Tag Archives: Genesis

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.

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Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks: Alien 3 (MD/GEN)

Welcome to another Lesser-known Video Game Soundtrack!  Today, we’ll highlight a movie game that actually didn’t suck with music by a prolific composer who’s been behind the scenes of most of your Sega favorites.  Let’s check it out!

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Sunday Game Soundtrack: ToeJam and Earl (MD/GEN)

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Game Soundtrack.  Today, we’ll totally funk out to John Baker’s ToeJam and Earl for Sega MegaDrive/Genesis.

Released in 1992, this game sports a pretty awesome funk/hip-hop soundtrack.  Composer John Baker set out to design the BGM so that it complimented the character designs and the game’s absurd humor.  Baker cites Herbie Hancock and more specifically The Headhunters as his main influence.

I used to play this game a lot with my little brother, who would often get hopelessly lost.  I’d be waiting by the elevators and he’d be still in the first level, drowning or sitting in the hot tub at the bonus area.  I guess I can look back at that now and call it “trolling”, though back then, I just called it being a “butthead”…. or perhaps more appropriate than either of those- being a “poindexter”.

Awesome.

Interestingly enough, the game itself was designed to be a two-player game first and foremost.  It makes sense, frankly, as you can scout areas much quicker with two people.  The game with one-player can be backbreakingly difficult and time consuming- though still fun.

Here’s the soundtrack, in one convenient post, by garudoh as part of his [The Music of Video Games] posts on YouTube.  Enough talk, let’s funk it up!

Hope you enjoyed it!  Feel free to leave comments.  It would be awesome to talk about the game!


Covering a Tune: Arranging Music for Beta Test Presents: HEROES! Part 3

This is Part 3 of my blog posts on arranging the music for the new Beta Test Music concert, Beta Test Presents:  HEROES!  In this entry, I am going to talk about “Sonic the Hedgehog”.  In case you missed it, here’s links to Part 1 and Part 2.

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Fidelity Concerns: Mega Man (Rockman) 1/2/3 and Mega Man: The Wily Wars (Rockman Mega World) continued-

This is Part 2 of my two part analysis of the music from Mega Man:  The Wily Wars.  For Part 1, please click here.

An example of fidelity lost:

I don’t normally revisit previous posts topics so quickly.  After posting a lengthy discourse on the music from this game yesterday, I was listening to my iPod today and found a really quite horrendous adaptation of Mega Man 3 music on the Genesis.  I figure I would post it.  In general, the Mega Man 3 music is not treated particularly well but this one is pretty much the worst.

I also fixed the title and some typos.  He’s known as “Mega Man” here and “Rockman” in Japan- there’s a space.  Oops.  I’m glad no one pointed this out.  I guess I just did though.  Double oops.

Here’s the offending example.  The “Ending- Theme of Protoman” track from the Genesis version of this game is downright awful.  Let’s demonstrate.  Here’s the NES version:

(fixed this link finally – 8/20/13)

The original intention for Protoman is this idea of a whistle-based melody that plays when you meet him throughout the game.  The artists, according to the Mega Man Official Complete Works, mention that Protoman was intended to be neither friend nor foe- an ambiguous character archetype from Japanese anime.  The idea is that he would have a “cool” theme (literally using the word “cool” to describe him).  The artists and the sound programmers worked together closely to develop a true, team-wide aesthetic.  The whistle could be Protoman whistling, to announce his arrival.  I feel that falls into line with the idea of how “cool” Protoman is in the sense of that epic Japanese anime hero genre from which he’s developed.  Either way, when you fight him, part of this theme plays:

(credit:  I apologize for the awful sound quality.  Ouch, my ears.  Clearly done on emulator or something.)

So naturally, the ending theme exposition of this theme is warranted and welcome considering how the game plays out (spoilers, etc etc).  So you’d think they would do a decent job moving this over to the Genesis?  Uhhhh:

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(Yes, that’s me.  This stuff isn’t online so I’m just going to post it.  I’m sick of looking for it.)

I do not like this attempt at creating a “flute” sound or a “whistle” sound.  It is unflattering and shrill.  I think it does execute the “rock ballad” successfully.  Then, you get to about 1:06 and you’re all set for it to go into the modulation and cool solo… and… wait.. what?  The music stops and begins to repeat.  I heard this on my iPod yesterday and was like:  WHAT?!  I couldn’t believe it.  They chopped off literally 30 seconds of music.  That is unacceptable in my mind.  I would love to ask someone who worked on the development team why this happened.  I understand there was a lot of pressure to churn this game out but wow- I don’t see why they couldn’t just spend the extra time and get it done.

