The Binding Of Isaac Gets Wrathier This Month

By Adam Smith on May 8th, 2012 at 9:00 am.

These are not the 'more' things, just the original non doubleplusgood things

Despite the constant flow of new games to try, be they the sort of grand strategy that devours weeks or tiny flights of fancy, there are some games more than a fortnight old that I still find time to play. The Binding of Isaac is one. Short, decidedly sour and extremely attentive to my desire for carefully controlled randomisation and odd loot, every journey into the basement has something to offer. We knew an expansion was on its way and now we know it’ll be here on May 28th. According to the trailer, it’ll also contain ‘more’ of just about everything.

‘More’ could mean anything from one to a million, maybe even two million. Don’t ask me, I’m no mathematician, but thankfully Ed McMillen is, or at least he’s almost capable of counting the things he’s added to his own game. Almost. Let’s see then.

100+ new items
5+ new chapters
20+ new enemies
25 new achievements
15+ new bosses
6+ new room types
6+ new mysterious item drops (eternal hearts, playing cards, dimes and more!)
5+ new music tracks by Danny B
A new item type, Trinkets
A new challenge mode with 10 unique challenges (that unlock more content)
A new unlockable character, Samson (The Beserker)
A new final (final) chapter and boss with new endings
Tons of new random happenings, curses, blessings, npcs, fortune tellers and more
Also more super secrets than you’d probably expect… good luck finding them all.

As is so often the case, specific numbers still evade us. I’m accustomed to ‘100+’ but it’s unusual to see both ‘5+’ and ‘6+’. Mysterious.

The expansion is out May 28th on Steam and will cost $2+ ($3).

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83 Comments »

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  1. CaspianRoach says:

    It will be probably worth it for the Danny B tracks alone if not anything.

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    kregg says:

    I reckon you need to add an epilepsy alert to the video, just to be on the safe side.

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    P7uen says:

    I can’t remember which game I had that said “More than 12 weapons!” on the back of the box (there were 13 weapons).

  4. demonarm says:

    No thanks.

    • Toberoth says:

      Great comment. Adds a lot to the discussion.

      • demonarm says:

        You do realise that your comment is just as superfluous, don’t you?

        • DickSocrates says:

          You do realise your snooty tone of voice makes people hate you rather than site back think “My, my, what a witty chap, I’d better keep my eye on that one!”

          • Toberoth says:

            Mine?? :'(

          • Torn says:

            No, demonarm’s.

          • Hendar23 says:

            Sit back and look at this:
            Someone politely indicates their disinterest
            Gets a sarcastic response
            Makes a reasonable defense, criticizing the comment, not the writer.
            Gets told he has a snooty tone of voice which will make people hate him.

            Ah I love the Internet.

          • arccos says:

            I just think of some Internet commenters as the crazies you meet walking down the street. You can’t have a coherent conversation with them, so just walk on by as fast as you can and DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT.

          • Snakejuice says:

            Hi, this is Wilford Brimley
            Welcome to retardation. A celebration
            Now hopefully with this book I’m going to dispel a few myths, a few rumors
            First off, the retarded don’t rule the night
            They don’t rule it, nobody does
            They don’t run in packs
            While they may not be as strong as apes
            Don’t lock eyes with them. don’t do it
            It puts them on edge, they might go into berserker mode and they’ll Come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows”
            You might be screaming “no no no”
            But all they hear is ‘who wants cake?’
            Let me tell you something, they all do
            They all want cake

      • Hendar23 says:

        Whats wrong with saying ‘No thanks’? Do positive comments like ‘YAY!’ or ‘SQUEEE!’ add anything more? It was polite, not like he just called the game shit or something.

        I like to know when people around here are not interested in something, even if they don’t take the time to justify why, as long as they do it respectfully.

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          Lorewin says:

          “No thanks” has a semantic value of zero. A positive comment in response to the announcement of an expansion is easily translated into “I like this and am pleased to see more of it”.

          There’s no translation for “No thanks”. Did the poster like the original game? Do they object to the ambiguity of numbering present in the announcement?

