Morning Music: Sega Mega Drive Super Medley (MD, 2005)

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Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s new, daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-arse sounds they make. Today we check out an album of energetic Sega Genesis / Mega Drive medleys that hit 15 years ago, almost to the day.

I happen to own a copy of Sega Mega Drive Super Medley (YT / VGMdb) because it was both new and on sale during a 2005 trip to cover Tokyo Game Show. I had a lower barrier to purchases back then, and would often just buy things if they had promising covers and seemed to be about stuff I liked. In this case, the cover clearly promised some fresh new Mega Drive remixes combined into medleys. That’s worth 1365 yen ($17), I probably reasoned.

At only three tracks, that would’ve been 455 yen ($6) per track. Plus taxes of course.

I am cheaper today.

Luckily it’s a pretty decent 24 minutes of music on a very pretty disc. And if you glance at the credits, you’ll notice the arrangers are two masters of turn-of-the-century video game music.

Let’s listen.

As the Sega Retro wiki notes, the album remixed music from these 24 (for the most part) classic Mega Drive / Genesis games:

Alien Soldier, OutRun, Space Harrier II, Bare Knuckle, Crying, Monster World III, Ristar the Shooting Star, Super Fantasy Zone, Pulseman, The Super Shinobi, Ecco the Dolphin, Gunstar Heroes, Vermilion, Golden Axe II, Shining and the Darkness, Shining Force, Landstalker, Phantasy Star III, Phantasy Star II, Battle Golfer Yui, Shikinjou, Ninja Burai Densetsu, Rent-a-Hero and Monster World IV.

Interesting lack of Sonic, eh? That’s good, dude gets enough explosure already. This selection ranges from 1988 to 1995, pretty much the system’s entire lifespan. Nice that it goes so far back, as counterintuitively, some of the coolest Mega Drive soundtracks came out in the system’s first two or three years. (But that topic would rapidly get us into the weeds, so let’s table it for now.)

I know about two-thirds of these. Just for fun, my top three…

  1. Landstalker
  2. Sword of Vermilion
  3. ????????????

Well, maybe not. A top 5 might be feasible but Phantasy Star II, Revenge of Shinobi, Streets of Rage, Gunstar, Ristar… There’s an embarrassment of audio riches across these 24 games.

Our arrangers are SuperSweep’s Takayuki Aihara (credits) on the first two tracks and Sega’s Hideaki Kobayashi (credits) on the last, who’ve worked on game music masterpieces like Street Fighter EX (!) and Phantasy Star Online (!!). So it’s no wonder these tracks are great tributes to classic tunes.

That said, I feel like their appeal is limited by virtue of their being medleys. As a fan of many of these Mega Drive games I’ll hear a piece from Ristar or something and think like, “wow, this is a great interpretation!” But no sooner has it begun than it transitions into a segment from another game, which may also be great, but will be similarly short-lived. The pleasures here are real but fleeting.

Be nice if we could, like, pick 10 or so remixed bits across the medleys and hear them reworked into full-on tracks. But it’s still nice to hear these even in such an abbreviated format. It warms my heart to be reminded that there are other people in this fallen world who share my love of random tracks from a nearly 31 year-old game like Revenge of Shinobi.

Feel-old fun corner: This album’s release in 2005 is about equally distant from both the Sega Genesis’ American release and our present day, plague year 2020.

…fuck.

That’s a wrap for today’s Morning Music, and I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow. Keep me company, and perhaps grumble about how old you now feel, in the comments below.

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