It's... Chris Covell's Game Music CD Roundup!


Just on a whim, I decided to take out all the videogame music CDs that I have, and review them. Why? I don't know, maybe just to spread knowledge to others around the world. Of course, there are websites out there dedicated to game music, and they're far more organized besides. But hey, they're missing reviews of some of these CDs, so there's my justification for this page right there. Okay, so click on the images above to jump right ahead to the review of that row of CDs, split into 5 discs per section. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Nintendo & Sega

Game Boy Graffiti

There were a few Game Boy remix albums released, and they usually have covers of the first batch of GB games in Japan. Real nostalgic stuff. This CD has arranged medleys of the themes from Tetris, Super Mario Land, Solar Striker, Golf, Baseball, Alleyway, and Yakuman, in a variety of musical styles. They're mostly late-80s synthy MIDI-quality, though, so it's not something you'd play at a party. The Solar Striker arranged tune has some good electric guitar parts in it.

The rest of the CD has the original game recordings in medley form, but here's where the CD lets us down. They recorded a single loop from each tune/jingle, and jump to the next tune without any fading or pause. Worse, the song order is out-of-sequence from what you'd hear in the game; for example, the medley to Super Mario Land starts with the stage clear & death jingles, goes to the Egyptian-themed music, then has the first ending song in the middle of the track, with the second ending song at the end of the track. It feels so abrupt and like a half-assed treatment of the originals. At 50 minutes, this CD feels kind of short, but it's worth 10 or 20 bucks if you can find it for that price.


Mario & Zelda Big Band Live CD

Here, our Nintendo favourites are given the orchestral/big band treatment, along with some vocal numbers. There's a great variety of songs and styles here, ranging from steel guitar or banjo solos of the Mario themes, a big-band jazz number of the Mario 64 stage music, an a capella scat mario theme, a screechy woman singing the Mario theme in a "cute" style, etc... you get the picture. Sometimes it seems to me like the band is a little bit badly-rehearsed in their synchronization, but I'm no music expert, so never mind.

The Zelda tunes are taken mostly from the N64 and Gamecube versions, and are played with a lot of acoustic instruments and a violin. So, they're not completely memorable to me, but they sound very nice and atmospheric. The original Zelda theme is covered here, but it's given the orchestral treatment straight out of a 1970s action TV series. So if you're looking for something majestic and grandiose-sounding, look elsewhere. The theme of this CD is fun, which it does quite well.


After Burner: Sega Game Music Vol. 3

This CD contains the original recordings of the arcade games After Burner, Alien Syndrome, Super Hang-On, S.D.I., and Dunk Shot. There are no arranged tracks on this CD, but the good news is that the After Burner tracks that are here are from the version with a strong lead instrument -- the original arcade version of After Burner lacks this lead, and so the music sounds a little empty and boring. Speaking of boring, that's what Alien Syndrome's tunes are. The rest of the CD has some great music from Super Hang-On, and some good, if a bit unmemorable, tunes to finish off.

What more is there to say? After Burner's music still sounds totally awesome today and stands out from the rest of the tracks on this fairly good CD.


Sega Arcade Selection D-RAM Remix

Here's an all-arrange CD with mid-90s dance-music remixes of some familiar arcade games. They lean more to the peppy house/Eurobeat style of music, which is alright, but not exceptional. One track, the Alien Storm Killer Mix, is a cool, trancey rendition, and it may just be my favourite of the whole CD. On the whole, this is a pleasant, groovy dance CD, but nothing mindblowing or inspiring.


Formula SST - GSM Sega 5

This is a double CD with the latest Sega revue from 1991. Up first is a 22-minute-long (!?) arrange CD with a few different games given the lazy studio-lounge rock/funk treatment (listen to that Rad Mobile track! It'd fit right in on a travel show.) To be fair, the guitar work on some of these tracks is very good -- but on whole the CD sounds like it's ready for TV.