          No one knows except the laconic poster. YOU certainly aren’t learning anything from the post, as there’s nothing there. Calling him/her on it is not the same as complaining about someone being negative – it’s not negative. Or positive. Or ANYTHING. Which is just pointless to post, and even more pointless to defend.

          Here’s some actual content that is less than enthused: I sank dozens of hours into Isaac, and loved unlocking stuff. But I may not pick up the expansion if it continues the trend of making individual playthroughs longer – adding more content at the bottom of the “dungeon”. Eventually it gets to be frustrating to run the earlier levels hoping to find a playable combination of items, only to fail an hour in. If the expansion makes that failure come 90 minutes in instead, I don’t think I’ll be along for the ride.

          • sub-program 32 says:

            It is not adding stuff to the end of the level. If my sources are right, you get alternate versions of each level, for example “The Cellar” instead of “The Basement”. So both the playing-through-the-early-levels-again problem and the increased length issue seems to be avoided…

        • Pamplemousse says:

          All comments are essentially meaningless.

          Just some are more meaningless than others.

        • Nevard says:

          Seems a little pointless though
          Providing an explanation at least provokes discussion, just saying “no thanks” does nothing more than display your opinion to a completely uncaring world

  5. JackShandy says:

    It’s nice how variable the Boi is, but I wish it had a semblance of choice and emergence. Spelunky’s still the unbeaten rogue-like-like champion.

  6. Flukie says:

    I don’t get how you can run Unreal Engine 3 under flash yet this game chugs along on my ultrasupergamingpeecee and by chugs I mean by there’s a difference when you turn graphics down.

    Still can’t wait for expansion.

    • f1x says:

      I’m not too wise on the technical part, but you dont run the Unreal engine under flash, its more like streaming the visual part

      problem with Binding of Isaac is that is actually using/programmed in flash itself probably, which is never good…

      but again, I might be saying something dumb as I’m no expert

      • Gurrah says:

        I’m no expert myself but I’m guessing it isn’t very well done, Isaac I mean. If you’ve ever played N, you know how good a flash game can run. I played lots of Isaac but the performance really is shoddy, even if set on low quality it lags constantly and that cost me my life more than once.

        • Mctittles says:

          I am an expert in this, and although Flash is slower than say C++ it’s entirely possible to make a game like this run well in Flash. Some tips for devs:

          Avoid using Functions and Classes within your main game loop. This might seem to make your game loop appear larger, but you avoid a lot of overhead this way. When reference a class in flash, all the code is still there but it takes it longer to look up than if you just put the stuff directly in your loop. Replace objects with arrays etc. I’ve tested this extensively.

          Do not use movieclips for your game objects that require a lot of updating (i.e. pretty much everything non-static). Instead use bitmapdata and copypixels. Put your images in memory and copypixel them to the screen. If you are using vector graphics drawn within flash just use the bitmapdata.draw() to turn them into a bitmapdata. Make sure to scale the size beforehand so it still retains it’s crisp look. Non-changing effects like static shadows should be done once only. In the end you should have a main game drawing area that you just copypixels your stuff into each frame. This is similar to how you would redraw in OpenGL or DirectX every frame and much, much, faster.

          Remember to use bitmapdata.lock() and unlock() before and after you update your drawing area. You should instantly notice a performance increase if you weren’t already doing this. lock() stops flash from updating the screen until you are done so it only has to draw once. With lots of objects this could be thousands of times faster.

          If you are doing a game (and this applies to ALL languages Unity/C++ people) use a timer instead of relying on the speed of your machine to determine speed. Move objects according to time passed so if someone draws 3 frames in the same time another person draw 10 the end result will be the same at the same time. Of course Super Meat Boy used the monitor refresh rate to determine game speed for some reason, so I’m not sure he understands these concepts :).

          Flash isn’t hard to make work if you take some time to understand how it works. Of course this reason stands for about everything. I’ve seen plenty of Unity games that run worse than a comparable flash game too.

