L.A. Blaster Soundtrack

L.A. Blaster is a mostly forgotten FMV racing game (remember those, think the first Need For Speed game – The Need For Speed) for Windows PC’s. Released in 1996 by Cryo Interactive Entertainment and published by Dice Entertainment (not that Dice, but a smaller company originally based in Hoorn, the Netherlands).

As with all of these types of posts, the soundtrack can be found below as posted to Archive.org.

For those sticking with us, I will now explain a little more on how I came to extract these audio files from the game files.

L.A. Blaster stores its audio files under the \DATA\Sound directory on the CD-ROM. Inside are 44 files. The audio streams themeselves are all marked as being .DAT files (which to any computer nerd means data file, effectively a useless, generic file extension). Each audio stream has a corresponding .DA0 file, with the same file name. This results in there being 22 unique audio files.

So I began my investigations. I uploaded one of the files to VirusTotal to see if it could work its magic to reveal if what kind of audio format I might be working with, but unforunately no luck – the system simply thought of it as just a generic data file. OK, so next option would be to use a hex editor/viewer application – something which I have found to be quite useful in the past as it can reveal information that might be stored in the file header. Loading one of the files in question into HxD revealed the strings RIFFbg and WAVEfmt in the first part of the file, so we are looking at WAVE files – a sigh of relief on my part, but not out of the woods yet.

Knowing the audio files are WAVE files I loaded up Audacity to use its RAW Data import mode. This mode is extremely useful for loading in data streams that have incomplete or missing headers (where useful things such as bit rate, bit depth and more are listed). Now began the guessing game. Understanding the game came from 1996 and the raw data files were only a few megabytes in size I knew that we would be probably dealing with reasonably low-quality audio streams, thus a low bitrate. However they could quite possibly be stereo, as in 1996 the height of MPC (Multimedia PC’s) I would guess that most systems were fitted with a set of Stereo speakers. So with these educated guesses, I set the import settings as follows:

  • Encoding – Signed 16-Bit PCM
  • Byte Order – Little Endian
  • Channels – 2 (Stereo)
  • Start Offset – 0 bytes
  • Amount to import – 100%
  • Sample Rate – 11025 Hz

By my complete surprise I hit it correct on my first go, the audio streams played back perfectly. OK at 11025Hz the quality is far from high, but the audio streams play at the right speed, pitch and tempo.

So what kind of music does L.A. Blaster give us. There are 6 “music” tracks which are typical butt-rock (a silly term for instrumental rock music that isn’t overly interesting to listen to. There are sound effect files for the cars in the game (Honda/Acrua NSX, Lamborghini Diablo, Toyota Supra, Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette). The background music from the Car Choice screen (CARCHOIC.DAT). A sound effect file for the volume slider in the game (FXVOL.DAT). Two streams for the hall of fame (HALLFAME.DAT) and hall of fame view (HALLVIEW.DAT) screens. Intro sequence audio (INTRO.DAT) and loading screen audio (LOADING.DAT). Weapon select (WEAPON.DAT) and transfer screens (TRANSFER.DAT).

All of the tracks are setup to be looped infinitely, however it is important to remove the “clicks” at the start and end of each track – this is a common artifact of using the raw import tool, where it is reading data outside of the audio stream.

As for the .DA0 files – they are empty files, they have nothing. Opening them in HxD reveals them to contain absolutely no information, so I have disregarded. Their purpose? Unknown.

As for the FMV files, they appear to be encoded with Cryo’s proprietary UBB codec, an improvement to HNM4 – another Cryo technology.

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy my previous post about Theme Aquarium.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.