After taking a look back at my top 5 favorite games on the Genesis, I thought it might be fun to take a listen to some of their old music. Now, the Genesis was never known for its stellar sound processing, but there were some awesome composers and programers, who could make excellent use of its mediocre sound chip. It might not have had quite the same depth of sound as the SNES did, but the Genesis had some rocking tunes. What follows is a look back at my favorite themes and BGMs form my Genesis game collection. I hope you enjoy this bit of nostalgia! Also, head over to my YouTube channel to listen to the list. I’m sure you’ll like what you hear.
#10: Saint Sword: Level One BGM
This may not be one of the most well known games on the Genesis, but I had a lot of fun watching my friend play this one. For me, the first level music has always stood out in my mind as a great example of a track that gets you pumped. It’s driving beat has that ability to make you nod your head and tap your foot, plus it fits well with the sword slashing premise of the game. It’s a great track.
#9: Blades of Vengeance: Ravaged City & Title Theme
Like the previous entry, this track also does a GREAT job of getting you pumped for a fight. Growing up, I would listen to this theme and imagine charging across a field of battle, battling monsters and evil creatures, with swords and magic. Blades of Vengeance was basically that exact scenario and I couldn’t get enough of it. In my opinion, it is one of the best adventuring themes out there.
#8: Chakan The Forever Man: Elkenrod’s Domain
The Genesis sound chip didn’t do Sega’s games any favors. Most of the time, the music and sound effects sounded horrible, or sub par at best. They were course, harsh and sometimes lacked musical depth of sound. At times the sound effects and music were indistinguishable from one another, turning the audio into a garbled mess. However, in some cases those shortcomings created something utterly terrifying. Luckily for Chakan the Forever Man, that notorious sound processor added a certain level of awesomeness to that game. The music sounded dark, gloomy and downright evil. On this one particular stage, the synthesized, very metallic sounding rifts combined with the eery tribal drums created a very special concoction. This track captured the gloom, haze, darkness and perpetual doom of Elkenrod’s domain, making it one of my favorite levels in the entire game. That music took Chakan to a whole different place. If it weren’t for the soundtrack, I might have disregarded the game entirely.
#7: Streets of Rage: Level 1 BGM
When I hear this track I can’t help but move with the music. Its just so much fun! The track is a beautiful combination of a driving back-beat with an upbeat dance vibe. It was the perfect combination of a 80’s buddy cop flick and an awesome bar fight in a rambunctious 90’s disco. So very awesome! It fit the game beautifully.
#6: Shinobi III: Round 2 – Secret Entry
Boy Shinobi III had some killer music! Hand’s down, this level was one of my favorites. Galloping across an open field, ninja kicking your enemies, jumping wooden fences and tossing ninja-stars like a pro. So cool! This track had an underlying, driving energy that complemented the stage in a great way. It combined tension, drama, excitement, harmony and triumph all in one loop of music. I often wonder, who else used to charge forward on the horse, when the music reached its most exciting moment. I can’t be the only one.
#5: Vectorman: Ocean Stage – Riptide
I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s just a great track, with a good beat. The song seems smooth and flowing, like waves on the ocean. It fits perfectly with its level. It should also be very nostalgic for anyone who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, having that typical dance club beat with those electronic synthesizer sounds and melodies. I can’t help but think of groups like SNAP, Black Box, C&C Music Factory and other prominent groups of that time. I think it’s the perfect type of BGM track, not to over powering, but still able to pump you up for the game.
#4: Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Chemical Plant Zone
Sonic is another series that was well known for having awesome music. Almost every track in that series got your foot tapping. In my opinion the music for Sonic 2 was some of the best in the entire series. It also had more attitude and in-your-face presence than the previous game, possibly trying to capitalize on that 90s “Take It To The EXTREME” mentality. Regardless, the Chemical Plant Zone was one of the fastest and coolest levels in that game and I think that the music matched it perfectly.
#3: Sonic the Hedgehog: Starlight Zone
Of all the Sonic games I’ve played, my absolute favorite theme and track is the Starlight Zone, from Sonic 1. Its not overly forceful, it doesn’t get all “IN YOUR FACE”, its calming, peaceful and unassuming. It just lets you groove while making your way across the towers and loops of the level. Listen very carefully and you can hear a real sweet bass line that is guaranteed to get your head bopping every time. It’s a wonderful track and a great level.
#2: Castlevaina Bloodlines: Atlantis Shrine
If I had just one series that I could call my absolute favorite, it would have to be the Castlevaina series. From the NES, to today’s next gen consoles, the whole collection is legendary! Back in 1994 when Bloodlines first came out, I will admit I was kind of a Castlevaina snob. Even though I had a Genesis and was excited to play this title, I was a firm believer that the only good Castlevaina games were on Nintendo. I had played Super Castlevaina IV on SNES and absolutely fell in love with that game. Every other Castlevaina game paled in comparison. It wasn’t until I actually played Bloodlines that I realized Sega had a great entry into the series. The music in the Atlantis Shrine stage sealed the deal. It encompassed everything that made that series great: a feeling of adventure, of slaying monsters, fighting evil and making your way through a ruined and crumbling world. I would list it as one of the all-time great BGMs of the series.
#1: Shinobi III: Round 4 – Destruction
To end this list, we return to Shinobi III and the 4th stage track called Whirlwind. This BGM combined the freedom of jetting across the open ocean with a feeling of anticipation and a sense of eminent danger. The first time I played this level, I was so nervous. I had no idea what lay ahead. The visuals were mesmerizing and the music was so epic, I was instantly enthralled. Fighting ninjas and robots while surfing on a jet powered surfboard…what is NOT awesome about that? It was the perfect song for such an intense and captivating level. For me, it was pure, virtual adrenaline. It well deserves that #1 spot on my list and will forever be my favorite tune on the Genesis.