          • Phasma Felis says:

            I’ll take your word that it’s possible in theory, but I’ve never yet seen a half-decent Flash game that runs well on a three-year-old computer (despite generally having 10+-year-old graphics). I really wish developers would clue the fuck up.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Because 2D vector Flash (i.e. 95% of all Flash) is a steaming pile of shit. 3D and raster (e.g. Flixel Framework) Flash runs pretty well, but devs are addicted to what it’s worst at for some reason.

        • Dominic White says:

          Yeah, a lot of Flixel games run at 60fps solid even on weaker machines. Flash is actually pretty good at throwing sprites around – it just falls down when it’s upscaling vector images.

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            HermitUK says:

            Especially in Issac’s case, because it doesn’t even support custom resolutions. So there’s no reason not to convert that (admittedly lovely) vector art to something more performance-friendly.

    • Torn says:

      Yeah it’s coded in flash itself, and doesn’t take advantage of multi-cores, GPU power, etc.

      It should really be re-done, even on my i2500k it chugs along when there’s lots of enemies on-screen.

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        HermitUK says:

        Poor performance is the main reason I don’t play Isaac anymore. If that ever gets fixed, then I’ll be all over more content like this.

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        Hodge says:

        I often wonder what it would take for McMillen to allow someone like Ryan Gordon to re-implement it using SDL or similar, as Terry Cavanagh did with VVVVVV. He’ll be living in a house of my money if he ever does.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      BoI uses scaled vector art instead of sprites, causing the bloat

    • diebroken says:

      Isn’t the slow down sort of by design, to simulate the feel of playing old games like the Legend of Zelda at the time/on the hardware they were developed for (processing limitations, fps rates etc)…?

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        Muffalopadus says:

        Its not a bug, its a feature.

        If that’s the case, its a lame one since I haven’t seen any crazy artifacts like in my old games like the sprites flashing when clipping through each other and whatnot.

      • Baines says:

        I’m pretty sure its not by design. It’s just poorly coded in a system not known for good performance. You can run games through a SNES emulator fine on a system that struggles with Binding of Isaac.

        It doesn’t help that even when Isaac is running okay, it still feels like it has a sluggish response.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Unlikely, since I don’t recall Legend of Zelda slowing down on me once, and it was pretty uncommon on NES games in general. You have to be pretty incompetent to develop ground-up for a single dedicated hardware platform and still exceed its capabilities.

        And when NES games did slow down, they got all flickery and the music got weird. No, Binding of Isaac is just good old incompetent-Flash framerate dragging.

    • psyk says:

      LMAO sort out your virus ridden computers.

      QX9650 with a 9800gx2 and the game runs fine.

      • Nevard says:

        Clearly the experience of one person with one specific build implies that all other faults are entirely cause by malware, well done sir and LMAO indeed

        • psyk says:

          When that rig is over 3 years old then yeah something is wrong ;)

          I’m thinking you would say the same thing to someone who can’t run doom in dosbox PMSL

          “nah man its dosbox, it’s deff not your shit machine.”

  7. Toberoth says:

    I got this game as soon as it came out, played it a lot, loved it, told all my friends they had to play it, the usual. I still play through it every now and then, too, as I haven’t even seen all of the stuff Edward added in the last update! So this new expansion is pretty exciting :-)

    For the record: I usually play this while drunk, after getting in from a night out. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s more disturbing that way?

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      not weird. me and my buddy sometimes spend evenings drinking a lot of beer, listening to music and taking turns playing Isaac, and it feels very oldschool :)

  8. mwoody says:

    My issue with the game was that at some point, you “unlock” a harder game. I hadn’t finished all the achievements (i.e. finish X area without taking damage to unlock item Y) when it happened, meaning I was punished for delving further without grinding out every bonus first.

    I love the game, but that kinda sucked, and I really hope I can turn that off somehow; I don’t want to be stuck playing a brutally hard version of the expansion.

