Chris Hülsbeck

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Christopher Friedrich Martin Hülsbeck
Born 1968-03-02
Birth Place Kassel, Hessen, Germany
Nationality German   Germany.svg
Aliases Chris Huelsbeck, C Huelsbeck, The Soundfactory, Chris Hüllsbeck, C. Hylsic

Chris Hülsbeck is a German composer best known for The Great Giana Sisters (C64) and Turrican.

Hülsbeck's mother, aunt and grandmother were piano teachers. He had lessons at age 5, but dropped out after 2 years due to his grandmother's old-fashioned ways (most memorably hitting students with a stick), his preference to radio over classical music and composing over performing. He initially liked The Beatles, but upon hearing Popcorn, he wanted a Korg MS-10. While his family could not afford the 2000 DM, he got an electric organ at age 11, recorded his performances on cassette deck and circuit bended the organ until it exploded. At 12, he also had drum lessons.

Meanwhile, he taught himself BASIC on his uncle's Sirius PC. Later, he read about the Commodore 64 and its built-in synthesizer and bought it in December 1984 at Kaufhof in Darmstadt, Hessen (for 500 DM from 6 months of his paper round plus 100 DM from his grandmother, without which he almost bought an Atari 800XL). He attended Adolf-Reichwein-Schule in Langen, Hessen, with C64 game programmers Artur Wystub and Peter Thierolf. Wystub helped Hülsbeck getting started in assembly and programmed the first two games in Hülsbeck's gameography.

In February 1986, Hülsbeck heard of a music contest held by the German magazine 64'er and composed Shades from 8 PM to 4 AM, merely aiming for top ten, but to his shock reached first place, earning 1500 DM. To the same magazine, he sold Soundmonitor, an influental music editor, which was awarded Listing of the Month. Next, he looked for game developers in the newspapers, played a few C64 songs to the boss of Rainbow Arts on the phone and was hired on the spot. After scoring two games freelance, he found it too tiring to work parallel, waited for his mid-term report card, quit business college, and relocated to Rainbow Arts' offices in February or March 1987.

In early 1990, Hülsbeck, Frank Matzke and Thierolf founded the company A.U.D.I.O.S. and, in autumn, its label Kaiko, which he cites as his most creative time. The company broke down in 1993 or 1994, forcing Hülsbeck to pay debts until mid-1999 and start anew. He founded Chris Hülsbeck Medienproduktion in 1994 and started a music contest himself in 1995, launching Fabian Del Priore's career.

In February 1998, when his customers had become uninspired, he was given a chance to score a Star Wars game and followed Factor 5 to the US. Since closure of their California office in 2009, he is freelance again.

Hülsbeck married artist Tracy Sheppard on December 31, 2008. They sold their house in Petaluma in 2015 and since travel with their cats in a RV as The Cruisin' Crew. Cited as the Hans Zimmer of video games, he has no further training and still has limits at reading musical notation. He believes that making video game music in the 1980s was about being 70% of a programmer and only 30% of a musician, and that nowadays aspiring video game musicians require endurance and talent above all. He learned a bit of C++ in 2005 but stated that even the compilers drive him crazy. His ultimate goal, favorite composer and platform remain composing for films, John Williams and the Amiga.

Music Development


In late 1986, Hülsbeck bought an Amiga 1000 for 4200 DM. When he first heard music, namely Title - The Pawn, he was totally amazed. After 2 years, he designed a new format, TFMX.

Hülsbeck's instruments were from an Ensoniq SQ-80.

Atari ST

Hülsbeck did a few conversions using TFMX-Editor (AMI) with some ST's YM2149 chip on a board plugged into the Amiga. While the ST sound did not appeal to him, he admired Jochen Hippel's work and was happy to own an ST himself for MIDI.

Commodore 64

In 1985, Hülsbeck started developing a driver, Musicmaster, in Profi-Ass 64 and composed in hex. As that was tedious, he spent the summer of 1986 writing an editor for it, Soundmonitor.