The 2nd CD contains the original recordings from Cyber Dome, Rad Mobile, R360 (G-LOC), GP Rider, and Laser Ghost. Yeah, none of these games is really memorable for its music (much less gameplay), but that's Sega's 1991 for you. Cyber Dome was a 3-D space ride in Japan, so it has some tense orchestral music. The Rad Mobile songs are suitably energetic if not of Out Run calibre, the GP Rider songs are just plain noisy, and the Laser Ghost tunes are not bad -- a bit creepy. All in all, there's not much here that's going to set your heart on fire. Get it only if you can find it for cheap -- it's a double CD, but they could have easily fit everything on a single 80-minute CD!


Sega, continued

Hyper Drive SST - GSM Sega 4

Gee, Sega, it's time to find yourself another in-house band if all they can do with such varied fare as Golden Axe, Sword of Vermillion, and Phantasy Star III is make loungey rock/funk tracks out of them. All of these arrangements are technically skilled and quite listenable, but geez... They're fantasy games; they practically demand something Epic to suit the fantasy theme. Look at what Taito's Zuntata were able to do with Rastan and Nastar Warrior's Conan-like original sound tracks!

Okay, rant over. Once again, the first CD is a 20-minute number, and the second CD has a much more appropriate length of 71 minutes. It contains the original recordings of G-LOC, Bonanza Bros., Line of Fire, and Alien Storm. Once again, none of these is a Sega classic, really, but the energetic tunes of G-LOC, or the funky stuff in Bonanza Bros. and Alien Storm are at least worth a listen-to for that retro arcade feel.


Out Run / Sega SST

With material as good as the original OutRun tunes, how can SST go wrong? Well, they don't, thankfully. So what we get here are rock/lounge arrangements of the 3 main driving tunes -- for once SST's "talents" match the musical style of the original game. There are some great piano and guitar interludes in these tracks, so it's quite enjoyable despite sounding totally late 80s.

Rounding off the rest of the shortish (38 minutes) CD are the original recordings of arcade OutRun, as well as a final sound effects track. And that's, uh, about all I can say.


Panzer Dragoon Original Soundtrack

If you've never experienced the aural ecstasy that is the original Panzer Dragoon on the Sega Saturn, then you've really missed out. This CD is essentially identical to what you hear in-game, except the intro and ending songs (only heard in the cinemas, which were not redbook audio on the game CD) are included in their entirety. Some of the songs, like the title theme and first stage theme, are extended past what you hear in-game.

As for the music itself, it's mostly a mix between orchestral numbers and high-energy synth tunes. It spans the range from relaxed, ambient sound, to plaintive but sweeping melodies, to driving battle music. There are also a few bonus tracks, comprising the title, first stage, and ending themes rearranged in synth-only form. This CD is one of my favourites, so I cannot recommend it enough!!


Power Drift & Mega Drive - GSM Sega 2

Here's a nice CD that's not been overproduced into some double CD white elephant like the later SST productions. It has arranged songs taken from Power Drift, Phantasy Star II, Space Harrier II, and Altered Beast, and darnit, they even sound synthy and/or orchestral when appropriate! The rest of the CD has the full original recordings from Alex Kidd and Super Thunder Blade from the Mega Drive; and Power Drift, Scramble Spirits, and Dynamite Düx from the arcade.

The high-point of the original tracks is Power Drift, of course, but Super Thunder Blade, Scramble Spirits, and Dynamite Düx are also energetic and funky in a few places. Some classic stuff here!


Virtua Racing & Out Runners / B-univ

I don't know who B-univ is but half of this "duo" is the composer of the arcade Virtua Racing soundtrack. Virtua Racing isn't well-known for its great music (because it doesn't really have any), but these guys made some pretty good arranged songs from them anyway. The first CD is a short-ish 45 minutes of arranged tunes from VR and Out Runners, done once again in the loungey rock/funk style that SST seems to like. It actually gets your toes tappin' in some places, with some nice synthy horn blasts and piano solos, moving into some dance/house tracks (one with a banjo (!?!) interlude). There are only 2 crap tracks -- a completely awful, aimless, "industrial" cacophony named Sonic Control, and its twin, Splash Wave (1993). Blah. If that was 1993, I'm glad it's over.

The second CD has the original recordings from VR and Out Runners. VR never was that great, since its music consisted mainly of 15-second jingles as you drove. Out Runners' songs are a lot more lively and memorable. You get plenty of dance tunes done on Sega's early-90s arcade sound hardware, which means less FM, more sampled pianos and synths. It's all quite moody and nostalgic!