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      Lambchops says:

      To be honest I think “the unlocking a harder game” just balanced out the fact you had more powerful items available. I didn’t notice much of a difficulty spike when i unlocked it apart from the bosses ocassionally having random effects that potentially made them a little trickier and death coming that bit quickier if you were unlucky with items.

      • mwoody says:

        But it feels like a punishment for progress. If I do well, I want to be MORE powerful, not less. Unlocking a harder mode with its own specific rewards would have been fine, as would unlocking an extra area or some other sort of optional challenge. But if all I want to do is finish the second group of levels without taking damage, having more (and more powerful) enemies all over the place makes that much more frustrating.

        • MondSemmel says:

          Getting rewarded with a stronger character in games like these is the wrong way to go about it, though. Many games do that, and it often has unintended consequences. Consider games like Ocarina of Time: If you try to get 100%, you are potentially seriously overpowered for the bosses. So getting 100% punishes you as a player because boss fight become less interesting.
          And part of what makes Binding of Isaac great is the challenge, isn’t it?
          (I think the problem here is in fact the existence of these stupid “no damage taken” achievements. Just ignore them and you’ll be happier with the game.)

        • Savagetech says:

          The save file for this game is just a text file called “serial.txt”. Back that up and then delete it to set the game back to its initial state. I’d make another copy after your first Mom kill as well, just to save time in case you accidentally unlock “Everything is Horrible” again. When you’re done grinding your achievements you can restore your old save with no problems. If you’re really desperate (and sleazy) then you can just download a save file with those achievements completed; the Steam achievement trigger in the game is directly tied to the in-game achievement list which is controlled by the save file.

          In my experience it’s actually easier to do the no-damage runs after “Everything is Terrible!” is unlocked. Having the D6 on Isaac is indispensable for those achievements since you can reroll health items and other things that are useless for no-damage runs while maximizing your damage/speed. One of the best items for those achievements (Guardian Angel) is nearly impossible to get without unlocking Everything is Terrible, and another strong one (Money=Power) can’t be unlocked before EiT at all. The increased number of colored alternate monsters can often be a benefit as well because they’re guaranteed to drop loot; if you’ve got enough power to kill them then the bonuses can snowball. The only other negative effect from EiT–fewer hearts from killing bosses–is a non-issue.

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    Lambchops says:

    Looking forward to this, should tide over my rouge-like-like itch until the FTL beta comes out. Isaac was probably the game I spent most hours with last year and “almost as good as Spelunky” is high praise indeed.

  10. aerozol says:

    Sweeeet.
    This game gave me so much bang for my buck. This looks like it will make it huge(r).
    Basically- so much love for this game.

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    Bluerps says:

    I’m still a little grossed-out by this game. Too much shit and mutilated babies for my taste. But still, apart from that it’s great.

  12. Vurogj says:

    I can’t even believe I’m doing this for a fictional language but…

    it’s doubleplusungood.

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    golem09 says:

    I guess the 5+ and 6+ stuff is new stuff + new variations of known stuff.

    • jaronimoe says:

      I’m sure he just meant “there will be 5 more of this and 6 more of that”.
      Don’t overcomplicate things, people.

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        golem09 says:

        actually I think he already said somewhere that there will be variations of known bosses in the addon.

    • Toberoth says:

      I thought it might mean that he’s got at least five or six new things to put in, but he might add more before the expansion is released. I imagine it doesn’t take too much work to add things to the game, and McMillen always seems to have a lot of ideas floating around that he may or may not decide to implement/discard.

  14. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    I love this game, played it a lot since right when it came out, but somehow I never clicked with Spelunky. can anyone help me? How does Spelunky work? Is it me?

    • Auspex says:

      I’m exactly the same; I found Spelunky far too fiddly but I should really give it another go when it gets its HD release.

  15. MattM says:

    I kinda hope it works as a side mission rather than being tacked onto the bottom of the current set of levels. The game was designed around short play sessions but has gotten pretty long. On multiple replays there is also a bit of bordeom going through the easy first few levels and having to go through a long arcade process. Actually I hope the find a way to cut down time in the arcade.

