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Video Game / SimTunes

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SimTunes is a music video game released for Windows by Maxis in 1996. It's one of the lesser known Sim City spinoffs, in the vein of Sim Town, Sim Park, and SimEarth. The game involves creating pixel art, with each color assigned to a note. All the while, four "Bugz" — tiny, living musical instruments — meander across the screen to be directed by the player across the colored dots. The result is a combination of an art maker and a music maker.


This Video Game contains examples of:

  • All Drummers Are Animals: Zoundz, the keeper of animal noises, is under the red/percussion Bugz.
  • All Guitars Are Stratocasters: The fittingly-named Strats. Averted by Ace, who's a Flying V, though.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: There can only be four Bugz in a single song; one of each color. Yellow and green tend to be melody and harmony, with which is which interchangeable. Blue is bass, and red is percussion.
  • Ballad of X: Ballad Of Outlaws, one of the Gallery songs.
  • Bizarre Instrument: Twang, described as an "Intergalactic Guitar", is the only instrument in the game that doesn't actually exist in some form. He sounds a bit like a shamisen, but not exactly.
  • B-Side: Played with. Choosing "custom directory" in Settings and going with the default path given, labeled as "TUNESB", as explained in the manual, leads to some hidden songs in the Load menu.
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  • CamelCase: Along with the game's title, the Gallery songs AhoCalypso, BugzLabo, CityTalk, and DenDen Rappa are also named in this way.
  • Creepy Circus Music: The hidden tracks "Crazy Clown" and "what a circus". The lowercase in the latter is not a typo.
  • Feelies: At least one version of the game came with a small harmonica with the game's logo printed on it.
  • Funny Animal: Max the Conductor, one of the only named characters in the game who isn't a Music Bug, is a mouse in a tuxedo.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: "DenDen means 'snail' in Japanese. Rappa means 'horn'. So DenDen Rappa means..."
  • Hidden Track: See B-Side.
  • Hive Caste System: The bugs are insects crossed with musical instruments.
  • I Am the Band: Loopy, one of the Blue Bugz. They combine notes from Bassie, Strats, Chordelia, and Beats.
  • Jungle Drums: "Drummer", one of the Gallery songs.
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  • Meaningful Name: Every Music Bug, to the point of being Exactly What It Says on the Tin for most of them. From the Pings and Keys to Slaps the Slap Bass to Strings the Violin...
  • Recurring Riff: The set of three "notes" that Loopy plays, immediately recognizable by the ascending and descending Chordelia sample; used on the main menu, the credits, "Dog in Ten", and, of course, "Title Track".
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Most songs and pictures will use the Chromatic scale, where all colors are available. However, there are other scales available, and choosing one of those will "black out" several of them, making them unselectable. While this makes musical composition a bit easier by restricting notes to ones that sound good together, making images to go with it becomes considerably harder.
  • Spiritual Successor: SimTunes designer Toshio Iwai would later go on to design Electroplankton, a game for the Nintendo DS with a remarkably similar premise.
  • Visual Pun: The gallery song "World Music". It has a very exotic tune... set to a world map.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Music Bugz.

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