Welcome to a brand new edition of "The CD Collection"! Today I am straying away from the usual Tokusatsu format and getting into something I've wanted to try for a long time now...video game soundtracks! Even though I've only ever covered Tokusatsu CDs here on the site, my collection does contain several video game, Anime, and Jpop CDs. This post is a small sample of the video game CDs I've accumulated over the years. If there is enough interest, I'll be sure to post a follow-up with even more gems.
If this if your first visit to my site--welcome! Once a month I usually review a batch of CDs from my collection that have a common theme. I have a page containing links to other articles I've written about CDs as well as a woefully outdated list of CDs I own.
Oh yes...and I can't stress this enough. I will not send mp3s under any circumstances. Sorry. I recommend purchasing the CDs yourself. Pretty much everything here is available for sale on Amazon Japan. That's where I bought everything here...minus the Segata Sanshiro single. I've had that one so long I don't remember where I bought it.
BTW...you might walk away from this knowing a new Segata Sanshiro fact.
Segata Sanshiro "Sega Saturn, Shiro!"
Why not kick things off with something wholly familiar? Sega Saturn's immortal mascot, Segata Sanshiro, is no stranger to video game and Tokusatsu fans alike. He is played by Hiroshi Fujioka who also starred as Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider 1. Sure, everyone knows that. The less known fact about Segata Sanshiro and his theme song is that the main version used in commercials is sung by some guy called Ichiro Tomita. Tokusatsu fans miiiiight know him a little bit better by his stage name "MoJo". I suppose the legendary Battle Fever J/Goggle Five/Dynaman/Machineman singer had to use his real name to escape his Nippon Columbia overlords.
This CD features three versions of the Segata Sanshiro theme song. The Ichiro Tomita version, the Hiroshi Fujioka version, and the Karaoke version. Three versions of the greatest video game anthem of all time. I wish I had more to say about this...but it wouldn't be anything you don't know already.
James & Gang "Pepsiman"
Pepsiman! OK...this one is kind of a stretch. Like Segata Sanshiro, Pepsiman is a corporate mascot taken to new levels. Unlike Segata Sanshiro, Pepsiman is the mascot of a soft drink rather than a console. He did, however, have his own Playstation game that featured his theme song prominently. By this logic I could call Michael Jackson's Bad album the soundtrack to Moonwalker on Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, but I digress.
This single features three versions of the Pepsiman theme song. There is Original Mix, Jungle Mix, and the Techno Mix. Obviously the original is the best, but the Techno Mix is pretty neat. This is a good CD. It might be a bit on the repetitive side as the song doesn't have any actual lyrics, but it kinda makes up for that by including two remixes that could've just as easily not been included. Check this one out if you come across it.
S.S.T. Band "OUT RUN"
Checkpoint! I wasn't much of an arcade kid growing up, but I loooooved playing Out Run. I was probably awful at it, but it was undeniably appealing to a young car enthusiast such as myself. It had a Ferrari in it! Suck it, Rad Racer! Take your Power Glove-driven Fauxrarri and piss off...
Even if I wasn't great at the game, I certainly loved the hell out of the music and the fact that you can select your track on the radio. Splash Wave is an iconic video game track that I don't think gets it's fair due.
This CD is more than just a video game soundtrack, however. The first three tracks are new for '92 Band Arrange versions of the main tracks from the game. They all sound amazing. Truly, I think the Band Arrange section should have been given it's own CD Single release rather than being hidden on this somewhat obscure album. The Band Arrange version of Splash Wave in particular is fantastic.
The game music itself is kinda disappointing. The quality is lacking here. I can't exactly tell if they're using the arcade version of the music or the console version, but it's a big drop off from the sharp quality of the Band Arrange tracks. Pity. There is a sound effect collection track, which contains all eight sound effects this game has. There is also a second version of the end credit music containing the "wave" sound effect. Overall, I *really* like this CD for all the material, I just wish they did a better job on the game music.