Perfect Selection Dracula Battle

I reviewed Dracula Battle II a long time ago here, noting just how awesome all the music on the CD was. The first installment is no different. It's once again in "battle" (read: orchestral rock) style, comparable to Judas Priest or Yngwie Malmsteen, except all the tunes are recognizable from games such as Dracula X, Akumajou Dracula II on the Famicom and Game Boy, and Vampire Killer (Castlevania Bloodlines). Konami sure knows how to do arranged music the right way.

If you like hair swingin', head-thrashin' rock & roll, GET THIS!


Gradius III

This is the soundtrack to the arcade version of Gradius III. It starts with three arranged tracks covering several songs from in-game in a synth-rock style. I'd say the talent on display here is a bit higher than Sega's SST band.

Unfortunately, what comes next is a 10-minute "drama" with three excitable otakus/gamers jabbering on about something for way too long. It breaks the mood of the whole CD, so it's best to skip it entirely. The rest of the CD is taken up by the original arcade game's soundtrack, which, although not as high-quality as the SFC's Gradius III, still sounds pretty damn good.


Mouryou Senki MADARA

Hm. A 23-minute-long CD with orientalized versions of the music from the Famicom game, Madara. I had been hoping for something more hardcore, since the original tunes coming out of the Konami VRCVI cartridge were great and moody. But no, we get the loungey synth treatment here. The fourth track (out of five) rocks out, but then the fifth and final track is a cruddy vocal version of the ending theme. I admit, the composition and playing are all very well done, but frankly, it isn't worth much more than 8 bucks if you can find this for sale.


Metal Gear » Solid Snake

I reviewed this CD a while ago on my first game music CD page, so I guess all I have to add this time is that it's funny to see the photo of a younger Hideo Kojima on the front cover.


Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius ~ forever with me ~ Original Game Soundtrack

This is the full soundtrack to the 3rd Parodius arcade outing, and if you're familiar with Parodius, you'll know the music is MAD. It has crazy uptempo arrangements of popular dance tunes, classical music, traditional Japanese songs, anything. It isn't as memorable or great as Gokujou Parodius' fantastic soundtrack, but it still is very well-done for something this silly. Recommended only if you're a bit silly too.


Capcom & more Sega

Capcom Game Music Vol.2

Hmmm, I think we all tend to view Capcom's music through rose-tinted earphones. This is a rerelease of a CD originally made in 1988, so naturally it sounds a bit crusty. It contains the original arcade soundtracks to Street Fighter (yes, the first one), Top Secret (Bionic Commando), Rush & Crash (The Speed Rumbler), and Hyperdyne SideArms. There's also an arranged version of several tunes from the original Rockman. But first, the arcade originals: Well, the Capcom sound hardware from this era is really quite awful. Muffled samples, cheesy lead synth organs, oh, horrible! Pretty much the only thing to enjoy here is the music from Top Secret, because it's at least recognizable to fans of the NES version.

The Rockman arranged track doesn't fare much better, sounding like very bland mid-80s MIDI arrangements. It's recognizable, it's nostalgic, but it isn't worth buying a CD for.


Captain Commando - GSM Capcom 5 - ALFH LYRA

It's the usual double-CD package of arranged songs and original versions (Captain Commando, The King of Dragons, Roosters, Chariot, and Don't Pull!, the latter three from the Wonder 3 arcade board.)

Beginning with the arranged songs, we get a hilariously cheesy vocal rock rendition of Captain Commando's "Crime Jungle". It wouldn't sound out of place if sung by Kim Wilde back in 1987. It's great, though. Next up is a cool classical suite from The King of Dragons, a poppy, if mindless arrangement of Don't Pull, a fantastic orchestral set from Roosters, a synthy fantasy arrangement of Chariot, and finally a varied synth-rock medley of songs from Rockman 4. Alfh Lyra sure have grown since their days of '80s MIDI cheese!

