Rob Hubbard

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Dr. Robert J. Hubbard
Rob Hubbard.jpg
Born 1955
Birth Place Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Nationality British   UK.svg
Aliases R.Hubbard
Robb Hubbard
John York
Ample Hamble

Rob Hubbard is a British composer and sound designer who is known to be one of the most (if not the most) renowned video game musicians of all time. He could be considered the Koji Kondo of the Commodore 64.

Hubbard has been playing the piano since age 7 and has also played flute, saxophone and guitar. His favorite subjects were math, physics and music, whereas he hated history, economics and metalwork. With O- and A-Levels, he went to university, but dropped out to play keyboards in bands. At age 21, he moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear. Before or afterwards, he attended music college for 3 years.

In 1983, Hubbard read in Electronic & Music Maker about the Commodore 64 and American educational software for platforms like the Apple II. He also considered the Memotech MTX500, but bought the C64 when its price dropped to £230. Dreaming of writing the first British educational software, he showed a sight-reading game to companies, to no avail. In 1984, he ported and scored two games for Ubik Software, which went bankrupt before release. He then decided to specialize on audio and spammed for about 8 months by mail and phone. Monty on the Run (C64) made him famous.

At an award show in London 1987, Mark Lewis of Electronic Arts asked Hubbard if he wanted to work in the USA for a couple of months. After Skate or Die (C64), EA offered him a permanent job in California as their first audio guy. So in 1988, Hubbard sold his ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Ataris, his PAL C64, gave away the Amiga and moved to the USA, fulfilling a childhood dream and changing his life. In late 2001, he moved back to East Yorkshire with his wife, an NTSC C64 and two disk drives.

On November 25, 2016, Hubbard received a honorary degree from Abertay University, Dundee, Scotland.

Hubbard's popular games include Monty on the Run (C64), Commando (C64), Skate or Die (C64), and The Immortal (NES).

Audio Development

Atari ST

Hubbard was disappointed that the otherwise superior Atari ST had a YM2149F sound chip. Still, around April or May 1987, Steve Bak made him buy one.

Hubbard's favorite musician was David Whittaker.

Commodore 64

Hubbard developed his own music driver in Mikro Assembler and implemented many previously unheard and oft-imitated effects and sounds. Many composers used his driver, including Giulio Zicchi, Johannes Bjerregaard, Pablo Toledo, and before scoring games, Jeroen Kimmel, Jeroen Tel, Neil Baldwin and Thomas Petersen. Hubbard was furious (specifically at Kimmel, who was first) and scrambled his code and data in most of 1987. He no longer has the source code to his pre-EA driver. It is rumored that a housecleaner threw away his disks while he was staying at a hotel.

Hubbard would write the music on paper in normal musical notation and alongside the notes, he would write hexadecimal numbers which he would then type into his sound engine. Hubbard would always ask the programmers what kind of music they wanted in the game, but they usually didn't care. He would sometimes write music on his Casiotone MT-40.

In mid-1986, Hubbard started using SID's built-in filter. Unfortunately, the filter varied with every machine and several of Hubbard's melodies sounded muffled to many gamers. In VICE 3.4, they sound best with 6581 (ReSID) and a bias of at least 540, although how close it is to what Hubbard arranged on is unconfirmed.

Inspired by Mega Apocalypse (C64), Hubbard spent 1½ hours adding 4-bit sample playback to his driver, the first to loop samples in the middle. He recorded instruments (including chords from a Yamaha DX7) and voices on an Amiga with a newly-bought FutureSound sampler, compressed them, determined frequencies using an electronic tuner (eventually 1455 to 8315 Hz), and transferred all to the C64.

Hubbard's favorite musicians are Martin Galway, Ben Daglish and David Whittaker.


Hubbard was paid by Elite Systems to come in and write the music to their conversion of Capcom's Coin-Op arcade Commando. Hubbard came in the office late at night and worked throughout the evening to compose the music. According to Hubbard, Elite Systems had the arcade cabinet of the game in the office, and he drew inspiration from the arcade game's music, but didn't actually arrange the arcade soundtrack to the Commodore 64 version. Hubbard finished the music by morning. Mark Cooksey witnessed that. According to Hubbard, he put the music on all the work computers before he left the office so the Elite staff could hear his composition.


It was all pure assembly, similar to the way it was done on C64 and Atari machines.

Rob was one of the very few composers to use the 2A03's DPCM channel for music, as he used a sawtooth wave.


