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.
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!