One cannot deny that one of the few things positive about 2006’s version of Sonic the Hedgehog was the music. It had a wide array of melodies and themes from rock n’ roll, hip-hop, and contemporary to name a few. Earlier this morning, Bentley Jones, who is the singer of the hit song “Dreams of An Absolution” released a brand-new music video featuring him singing and running in different locals. For more information about Bentley Jones’s 10th anniversary celebration, click the jump to find out more.
Johnny and Jun are doubling down this year with their own album: Driving Through Forever: The Ultimate Crush 40 Collection, listing all their best hits from the last 20 years. Unlike Maximum Overdrive, which lists multiple artists with Jun Senoue, this is all only Crush 40. There are multiple Internet listings, from Amazon UK to Tower Records JP, ranging for around $25-$30 depending on the seller. Four tracks are already confirmed with classics like: Open Your Heart, Live & Learn, Sonic Heroes, and Green Light Ride.
On this entry of our ongoing SEGA Tunes series, we will be looking at how Thunder Force III‘s fantastic soundtrack cemented the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive as a musical powerhouse. The SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive’s sound usually gets negative responses from gamers due to some big games having bad sound, thus they assume its the system’s fault. If you know some gamers that have that opinion about the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, pop in Thunder Force III. If they don’t change their minds, find new friends. Of course, there are many other SEGA games that had fantastic sound on the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, but today we will be looking at Thunder Force III.
Let’s look at some of my favorite Thunder Force III tracks:
There are typically three things that people associate with SEGA: Sonic the Hedgehog, consoles that never got to shine, and great music. SEGA has undoubtedly housed some of the most creative composers in the industry, making everything from sweeping, pseudo-orchestral soundscapes, to fast-paced, pumped-up techno. But the best composers don’t let their skill and talent end with their music.
Enter Tomoko Sasaki, best known to SEGA fans as the main composer of NiGHTS into Dreams…. Her sound, helped along by Naofumi Hataya and Fumie Kumatani, is what arguably sold NiGHTS‘ surreal dream worlds and energetic gameplay. It’s often considered one of the best soundtracks in SEGA history, let alone on the Saturn, but it was only Sasaki’s third composition. And even then, it wasn’t even the strangest thing she ever did.
While the heyday of the original Star Wars trilogy video games in the 70s and 80s belonged to Atari, during the 90s and early 2000s our favorite arcade game maker (that’s SEGA, if you’re wondering) internally developed a three games that blew the Atari arcade experiences out of the water. The arcade games I am referring to are Star Wars Arcade (by SEGA AM3 and LucasArts), Star Wars Trilogy Arcade (by SEGA AM8 and LucasArts), and Star Wars Racer Arcade (by Sega Rosso). These games were exciting for a number of reasons. For starters, you had some of the best SEGA arcade talent behind the titles working with some of the best arcade technology of the time. [Learn more about SEGA’s arcade development in the 90s]
I know old Atari arcade games have their charm, but when you’re dealing with a franchise like Star Wars that leans so much on visuals, sound and music I’d much prefer to know what I’m looking at rather than trying to figure out what tiny wireframes are trying to convey. Personally I found Star Wars Racer Arcade to be the pinnacle of Star Wars arcade experiences, as it felt 1:1 to the film in every aspect. But today, for the latest entry in our SEGA Tunes series, I wanted to look back at the Star Wars arcade experience that kicked off the SEGA trilogy of arcade games, the aptly named Star Wars Arcade.
So as most of you guys know we are celebrating ‘The Year of Developers‘, one of the focused developers this month is Treasure and since their cult classic ‘Gunstar Heroes‘ just got a re-release on the Nintendo 3DS we decided to have a look at the games soundtrack. Honestly, most people will be quick to give you hundreds of reasons why you should play the game, but almost none of them will mention the fantastic soundtrack.
Let’s look at some of my favorite tracks and then you can tell me some of your favorite tracks (or tracks you hated) in the comment section.
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.