Next up are the original arcade recordings. Captain Commando sounds awfully noisy and strident, but that's Capcom's CPS-1 games for you. The tracks on the second CD are similarly a bit strident, but much better-composed, fitting an orchestral FM sound. The King of Dragons and Roosters stand out as the best of the bunch, with the fantasy sounds of Chariot in third place. And finally, the fairground fluff of Don't Pull is largely forgettable. I'd recommend this CD for the Roosters original soundtrack and for the arranged versions alone.


Street Fighter II - GSM Capcom 4 - ALFH LYRA

Read the review above and replace those game titles with: U.S. Navy, Magic Sword, Street Fighter II, and Chiki Chiki Boys (Mega Twins). The arranged versions are: an atmospheric SFII, a stirring synth-rock cover of U.S. Navy, a loungey/funky/mysterious cover of Magic Sword, and a jazz-rock version of Final Fight's intro music. All in all not bad, if not as exciting as other arranged CDs.

Once again, the original recordings of the above four games are a bit shrill, with a very loud lead organ/trumpet/whatever in most of the songs. U.S. Navy's alright, if not a favourite of mine. I have good memories from playing Magic Sword in the arcades, so the tunes, though a bit noisy, still sound pretty cool. SFII's still a classic, but we all know what it sounds like, so let's skip it and end with Chiki Chiki Boys, a cutesy upbeat/orchestral series of tunes. It's pleasant to listen to, but I don't think it'll ever become your favourite.


Strike Fighter Sega S.S.T.

Uh-oh, it's back to the funk/lounge/synth stuff of Sega's SST. Apparently, Strike Fighter is After Burner III, so you get lots of energetic rock songs over two arrange tracks, and 10 original recordings, but without any really compelling melodies. The arranged tracks are good, but the whole CD is about 22 minutes long, so only get this if you pay..... 4 dollars.


Super Sonic Team GSM Sega 3

Here's a nice, early "best of" CD from 1989 with some very good synth/rock arrangements of After Burner, OutRun, Super Monaco GP, and Turbo Outrun. There's also a weird dance remix of the (already weird) Tetremix tunes. The original arcade recordings this time are from Tetremix (an obscure version of Sega's Tetris), Super Monaco GP, Turbo OutRun, and Golden Axe. The bulk of the recordings are from the latter two, and although Turbo OutRun's music is exciting, it's not a patch on the original OutRun's tunes. Golden Axe's soundtrack, on the other hand, is a classic, with moody orchestral FM music to finish off the disc.


Falcom & SNK

Ys II - Perfect Collection

I actually have only the second CD of this 2 CD set, so I can't comment on it in its entirety. What is here, however, is quite good. Falcom cranks out dozens of Ys arranged CDs each year, and they run the gamut of musical styles and quality (as you shall see). This one is a compilation of several tracks from a few other CDs, including a few synthy/rock/poppy numbers, slower classical piano pieces, a decent rendition of the credits roll with a female vocalist singing the melody, as well as an odd -- but surprisingly melodic -- male a capella version of the Ys II ending theme. If I had the first CD of the set I'm sure I would be able to tell you that it's just as good.


Ys: Wanderers from Ys - Super Arrange Version

Although I'm certain that no arranged CD will ever be able to match the musical excellence of the PC-Engine CD-ROM version of Ys III, this CD comes awfully close. It actually was released before the PCE version, containing a couple recordings from the original PC-98 version of the same game. The rest of the tracks are sometimes pop-rock, other times Konami-style "battle" music, with great guitar work and a fantastic energy.


Falcom Vocal Collection I

I'm glad that I didn't pay much money for this double CD package, as when I first heard the opening lyrics being sung on the CD, I nearly spat out my coffee. This package contains arranged songs from many of Falcom's hit games, such as Ys I-III, Sorcerian, Dragon Slayer, and Star Trader, with lyrics added to (nearly) all tracks and sung by female or male vocalists. Now, that in itself is not a problem. The problem here is that the female (and some male) vocalists are so bad -- with such tin ears and weak voices -- that you will end up cringing from every missed note in almost every song. I'm no voice coach (and I admit I'm not a good singer myself), but these singers truly are the stuff scraped off the lobby floors of karaoke parlours. Falcom must have shoved these CDs out the door with much haste and little professionalism or shame. Shit on a platter, these CDs.


Falcom Vocal Collection II

As above, this is more shit on two more platters.