Still in mid-1986, he found a (partly BASIC) program called Digidrums which played samples. After figuring out how, he spent days with Thierolf building a sampler (and breaking CIA chips), plugged into the C64's userport, and added percussion, bass and vocal samples to Musicmaster as a 4th voice. To his disappointment, none of that got out until July 1987, while in February, Arkanoid (C64) by Martin Galway was released. They met in 2005 and had a laugh about this.

In 1987, he created an optimized version of Musicmaster called The Final Musicplayer, which was only available to Georg Brandt and himself. For sound effects (as well as short echoing jingles, most prominent in Jinks), he initially wrote separate routines but eventually supported them directly in the music drivers.

In summer 1988, Hülsbeck noticed that the 8580 played samples too quietly and focused more on the SID chip itself. He programmed an early version of TFMX for the C64, which was only available to Ramiro Vaca and himself.

Hülsbeck likes the uniqueness of the SID sound and highlights the pulse width modulation, but dislikes how unpredictable the built-in filter sounds on every machine. In VICE 3.2, most songs sound altogether best with the model 6581 (reSID) and a filter bias of 180 - however, the melody at 2:00 of In-Game - Madness is inaudible there and proves that for a few songs, individual filter settings have to be found.


A driver for TFMX files from the Amiga existed.

Nintendo 64

Based on TFMX, Hülsbeck designed and tested MusyX Soundtool (W32).


