Published on January 17th, 2016 | by Mike Scherf2
Soundtracks to Your Life: Axiom Verge, Mother, Shenmue, Streets of Rage, Mega Man
So I’ve admittedly been slacking on getting to some news and reviews out there I’ve been meaning to write out, so let’s treat this column as getting everyone up to speed on some video game stuff on wax goodness!
Axiom Verge – Ship to Shore Phono Co.
Back in October of last year I interviewed Aaron Hamel from Ship to Shore Phono Co. After our interview he let me in on a little secret – his label would be doing a release of the soundtrack to Axiom Verge. Details were scant and I hadn’t played the game, so I didn’t put too much stock into it, but I made a pledge to Aaron I would give the game a try.
Since then I downloaded the game for PS4 and my excitement for this release has grown exponentially.
Axiom Verge is a PS4 and PC game created solely by Tom Happ, meaning he did everything including art, coding, game design, and music. I don’t want to get too much into a game review here but it’s a must play for its Metroid-style game play and nods to 8 and 16-bit graphics. If you miss Metroid and hate Nintendo for ignoring the franchise, you should probably play the game.
But outside of the game play, the music is incredible. It gives you the sense of ambiance and exploration of space. It captures the beeps and boops of classic chip music from the 8 and 16-bit era without being a straight knock off. You might get chip sounds here and there, but then very sophisticated pitch shifting or a more modern approach to scoring right after.
It takes some of the approach to the music from Metroid and Super Metroid and just takes it further. It’s pretty amazing. I’d recommend the OST even to someone who isn’t into video game/chip tune music. In my opinion, the quality and feelings it evokes is on par with many modern film scores. If you like electronic music and film scores, it’s worth your time.
Most importantly, Ship to Shore is pressing this incredible work to wax. Coming out today (1/18) at noon, and shipping immediately, I would head over and check it out.
The pressing will be limited to 1,000 copies. 250 will be on a limited “Axiom Disruptor” red/orange sunburst variant (only available through Ship to Shore), and the remaining 750 will be a purple marble variant. It will be housed in a single sleeve with original art from the game and the album will also include a double sided insert including original rough sketches from the game and liner notes from Happ.
It will be $22, which is reasonable in today’s day and age of crazy vinyl releases.
Mother – Ship to Shore Phono Co.
Speaking of Ship to Shore, their release of the Mother arranged soundtrack has finally hit the streets! After their Kickstarter and the long process of mastering/pressing, it’s out in the wild and people seem very pleased.
Personally, I have mixed feelings on the release but that shouldn’t deter you from buying one of the few copies left in their web store (less than 50 copies as I’ve heard, so GO GO GO!).
As for my mixed feelings, it really has nothing to do with what Ship to Shore has done with this release or anything that surprises me. For me as a personal preference, the arranged music doesn’t 100% resonate with me throughout the whole release.
Some of the arranged tracks are excellent, but the majority of the tracks have vocals that I’m not super into (which obviously weren’t in the original game). It’s just personal preference that I am not into lyrics being written after the fact and being put to music that exists. Some people may not feel the same way as I do, but that’s just how it is. I’d also like to state for the record I knew what I was getting into, so I am in no way faulting Ship to Shore. It’s an arranged soundtrack, so you are getting an interpretation.
All that said, there’s strong reasons why to pick this up (and especially if you are a huge fan of the Mother series). The packing is beautiful and done well. It stays true to the original CD art and layout, but Ship to Shore put great time and effort into making it look great. The two records are in a heavy gatefold jacket and comes with a traditional Japanese OBI strip. It’s classy stuff.
Also, while you pay a steep price for it, side four of this record is almost worth the price of entry. Titled “The World of Mother,” it’s a compilation of original game music from Mother. Gimme all of this! I want to mainline it. It’s so damn good.
So I would buy it. Ship to Shore doesn’t sound like they are going to be pressing this again, so when it’s gone it’s gone. If you like the Mother series or just like collecting weird video game stuff, you should cop.
Shenmue – Data Discs
Data Discs was nice enough to send me review copies of the Shenmue and Streets of Rage releases and I’ve just been an awful human and haven’t got on it right away. We’ll get to Street of Rage in a second, but let’s talk Shenmue.
I never was into the game back in the day. I messed with it a little, but I never owned a Dreamcast and never got into Shenmue. But this is an incredible release and the amount of care and detail Data Discs put into it, it’s a must buy for people who care about the game.
Being a Dreamcast RPG/action adventure game, don’t expect anything near chip tunes, but if you know what you are getting into, you get a lush and lavish score. Fully encapsulating the expanse of the game, the soundtrack transports you to a different place – more specifically, Yokosuka, Japan. You feel part of the game world and are immediately transported to a different time and place. This specific soundtrack doesn’t feel like as much of a game soundtrack as it does a movie score.
If that wasn’t enough, Data Discs’ packaging is just about perfect. OBI strip? Check. Beautiful art? Check. Lithograph print? Yup. If it wasn’t enough that this OST sounds great, but the packaging is really second to none.
Right now this release is sold out in their web store, but it says they are printing more copies to be available “soon”. Keep your eye on it.
Streets of Rage – Data Discs
So along with that Shenmue OST, Data Discs sent me a copy of their first ever release – the fully remastered soundtrack to the classic SEGA game Streets of Rage.
We’ll start with the obvious – Data Discs put just as much care into this release as they did Shenmue. You get your OBI strip, beautiful art, (two!) art lithographs and mine game with some art cards (approximately the size of baseball cards) of some of the bosses from the game. It’s stunning care and service to fans.
Now let’s talk music: I can say without any pause that this is the most joy I’ve had listening to a game soundtrack on vinyl.
The original SEGA Genesis was notoriously difficult to get decent sounding music out of. It had a very powerful sound chip, but it was a challenge to program for. Many releases for the Genesis ended up sounding overly processed, and “computer”. To be kind, it was an acquired taste.
However, Streets of Rage always stood out as a classic soundtrack for a classic game. With influence from techno house music, hip hop, and R&B it stood out from its 16-bit contemporaries. This remastered release truly does this all-time great soundtrack justice. The sound is deep and rich and was clearly mastered with care specifically for vinyl.
With poor mastering, this Streets of Rage could have sounded like trash on vinyl. I am pleased to say it not only sounds great, but it’s the definitive way to hear these tracks. I dare you to put on “Player Select” and not feel the sound course through your veins.
Bless Yuzo Koshiro for this gift of a soundtrack and thank you Data Discs for doing it justice. The Streets of Rage soundtrack is now the bar other soundtracks need to jump over.
Streets of Rage is available now through Data Discs’ webstore. It’s a must buy.
Best of Mega Man 1-10 – SpaceLab9
Details are very scant right now, but looks like SpaceLab9 is doing a reissue/deluxe edition of their Best of Mega Man 1-10 release on January 28. Originally done for Hot Topic as a picture disc, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a collection of hot Mega Man joints from all the main series games.
I own the Hot Topic release and it’s very good, but I adore Mega Man soundtracks and think they are truly among the all-time greats. From the SpaceLab9 twitter, the deluxe edition looks nice with some alternative art/packaging/colored vinyl. Looking forward to getting some more details on this one and if I get a hold of a copy to review, I will share with everyone here.