Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks: Ghoul Patrol (SNES)

It’s October and that means Halloween is just around the corner!  When it comes to video games and Halloween, I usually think of LucasArts’ Zombies Ate My Neighbors (or, embarrassingly, Banjo Kazooie- there’s that whole Halloween land thing with the witch and such).  I imagine many of you have played ZAMN at some point and remember the unforgiving, fun, and bizarrely entertaining gameplay as well as the incredibly fitting soundtrack.  BUT… did you know there was a sequel?  Yep.  Ghoul Patrol.  Unfortunately, GP was not very well received and did not sell well… which is probably why you were unaware that it existed.  The music, on the other hand, doesn’t suck.  So, let’s check it out!

LucasArts’ produced/licensed a game that used the same game engine as Zombies Ate My Neighbors called Ghoul Patrol.  Rumor has it (and I do not have any confirmation on this but this sounds about right) that LucasArts developed the game, nearly completed it, and then realized that they could boost sales by adding the two main protagonists from ZAMN, Zeke and Julie, which caused original game to be reworked as a sequel to ZAMN.  I almost buy the story- the gameplay is a lackluster version of ZAMN with some shinier sprites and weird levels.  It really never captures that crazy B-movie atmosphere of the first.  Plus, Zeke and Julie are sent to the Caribbean?  The Ming Dynasty?  Bleh.

In an attempt to match Joe McDermott’s legendary ZAMN OST, LucasArts used the tandem of composers Eric Swanson and David Warhol for Ghoul Patrol.  A little background on each of them is probably in order.

Eric Swanson‘s career is quite random.  Most of his career was spent working for “Realtime Associates”, a software company owned by fellow composer David Warhol.  Realtime Associates still exists, in fact.  You can view their website here.  At any rate, Swanson’s career spans nearly three decades and he is still active today.  Some highlights from his Gameography include music for Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball (for GameGear….) and the show stopping classic:  Barney’s Hide and Seek.  In fact, let’s listen:

(credit:  myfriendbarney)

Remember, kids.  This happened.

David Warhol has an equally weird resume.  He operated, in most cases, as a sound programmer.  In fact, he created a way to write files in MIDI and convert them directly to Game Boy and NES files for play.  He is credited with many… interesting titles as well such as Total Recall for NES.  In fact, here’s a track from the game:

(credit:  Mariobro4)

That’s actually pretty neat.  That track is both composed and arranged by Warhol.

OKAY- so getting back to the task at hand- Ghoul Patrol!  Warhol and Swanson produce one of the most bizarre, synth tuba-heavy (Yes. SYNTH. TUBA.) soundtracks I’ve EVER heard.  The whole soundtrack is like one big tuba solo.  For example:  (all video following are credited to SomeVideoGameMusic– thanks for posting these, mate!)

I mean, check out 0:22.  That’s some heavy tuba.  It’s also really zany, which I like.  Very fitting and dare I say… Danny Elfman-esque… well, Danny Elfman for a Tim Burton movie, I guess.

Ska horror or something?  I’m perplexed by this track but I still think it’s awesome.  It’s definitely spooky.  And here’s some others I enjoyed:

(and this last one is probably my favorite)

At any rate, here’s the playlist if you want to enjoy the entire soundtrack or you can listen below.  Let me know what you think in the comments, as always!

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About Classical Gaming

Steve Lakawicz holds an MM in Music Performance from Temple University as well as a BM in Tuba Performance from Rutgers University . His teachers include Paul Scott, Scott Mendoker, and Jay Krush. His love of video game music has lead him to form a blog, Classical Gaming, to promote discussion both casual and academic about the music of video games. He is the co-founder of the video game/nerd music chamber ensemble, Beta Test Music and regularly composes/performs chiptune music as Ap0c. He currently resides in Philadelphia where he teaches college statistics at Temple University. View all posts by Classical Gaming

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