Earlier this summer, developer Evening Star Studios and publisher Private Division revealed Penny’s Big Breakaway during a Nintendo Direct. While the throwback 3D platforming adventure looked great in its own right, what caught a lot of people’s attention was the team behind it. Evening Star’s creative director and lead engine architect is Christian Whitehead, one of the lead developers behind 2017’s Sonic Mania. Whitehead isn’t alone, though, as various other Evening Star developers also worked on Sonic Mania. While we’ve still got some time before the game’s release – it’s due out sometime in 2024 – Game Informer has a special sneak peek at its music and can exclusively reveal three tracks from the game.
Sonic Mania and TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge composer Tee Lopes is scoring Penny’s Big Breakaway and you can get a taste of his score below:
Jigs Up, Penny
Sparks of the Cobalt Sands
We also gained some insight into the creation of Penny’s Big Breakaway and its score by Lopes from Evening Star, diving into inspirations, the first track created, boss music and more. Whitehead says the initial concept behind the game was always the yo-yo, even from the earliest brainstorming sessions. From there, the team arrived at a simple setup: “The player is a performer in the emperor’s court. One day, a yo-yo routine goes very wrong. The yo-yo goes rogue and rips off the emperor’s clothes thread by thread. The emperor is furious, and all eyes are on you. The performance hall is swarming with penguin guards. Use your yo-yo and make a break for it.”
Whitehead says music was a big part of the game’s foundation, too, noting that with Penny’s Big Breakaway being Evening Star’s first original game, “We felt it was important to define a musical style that stood apart from other projects we have worked on in the past.” The studio also wanted the music to complement the Bauhaus-inspired world of the game, too. Whitehead says he was drawn to the sounds of early synth technology like the Ondioline and Moog but wanted to add in some “turn-of-the-millennium vibes” like Beck’s “Midnight Vultures” era.
Lopes says the first track he made was for “Vanillatown,” which is in the first world and one of the first songs players will hear in Penny’s Big Breakaway. He says this track allowed the music team to establish the game’s sound identity. “We began experimenting with all of these different sounds and genres from various eras to create a sound that’s quirky, yet cool, with classic and modern elements that I think complement Penny’s eccentric universe very well.”
Whitehead and Lopes worked together on Sonic Mania, but Evening Star brought in composer Sean Bialo to give the score “the touch.”
“His compositions are bursting to the seams with energetic melodies that leave you with an itch, [so] when the opportunity to collaborate came up, it seemed like a perfect chance to channel that energy into some of our character and boss themes in Penny’s Big Breakaway,” Whitehead says.
Bialo says he’s thrilled to be involved as a longtime fan of the work of Whitehead, Lopes, and others. “Tee and Christian had already done a lot to flesh out the game’s soundtrack by the time I joined the project, so it was a blast navigating their excellent framework with my own musical voice,” he says.
Bialo uses his favorite boss in the game, Sheila the Sailor, to explain his musical process.
“Sheila the Sailor’s boss battle is super wild, and writing appropriately intense music for it was a fun challenge,” he says. “In an early part of the story, Penny and Sheila’s relationship starts off on the wrong foot, leading to Penny chasing Sheila’s busted-up ship across the coastline. I wanted to match Sheila’s personality as a rough and tough sailor, while also capturing the franticness of her boat going out of control.”
You can listen to the Sheila the Sailor boss track near the top of this story – it’s the one called “Land-ho Diablo.”
While Lopes is the lead composer, others in the team, like Jonny Atma on guitar, and Andrew Gomes for mixing and mastering the score as well as audio director Jameson Sutton, help round out the full music team. “I think the result is a soundtrack that’s full of personality, fun elements, and surprises at every turn, thanks to a very eclectic palette of styles [and] I’m proud of what we achieved and especially curious about player reactions.”
Whitehead says the entire project has been about collaboration, teasing that he and Lopes collaborated to create the last track for Zaphara, the electric desert world in the game.
For more about the game, check out the Penny’s Big Breakaway reveal trailer.
Are you excited about Penny’s Big Breakaway? Let us know in the comments below!
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