Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

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Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby Retrology » October 18th, 2017, 4:19 am

The Genesis sound chip has gotten a bad rap, but in the right hands, it created some incredible video game soundtracks. So which ones were the best on the system?

Sonic 3 & Knuckles: The first 2 games indeed had good soundtracks, but got a little too 80s cheesy at times for my taste (Metropolis Zone). Sonic 3 & K delivered a more intense, more techno pop vibe that I prefer to the first 2 games, and the quality was absurd.

Sonic 3D Blast: Say what you want about the game (I like it), but the soundtrack is stupid good.

Mortal Kombat: This version's soundtrack kicks the ass of the Super Nintendo version. To me, it has much more personality!

Streets of Rage 2: I find it hard to believe some of the songs were composed on the Genesis.

Road Rash: Pacific Coast. That is all.

Thoughts? Any recommended Sega Genesis soundtracks?

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Re: Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby Stalvern » October 18th, 2017, 12:01 pm

Here are some of my favorites. I could have doubled this list, but I decided to just submit it as it is when I realized that I'd spent an hour listening to Genesis music!

Earthworm Jim ("Down the Tubes")
My favorite music on the Genesis, which is why I stuck it at the top. This song is so great that it shows up in two levels.

Bio-Hazard Battle (Level 1 theme)
Dark and eerie in a way that plays to the YM2612's strengths, a fascinating way to score a shoot-em-up.

Castlevania: Bloodlines ("Iron-Blue Intention")

Contra: Hard Corps ("Something Wonderful")

Ecco: The Tides of Time ("Convergence")
As mysterious as the first game's music, but more substantial.

Gunstar Heroes ("Last Party on the Moon")
No part of this game isn't awesome.

Mega Turrican (Level 5-1 theme)
Just as rockin' as the Amiga games.

Puggsy ("Darkblade Forest")
As underrated as the game itself.

Ristar ("Splash Down!!")
As sophisticated as the Sonic 3 & Knuckles music, but happier and cartoonier.

Sub-Terrania ("Crystal Space II")
Kickass jams from an Amiga master.

Thunder Force IV ("Space Walk")
Very high-tech and Japanese.

Tinhead ("Crystal World")
Somehow, this game is able to make some of the most stereotypically twangy Genesis sounds actually work.

ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron ("Boomin' Bump")
Lives up to its name!

Wiz 'n' Liz ("Snow Land")
Excellent example of British game music.

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Re: Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby CharlieR » October 25th, 2017, 12:05 pm

Retrology wrote:
Streets of Rage 2: I find it hard to believe some of the songs were composed on the Genesis.

This one wins for me. The 3rd game had some ok tunes, but nothing really that compared to 2.

I played a lot of sports games on genesis, and some of the NHL games from EA had great music. My dark horse goes to an underrated extreme sports game called Skitchin'. A game with weapons like road rash, but you race on rollerblades and hang on to the back of cars.

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Re: Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby pacman000 » October 25th, 2017, 2:58 pm

Keep in mind the Genesis sound chip was an improvement over 8-bit sound chips. Only in retrospect does it seem relatively poor; at the time it was still an advancement. Genesis music might be higher pitched than SNES music, but it's more complex than what you'd here on a NES.

I'm a bit partial to the 1st Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack; I even find myself humming the tunes from time-to-time.

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Re: Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby Alucard1191 » October 25th, 2017, 5:59 pm

The shining force 1 soundtrack still loops through my head from time to time.

I love that game so much. 2 is technically the better game... but I really, really love the first one.

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Re: Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby goldenband » October 25th, 2017, 9:06 pm

The Genesis soundchip does a great job of what it does, i.e. FM synthesis, and in some ways I think it's aged very well. Comparing it to the SNES chip is sort of an apples-to-oranges comparison. I love SNES music as much as anyone, but for every great soundtrack (Chrono Trigger, ActRaiser, Spider-Man/X-Men) there are four or five stinkers that use the same handful of canned default samples.

Bad hardware revisions and poorly-programmed soundtracks by lazy (mostly American) developers have tarnished the Genesis's image somewhat. But if you get the right board revision and the right soundtrack, that thing can get sparkling highs and deep bass like nobody's business.

My favorite Genesis OST is probably Light Crusader, especially this track:

Whatever you may think of the game, the music is out of sight! Great programming and great compositions -- two things that sadly aren't always found in the same game.

Other favorites are Jewel Master (which has a great prog-rock vibe), World of Illusion (especially the theme for the last level), Ecco the Dolphin, Granada...lots of good stuff out there.

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Re: Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby djc » October 26th, 2017, 12:19 pm

My favorites in no particular order are:

Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage 2
Revenge of Shinobi
(all of these were done by the same person I think)

Early EA games:
Road Rash
Lakers vs. Celtics
NHL Hockey
(later EA games moved away from the heavy guitar-laden music)


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Re: Best Sega Genesis Soundtracks?

Postby Matchstick » October 26th, 2017, 10:17 pm

I completely agree with your assessment on Road Rash, Retrology. As someone who lives on the Pacific Coast, and drives the actual coastal highway the level was based around (Highway 1 or 101, depending on how far North you go) it's hard not to think of that song while on the road. It really sticks with you.

I adore the Genesis Road Rash games. All three have fantastic music, but a few tracks definitely stand out. Pacific Coast from RR1 is one of them. I also like Vermont from RR2 and Great Britain from RR3. The latter one really builds, and just shreds harder and harder as it goes on. Definitely worth a listen!

A few other games / songs worth a look:

The main themes from John Madden Football, Madden '92, and Madden '93. They all have that "Road Rash" vibe.

Alien 3. The whole soundtrack has a brooding, slow burn feel. Too bad the game's not so great!

OutRun, and its follow-up, OutRunners. You probably know the OutRun tracks already, but OutRunners has a few surprises, too.

After Burner II, particularly the first song, Final Takeoff. Such a classic arcade jam!

Spider Man / Venom - Maximum Carnage. I prefer the music in the Genesis one to the SNES release, hands down. The Genesis sound chip really lets the guitar parts shine through.

Crue Ball. Just so you can hear a 16-bit Dr. Feelgood.

TMNT - They Hyperstone Heist. The music is taken from the original Turtles arcade game as well as the Turtles in Time sequel. You may know a few of these tunes already, but for my money, they sound the best (and more arcade-like) coming out of the Genesis.

I wrap this up by saying that, unfortunately, there's quite a bit of difference between Genesis models, and the sound quality varies greatly among all the revisions. Most feel that a Model 1 system generally has the best sound. I currently own a late-model Model 2 system, which sounds great to my ears. I spent most of my childhood with a Model 1 system, then picked up a cheap Model 2 years later. I could immediately tell that something was off with the sound, which I blamed on my TV and nostalgia getting the better of me. Come to find out, the Model 2 that I owned was one of the "bad" ones, with muffled, distorted sound. I did some research, tracked down a different system, and the difference was night and day. Food for thought!

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