While SEGA’s arcade skateboarding title Ollie King is often given Smilebit credit, as mentioned in our kick-off retrospective, the title is still very much an Amusement Vision game. Still, given the Smilebit talent involved in Ollie King‘s creation, I can easily see why people make the mistake. Hell, I thought the game was a Smilebit arcade game until I played it for the first and only time at a GameWorks in Schaumburg, Illinois back in 2005 and saw that “AV” logo. While Ollie King‘s art style and graphics are very much in the same style as Smilebit’s JSRF, and what really pushes the Smilebit feel over the edge is the incredible soundtrack from SEGA music veteran Hideki Naganuma. Not only does the game feature original tracks including pulse-pounders like “Boarder 70″, “Let It Go”, and “Too Fast”, slower celebrative tracks like “Funk to the Top”, as well as the lovingly wacky “Brother Goes Away”, the game also features two remixes of original tracks from Jet Set Radio Future!
Like Space Channel 5, United Game Artists’ Rez was a game in which music was not only a defining element, but a vital one. While Rez played very similarly to the Panzer Dragoon rail shooters, music acted as a heartbeat for the game, a pulse which every action was tied to. To say Rez was a rhythm game, however, would be inaccurate. Attacking enemies out of synch with the beat was doable, and in some of the more hectic moments of the game it was necessary. Yet if you truly gave in to the game’s soundtrack and pulse you’d discover a whole other level of play where music and visuals meld into some magical new sensation.
Rez’s soundtrack featured the likes of Keiichi Sugiyama, Ken Ishii, Mist, Joujouka and Adam Freeland. Each artist contributed a unique sound a feel for their respective stages, and no track was more memorable than Adam Freeland’s “Fear”. Perhaps I say this because the track accompanies the final stage, a moment when the game is building to its big climax and the player is now fully invested. “Fear” itself is quite epic, starting small and building to a electronic string section crescendo. Seeing as Rez‘s soundtrack is popular with fans, the music is readily available on both an official game soundtrack and on albums from the individual artists. However, unique to Adam Freeland’s “Fear” is the fact that while the track is out there, the in-game edit is not… until now.
While SEGA music fans celebrate the likes of Jacques, Naganuma, and Mitsuyoshi who created hours of original tracks for iconic SEGA games during the Saturn and Dreamcast eras, its important to remember that SEGA has also relied heavily on pre-existing music licensed for their titles. Samba de Amigo, for example, used contemporary tracks from the likes of German pop group Bellini, Chumbawamba, and Santana, as well as classic music from the 50s and 60s including tracks from the Gipsy Kings, Perez Prado, and Quincy Jones. Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future also featured several licensed tracks, so many that subsequent re-releases were once in fear of losing iconic tunes thanks in large part to the fact that Crazy Taxi‘s HD release scrapped the original game’s soundtrack which featured Bad Religion and The Offspring. SEGA learned their lesson with Crazy Taxi, however, as the mobile release of the game reinstated the original soundtrack and Jet Set Radio‘s HD release promoted the fact that the soundtrack was largely intact in their marketing of the game.
Internal SEGA development team United Game Artists, known for Space Channel 5 and Rez, put music at the forefront of their titles. Music not only played a part in enhancing the mood, it was a vital part of gameplay. Sure one can play Jet Set Radio or Samba de Amigo with the speakers muted (why would you want to though?), but muting Space Channel 5 or Rez? You might as well unplug the console. Throughout the month of May, SEGA Tunes we will be focusing on both the original and licensed music featured in United Game Artists games. This week, we’re kicking things off with a classic.
Jet Set Radio and its sequel Jet Set Radio Future are often cited as having some of the best music to come from SEGA thanks in a large part to Hideki Naganuma and Richard Jacques. While in-house talent played a large role in creating such memorable soundtracks, the soundtracks also consisted of licensed music from artists that included Guitar Vader, Cibo Matto, Deavid Soul and others. This week on SEGA Tunes (the feature formerly known as Tuesday Tunes) we’re focusing on a third type of Jet Set Radio music contributor: The Latch Brothers.