    • BatmanBaggins says:

      Yeah, this is something I was wondering about too. The game already started to feel a little too long when you unlocked the womb & Sheol

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        blind_boy_grunt says:

        it doesn’t make the levels longer it’s more an alternative route as far as i’ve understood it(source is a youtube channel/interview/cocommentary isaac playthrough with mcmillen, search northernlion mcmillen if interested but it’s 3 months old) I’m glad about that because a game that is more than half an hour begins to drag. For me isaac is like solitaire. A quick game here and there. And in the end i played this probably more than any other game last year.
        I AM a golden god afterall.

    • Savagetech says:

      The new chapters aren’t tacked on to the end of the game like Sheol was, they’re just more options that can stand in for existing chapters. For example, the first area can be “The Attic” instead of “The Basement.” I don’t recall if you can choose the new areas or if it’s just chance, but Edmund McMillen has said that the overall time for each playthrough will be (about?) the same. While the statement “5+ new chapters” makes me think it might get a little longer, Ed’s said he thinks the game length is ideal as it stands and wouldn’t dream of doubling it by tacking 5 more areas onto the end of the game.

  16. Auspex says:

    I’m increasingly of the opinion that Isaac is the greatest game ever made so I’m really looking forward to this. Still can’t get through Depths or Womb unscathed though D:

  17. gcmwalker says:

    For some reason I still have hope he’ll fix achievements on the Mac version.

  18. deadly.by.design says:

    I just couldn’t click with this game, despite the amount of praise it’s received. Then again, I thought SMB was artistically & retro(ly?) neat until I realized that parts of it were just un-fun.

    This title seems to resonate with a lot of folk, but I just don’t dig the tone either. Yeah, I have a sense of humor and detach myself during media to allow for developers taking artistic liberties. But, still… meh.

    What I *do* dig is the roguelike approach to the old Zelda/StarTropics dungeon feel. That’s neat to see.

  19. Kamen Rider says:

    And here I am, going on a week long vacation to California, and this will be released right in the middle of it. If I were able to get my plane ticket refunded by cancelling it, I just might have done it.

  20. Shortwave says:

    I must admit, I bought this game in a pack and of yet to actually play it.
    I keep meaning to since I loved Super Meat Boy but kept forgetting.
    Soon as this update hits I’m gunna’ go play the shit right out of it.

    • Toberoth says:

      You should get started on it straight away! It’s a great game, and a run through only lasts an hour or so. As far as I know the new content won’t force you to start a new save.

  21. Milky1985 says:

    Hoepfully some of this content can be available without having to grind it out. Part of the reason why it got uninstalled (that and the awful performance :/ )

    Having to finish the game 10 times to unlock the real boss is a bit of a timesink i don’t have time for , specially with a tough game like issac (again worse when the “bullet time” kicks in due to performance and you get thrown off your rhythm!).

    • wererogue says:

      I have exactly the opposite experience. Binding of Isaac constrains you to experience all of its content if you want to 100% it – you play the game with ever-differing combinations of game elements, making it a different experience each time, by design, and it does it very well.

      I guess I sort of equate your comment with somebody saying “Gee, I love Skyrim, but I wish I didn’t have to explore so much to see all of the caves.” The replay and unlock balance is what makes the game interesting for me – the procedural Zelda dungeon by itself has limited appeal.

  22. Snuffy the Evil says:

    The Binding of Issac, now with 33% more endings.

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    Jackablade says:

    The performance did get a major boost in a patch somewhere along the line. Unless you’re filling the screen with bullet hell levels of tears or explosions, you’ll seldom get much in the way of performance issues… or at least I don’t.

    I’ve pumped 81 hours into this game so far. I’m not sure feeding that addiction with more content is an entirely wise move.

  24. PodX140 says:

    Soooo, can we expect horrible performance and coding? As well as a hideously arrogant coder doing all of it?

    Seriously, I lost all respect for both SMB and BoI when SMB was hacked and his response was to do nothing but INSULT the person who pointed it out to him weeks in advance.

