SEGA Tunes Vol.1 “Unlikely Melody’s by Jamie Maxwell”

This feature has been in the works for a long time at SEGA BITS and finally today we are ready to launch our latest weekly feature “Tuesday Tunes”, a feature that really doesn’t need any introduction but we’ll give you one anyways. SEGA has been making awesome games for over 30 decades often the instrumental variable in making awesome games into cherished classics is often the music. Would the original Sonic the Hedgehog really be as memorable today had it not featured the awesome tunes composed by legends such as Yuzo Koshiro?

In addition to the tunes we will focus on the games they stem from, the musicians who composed them & the fans that really took them to the next level. To kick things off, we interviewed one such fan; Jamie Maxwell of Unlikely Melody’s (YouTube Artist).

Maxwell regularly reinterprets retro tracks for Classical Guitar (Acoustic Covers), he first blipped on our radar back at SEGA NERDS when he captured our undivided attention with an amazing cover of Ice Cap Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Since then we have been regularly keeping tabs on him and recently I had the privillage of conducting an interview with him.

It is recommended that you play the featured tracks, while reading the interview.

Hello Jamie, it is a pleasure to finally have you here with us. Why don’t we start at the beginning?

How did you get into gaming?

It was my Dad who introduced me to gaming, when I was about 2 or 3 years old. We had a Commodore Vic-20 with ‘Space Invaders’ and a game called ‘Vegas Jackpot’, which was essentially a crude representation of a “one armed bandit” machine. Interestingly, the joystick we had for the Vic-20 had a single button on the left hand side – I noticed that I had to reach my right hand all the way around the joystick in order to press the button. In other words, my brain had decided I was going to be left-handed, so my first experiences with gaming were a little frustrating. I guess that’s why I hold such a grudge against today’s developers: they frequently forget to include the option to customize controls for staunch left handers like myself!

A Commodore 64 game most of us have never played but the cover is worth listening too

My introduction to SEGA came a few years later. I received a SEGA Master System II for Christmas when I was about 8. At this time I had a Commodore 64 as well (which I still love), but the sheer excitement of finally being able to play Alex Kidd and Sonic the Hedgehog was almost overwhelming. I can still remember unwrapping it and turning it on for the first time. What a day! I was in gaming heaven! Even better was the fact that you could plug a Master System controller into the Commodore 64 (they shared the same type of controller port) so I always insisted on using the Master System pad when playing games on both machines.

There’s an SMS Sonic Cover Here, check it out.

Years past and I amassed quite a collection of SMS games. Sadly, I only have a few original games left today but its great being able to download and play the old classics via the Virtual Console on the Wii. My favourites were Wonder Boy 3: Dragon’s Trap, Ninja Gaiden, Sonic 1, World Grand Prix (my Dad loves that game), Castle of Illusion, Land of Illusion and Asterix. Don’t even go near the SMS version of Altered Beast though, sorry SEGA but it’s horrible!

At this time all my friends had Mega Drives and/or SNES’s and I must admit I was pretty jealous, so when I finally got my hands on a Mega Drive years later I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do. It’s such a great machine, especially in the sound department. The SNES may have been able to imitate string sounds pretty well, but the Mega Drive could really pump out the beats! Listen to the Streets of Rage soundtracks and you’ll know what I mean! Now I have a confession to make: I was one of the suckers who bought a 32X! My friends had warned me about it but I still ended up buying it. I enjoyed it actually; ‘Virtua Fighter’ and ‘Virtua Racing’ were amazing, as was ‘DOOM’. ‘Chaotix’ , not so much (Editor Note: The lesser known Knuckles spin off that featured the debut of Chaotix from from Sonic Heroes). Fortunately I was able to find someone to sell it to for a reasonable price, so I was very lucky!

You’ve done quite a few Super Nintendo Covers, when did you hop over to Nintendo Side?

It wasn’t a case of hopping sides or being (dis)loyal to any one company. You make it sound like I had abandoned SEGA!

Sega Does What Nintendon’t :P.

The bottom line was that I loved gaming and wanted to experience as much as I could. My friends and I never understood the whole “fanboy war” thing between SEGA and Nintendo going on at the time. We were too busy enjoying the games! I never owned a NES or Super Nintendo but my friends did so we would go over to each other’s houses and play on the different consoles. Both companies had fantastic hardware and software.

Jamie isn’t restricted to a platform, neither is Tetris. The Awesome cover is off the Game Boy Color Version.

In hindsight, I’m gutted that I never had a Saturn or Dreamcast (I had a Playstation and later an N64) but my best friend did so I still had a connection with SEGA. We used to spend entire days playing Virtua Cop, Baku Baku Animal, Xmen: Children of the Atom and Virtua Fighter 2 when the Saturn was around. It truly was a force to be reckoned with in the beat-em-up arena. So many amazing fighting games on that machine. Its such a shame the Saturn and the Dreamcast didn’t make more of a worldwide impression to be honest. I’d love it if SEGA were still making consoles!

Did the 32x play a role in you not buying a Saturn?

