Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks: Jewel Master (MD/GEN)

More like RING MASTER, amirite?

Welcome to another edition of Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks.  Today, we’ll take a look a soundtrack composed by Koichi Sugiyama’s orchestral arranger and published by a company known for a blue hedgeh— Sega.  I don’t need to make it mysterious.  This game is developed and published by Sega.

Jewel Master is an action-adventure game published by Sega in August of 1991.  It released on August 30th in Japan and August 29th in the US.  SO TAKE THAT JAPAN.  SCORE ANOTHER ONE FOR THE USA.  The score is like, 30-∞ but whatever, I’ll take whatever we can get!  It also released in Europe in 1991.  I cannot find an official date.  If it says it released in 1991, that probably means, knowing Europe, they got it in 1994 or 1995… … … I kid I kid… I kid cause I love.

Let’s talk about the game first.  The name Jewel Master tends to make us think this game is a puzzle game that involves crushing jewels or something, perhaps.  It’s not.  It’s a pretty awesome side-scrolling action-adventure game.  Here’s the plot, as told by the game:

Pretty epic.  The gameplay is actually really fun.  You go around collecting the rings.  You can use the rings using the A and B buttons and the C button changes them.  Enemies have specific weakness to certain rings, etc.  Very enjoyable, especially for a game from 1991.

But you’re here for the music, right?

The music to this game is composed by Motoaki Takenouchi.  Familiar?  Takenouchi did the sound work for Shining Force II and the Shining series Game Gear games – Shining Force Gaiden and Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya ((シャイニング・フォース外伝 II).  Here’s some examples of his Game Gear music for the Shining series:

I love his work.  Thoughtful and deliberate.  Game Gear is TOUGH to write for!  It’s 3 FIXED square channels (no duty cycles!) and a noise channel.  He makes some really nice sounds though.  That second track is from 1995, believe it or not.  I can’t believe they were still making new Game Gear games that late.

Some background on the man himself (care of TAKE’S MUSIC FACTORY and his artist profile on OCRemix):  Takenouchi graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts with a degree in Composition.  He was hired immediately by none other than Koichi Sugiyama (of the Dragon Quest series) to help with orchestral arrangements of game music.  In fact, here is such an arrangement for original Game Music Concert Live in Tokyo in 1991:

He also was the primary arranger for Koichi Sugiyama Game Music Works Collection:  Melodies of Game Music.  The collection features 2 CDs worth of works by Koichi Sugiyama.  I spent some time searching for tracks from this collection but I can’t seem to find any.  Oh well.

So, hiding behind the guise of an arranger, Takenouchi was eventually approached to do his own original work.   Jewel Master is a special OST because it represents just that.  And he serves it up.  Here’s some highlights:

I could listen to this on loop for hours.  I sorta did while writing this.  Hypnotic mixed meters and a great melody.  He utilizes the drums very well too.   Put this music into context- this is 1991.  Not 1995.  Not 1993.  1991.  The Mega Drive/Genesis is still relatively young.  This is great work.

Mysterious and meandering but REAL.  Then the organ kicks in and you’re like:  oh.  man.  The use of classical conventions like suspensions and dissonance (he’s not afraid of dissonance at all) are perfect.  Then he jumps into a wild flair of virtuostic organ badassery.  That’s the technical music term.  I had to look that up in Grove’s.

SEE. IT’S TOTALLY IN THAR. I’m a 5 year old.

So yeah.  Let me pair these two together:

Um.  This is the best thing ever.  Badass FM guitar and double kick.  Again, this is 1991, folks.  So.  Awesome.

Anyhow, here’s a full OST link so you can hear all that this soundtrack has to offer.  Any favorite tracks?  Leave comments!

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

3 responses to “Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks: Jewel Master (MD/GEN)

  • Another Gamer

    Digging it!

    First thing I noticed about the organ piece was that it follows the Baroque style very closely (and correctly). It’s like a shortened Bach toccata or something.

    The FM guitar reminds me of so many Final Fantasy 6 battles. What a trip. Is it just me or is there some sort of LFO on the double-kick? I don’t know the capabilities of the system but I’m sure you’d know if it was possible to do that. Sounds rad to be sure.

    Not to mention there’s a motif that’s in all of the tracks. Really ties the soundtrack together!

    I’m gonna be doing a music blog on Friday that I think you’ll get a kick out of, I’d appreciate if you’d read it and correct any grievous errors I make in describing the older systems’ capabilities!😀

    ~AG

  • Ben Mulholland

    once again a great blog-article, awesome!!

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