I'd only recommend listening to them if your CD player (like the Sega Saturn, for instance) has a "karaoke" feature that removes the vocal ranges from the sound, because the instrumentalization of these CDs is otherwise excellent.


ASO II: Last Guardian

This is the original sound track to ASO II (Alpha Mission II in the West) on the Neo-Geo. I bought this CD because it usually sells very cheaply, and I loved the energetic music to the game when I played it on my NG system. As with most "Simple 1500" CDs (see Strike Fighter) you get the original version's recording with perhaps one or two token arranged tracks thrown in. The arranged track here is quite good, with a great rock guitar rendition of the first stage music. The original recordings are nothing fancy -- just the Neo-Geo's FM music, with a sound effects track at the end of the CD.

The actual music to ASO II is bold, adventurous sci-fi fare, with a great first stage song that really energizes you. The next few stages are just as good, but then it does get a bit slow, ambient and ponderous in some of the later stages. But it's still a great CD to stick in the CD player if you want to bring up your energy level or bathe in the nostalgic sound of early Neo-Geo music.


SNK, continued

Crossed Swords & Sengoku Densyo

Many of the earliest Neo-Geo music CDs (before the fighting games invaded and took over the show) had the original soundtracks of two games on one CD, and this one is no exception. SNK was wise and kind enough to have the art for each of the games on opposite sides of the instruction booklet, so you could use the cover for the game you identified with the most. Both Crossed Swords and Sengoku have rather good original soundtracks, even though they're more atmospheric than melodic. CS's tunes are medieval-FM fare, with a few ethnic-sounding drums, and spooky tracks with church bells, the squawks of crows, and the rumbling of thunder. The ending song is the highlight here, having both cool guttural drums and a great melody.

Sengoku's theme is ancient Japan, and so that's the sound that you get, with ritual chants, wooden instruments, and thumping taiko drums. You also occasionally get mindless arcadey-FM music at the same time, giving the music that distinctive Neo-Geo sound. It's interesting, if not totally great. The only real downside to this CD is the first "arranged" track, which is basically the original (FM) introduction to Crossed Swords clumsily overdubbed with some orchestral keyboard instruments -- and they get the BPMs of the two somewhat mismatched. Anyway, if you've also ever wanted to hear the Neo-Geo attract jingle played through a MIDI instrument, this CD is for you.


The King of Fighters '94

This is a CD with only the original Neo-Geo soundtrack, plus a voice and sound effect collection, and nothing more. If you're a big fan of this game, then by all means pick up this CD. If you're not, then most of this music will probably mean nothing to you. It's the usual noisy, sample-heavy shrieky rock/dance music heard in most of the NG fighting games. It didn't set my heart alight, that's for sure.


Garou Densetsu & Last Resort

Here's another CD with music from the first (but definitely not the last) one-on-one fighting game on the Neo-Geo, as well as a moody and exquisite shooting game. Garou Densetsu's music is by no means great, but it is typical of the NG sound of that era, with cheesy horns and guitar samples (the composers undoubtedly were fans of Motley Crue.) With Last Resort, we get a rockin' arranged version of the first stage music, and then the original recordings of the game soundtrack. It shares a few instruments (and composers) with Garou Densetsu, but overall this music's more moody and engaging than GD's noisy themes. This CD's pretty good, but if you want to hear ALL of Last Resort's music tracks arranged, you'd be better off picking up the Neo-Geo CD version of the game.


Neo Selection - SNK/ADK

Blah -- it's fighting games from here on out. But, hey, this CD's not half bad, since it's all arranged, plus it comes with a book of stickers! There are 10 tracks here, with arrangements of the more melodic themes from Samurai Spirits, Garou Densetsu, World Heroes, etc. Apart from a couple slower songs, the rest is done in an uptempo rock style. Unfortunately, the goofs at ADK saw it fit that one of their tracks have a Japanese loung singer warble (with his backup warblettes) his way through one of the ending songs -- and it sounds like pure cheese. The rest of the CD is great, though. It comes with a book of stickers!!


