends songs with no end time at 3 minutes. But what if you want to adjust it to 5 minutes, or 10 minutes? This is how you adjust the end time:
1. Right-click Winamp, click Options, then Preferences - as shown here.
2. You'll arrive here. As my little diagram shows: (1) scroll down this list, (2) click Input, (3) click Alpha-II SPC Player, (4) click Configure.
3. Click the Time tab, as show here. Where it says "Auto End" is where you can adjust the end time.
4. When you've entered the new time, click OK and close Preferences. You're done! :)

RSN, NSF & GBS music are a single file

Super Nintendo RSN, Nintendo NSF, and Game Boy GBS are a single file instead of individual song files. Browsing among songs is easy. You can either:

• Click Previous Track & Next Track.

• Bring up the Winamp Playlist window to browse and choose a specific song. To do so: right-click Winamp and click Playlist Editor, as shown here.

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Converting Songs to WAV

Here's how you can convert extracted video game music to WAV files. This is done in Winamp.

1. Open Winamp if you haven't already. Also, if you have Repeat (Loop) enabled, disable it.
2. Right-click Winamp, click Options, then Preferences - as shown here.
3. You'll arrive here. As my little diagram shows: (1) scroll down this list, (2) click Output, (3) click Nullsoft Disk Writer, (4) click Configure.

*If you don't see Nullsoft Disk Writer on this screen, you can download it here. Or you can go to Winamp.com and look for "disk writer" in their search.

4. Here in the configuration screen you can choose where you want the WAV files to get tossed to. In this case I have it so that they appear on my desktop. Click OK when you're done and close the Preferences window.
5. Winamp is now configured to export anything is plays to WAV! Go ahead and open a song you want converted. Winamp will look as if it will play the song, but instead you'll hear silence and the is just speeding across. When it reaches the end the conversion is complete. That's it! It's quick and easy, huh?
6. When you're done you need to go back into Options > Preferences > Output and switch Winamp back to Nullsoft Direct Sound Output so that it can play music again.

And then you can use your favorite burning software to create your own audio CDs! Er, do you have favorite burning software? iTunes can burn audio CDs. Imgburn (which is free) can do it, too.

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Converting Songs to MP3

You can do so quickly and efficiently with an awesome free program known as WinLAME. You can download WinLAME here (1.5 MB). Here are directions to convert WAV to MP3 with WinLAME:

1. First you need to convert the video game music to WAV, as I just explained above.

2. Open WinLAME. Click on the button, look for the folder where the WAVs are, select them all, then click on Open. You should see the WAV files you selected listed on the white box. Click Next to go to the next screen.

3. You'll arrive at the "Output Settings" screen. Under "Output Module" it should say LAME mp3 Encoder, as shown here. Click Next to go to the next screen.

4. You'll arrive at the "Presets" screen. The default is fine, just click Next to go to the next screen.

5. You'll arrive at the "Encoding" screen. Click to begin the converting.

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Filling MP3 tags

This is important to do if you want your MP3-converted songs to sort properly on music players that sort songs by artist or album. Windows 7 & Vista allows you to edit MP3 tags very easily! Like so:

1. Right-click the MP3 file then left-click on Properties.

2. Click on the Details tab, as shown here. All these fields you see can be edited - click on a field to type text in it. Click OK when you're done.

BUT, what if you have like 1,000 MP3 songs that you want to edit all at once? Well now you're talkin! Just use "Mp3tag" to do that. Here are directions:

1. Download Mp3tag and install it.

2. Click on to choose the folder that contains the MP3 files you want to edit, then click on Select Folder, as so.

3. Now select the MP3 songs you want to batch edit. Either press Ctrl+A to select all of them, or hold down the Shift key to select a specific set.

4. Take notice of the left part of the screen. Here you can fill in any fields you wish. You might see a "<keep>" label in some fields; leave that if you want the selected MP3 files to keep that field with the existing label. When you're done, click and your changes will be saved. If you made a mistake - that's ok; just repeat the process to correct it.

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If you're a Mac user

Unfortunately, this entire tutorial is useless to you. But all is not lost! The same guy who ported over all of Mac's best video game emulators, Richard Bannister, also created a special media player for playing any extracted video game music format. It's called Audio Overload. It even lets you export to WAV if you want to make audio CDs or convert to MP3.

Also, keep in mind that iTunes can convert WAV-to-MP3 and it can edit the tags of MP3's. However, I don't know how so don't ask me... Google around.

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I want more!

Given that my FantasyAnime only offers extracted video game music for its covered RPGs, you're probably starving for more soundtracks. Here are the best websites:

SNESmusic.org - The #1 resource for Super Nintendo RSN soundtracks.

PSF Mirror - The #1 resource for Playstation PSF soundtracks.

USF Central - The home of the Nintendo64 USF format. They offer every availble USF soundtrack.

Project 2612 - The #1 resource for Genesis VGM music.

Zophar's Domain - A great place everything! They offer every available extracted music soundtrack for every gaming system. You just have to endure the annoying advertisements.

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Q: How can I convert select songs from multiple soundtracks at once?

So you have a bunch of individual songs from multiple soundtracks and multiple video game systems, and you don't want to have to click on each one to convert them all. You're going to run into one of two scenarios here, depending on the different systems you have music for.

For mass converting Super Nintendo RSN, NIntendo NSF, and Gameboy GBS
RSN/NSF/GBS is a little tricky. As you should know already, you can browse among a single RSN/NSF/GBS soundtrack in WinAmp's Playlist Editor. You can remove RSN/NSF/GBS songs from the Playlist Editor to make a custom playlist for conversion. If you double-click to open another RSN/NSF/GBS soundtrack, the Playlist Editor refreshes and removes the custom work you've done. If you drop & drop an RSN/NSF/GBS soundtrack to the Playlist Editor when one is already open, it embeds itself in the list as a single item and hence cannot be customized for custom conversion. PSF/USF/SPC/GSF/VGM songs are not an issue at all, you can just simply drag & drop your desired PSF/USF/SPC/GSF/VGM songs to the Playlist Editor along with whatever RSN/NSF/GBS setup you already have.
• Super Nintendo RSN soundtracks are an exception because those are actually SPC songs in a RAR file. If you extract the RSN, you can convert multiple soundtracks by dragging all the RSN-extracted SPC's to the Playlist Editor.

For mass converting all other formats
Bring up WinAmp's "Playlist Editor". To do so, right-click Winamp and click Playlist Editor, as shown here. Simply drag & drop the songs you want to convert to the Playlist Editor window. Set WinAmp to convert, then double-click on the first song to start converting the list.

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