As a Sega nerd, as well as a vinyl junkie, (or is that audiophile? ) companies like Data Discs, make this nostalgic old chap extremely happy. Releasing high end Sega soundtracks pulled off the original source and pressed onto heavy 180 gram vinyl, with an array of pretty colors, stunning artwork and tidbits of info, really makes you realize, “Hey, someone out there really is as passionate about this stuff as i am.”
With a back catalogue of releases ranging from such classics as Altered Beast (Power Up!), Shenmue and the sublime sounds of Yuzo Koshiro’s Streets of Rage music, there’s enough nostalgia to poke a Megadrive Controller at.
The release of The Revenge of Shinobi (Super Shinobi in Japan) is a spectacle to behold. On of the most popular games of the Shinobi franchise and one of the shining lights in the early days of the Megadrive. Revenge of Shinobi follows the adventures of Joe Musashi and his vendetta against the organisation of Neo Zeed. Flipping, slashing and using a slew of different Ninjitsu powerups, Joe was a force to contend with. Gone were the “Save the pink guys” and in was a solid balls to the wall, shuriken throwing, ninja styling action platformer.
Most notable were some of the errrr…. “characters” in the initial release of the game… Batman..Spiderman and the one and only Godzilla!? (Hey, why not? Its Japan right?) Although changed later on due to copyright reasons, we were still left with the memories of these cheeky characters.
What sets Revenge of Shinobi apart from its precursor, was its sublime soundtrack. Composed by the mighty Yuzo Koshiro, it ranges from Eastern inspired pieces to manic high energy dance numbers, with catchy themes and some of the best beats/digital drum work i had ever heard. For the unitiated, Yuzo Koshiro was also the composer of the Streets of Rage series, (Also available on Data Discs HERE) a series of games that, apart from the solid beat em up recipe, had a blistering set list of dance tracks that pushed the Megadrive to its audio limits.
Streets of Rage aside, the Return of Shinobi Soundtrack is no slouch either, some of my personal highlights included,
Make Me Dance- One of the more chilled out tracks, Yuzo tones it down with a catchy bass line and jazzy leads with mid paced tempos, and a Smooth Criminal feel.
Terrible Beat- Manic, “race against the clock” type tunes with gorgeous drum fills, creating a sense of urgency.
Over The Bay- Comes across as a pre cursor to some of his later tunes on Streets of Rage. Although a higher tempo, its major chords and upbeat tune provide the feeling of cruising down the beach, roof off, sun shining and good times.
Ninja Step– One of the groovier tracks with a solid bass line and choppy rhythms that make you want to do The Robot Dance.
Long Distance- One of my absolute favourites. This tune encapsulates the “Warrrior sets out on his mission” type feels. With a chugging bass line, coupled with a heroic anthem, this track really gets you buzzing with excitement!
Music aside, the record is pressed on solid 180gram vinyl, cut at 44rpm and released in 3 different presses depending on your preferences.
180 Gram Bone Coloured Vinyl
180 Gram Bone and Black Vinyl Limited Edition (Pictured here)
180 Gram Black Vinyl
The inside slipcase is thick card and displays a variety of original artwork from the game, showcasing the cast of enemies Joe has to work his way through, all lovingly brought to life by beautiful brushwork. Also included is linear notes by Yuzo Koshiro himself, reminiscing about his time working on the soundtrack.
Popping the vinyl on my player for the first time was a surreal expiereince, not often have i expierienced 16 bit videogame music on my turntable..in fact..never. I wasnt too sure how it would translate onto vinyl and if it would stand up to my expectations.
Needless to say, once the first intro music kicked in, i knew from then on i was in for a treat. Once the track “Long Distance” came on, i found myself turning up the volume, and remembering all of the memories from the game. Its an interesting thing, certain songs remind you of levels in the game, how hard a boss was, or even sitting next to your buddy and patiently waiting for your next turn. By the time id flipped the record over and heard the last track, i was already thinking of dusting off my old Megadrive and seeing if i still had the knack with old Joe Musashi.
So all in all, are video game soundtracks and vinyl a good combination? Hell yes. If its not the catchy tunes you remember from your younger years that pull you in, its memories of a simpler time when we spent hours in front of the TV honing our skills. Great memories. And thanks to the team at Data Discs, its all delivered with an abundance of passion and dedication to their craft that really shows.
If you want to check out a few tracks, look below and see the handy Soundcloud box where you can sample a few of the LPs tracks.
Big thanks to the team at Data Disc for supplying me with a copy of the vinyl to review, its greatly appreciated, and had an absolute ball bopping away to the songs and thinking of the good old days! Cheers!