It played no role in me not getting a Saturn. There was no discussion about it with my friend either. In fact, at the time of the 32X’s release neither of us really knew much about the Saturn or Playstation other than they were being developed. However, another friend of mine did warn me about the 32X, calling it a “stop gap” (he was right). At that time I was interested in games that were already out, that is, I didn’t really care about future consoles. Looking back now, I was naive and very impatient! But it all stemmed from the fact that I had wrongly assumed (and secretly wished) that the 32X would extend the Mega Drive’s life for a few more years. I loved that console so much!

It was a poor decision on Hayoa Nakayama’s part (SOJ President in those days) I think this was the decision that ultimately led to the company’s failure (the Saturn was discontinued early but that hardware wasn’t profitable outside Japan), SEGA has a track record of making questionable business decisions, which executive decision bothered you the most?

Well, I think it’s fair to say that SEGA’s fall from (hardware) grace began with the Mega/SEGA CD. Everything snowballed from there really! It’s such a shame because the Saturn and Dreamcast were great machines.

Personally, I was annoyed with what little support the 32X (and Mega CD) had, though I still got a lot of enjoyment from it in the end. It was of course my fault for being so tragically sucked in by the hype, but it begged the question as to why it was released in the first place when they knew that the Saturn was around the corner.

The only other SEGA related decision that has really bothered me is regarding the absence of Shenmue 3 (though Yu Suzuki has mentioned he would like to see it happen; especially now that Shenmue city is being released). To leave gamers hanging like that is pretty cruel! However, I fully understand that the Shenmue series was making a loss at the time, so it made business sense to cancel the project. Now that SEGA has it’s footing purely in the software market, it would be great if they could finally finish the story, though I’m not expecting them to. I imagine that the logistics of bringing the project back to life would be a nightmare!

You missed out on dc so did you play Shenmue 2 on X-Box?

No, actually it was a friend Dreamcast that I played both Shenmue 1 and 2 on. I was completely blown away by the graphics, the soundtrack, the sheer openness of it all…. it really was a truly astounding thing to behold really. It’s a shame both games weren’t eventually released on the other consoles (PS2, Gamecube) but I admire Microsoft for securing exclusivity rights to Shenmue 2. They must have seen how special a game it was.

Well they actually took former SEGA President Peter Moore from SEGA as well, we assume he was the one is responsible for the exclusivity deal.

What current gen systems do you own?

I own all the current gen systems (including handhelds) apart from the Xbox 360. I have nothing against the console of course, far from it. At the time I only had money for either an Xbox 360 or a PS3. The PS3 had some exclusives that I really wanted at the time plus it can play Blu-Ray movies so they were the deciding factors for me. I’ll no doubt get an Xbox eventually but for now I’m really happy! I’ll always love SEGA and their games. In fact, I was playing Outrun: Coast to Coast 2006 on my PS2 just a few hours ago and I absolutely adore Valkyria Chronicles on PS3. As a huge ‘Advance Wars’ fan its a perfect game for me! I’m a big fan of the ‘Yakuza’ series as well.

Mirror’s Edge isn’t a PS3 exclusive but it is an amazing experience and the only current gen cover by Jamie.

We are just getting started with Maxwell, come back next week as we spike up the SEGA love and look into more SEGA covers as well as get Maxwell’s takes on the likes of Michael Jackson, Jun Sunoe and Yuzo Koshiro.

Special Thanks to Barry The Nomad For the ArtWork!


10 responses to “SEGA Tunes Vol.1 “Unlikely Melody’s by Jamie Maxwell”

  1. Sega Uranus says:

    30 DECADES?!? Hell yeah!

  2. George says:

    Post Tuesday article on Wednesday. Success.

    Great article though.

  3. cube_b3 says:

    Man internet has been a fucking bitch, since 28th January my internet isn't working.

    I actually had to post it through uni, better late then never.

  4. Do you mean "Melodies"?

  5. Nice interview, though the 30 decades is either a typo or this guy knows something we don't.

    Steam powered SEGA consoles???

  6. cube_b3 says:

    @ Emmet: No I mean Melody's. Maxwell's YouTube Channel is "Unlikely Melody".

    @ Barry: Sega was established in 1945 as Standard Games, in the 50s they became service games till 70s they were focused on importing coin-op machines from Japan to USA. By earlu 1980s, SEGA had set up several in house studios.

    So it isn't a typo.


    How come no body is talking about the music?

    What did you guys think about The Last Ninja theme?

    I haven't even played that game.

    Or Jamie's opinion about enjoying games regardless of consoles?

    Man, isn't that Tetris cover the best thing on the playlist?

    What about the acoustic version of Still Alive, his cover was the reason I played Mirror's Edge.

  7. A decade is a 10 year span, so 30 decades would mean "300 years". An accurate count would be "over five decades".

    I noticed none of the featured songs were based off of SEGA games, but I did check out his channel and enjoyed the Ice Cap tune:

  8. And the plural of melody is melodies. "Melody's" doesn't make sense unless there is a person named Melody and she owns something. You only use an apostrophe if it's posessive.

  9. cube_b3 says:

    It is the name of his channel.

    The 30 Decades bit is a typo, for some reason it didn't register the 1st time it was pointed out.

  10. No, it's called "Unlikely Melody" you said it yourself. the apostrophe S you tagged on the end makes no sense.

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