SEGA Tunes: How Thunder Force III’s OST made the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive shine

SEGATunesTHUNDERFORCEIIIOn 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:

SEGA Retrospective: The career of Tomoko Sasaki, composer of NiGHTS Into Dreams…


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.

SEGA Tunes: Star Wars Arcade 32X feels like it could take on the whole Empire


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.

SEGA Tunes: Jamming out to the Gunstar Heroes OST

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.

SEGA Tunes: Space Channel 5 resurrects Ken Woodman’s Mexican Flyer


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.

SEGA Tunes: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed remixes Panzer Dragoon’s ‘Flight’


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!

SEGA Tunes: Panzer Dragoon’s OST is a beautiful masterpiece

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 Tunes: Comix Zone’s Road Kill plays Grunge music

It’s no secret that Comix Zone‘s Sketch Turner was design around a grunge rock musician. Grunge music started in the mid-1980’s in Seattle and slowly spread thanks to labels like Sub Pop. It didn’t become commercially successful until the first half of the 90’s thanks to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and of course Stone Temple Pilots.

Howard Drossin, the composer behind the soundtrack for Comix Zone put a band together called ‘Road Kill’ (named after Turner’s pet rat and humble side kick).