More on the music:

I finally received my Mega Man Official Complete Works artbook in the mail yesterday and read some very interesting information about Mega Man:  The Wily Wars.   For one, the game was outsourced for the artwork and design.  Also, as I quoted from Wiki, this was a very disorganized and rushed project.  With book in hand, I can confirm the quote made yesterday.  Keiji Inafune, the lead artist and developer, was not directly involved in any of the decisions, though, he did aid in creating the “Journey to the West” inspired villains for the bonus content.  Thus, I’m not sure if we can really blame anyone in particular over at Capcom for the following Wily Tower stage tracks:

This is the “Huey Lewis and the News” track I was talking about.  Yes.  This is supposed to be a castle of doom.  In fact, it is the second to last stage of the game.

This next track is much more “Mega Man” by comparison though.  It reminds me of the later Mega Man X tracks (like Mega Man X5 and X6):

I really like this track.  It’s like the classic “Mega Man” feel meets epic anime theme song.

Since I’m in the uploading mood, here’s a couple more tracks that were not on YouTube I posted for your consideration:

After this, I should think the subject should be exhausted.  Hope you enjoyed !


Fidelity Concerns: Mega Man (Rockman) 1/2/3 and Mega Man: The Wily Wars (Rockman Mega World)

With the popular success of Mega Man series on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Capcom decided to branch out and release Mega Man for Sega Genesis, a company and console that Capcom rarely worked with.  Capcom was looking to absorb more of the market and since they had very good success releasing Street Fighter II:  Champion Edition (mainly due to the fact that the giant cartridge released for Genesis had enough room to put the four boss characters into the game… a subject to be explored later), they decided they could resell to a whole new group of gamers.

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Composers: Michael Jackson for Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker

Sega and Michael Jackson.  Yep.  Michael Jackson officially licensed and aided in the creation of Moonwalker, a game based on the 1988 film.  Here’s an arcade sample of gameplay:

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Yes.  That’s a bunch of Michael Jackson tunes arranged for an arcade machine.  Yes.  This is a beat-em-up.  And yes, Michael Jackson had a lot of involvement with the treatment of the game and music as it was adapted.  The music is VERY true to Jackson’s originals.  It’s difficult to know exactly how much involvement Jackson had with the process- there’s really no documentation.  Some say that Sega sound programmer Hiroshi Kubota assisted him.  I can’t confirm this officially.  And no one can ask MJ because, well… sniff…

Anyhow, Ken Horowitz, of Sega-16.com, talks about Michael Jackson and Sega in his article “Sega Legends:  Michael Jackson and Sonic 3“:

Former technical director Scott Bayless, who many of you may know as the fellow casually holding the Sega CD in the famous nighttime beach ad, once gave him a tour of the company offices. “He’d already signed the Moonwalker deal with Sega,” Bayless recently told Retro Gamer magazine, “and they were touring him around the Redwood City studio. I spent about a half hour showing him all kinds of techie stuff we were doing, and not once did he ever comment or make eye contact; he just kind of stood there with about fifteen of his minions around him.” Bayless then recalls how Jackson’s demeanor suddenly changed completely when they arrived at where Sega recorded its game music. “When we finished there we walked him over to the sound studio, which was just down the hall. Suddenly there was this new person in the room; it was uncanny. Jackson came to life like someone had flipped a switch. It was obvious that the only thing he was excited about was the music.”

There’s a lot of unconfirmed rumors and speculation surrounding Michael Jackson and Sega in general- mostly the theory that he wrote the music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3.  If you read Mr. Horowitz’s full article, it will talk about that in great detail.  I don’t want to steal his thunder.  It’s an excellent read.  Trust me.

The game music was adapted for Sega’s other consoles too.  Here’s “Beat It” Sega Genesis:

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And here’s “Smooth Criminal” on Sega Master System (poor poor Master System…):

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Lastly, using Sega’s Sega System 18 arcade board (I definitely plan on highlighting this iconic board down the line), here’s “Bille Jean”:

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Sega’s sound chips were built for his music.

Though Jackson has passed, we still have his music and his influence.  This game is also part of his legacy, though overlooked.  I hope you found this informative or at least, just rocked out to the music.  Please leave comments.  😀