Game Music, Reviews

The History Of Motorcylces As Told Through Game Music: Sega Motorcycle Music History (Review)

October 28, 2009 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook The History Of Motorcylces As Told Through Game Music: Sega Motorcycle Music History (Review)on Twitter

Around the time that Alex Kidd Complete Album and Legend of Joe Musashi: SHINOBI Music Collection were announced, the details for another WAVE MASTER project were surfacing. This album was the Sega Motorcycle Music History album. Many initially believed it would feature the music of Hang-On, but that’s actually not the case (or is it?), as it instead features the music of some oldschool SEGA arcade titles including Enduro Racer (1986), Racing Hero (1989), A. B. Cop (1990), and Cool Riders (1984).

I haven’t played any of these games, but I can appreciate the fact that SEGA wants to get the music out there for fans who did. Well, the main thing is that the music is actually pretty damn awesome, and that’s all that matters. Also of note is the fact that all this music is credited to “SEGA” as opposed to individual composers, which SEGA has seemingly avoided for these releases. In any case, I had no idea what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised when this album ended up winning me over.

Find out what SEGA wants you to know about the history of motorcycles after the jump.

The first disc of the 2-disc set features the music of Racing Hero and A. B. Cop, in that order. The 4 second long “Coin” sound effect that starts the album off is a nice touch (I would probably buy this on iTunes for $2.99 if I could), and “Title” is an upbeat rock-oriented tune that likely drew fans over to the machine back in the day. However, “BGM 1” is where things really get tasty with its super sleek and groovy atmosphere. High-pitched arpeggios dance in the background, a funky bass plods along, and the smooth melody sounds oh so sweet. This is an awesome track that will definitely have you bopping your head.

I guess they were giving you a break with “BGM 1,” as it’s only 3 minutes long compared to the 3 remaining stages that are each about 6 minutes in length. “BGM 2” is super upbeat, ditching the laid back vibe of the previous stage, but “BGM 3” jumps back on the love train with some rapid and totally funkadelic bass and lead work. This track alone is enough for me to thank SEGA for this release. “BGM 4” accompanies what I imagine is the final track, and the increased tempo and energetic percussion and bass really drive home a sense of urgency.

And what do you get for your troubles? “Ending” is only 10 seconds long, so I imagine not much. “Name Entry” is very thoughtful and reflective, while I imagine the craziness of “Continue” had you scrambling to get your quarters out for another play. “Not Use” was looking to be a pretty sweet bonus as a track that didn’t make it into the game, but it’s a 4 second sound effect, so don’t get too excited.

With that, A.B.Cop begins with the same “Coin” effect used in Racing Hero. And damn, it’s back into the oldschool SEGA groove with “Stage 1-1.” Descending arpeggios sound off in the background with a lovely lead and some fancy jazz chords in the forefront. It’s a lovely track. “Stage 1-2” is overtaken by the overly obnoxious bass, but “Stage 2-1” gets back on track with another amazingly addictive piece of music. It’s super fast-faced and hectic, so get ready to bop your head even faster! Then there’s “Stage 3-1” which starts off with this crazy Asian-sounding scale before launching into the most stereotypical “Asian” song you’ve ever heard. It’s interesting because it tries to combine this “Asian” sound with the funk that’s heard elsewhere on the album, which is moderately effective. For some reason, stage 4 and 5 are a bit more slow and serious, with “Stage 5-2” sounding unbelievably ominous, and neither will leave you with anything as memorable as the previous tracks. “Stage 6” had me thinking Ninja Gaiden with its rapid bassline and emotional melody. Even the ending is moody, but at least it’s longer this time around at 1:45 in length!

The second disc opens with the whole ten minutes that make up the Enduro Racer soundtrack. It starts with–you guessed it–“Coin,” before the 5-minute long “Main Theme” comes in, occupying over half of the soundtrack’s playtime. This is the oldest title on the collection, from 1986, and you can tell with the lack of complexity and clarity of the instruments, but that’s okay! The main theme has a nice swing to it, but isn’t overly catchy. There are two name entry tracks for some reason, neither of which will leave an impression, but the minute-long “BGM 1” is a cute rock track with percussion, bass, and absolutely no lead instrument to voice a melody. Bizarre!

Next up, Cool Riders, and you’ll know immediately when it starts because you’ll be hearing the electric guitar in “Select” wailing away. No “Coin” this time around. Cool Riders unfortunately ditches the groovy approach that previous SEGA motorcycle titles adopted, and instead goes for a more varied approach. There’s rock with “DAIOH ~The fat is in the fire~,” reggae with “DISCOVERY ~Grandpa is still alive,” country with “Grasshopper ~Into the mountains~” and strange 80s rock with “I.C.B.M. ~Condition red~.” None of them are particularly memorable until we get to “Lightning ~A little good~” with the awesome jazziness that SEGA really should have carried over from the other titles here.

But hey, what’s this? “Hang-On ~Theme of love~?” That’s right! It’s one of the best tracks here, too, with its overactive bassline and jazzy roots. I really dig the improvised sections towards the end, which is amazing from a game from this time. There are two “Not Use” tracks on here that actually surpass the 3-minute mark, and are much appreciated despite the fact that the second one is crazy and almost unlistenable.

So, maybe you should stick with the first disc, as many of the best songs on this album are there. Racing Hero and A. B. Cop are absolutely amazing, and fans of oldschool SEGA soundtracks should be right at home. While the second disc isn’t nearly as good, it has its moments, including the Hang-On track. The packaging is nothing to get excited about, as the one-page booklet lists the song titles and the years the games were released. The credits are pretty sparse, as I previously mentioned, but that’s okay, as the focus here is on the music, and there’s a lot to like. I highly recommend checking this one out, as I certainly see it as one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.

Did you happen to play any of these SEGA titles in the arcade back in the day? Are you surprised or excited to see they released the music from these games on CD?

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