Released Title Sample Notes
1986-??-?? Madness (C64)
1986-??-?? Planet of War (C64)
1987-0?-?? The Antics (C64)
1987-0?-?? Jinks (C64)
1987-0?-?? Soldier! (C64)
1987-??-?? Bad Cat (AMI)
1987-??-?? Bad Cat (C64)
1987-??-?? The Great Giana Sisters (C64)
1987-??-?? The Baby of Can Guru (C64)
1987-??-?? Sky Fighter (AST)
1987-??-?? To be on Top (C64)
1988-0?-?? Volleyball Simulator (C64) Sound Effect Driver.
1988-0?-?? The Great Giana Sisters (AMI) Arranged by Unknown. Programmed by Thomas Lopatic.
1988-0?-?? The Great Giana Sisters (AST) Arranged by Jochen Hippel.
1988-0?-?? Katakis (C64)
1988-??-?? Bad Cat (AST)
1988-??-?? Bad Cat (DOS)
1988-??-?? Danger Freak (C64)
1988-??-?? Down at the Trolls (C64)
1988-0?-?? Journey to the Centre of the Earth (C64) Sound Effects.
1988-??-?? R-Type (C64)
1988-??-?? Starball (C64)
1988-??-?? To be on Top (AST)
Arranged by Jochen Hippel.
1989-0?-?? Circus Attractions (C64)
1989-0?-?? Grand Monster Slam (C64)
1989-0?-?? Hard 'n' Heavy (C64)
1989-0?-?? Hollywood Poker Pro (C64)
1989-0?-?? Oxxonian (C64)
1989-0?-?? Spherical (C64)
1989-??-?? Danger Freak (AMI)
1989-??-?? R-Type (AMI) Title Music
1989-??-?? StarTrash (C64) Title Music
1989-??-?? Rock'n Roll (AMI) Composed by Ramiro Vaca.
1989-??-?? Hollywood Poker Pro (AMI)
1989-??-?? Hollywood Poker Pro (AST)
1989-??-?? Hard 'n' Heavy (AMI)
1989-??-?? Grand Monster Slam (AMI)
1989-??-?? Grand Monster Slam (AST)
1989-??-?? Grand Monster Slam (DOS)
1989-??-?? Circus Attractions (AMI)
1989-??-?? Circus Attractions (AST)
1989-??-?? Circus Attractions (DOS)
1990-0?-?? Turrican (C64)
1990-??-?? X-Out (AMI)
1990-??-?? Z-Out (AMI) Title Music
1990-??-?? Turrican (AMI)
1990-??-?? Turrican II: The Final Fight (AMI)
1990-??-?? The Secret of Monkey Island (AMI)
1990-??-?? Death Trap (AMI) Sound Effects
1990-??-?? Apprentice (AMI)
1990-??-?? Apprentice (AST)
1990-??-?? The Carl Lewis Challenge (AMI)
1991-0?-?? Gem'X (C64)
1991-??-?? Z-Out (AST) Title Music
1991-??-?? Gem'X (AMI)
1991-??-?? Battle Isle (AMI)
1991-??-?? Battle Isle (DOS) Intro Sound
1991-??-?? The Adventures of Quik and Silva (AMI)
1991-??-?? The Adventures of Quik and Silva (AST)
1992-0?-?? BugBomber (C64)
1992-??-?? Metal Law (AMI) Title Music
1992-??-?? Jim Power In Mutant Planet (AST)
1992-??-?? Jim Power in Mutant Planet (CPC)
1992-??-?? BugBomber (AMI)
1992-??-?? BugBomber (DOS)
Arranged by Matthias Steinwachs.
1992-??-?? Hexuma: Das Auge des Kal (DOS)
1992-??-?? The Carl Lewis Challenge (AST)
1992-??-?? The Carl Lewis Challenge (DOS)
1992-04-?? Apidya (AMI)
1993-??-?? Turrican III (AMI)
1993-??-?? Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D (DOS)
1993-??-?? Jim Power in Mutant Planet (AMI)
1993-03-19 Jim Power in Mutant Planet (TGCD)
1993-05-?? Super Turrican (SNES)
1993-12-?? Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D (SNES)
1994-??-?? Mega Turrican (GEN)
1994-??-?? Mad News (DOS) Music / Sound Programming
1994-??-?? Hurra Deutschland (DOS)
1994-??-?? Football Limited (AMI)
1994-??-?? Football Limited (DOS)
1995-??-?? Turrican II: The Final Fight (DOS)
1995-??-?? Nectaris (DOS)
1995-??-?? Eddy & Co (DOS)
1995-??-?? Caribbean Disaster (DOS)
1995-11-?? Super Turrican 2 (SNES)
1996-??-?? Menateus (DOS)
1996-??-?? International Superstar Soccer Deluxe (GEN)
1996-??-?? Imperium Romanum (DOS) Sound Effects
1996-10-31 Tunnel B1 (PS1)
1996-12-?? Tunnel B1 (DOS)
1997-06-30 Extreme Assault (DOS)
1998-??-?? Perry Rhodan: Operation Eastside (PC) Sound Effects
1998-07-31 Emergency: Fighters for Life (PC) Sound Effects
1998-12-02 Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D (PC)
2000-01-26 X: Beyond the Frontier (PC) Sound Effects
2000-12-14 Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (N64)
2000-12-18 Star Wars: Episode I - Battle for Naboo (N64) Original Music
2001-??-?? X-Gold (PC) Sound Effects
2001-03-11 Star Wars: Battle for Naboo (PC)
2001-11-09 Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (GC) Music Director
2002-??-?? X-Tension (PC) Sound Effects
2003-10-15 Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (GC) Music Director
2007-08-30 Lair (PS3) Music Director
2010-03-17 ZombieSmash! (iOS)
2010-06-13 Retro Act (PC) 'The Wave' Music
2011-10-26 The War of the Worlds (X360)
2012-10-22 Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (PC)
2012-12-21 Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Backer Exclusive Collector Edition) (PC)
2013-11-27 Doctor Who Legacy (Android)
2014-02-25 R-Type II (Android)
2014-11-11 Leona's Tricky Adventures (PC)
2017-10-31 Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back (PC)
Unreleased Universal Soldier (SNES)

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