The announcement of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is one of the more memorable moments here at SEGAbits, as it was the first major game reveal press event SEGA invited us to. Weeks before the game was officially announced to the public, we received an invite to a secret event that – while it didn’t name the game – was all but confirmed to be a Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing sequel thanks to the design and description of the event. Taking place at an indoor go-kart track in California, our writers attended and were floored when the game was revealed. The first thing that caught our eye: Panzer Dragoon was back with an impressive track named Dragon Canyon!
Panzer Dragoon is an artistic and beautiful game, sure it might be ‘ugly’ now since games can do better graphically. But there is just something about the art assets used that really strike me as beautiful. Like most SEGA games, the soundtrack matched the presented game and no other game delivered as well as Panzer Dragoon series. This week we will be looking through the first game’s soundtrack.
The above song attached is the main theme that really sets the game’s epic scoop. Its a beautiful piece that for some reason reminds me of the 1989 animated film ‘Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland‘. Fun fact: French artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud was actually involved in both Panzer Dragoon (mostly influence and did the Japanese cover) and the Little Nemo movie.
SEGA’s WOW Entertainment has a very eclectic resume, featuring games like the simulation-style racer SEGA GT, the dating sim Candy Stripe, the mutants teaching typing game The Typing of the Dead (co-developed with Smilebit), and today’s Tuesday Tunes spotlighted title, the online aliens versus army game Alien Front Online.
Initially released worldwide to arcades as Alien Front, Alien Front Online was soon released to the Dreamcast. Despite being Japanese developed, Alien Front Online was made to strongly connect with Western audiences. The game was simple, featuring online combat with voice communication allowing players to take on opposing sides of an army versus aliens war. Unfortunately, the game’s release was poorly planned out as Alien Front Online was released to North America six months after SEGA made the announcement that they were discontinuing the Dreamcast. The game ended up not releasing to other territories, and to make matters worse, shortly after release SEGA shifted to a pay to play model for their online games. I recall renting Alien Front Online when it released, and even through the game was just a few weeks old, the online community was incredibly small.
Skies of Arcadia is a special game that had just the right amount of charm to win me over. Skies of Arcadia is just one of those games where you really like the bright colorful world and cheery character personalities, despite its random battle encounters and parts in the game that lead to frustration. Not only that, the game had an epic soundtrack that gives you a sense of adventure. Listen to the main theme above and tell me this doesn’t make you want to go exploring some caverns or travel in exotic locations?
This week on Tuesday Tunes we will be listening to some of my personal favorite tracks in Skies of Arcadia. Hit the jump and set your volume to an appropriate volume.
Virtua Fighter was a ground breaking game for its time and was going up against some of the biggest fighting games made in that era. SEGA needed the whole game to be excellent and in my opinion they got a great complementary soundtrack to go with the revolutionary gameplay.
The first theme we are looking at is Akira’s Theme, this one is more up beat than they would later use. This one doesn’t seem like a theme for a character usually shown meditating and honing his martial arts skills. This is just a good action track, that gets the blood flowing. Its what I would love to hear when I’m in a middle of a fight and any move I make can win or lose the match. Great track, but as Akira’s theme, probably not. Seems the developers agreed as they would give him a more epic tune in Virtua Fighter 2.
SEGA-AM2 could really thank most of its success to how popular the game Hang-On was in 1985. This game really opened up for all those other popular SEGA-AM2 peusdo 3D scaler games that we all love today like Space Harrier, Out-Run, Afterburner, and many more.
The track above is called ‘Theme of Love’ and love is probably what kids in the mid-eighties felt when they played this game for the first time. Every time I hear any music from a early SEGA-AM2 games it just fills me with nostalgia and Hang-On‘s Theme of Love does it the best. It just does everything right and is an excellent piece of music.