Allister Brimble (Team17) – Interview

Allister Brimble is a freelance, legendary video game composer responsible for titles such as Alien Breed, Driver, Descent and Mortal Kombat to name but four.  Fans of CU Amiga and Amiga Format may also remember “Brimble’s Beats” – I certainly do!


We’re ecstatic to have been given the opportunity to quiz him on his former glories and to find out what he’s up to these days.


allister-brimble-1Q1. How did you first get into the gaming industry?


Martyn Brown who ran 17bit Software heard one of my demo tracks which I had sent him and decided to feature it on his monthly news disk. I went onto produce many demo’s for 17bit.  On the strength of my demos I was also asked to compose the music for Thunderbirds by Grandslam for the Amiga.  Soon after this 17bit software turned into Team 17 and I was lucky enough to be asked to compose for these games as well.


Q2. How did you first get into composing music?


At around the age of 7 I was asked to compose a piece by my piano teacher. I very much enjoyed doing it.  Many years went by and then I got into computers, I was amazed by the music they could produce and started to compose again using packages such as Aegis Sonix & Sound Tracker (a personal favourite of mine – Ed) on the Amiga.


Q3. Can you describe a typical day in the life of a video game music producer?


I keep things fairly relaxed in the morning.  I’ll then start the day composing whatever music or creating the sound effects I need to do.  It’s very much about self motivation as there is no boss to make you do things!  You have to love what you do.


Q4. What was your favourite piece of music for a game you ever worked on?


On Amiga, Alien Breed was a good one. For PC there was Screamer. For PS1/2 Driver & on Nintendo Wii, Fluidity. Then more recently on Nintendo 3DS Fluidity Spin Cycle.


Q5. Your back catalogue is very impressive – which was the most successful game you have ever produced music for?


Roller Coaster Tycoon sold 14 million copies at least!


allister-brimble-3Q6. Mortal Kombat was a ground-breaking and iconic gaming title – when working on this series, did you ever have any idea how popular and controversial this game would become?


I had to make Amiga, PC & Gameboy versions of the existing Arcade music SFX for this title. We already had an idea how controversial it would be due to the gore levels seen in the Arcade. It was great fun reworking the gory SFX!


Q7. You’ve produced music for the Amiga, PC and numerous consoles. Which platform do you think is the best to produce music and SFX for?


The Super Nintendo was great.. it had everything the Amiga did but more sample channels and a real time audio DSP which would allow you to create real time SFX.  I worked on games like Lawnmower man which came out really well! It was quite a jump forwards at the time.


Q8. You’ve worked for Team 17, Sensible Software, Midway Games and ID Software – how does it feel to be involved in such a huge back catalogue of classic games?


It feels like I have been doing it a long time! 🙂  However, I still enjoy improving my music skills today. Music is one of those things where you never stop learning!


Q9. Tell us more about Amiga Works – a double album of remastered Amiga Classic music?


Chris Huelsbeck started a Kickstarter in order to create the Turrican Anthology soundtrack CD collection. Chris showed me the way and I started my own Kickstarter project, “The Amiga Works”.  I managed to secure enough funding to make 1000 limited edition CD’s, most of which I have now sold. The music is still available for digital purchase at along with the last few remaining copies.


garden1Q10. What projects are you currently working on?


The Spectrum Works, a new project to bring back the memories of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The album is to accompany a book about the Spectrum by Sam Dyer.


Also, alongside my partner Anthony Putson I’m working for Marmalade games on updates for Littlest Pet Shop on IoS as well as Transformers Robots in Disguise.


I also recently worked on two trailers for the new game, Goal Simulator.


Q11. If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who wanted to compose sound for video games?


Make sure your end product is really polished.. your composition may be great but it’s often the final sound.. quality of instruments and mix that is 50% of making someone like the music or not. There is little point sending anything to a games company until you can achieve these results. A good place to get initial feedback from your friends is SoundCloud (noted – Ed).


Q12. Which games console / computer do you have the fondest memories of?


It would have to be the Amiga as it started off my career. The Amiga opened up huge possibilities, not just for composers but artists and coders as well.


Q13. What are your views on the video game industry of today?


I like where we have got to but I’m a little concerned that the next generation titles on consoles such as the Xbox ONE & PS4 are not really pushing the boundaries much. I can’t say I am enjoying them any more than the 360/PS3 titles. I wonder if they have just gone for graphical improvements without thinking about new possibilities for gameplay?


Q14. If you could share a few pints with a video game character who would you choose?


Super Frog for sure although I might have some problems as he only drinks Lucozade!


– Adrian


1 thought on “Allister Brimble (Team17) – Interview”

  1. Ross Sillifant

    SNES Lawnmower Man music probably my favourite music on the format.

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