2023’s best gaming soundtrack was co-created by a high school student and a first-time composer

Pizza Tower looks and sounds like practically nothing else in gaming right now, its wacky ’90s Cartoon Cartoon-style animation accompanied by a bafflingly catchy soundtrack—think classic blue sky, turn-of-the-millennium Sega vibes pushed to even greater heights. Of its two primary composers, Ronan “Mr. Sauceman” de Castel came to music late, with Pizza Tower not only being his first professional work, but first publicly available music, period. Catching up with the other main composer, ClascyJitto (also credited as Frostix), I found out that while they’ve been publishing their own work for a lot longer, they’re also still in high school.

I was always confident that my music was good, but seeing all these real people confirm that is very pleasant.”

ClascyJitto

Pizza Tower is already a game of the year contender in a packed 2023, with some of the crispiest, most inspired 2D platforming of the past 10 years forming the dough underneath that gorgeous art and bangin’ soundtrack’s sauce, cheese, anchovies, pineapples, etc.  The indie devs worked on it for five years bolstered by an active Discord, and that community is where de Castel and ClascyJitto first came to the project as fans. “I joined the Discord way early in development and I started making remixes of some of the early versions of the songs that were out,” ClascyJitto told me. De Castel had already been brought on as composer by lead developer McPig, and both were impressed by ClascyJitto’s takes on the early soundtrack. “Ronan liked the remixes and McPig suggested the idea of bringing me on as another composer for the game.”

The tracklist is pretty evenly split between both composers, with the chill main menu theme Pizza Deluxe provided by guest composer Post Elvis, and despite their different backgrounds and wide geographic gulf (ClascyJitto is based on the east coast of the US, de Castel in France), they managed to create a massive, yet very cohesive soundtrack united by that propulsive, funky, almost infectiously optimistic early aughts vibe. Seriously, it’s nothing but pre-Financial Crisis magic, a timeline where Sega managed to keep making hardware.

Pizza Tunes

The ice world (well, freezer world) track Celsius Troubles is my favorite of ClascyJitto’s contributions, with this particularly dancy break in the song partway through that really gets me every time. The composer themself, meanwhile, singles out Wednesdays, What’s on the Kid’s Menu, Wudpecker (also praised by de Castel when we spoke), and to my delight, tutorial theme funiculi holiday. It’s a lowkey take on 19th century Neapolitan anthem (and source of the pizza delivery song in the Spider-Man 2 game) Funiculì, Funiculà.

While much of ClascyJitto’s other music outside Pizza Tower has a focus on sampling and remixing (including the track Lonely Poisoner, which they cited as a favorite), Pizza Tower’s OST required more traditional composition, something they characterized as getting them outside their comfort zone. “Making music for Pizza Tower is sort of like a fun little game for me,” ClascyJitto said. “[It] definitely makes me do things I wouldn’t normally do.

“Like in Oregano Mirage & Celcius Troubles, the melodies are very active in a way. They move a whole bunch. I look back and wonder how I had the patience to put in each note one by one. Nowadays I would get very tired doing that!”

It’s such a great soundtrack I could barely believe ClascyJitto is still in their teens. It wasn’t until we homed in on how Pizza Tower’s success had affected their life that I asked if they had to balance working on it with a day job, and they told me the “only thing [they’re] really balancing is school”—namely high school.

At the time of our conversation they were chafing at the strict formalism of a music theory class—a bit ironic, given the circumstances. Though they try to keep their work and persona online separate from their personal life, ClascyJitto acknowledges “it would be really funny to pull the ‘do you know who I am?’ card.”

Aside from leaving the option of hitting a music teacher with a “I co-created a best selling soundtrack” on the table, ClascyJitto told me contributing to Pizza Tower hadn’t rocked the boat on their life too much: “It’s definitely grounded me in how much nothing changed at all.” 

“I was always confident that my music was good,” they went on, “but seeing all these real people confirm that is very pleasant.” ClascyJitto is still cranking away with new work on SoundCloud and Bandcamp under the handle RiZi, recently releasing the album Hi-Speed Explosion Device, while also tinkering on a couple games, too: Earth Mechanica and Kipidon.

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