Retronauts Episode 99: More game music. More! More!

This week brings another episode of Retronauts Radio. You should know the drill by now. Lots of music, lots of musing about that music. With this latest episode, I’ve highlighted four different works.

  • Snatcher (LP, Ship to Shore): Definitely the highlight of this episode — it comprises about half the total running time.
  • BRA*BRA | Final Fantasy Brass de Bravo 3 (CD or MP3, iTunes): A collection of Final Fantasy soundtrack covers, loosely affiliated by the inclusion of brass instruments across a huge variety of styles. Not that the world needs yet another Final Fantasy cover set, but some of these are pretty fresh.
  • HuCard Disc in Taito Vol. 1 (CD, CDJapan): A collection of classic Taito music… but not the original Zuntata arcade performances. Instead, these are taken from the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 ports of the games. Some of it is quite good, some… less good.
  • Switched On: A Link to the Past (MP3, Bandcamp): Another entry in the expanding field of retro analog synthesizer covers of beloved classic game music.

MP3, 53.7 MB | 1:51:24
Direct download
Retronauts on iTunes
Retronauts at PodcastOne

In other words, some great stuff this month, and some acquired tastes. Next month, I’ll look at some actual Zuntata arcade jams, another Konami adventure, and… who knows what else?

10 Comments

Filed under Music, Retronauts

10 Responses to Retronauts Episode 99: More game music. More! More!

  1. Both of the level 1 Rastan songs are really good. If you’ve never heard the arcade originals, I suggest you listen to them.

    Rastan Saga II’s song especially. It’s long, but has a lot of nice breaks. Especially the piano segment.

    Great ep.

  2. Segata Sanshiro

    Nice show as always Jeremy. There are many game music podcasts out there, but your focus and commentary makes your work stand out. Good work.

    Quick technical note however, there is a reason why Mega CD chip tunes sound so different to Mega Drive chip music – it used a completely different chip. The Mega CD was so much more than just a CD ROM drive, it also had its own dedicated PCM (not FM) sound chip, the Ricoh RF5C164. It’s a very different chip compared to the Mega Drive’s YM2612. The Mega CD also has its own CPU, a Motorola 68000 (clocked at 12 Mhz, – the Mega Drive’s own 68000 ran at 7Mhz), its own GPU (which allowed the Mega CD to handle sprite and playfield scaling and rotation), and its own RAM as well. It was virtually a self contained console of its own.

    I always thought it was such a missed opportunity that so many Mega CD games were just Mega Drive ports, as all that lovely MCD hardware went unused (aside from the obligatory CD audio soundtrack). When used properly the MCD could do some fantastic things, be that data heavy adventures like Snatcher, sprite scaling marvels like Soul Star, or pushing gigantic arcade quality sprites in Final Fight.

    • Nathan Daniels

      You beat me to it! The non-streamed songs on the Snatcher soundtrack DID use the YM2612, but it used it in tandem with the Ricoh. The Ricoh mitigates what I consider the biggest problem with MD/Genesis music: the usually grating sample quality.

      I noticed the difference immediately when the chip tracks played. Strong FM, but no gravelly, ringing samples. Just clean PCM. I totally agree, the MD-CD was a missed opportunity. I treasure the FM/Sample-based MD-CD music, and I wish there was more.

    • Nathan Daniels

      Jeremy,
      I really enjoy these episodes. I wanted to bring up the existence of sites like VGMRips.net and project2612.org as something to explore. I am also a proponent of purchasing game soundtracks to benefit the composers(or at least the publishers) of the music.

      However, this is often impossible. Because of this, I’ve gradually come around to listening to game music on my phone or on my home hi-fi system through apps that play sample accurate versions of these songs. I have spent innumerable hours ‘digging in the carts’ for hidden gems from hundreds and hundreds of games, the soundtracks of which are either impossible to purchase, or have been otherwise lost to time. In many cases, apps like Modizer and Audio Overload are the only way one can experience these soundtracks. Plus, the file sizes are a fraction of what they would be in any other format.

      Some recent gems I’ve discovered:
      Prairie from Devilish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT6pYvAkJcA
      Silent Fog from King Colossus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWkQmIT_EGM
      Broker from Star Cruiser (PC-88): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt-BeHtmZoo
      Ultima from Dragon Saber: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YCwdGa2Lp8
      Balanced BGM from Ace Attacker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xq1RVAHhsg

      As an aside, the people who are running these sites and working to get audio out of obscure games are providing a valuable service in the name of music curation. I think their work deserves attention.

  3. ai.

    these are my favourite episodes of retroknots

  4. econmara

    GREAT!

  5. garnsr

    I found it impossible to beat Snatcher until I got the light gun, there was at least one shooting part that I was stuck on until I got a gun. I still have the Sega CD version (4000 miles away, at my sister’s house,) I haven’t looked to see how much my Sega CD games might be worth. I don’t remember the music being so interesting, I wonder if it’s redbook, so popping the CD into my computer would give me the soundtrack?

    • muteKi

      A little column a (red book audio right on the disc, though much of it containing dialogue tracks as well so it’s unfortunately not *just* the music) and a little column b (tracks like pressure of tension are the standard genesis audio chips including sampled percussion).

  6. this is great, jeremy. i actually picked up the snatcher vinyl release specifically because i saw it on your twitter, and just yesterday i was thinking about how badly i wanted to listen to it at work. and here comes my boy parish with the goods. very jealous that you’re back in japan by the way!