I should say that this isn't really the end of Out Run music on CD. There was also a 1993 version of Splash Wave, which is.....OK. That, the three main tracks, and the closing credit music were included on The Best of Sega Music Vol.1...which I might have to review next time since it's a killer set.
Tatsuya Uemura "ZERO WING"
Did you know this one had a CD? I didn't! I spotted this gem a few months back and spent quite a bit of money to snag it. I really didn't bother to look up any information on this disc before buying it, so imagine my shock when I popped it in and realized that it's the soundtrack to the arcade version of Zero Wing.
Honestly, though, outside of the opening title I very much prefer the arcade version of the Zero Wing music. There are some absolutely terrific tracks like YOU GET and HIT MAN (the best, IMO)...and even the main title music is very good. Tracks 13~31 are glooooorious Sound Effects. Tons of little goodies to finish it off.
Despite being only twenty-six minutes, this one is actually pretty long for an arcade game...especially a shooter from Toaplan. Recommended if you can find a copy!
Masato Nakamura "Sonic The Hedgehog 1&2 Soundtrack"
Whenever you see a modern release of a classic video game soundtrack...do your research. It could be a comprehensive collection of everything you wanted and more, or it could be something shat out by a hapless record label for a fast buck...
The fact that this set is three discs should be an immediate clue that this is going to be something special. Disc 1 is the game music from Sonic The Hedgehog 1 & 2. Disc 2 is the DEMO versions of the music from Sonic The Hedgehog 1 & 2 (seriously......this is probably the only time I've ever seen demo video game music commercially available). Disc 3 contains two original image songs along with two modern remixes by AKON.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the music of the first two Sonic games. Not to bring a certain mustachio'd plumber into this, but I thoroughly enjoyed the music of the first three Sonic games over pretty much anything that was playing in the Mushroom Kingdom. Sonic 1 & 2 had music composed by Masato Nakamura of the band DREAMS COME TRUE. I can't really say I'm too familiar with the group outside of their song Love Love Love. I really have too many tracks from these games to name as stand-outs--there are very few duds in either game. Overall the music might be a little bit in your face, but does so with an amazing depth and sense of adventure. Give this disc a listen with some headphones...
Really, I could go on and on about the Sonic The Hedgehog soundtracks for the first two games. I guess the best thing I can say that the music, to me at least, feels like an intricate part of what made up the early Sonic games. If those games weren't so damn good, would there still be the seemingly infinite goodwill toward the Hedgehog that we have gotten about twenty years of crap since?
Now we're talking. When I first spotted this CD, I was incredibly curious about what these Demo versions were all about. It doesn't say this outright anywhere in the set, but I can only imagine that everything here is what Masato Nakamura handed in to Sega who in turn digitized it for 16 bit. I would say that the final product is VERY faithful to the original material. The outright differences are very rare. It's pretty impressive that Nakamura was able to paint a musical picture for the first game based on still concept images. All of the tracks from the first disc are present here in concept form except the awesome medleys, which is kind of a bummer.
The best way to sum up this disc is to call it a reverse Band Arrange. It's the game music...before it was game music. Very clean quality. Totally recommended for the subtle changes...and less subtle changes like Emerald Hill Zone...they kinda saved that one...
This one...I can kinda do without. Only four tracks on this disc, and I am not too familiar with them at all. I'm all for image songs, but did Sonic really need one by the second game? Sweet Sweet Sweet and it's English version Sweet Dreams are full vocal versions of the game results music from Sonic 2 by DREAMS COME TRUE. It's a slow song...and it's totally alright. For whatever reason, AKON remixed these two songs in 2006. Same songs with a beat and a lot of "Uh huh...yeah!" and "Hoooooo Weeee!". Ugh. Did this guy go to the Pitbull School of Destroying Music? He felt the need to replace Masato Nakamura's vocals with his own. Whatever. I guess AKON just REALLY wanted a duet with the then-fifteen year old vocal track of Miwa Yoshida.
I might not like the remixed versions of the song, but I can safely say that this disc (and the remixes held within) was necessary to complete this set.