Shin Samurai Spirits

There are no arranged tracks on this CD, unfortunately. However, what is here is excellent. The soundtracks to both the original Samurai Spirits and this sequel have a great blend of traditional Japanese themes, energetic rock, and mysterious, atmospheric chants. It's quite unique sounding, and it really works! Get lost in the spirit of battle! (...or whatever those advertising folks would say.)


Misc. Companies

Bare Nuckle II / Yuzo Koshiro

Yep, that's how they spelled the game on the CD spine and cover, as you can see. This is the original soundtrack to Bare Knuckle II on the Mega Drive, with no arranged tracks or extras. The FM recordings, however, are quite high-fidelity, sounding quite a bit cleaner than on the MD itself.

If you've never heard the music to the Bare Knuckle games, you've been missing out. It's some of the best music ever heard on the MD, with very convincing house, hip-hop, and techno music coming out of what is usually a slightly underpowered FM synthesizer. It's great stuff, though I think I prefer the music to the original Bare Knuckle.


Devil Crash / Alien Crush

This is a fully remixed CD of several tunes from the above games on the PC-Engine. I've already given the CD a review here, so please check it out!


Chou Makai Taisen Dorabotchan - Original Album

I was surprised to find a CD soundtrack to this sleeper hit on the Super Famicom, and delighted, since the original game has some jazzy and groovy tunes. Now, the title to this CD suggests that it's the original game recording, but it's not -- the original songs are played through a MIDI sequencer, sometimes with the instruments changed around. All in all, you can tell it's robotically being played through MIDI, but the songs are still fun and pleasant to listen to. The only major downside is that it's pretty short at 35 minutes, so don't pay too much for it.


Dragon Knight

Yeah, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit to owning a CD like this, but it came in a bundle of other, much better, CDs, so I had no control over the matter. Still, I gave it a listen, and it was what I expected. There's very little music on the whole CD: most of the time is taken up by a predictable radio play involving the slightly lascivious hero rescuing damsels in undress. There's the typical ribald conversations and situations -- oh, and it's all in Japanese. Pass.


Dragon Quest in Brass

I can't tell you how many orchestral DQ CDs have been released by Enix, but it has got to be in the dozens. I've never heard one that was crap, and this is no exception. It consists of arranged versions of music from the first three Famicom DQ games, performed by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, and they do a fantastic job of it. What the title means by "brass" is presumably that many of these songs are given uptempo marching arrangements, rather than some slower string variation. While nothing here is particularly rousing enough to get the pulse pounding, all of the tracks are perfectly executed as uptempo classical music.

And no cheesy 80s synths to be heard anywhere. Definitely worth getting.


Misc. Companies 2

Gunstar Heroes

This is an early arranged soundtrack of the classic Mega Drive run 'n gun game. Its style is similar to Sega/Konami's slightly relaxed jazz/rock arrangements, so unfortunately (or fortunately, for some of you) it isn't exactly in the driving, noisy, bombastic style of the original music. The instrumentation is also slightly MIDI-ish, when more realistic-sounding (and more raw) instruments would have suited the tunes better. At any rate, all of your favourite tunes are here from the game, so it's a decent arrangement of some already good melodies.


Gunstar Heroes Sound Collection

This CD contains the original soundtracks from the GBA version of Gunstar Super Heroes(GSH) and the original Mega Drive/Genesis Gunstar Heroes, as well as one arranged track. So, unfortunately, you get little that's actually new on this CD. GSH sounds very good, and cleaner than straight from the GBA; however the music is sometimes a little strident, with slightly off-key instruments like much of (Japanese) GBA game music. Some of the instrument samples used fit in well; others don't, making it sound like some Amiga MOD from 1989.

The MD soundtrack is definitely the better soundtrack, with the FM music offering much smoother sound and deeper bass (though the MD's weakness at playing sampled sounds still bleeds through). Finally, the arranged song is nice, but nothing remarkable. Picture studio musicians recording a light rock version of the Stage 1 music, and you wouldn't be too far off.


Summer Carnival '92: Recca - Famicom Soundtrack

If you've never played Recca, you've missed out on the most amazing experience one could have on the Famicom. For one, the game itself is an extremely fast hardcore shooter that will amaze you with its special effects and bring you to your knees with its difficulty. In addition, the music is the closest you'll ever hear to acid-laced techno on the Nintendo 8-bit. All aspects of the game are indeed hardcore.

