Game Music, Reviews

SEGA Music With Heart: SEGA System 16 Vol. 2 (Review)

October 10, 2011 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook SEGA Music With Heart: SEGA System 16 Vol. 2 (Review)on Twitter

Okay, so we thought the SEGA System 16 Volume 1 album was pretty super. SEGA really knows how to treat its fans with albums like this, and having loved Volume 1 so much, I had high hopes for Volume 2 which was released earlier this year.

So, does it live up to expectations? There aren’t as many familiar titles that I was drawn to upon looking at the games included, but trust me when I say that this collection contains more than just a few surprises.

Hit the jump for our review.

First off, sports games that I’ve never heard of. The album opens with Super League and Excite League, the latter of which likely re-used assets from the first given that it doesn’t feature many tracks. Still, what little is here is quite interesting, with Super League’s intense “Japan Series” with zero Japanese musical influences and its brassy and classy “World Series.” Excite League follows with just three tracks, including the ultra-funky “Japan Series” with an octave-jumping bassline, making it my favorite of the two baseball titles.

The sports continue with Ace Attacker and Passing Shot, two tennis titles. Ace Attacker is easily my favorite soundtrack on this collection, which is cool given that I went in expecting nothing. There’s some seriously fun music here, covering everything from dark and funky with “Dis-Advantage Side BGM” to upbeat and gamey with “Advantage Side BGM.” “Match Point” is seriously intense and is one of the coolest tracks on the entire collection. It’s funny then, that the other tennis title on this album, Passing Shot, is my least favorite. There’s nothing here particularly memorable or worth coming back to.

I guess Heavy Weight Champ also falls into the sports category. It’s also a surprise hit with its epic, hard-hitting, and emotional “Title 1” that sounds like it could be right out of a Rocky film, while “Name Entry” is a heart-wrenching (not really) rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Even the ranking song is super serious and cool.

Aside from sports games, SEGA also published a lot of 2D side-scrolling beat-‘em-ups and action titles. Of course, then, Shinobi has a place here. Yes, it’s here, and yes, you’ve probably heard it elsewhere before (like on the Legend of Joe Musashi collection), but it’s a classic nonetheless. Altered Beast is another classic, although, well… have you played it lately? It’s seriously terrible. The music pretty much follows suit, which is a shame because it was quite epic and powerful for the time. Now it’s just repetitive and uninteresting, although I did chuckle when I heard the classic vocal snippet, “WISE FROM YOUR GWAVE.”

On to some more amazing, stuff, however, starting with Wonder Boy III: Monster’s Lair. This is a special one, which I can tell without ever having played the game. This one sounds like it would have been a blast to play with a varied and interesting soundtrack spanning across many stages. While Ace Attacker speaks to me with its funky ditties, this is probably the most impressive soundtrack here. It actually makes me want to play the game, which is a great thing for a soundtrack to be able to do.

Dynamite Dux and Tough Turf are two more beat-‘em-ups, with the former not taking itself too seriously and impressing me with its bassy boss theme, the swingin’ “A-Cha-Cha (Round 2),” and the cutely named “No Dux No Cry (Round 3)” with its tropical-tinged rhythm. Tough Turf, on the other hand, is a lot more serious, playing the part well with its heavy percussion and bass sections that give the score a sort of badass vibe (especially “Stage V”). It’s not nearly as interesting as Dynamite Dux, but it’s still good classic SEGA stuff.

Standing out in terms of genre, Sonic Boom is a vertical shooter with some cool stage themes, including one that emulates a pretty nifty sax solo and another with a deep and funky bass line . “Name Entry” is an emotional rock ballad that makes me wonder why all of the System 16 name entry songs are so amazing. I guess it’s just a SEGA thing?

The last title here is Tetris. The SEGA one, this is one you’ll probably want to skip as it’s the same song over and over with increasing tempos. The theme itself is interesting enough, but I don’t think anyone out there will be able to accept this Tetris music given the prominence the classic theme we all know and love.

And there you have it. I can’t say I like Volume 2 as much here as the first volume, but I must say that going in with almost zero expectations, I was quite pleasantly surprised. I know there are several more games in the System 16 catalog that people would like to see released, however, so if any of these titles speak to you from your past, or if any of the sleeper hits here sound like they’re your kind of jam, I recommend checking it out to support SEGA putting together albums like this. And maybe we’ll see a volume 3 in the near future! I will also say that the cover art is amazing, featuring various images of girls dressed up in costumes representing the various games on this album.

As usual, SEGA makes it difficult to buy their music outside of Japan, but it’s on Amazon Japan if you have somebody who can pick it up for you.

Let us know what you think of the SEGA System 16 series. Are there any games on Volume 2 that you have fond memories of?

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