Released Title Sample Notes
Unreleased Paranoid Pete (C64)
Unreleased Razzmatazz (C64)
1985-0?-?? Action Biker (C64)
1985-0?-?? Confuzion (C64)
1985-0?-?? Thing on a Spring (C64)
1985-??-?? Battle of Britain (C64)
1985-??-?? Chimera (C64)
1985-??-?? Commando (C64)
1985-??-?? Commando (CPC)
1985-??-?? Crazy Comets (C64)
1985-??-?? The Human Race (C64)
1985-??-?? Hunter Patrol (C64)
1985-??-?? The Last V8 (C64)
1985-??-?? Monty on the Run (C64)
1985-??-?? One Man and His Droid (C64)
1986-0?-?? Bump Set Spike (C64)
1986-0?-?? Formula 1 Simulator (C64)
1986-0?-?? Geoff Capes Strongman Challenge (C64)
1986-0?-?? Gerry the Germ (C64)
1986-0?-?? Hollywood or Bust (C64)
1986-0?-?? International Karate (C64)
1986-0?-?? Kentilla (C64)
1986-0?-?? Las Vegas Video Poker (C64)
1986-0?-?? Phantoms of the Asteroid (C64)
1986-0?-?? Rasputin (C64)
1986-0?-?? Samantha Fox Strip Poker (C64)
1986-0?-?? Spellbound (C64)
1986-0?-?? Thrust (C64)
1986-0?-?? Zoids (C64)
1986-11-20 Sigma Seven (C64)
Composed by Julian Breeze.
1986-11-?? Flash Gordon (C64)
1986-11-?? Tarzan (C64)
Unreleased Food Feud (C64)
1986-1?-?? LightForce (C64)
1986-??-?? Ninja (C64)
1986-??-?? Sanxion (C64)
1986-??-?? W.A.R (C64)
1986-??-?? Warhawk (C64)
1987-03-?? Shockway Rider (C64)
1987-04-0? Auf Wiedersehen Monty (C64)
1987-04-?? Nemesis the Warlock (C64)
1987-04-?? Thanatos (C64)
Composed by Julian Breeze.
1987-07-?? Star Paws (C64)
1987-07-31 Monty on the Run (FDS) (モンティーのドキドキ大脱走) Arranged by Unknown.
1987-08-?? Arcade Classics (C64)
1987-08-?? Wiz (C64)
1987-0?-?? Ace 2 (C64)
1987-0?-?? Deep Strike (C64)
1987-0?-?? Delta (C64)
1987-0?-?? I, Ball (C64)
1987-0?-?? Mega Apocalypse (C64)
1987-0?-?? Saboteur II (C64)
1987-0?-?? Trans-Atlantic Balloon Challenge (C64)
1987-10-?? Skate or Die (C64)
1987-10-?? Thundercats (C64)
1987-1?-?? Bangkok Knights (C64)
1987-??-?? Battleships (AMI)
1987-??-?? Gold Runner (AMI)
1987-??-?? IK+ (C64)
1987-??-?? Jupiter Probe (AMI)
1987-??-?? Nemesis the Warlock (ZXS)
1988-01-?? BMX Kidz (C64)
1988-08-?? 19 Part One - Boot Camp (C64)
1988-0?-?? I, Ball 2 (C64) Sound Effect Driver.
1988-0?-?? Pandora (C64)
1988-0?-?? Ricochet (C64)
1988-11-?? Power Play Hockey: USA vs USSR (C64)
1988-12-?? Skate or Die (NES) Arranged by Unknown.
1988-1?-?? Jordan vs Bird: One on One (C64)
1988-??-?? Q-Ball (AMI)
1988-??-?? Skate or Die (A2GS)
1989-0?-?? Kings of the Beach (C64)
1989-??-?? Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate (AMI)
1989-??-?? Budokan: The Martial Spirit (AMI)
1989-??-?? Populous (AMI)
198?-??-?? Chain Reaction (C64)
198?-??-?? Dragon's Lair Part II (C64)
198?-??-?? The Master of Magic (C64)
198?-??-?? Knuckle Busters (C64)
198?-??-?? Up Up and Away (C64)
1990-0?-?? Ski or Die (C64) Arranged by Unknown.
1990-??-?? Champions of Krynn (DOS)
Sound Programmer
1990-??-?? Indianapolis 500: The Simulation (AMI)
1990-??-?? Secret of the Silver Blades (DOS)
Sound Programmer
1990-??-?? Ski or Die (AMI)
1990-??-?? Ski or Die (DOS)
1990-??-?? Ski or Die (NES)
1990-09-?? Skate or Die 2: The Search For Double Trouble (NES)
1990-11-?? The Immortal (NES)
1991-??-?? PGA Tour Golf (AMI)
1991-11-11 John Madden Football (SNES) (プロフットボール)
1992-??-?? Bulls vs Blazers and the NBA Playoffs (SNES) (NBAプロバスケットボール)
1992-03-?? PGA Tour Golf (SNES) (PGAツアーゴルフ)
1993-08-09 The Immortal (GEN)
2000-11-01 007: The World Is Not Enough (N64) Audio Technical Director
2000-11-24 International Karate 2000 (GBC)
2003-08-14 Seiklus (W32)
Unreleased Chuck Yeager's Air Combat (NES)

Picture Gallery