Game Music

Soundtrack of the Month 10/2009: SD Snatcher

October 2, 2009 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook Soundtrack of the Month 10/2009: SD Snatcheron Twitter

Every other summer when I was young, I used to go on a trip south to a rural town located on a hillside called Nordagutu, located in Telemark province, south Norway. This was the the hometown of my lifelong best friend Tom, and an amazing place to spend some summer time in. No people, nature right outside the door, a camping area with an Outrun sitdown arcade, but most importantly, Tom has an MSX2+.

He must have been the only one in Norway to have this machine, as I’ve never met anyone else who had it. All night long we would play games such as Rune Master 2, Witch’s Revenge and Samantha Fox’s Strippoker. However most time was spent on an amazing little RPG that grabbed us in and never let go, SD Snatcher.

So join me as I go down memory lane and review the wonderful SCC+ powered soundtrack of Kojima’s cutest bloodbath, read on after the jump!

SD Snatcher is a remake of the original Snatcher, released on the PC-88 and MSX2 2 years earlier in 1988. As the name implies, the game’s visuals make use of a super deformed style, and is a more comedic retelling of the original, though not over the top. Like Snatcher, SD made use of the Konami Sound Cartridge, the SCC+. This sound expansion gave each of the 5 channels it’s own 32-bytes of waveform, as the original chip would only allow channel 4 and 5 to share the waveform, and also more RAM to further allow more room to work with music. SD Snatcher was bundled with this sound cartridge, and the result is one of the best 8-bit soundtracks composed.

The soundtrack was released across 2 CDs on the SCC Memorial Series Snatcher -Joint Disk-, a 3-disc set with the original Snatcher’s soundtrack on the first disc. The original Snatcher was composed by Masahiro Ikariko and Mutsuhiko Izumi, and Izumi went on to do other memorable soundtracks for Konami, such as Turtles in Time and Metamorphic Force. Some of their material was reused in SD in different ways, but other names were also brought onto the project, including Motoaki Furukawa, Michiru Yamane, Yuji TECHNOuchi , Harumi Ueko, Yuko Kurahashi, Tomoya Tomita, Tsuyoshi Sekito and Kazuhiko Uehara.

SD Snatcher starts out with a 3-track intro, “STRANGE OVERTURE,” “ANOTHER BAD ACCIDENT,” and “DIFFICULT MOVE.” On the CD they are separated, but in the game they are connected through the opening cutscene. “STRANGE OVERTURE” portrays the desperate outlook people face because of the Snatcher. The lead is pretty spine chilling, and the melody is consistently dramatic with some funky bass lines thrown in. About midway through you get to hear the SCC+’s wave channels in full effect. “ANOTHER BAD ACCIDENT” is the introduction to our hero Gillian Seed, a man who has lost his memory. It’s a super cool smooth jazz song.  “DIFFICULT MOVE” is just pure 8-bit awesomeness. The bass is amazing in this track, and has a 50s detective series vibe to it, set to a rock arrangement.

The 4th track on the first disc is interesting because while the tracks leading up to it are very dark or aggressive, “KASUGA” is a pop song. It is the song when you first enter JUNKER HQ and meet the cute desk lady, and is out of place both on the CD and the game, but it’s so happy and joyful, you won’t even care. “STRESS” is another interesting track. At the beginning you will hear a lot of sound effects, crowd noise and a whistle. I instantly recognized this as Pennant Race 2, an MSX baseball game that Tom and I played for many hours, and it was actually TECHNOuchi’s first soundtrack.

“STRESS” and the follow up track “EXCLUSION” are joined together, and still as eerie today as it was when I was young. Very unsettling with the high-pitched horror style it’s going for. “RESISTANCE” is the battle theme, and man is it good. Just the perfect blend of high speed, blood pumping bass, and the distinct SD Snatcher lead. It’s one of the battle themes I cherish the most in all of game music. “FACTORY PLACE” is another golden track, pure jazz funk, again with that detective style coming into play. “RECONCILIATION” reminds me of Dr. Mario for some reason, as the background noises are very similar and the melody itself is as groovy as they come. Later on we find “PRELUDE NO.1 & 2.” These are played during the exclusive church chapter, and use an organ style to accomplish a religious feel. These two will throw you back to a number of games, one being Castlevania obviously, but it can also remind you of Gargoyle’s Quest from Capcom. “MYSTERIOUS CLUE” is an all out 80s synth rock track with the trademark high energy that Konami perfected in the 90s.

“THE MERRY-GO-ROUND” is another funny track. The song is set at a theme park you have to investigate in the game, and uses this incredibly creepy theme park music. It’s all cheerful and merry, but compared to the other songs, it is so out of place that you get kinda confused. A little bit like the ghost level in Mario 64, which also had a merry-go-round. The soundtrack closes with “MASTER SNATCHER.” This song must be the work of IZUMI, as it’s the same style and structure as the boss themes from Turtles in Time. A perfect boss battle theme, and the cd ends with Coda, an incredible 3 minute plus track, and one of MSX’s most memorable music pieces.

SD Snatcher is a game and soundtrack from a golden age of game music, and done by a dream-team of Konami composers. The use of the SCC+ gives it such a rich and distinct sound, making it stand out even today, and it holds up incredibly well because of its crisp sounds and fantastic compositions. It’s a must for classic game music fans, and one of my all time favorite soundtracks.

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