This CD recording of the original tunes sounds great then, but if you already have the ripped NSF music on your computer, you're paying a lot for only 2 extra tracks. Most of the music on the disc is clean, and sounds great after all these years. The 2 arranged tracks are nice, but don't contribute much. "Hyde-Jekyll Mix" is slow and boring, frankly. "JSR $2302" is much better, with a good medley of the techno sounds from some of the songs in Recca. But, just as it's building up and reaches greatness, the song's over. Disappointing, really.


Ridge Racer 2

This is the original soundtrack from the Namco arcade game of the same name. RR's music has always been a mixed bag of dance styles, ranging from trance, to house, gabber, and techno, so there should be something here to satisfy most of you. I never liked the awful gabber tracks in either of the RR games, but this is made up for by some good remixes of the original RR tunes, as well as a great original tune, "GRIP", which really makes you want to jump in your car and drive around the city like a maniac. Overall, most tracks are a little sample- and voice-heavy, but it's still really nostalgic and cool to this day.


Rave Racer

For a game that uses "rave" in its title, there isn't really anything here that I'd ever want to hear at an all-night party. Which is a shame, because there are a few good tracks here, but most of the CD is made up of unmelodic drum 'n bass & jungle tracks, with a few noisy voice samples repeated far too often. It's veering more to the modern electronica (of that time) rather than giving us any awesome techno-rave sendups of familiar Ridge Racer songs. So, I don't usually come back to this CD very often as a result.


Misc. Companies 3

Musics from Super Star Soldier

Apparently this CD is rather rare, and sought-after. It contains a few [downtempo] arrangements of several songs from the fantastic PC-Engine shooter, as well as the original game's soundtrack.

My review? Well, let's just say that the good point of this effort is that it's nice to have the original game's music on CD.


Valkyrie no Densetsu

Here's another simple CD containing just the original recordings from the Namco arcade game. The original soundtrack is a stirring, majestic fantasy soundtrack, so this is great stuff. It's a shame there are no arranged versions on the CD, but that's what you get from the "game sound express" releases. This game was produced on Namco's System 2 hardware from 1989, meaning the music is a combination of FM audio plus several layers of sampled audio. The samples and FM have a good balance here, so one doesn't really overpower the other. Recommended! Bah, this CD deserves an 8, but I'll knock it down one point for having only 24 minutes of music.


Dr. Awesome - Decade

This is a CD from 1997 containing a hodgepodge of music from Bjorn Lynne -- who is known for excellent music in Amiga MOD format, as well as on Team 17's games such as Project X and X2. The audio CD portion is mostly laid-back MIDI jazz and electronica, borrowing a few pages from Mike Oldfield's hits at the time. It's enjoyable, but not completely memorable, really.

What makes this CD a must-purchase (for me) is the CD-ROM track with a huge archive of Lynne's MOD works, as well as many MIDI and MP3 bonus tracks. Anyone who was into the Amiga in the 1990s will definitely recognize some of these tunes and wax nostalgic for their old 'Miggy.


Iridion 3D & II - Perfect Selection

Here is a selection of great songs from the two Iridion games on the GameBoy Advance. Say what you will about the quality of the gameplay of those two, but the ingame music is second-to-none. Fortunately, these songs have been rescued from the scratchy 8-bit sound chip of the GBA and have been given the arranged studio treatment. What you get are great synthy tunes reminiscent of the best Amiga tracks of Chris Hülsbeck -- indeed, the style of this music is very Amiga-ish -- so this is sure to entertain and uplift you.

The music is the work of Manfred Linzner, creator of several sound engines at Shin'en multimedia. The CD even contains a data section with a music player for the PC that allows you to listen to all the original songs from Iridion II GBA in high-quality. I only wish they had included more game data to sample from -- like the equally as good Iridion 3D, or other works on the GBA and GB. Anyway, great stuff all around! (And here's a little hacker's tip: if you're familiar with RAR archive headers, you can easily extract the file containing all the graphics, program, and music data from the executable contained on the CD-ROM.)


Chris Hülsbeck's Rainbows

Here's an older CD that I have, which I've already given a review of on my old music CD page.