SET OVERALL: Not only are the discs absolutely bursting with music, but there is also a hidden booklet in the somewhat flimsy packaging. In the booklet there are interviews with both Sonic creator Yuji Naka and Masato Nakamura himself along with a full bio on DREAMS COME TRUE. The interviews are presented in both Japanese and English, which is superb thinking on their part. The booklet also features oodles of Sonic concept art, which is apparently pretty rare. That said, I believe it is some of the later concept art...since it doesn't look as outlandish as the original concept art sounded.
Fantastic set... They really did a wonderful job giving Sonic The Hedgehog the 20th anniversary celebration he deserved when this came out in 2011. Even if he had been coasting for pretty much 17 of those 20 years... Seriously, though. This is a great set. Maybe if things worked out better for Nakamura we would have gotten the music from the first three games. As we all know, though, the music for Sonic 3 is a strange story on it's own...
G.S.M. Capcom/Alfh Lyra "Street Fighter II~Image Album~"
I imagine there was someone out there who bought this thinking there would be game music on it...heh.
I love concept albums like this. This CD contains non-vocal image songs based on character themes of certain characters from Street Fighter II. Featured are Ryu, Dhalsim, Zangief, E. Honda, Guile, Chun Li, Blanka, and Ken. There are also tracks for the Title Demo and one called Power of Four.
Great disc. Not all of the tracks are winners, but the ones that are are pretty killer. Guile's theme is obviously my favorite. I love how it has the the kinda lowkey intro...then bam! Dun-da-dun-dun-da! Yeah! Other great tracks are Ryu, E. Honda, Chun Li, and Ken's themes.
The booklet features great full-color art along with a few pages of dialog. Crazy! It even features characters like M. Bison who don't have a song on the disc.
I own a number of Street Fighter II CDs...and this one is easily my favorite.
DJ SEGATA "Sega Saturn Remix, Shiro!"
Remember when I said you'd probably be learning something new about Segata Sanshiro? You probably though it was that MoJo fact. WRONG! There is a second CD...!
The big criticism I get from these CD posts is that I'm usually overly positive about everything. The reason for that should be pretty clear. I review CDs that I generally like and usually know what I'm getting into when I plunk down the money for them. If I went around reviewing nothing but CDs I intentionally blew money on, I would hope that someone would hold an intervention for me.
So this is another awesome CD, right? Jesus Christ, no. This CD is possibly one of the worst I've ever bought. It's surprising...seeing Segata Sanshiro's face on something that is practically dogshit. The fact that basically all of the photos here are stills from the commercials should've been the first big clue to the craptitude of this disc.
The first two remixes are by DJ Barricane. The first one isn't unlistenable, but it's far from good. The second is pretty much the same song, but with the vocals removed with sound effects dropped in. It drops off pretty hard off that first track...and it only gets worse.
The third and fourth remixes are by "DOG or GOD?" ...clever. They're just...ugh. Someone thought they could remix the Segata Sanshiro song to their incredibly narrow liking. Mr. DOG or GOD? then turned this remix in to the label. Instead of stamping the damn thing with a "return to sender" it was then pressed on to a 12cm CD single for some reason (possibly because 8cm CDs are awesome and they flat out rejected this bullshit content) and released it to the masses.
Why...WHY does this exist???
Recommended Pick: Sonic The Hedgehog. Easily. A lot of care went into this release and the music itself is totally awesome. There are those demo versions, which are like looking into another dimension, and that great booklet with English and Japanese interviews and concept art of Sonic along with level layouts. It's still easily available despite being five years old. Check it out! Get it while it's new...because the flimsy outer packaging is the only weakness of this set.
If you're a little disappointed that I didn't do anything from Nintendo, don't worry. I have a number of Nintendo soundtracks that I can certainly cover next time. If, of course, there IS a next time. Would you like to see more? Should I stick to Tokusatsu? Let me know! Leave a comment below or send me a tweet.
Thank you checking out my latest post! I'll be back soon with something new.
P.S. Here are some bonus images...
This had to have been intentional, right?
I can't believe I made it to the end without making an ALL YOUR BASE reference...