    There’s arrogance, then there’s this guy.

    • MondSemmel says:

      Well, there are two sides to every story. There was a 1h interview with the programmer where that part was touched upon, too. (here: http://www.design3.com/industry-insight/item/2446-interview-with-tommy-refenes-of-team-meat )
      They made it pretty clear that he worked himself half to death on that project and was not in good health at the point that hacking episode happened.
      Also, I looked at the relevant tweets and I think you are taking this way out of proportion. The hackers certainly didn’t look well in this situation.
      EDIT: If you don’t want to watch a 70 min video, there’s a direct response by the programmer in question here: http://www.formspring.me/Tommunism/q/291081586479215147 (The blood pressure thing is because he has diabetes.)

      • PodX140 says:

        All I need to say :

        http://img820.imageshack.us/img820/1641/itsfinetrustme.png

        Guy points it out to him, shows him a stack trace of his own code, and gets a condescending reply.

        • MondSemmel says:

          Now _you_ are just being condescending. You didn’t read my reply. [EDIT: That’s assuming you saw the edit in my previous post. If not, I apologize.]
          The relevant part from the programmer’s reply is:
          “Two days before Christmas I get an email from one of these teenagers telling me it was insecure and I needed to fix it. I told him “thanks for your concern but it’s fine…there’s nothing I can do about it”. There literally was NOTHING I could do. I was at my parents house in North Carolina two days before Christmas. I couldn’t have fixed it, submitted to Steam and uploaded to our servers without flying back to San Francisco and even then everyone was gone at Steam so I couldn’t even serve an update if I had one ready.”
          That line you are calling “condescending” isn’t even inherently condescending, you’re just interpreting it as it being so. And how could the reaction of that hacker guy be appropriate? After telling the SMB programmer about the issue, instead of accepting what he said, he _proceeded to use the exploit_. He went from warning about the problem to _becoming the problem_ in that instant.

          • Baines says:

            If the image posted by PodX140 is of the conversation in question, then there was no “thanks for your concern but it’s fine…there’s nothing I can do about it”.

            The image has the following conversation screen grabbed:
            Somerville: “this is not good” (with image link)
            Team Meat: “It’s fine. Trust me.”
            Somerville: “sorry, but that really isn’t fine. I’m willing to help you set up a more secure system if you like. DM me.”
            Team Meat: “Trust me. It’s fine.”
            Somerville: “if you say so”
            Team Meat: “I sure do. I’ve done this stuff for a while now. Thanks for your concern though.”

            That isn’t “there’s nothing I can do about it”. That’s a guy dismissing claims of a problem.

    • terry says:

      Edmund didn’t program Binding of Isaac.

      • Savagetech says:

        He didn’t program Super Meat Boy either. Tommy Refenes programmed SMB, Florian Himsl programmed Binding of Isaac. Edmund McMillen is the game designer/illustrator for both games; he never codes anything unless he absolutely has to.

    • Savagetech says:

      The two games have different programmers; Tommy Refenes coded SMB while Florian Himsl coded BoI. You shouldn’t lose respect for BoI just because of an incident with SMB, because the only commonalites between the games are the designer/illustrator (Edmund McMillen) and the soundtrack composer (Danny Baranowsky). Hate Tommy Refenes all you want but there’s no reason to dislike or ignore BoI because of him; he’s completely uninvolved and makes $0 whether you buy the game/expansion or not.

  25. Kaira- says:

    I hope this reaches also Mac and Linux. I just wonder how one should get around buying this if you got it from HIB?

    [E] “Only on Steam”. Well, that settles that, I’m afraid.

    • Savagetech says:

      Pirate it. Not even kidding. Google “Edmund McMillen piracy” and you’ll see he really doesn’t care about piracy as long as people are enjoying the game. He’s also said HIB customers are unfortunately up the creek for now, but that the base game+expansion will most likely be part of a future bundle. Steal it for now and buy it later when it’s available; if you really feel bad then buy some merchandise from Ed’s Etsy store or purchase the soundtrack.