Misc. Companies 4, plus late entrants

Chris Hülsbeck's Sound Factory

Here's another CD which I've already given a review of on my old music CD page.


Project: Galway

Anyone who doesn't like chip-generated computer music, stay the hell away! Indeed, this is one CD that you'll probably never be able to play at a party -- unless it's a chiptune party. Project: Galway is a double CD recording of Martin Galway's most famous Commodore-64 songs, recorded from his own C-128D for maximum accuracy.

For the uninitiated, you'll be faced with some rather shrill, but surprisingly well-composed computer music. Slowly but surely, it'll grow on you to the point where you can appreciate Martin's mastery on some rather primitive (but also unique) hardware. For the fans of Galway's music, you'll love the purity and richness of the filters used in such awesome songs as Terra Cresta, Miami Vice, and Wizball. I just wish the fantastic, multi-part masterpiece Times of Lore had been included on this CD; then it would have felt like a complete package. Oh, well, at least the music files for Times are available on's download page.


Red Arremer: Makaimura Gaiden

This is a slightly short (30 minutes) arranged CD of some of the tracks from the 1990 GameBoy game of the same name. Yes, obscure, isn't it? The arrangements are done by Capcom's sound team, and they do a decent job of converting the melodies of the GB original into a variety of styles, such as orchestral, synthy march, and even something approaching traditional Jewish music! It would have been nice if the original game recording had been included, or something from another game, but this is pretty good for a one-off production.


Perfect Selection - Dracula

I've saved the best for last!
Er, but... Oh, dear. It's just tragic...

I'd heard vague rumours that this CD is awful, despite getting high marks from Super Play magazine back in the day. Well, where can I begin? Let's just list some of the tragedies you'll hear: Several unwanted over-the-top-cheesy "I'm awake... Don't be afraid; I only want your blood, etc..." style voice-over monologues, an "aww yeah" delivered by Dracula in the style of the best gangsta rappers, and a musical style that goes from good (synthy arrangements of familiar tunes) to horribly lame (synthy disco embarrassment à la Rasputin and Genghis Khan), and finally an abrupt cutoff mid-music from one track to the next. Bear in mind, now, that the preceding laundry list of crap happened all during the first track of this CD!

Now that we've established the baseline, there's nowhere else to go but up, right? Almost... While Nazo2 and his team of talented musicians try their best with hip-hop rearrangements of Dracula tunes, and while some of them have excellent instrumentation and sound really cool, even, the vocal interludes and voice-overs just ruin the damn CD. Now, I don't usually include lyrics in my reviews of game music CDs, but for this one, I'm happy (forced?) to make an exception. Allow me to set up the musical style for track 3, Bloody Tears:

Imagine in your mental CD player a hip-hop song with all the overused samples possible circa 1991, a pair of rappers (one of them a gay stereotype from Men on Film), rapping with the ebullience and total lack of street cred not heard since Sonic CD or any after-school anti-drug TV special from 1993. Now picture the horror as the following 'phat' lyrics are laid down...

The Lyrics (Pink = Effeminate rapper; Blue = Deep, macho rapper)
My Comments
Do you remember...
A long time ago,
  In Transylvania
There was a mon
named... Dracula He was a vampire. He slept all day... And stalked all night He had a craving for... blood.
<Chorus> It's been 100 years since Dracula made his move He's back, he's ready... coming soon Dracula, you'd better beware, your time is through 'cause Simmon is coming... after you He's coming! Right now Ah get ready! Right now BEWARRRE! Ya better not pout! Ya better not cry! Ya better not shout, I'm tellin' you why Dracula, Dracula, Dracula... is coming to town Hey! <Chorus> x3 He's coming! Right now Ah get ready! Right now BEWARRRE!

Not a typo; that's what it sounds like!

A vampire? No shit, huh.
(The gayest sounding "all day" there could possibly be.)

Yes, "simmon". As in, "rhymes with 'women'."

I am not making this up.

Oh, dear.


Thus concludes my full review of all the game music CDs I have as of May 2007. I hope you've had as much fun reading the reviews as I had listening to the soundtracks. Well, of course you didn't, but you can at least humour me.

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