Aug 132014


Adventurous tunes await those who dare to don phones of the head and pay tribute to Sega’s long lost axe ’em up series.

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0:00:00 – Turtle Village (Golden Axe)

0:07:02 – Fiend’s Path (Golden Axe)

0:11:49 – Battlefield (Golden Axe)

0:20:20 – Ravaged Village (GA 2)

0:22:05 – Boss 4 through 6 (GA2)

0:25:10 – Castle (GA2)

0:27:27 – Dark Guld Chamber (GA2)

0:33:37 – Assault (Revenge of Death Adder)

0:34:30 – On A Ship (Revenge of Death Adder)

0:40:17 – Title Screen (GA 3)

0:41:24 – Vast Field (GA 3)

0:43:44 – Tender Hamlet (GA 3)

0:49:56 – Theme of Doc (GA The Duel)

0:52:22 – Theme of Keel (GA The Duel)

0:54:29 – Theme of Green (GA The Duel)

0:59:05 – Intro (Altered Beast)

1:02:15 – Ending (Altered Beast)

1:09:22 – Credits (GA 2)

  32 Responses to “VGMpire 74 – Golden Trax”

  1. Haha, I’ve always thought the Ending song in Altered Beast to be hilarious. Besides it, like Chris said, sounding like a keyboard demo song, your character is still controllable when credits roll, and you could get hit and bounce off them as they scrolled.

    Great episode, and thanks for making me realize how depressing the music really was for Altered Beast and Golden Axe.

  2. Thanks for the Golden Axe focus AKA Brett’s childhood revisited. There was some good stuff here. Thoughts:

    Gay H-E-N-E-R-E-Y/Antista, the arcade Golden Axe, as well as Revenge of Death Adder, and the Duel were all AM1, not AM2. AM1 handled the majority of the action arcade games whereas AM2 was big ride/driving arcade games(And VF, of course). AM7 did the home versions, but who cares.

    A big sarcastic thank you to Antista for this gem: “For Sega music, it’s not terrible”, as if the whole history of Sega music from inception to present is completely encapsulated in the Genesis sound capabilities. Just a reminder: The majority of the music we (almost)all hate on the Genesis includes simulated electric guitars, which 1) was mostly created by western composers favoring ‘edgy’ rock and/or 2) came about during the latter half of the Genesis life span, where electric guitars were more likely to be utilized by all composers(again, likely due to the ‘edgy’ vibe).

    Brett, I did appreciate your take on GA2 and 3, which I hadn’t played. That GA2 ending song sounded like a fantasy version of Streets of Rage, i.e. it kicked ass. Incidentally, you didn’t mention the multi-tiered magic system until Revenge of Death Adder…..were you saying that it was unique to that game? Because that was in place in the very first Golden Axe.

    Speaking of Revenge of Death Adder, that was a good game. They had it in a few arcades back in the day. Not only were there stages using heavy scaling where the characters walked into the screen ( at 8:50), but it featured multiple paths, seeming to have inspired Capcom’s 2 D&D arcade games, as well as titles like Guardian Heroes for the Saturn(one of the BEST 2D-ish fantasy beat-em-ups of all time).

  3. Great episode guys! My favorite Golden Axe memory was seeing older kids beat the arcade game. The ending cutscene shows kids playing the arcade game, then all of the enemies escape into the real world and start causing havoc. Fun co-op, you could ride a dragon and awesome magic spells. And a few rad tunes to boot. Keep it up guys!

  4. lol, God. As soon as I started the podcast, I was like “oh God, a Genesis song.”

    Hadn’t heard it before. As it kept playing, it started making me laugh. It’s so bad! Sure enough, halfway through I was thinking SOMEBODY GET THE PHONE! So when you mentioned it in that way I was both shocked and relieved that I wasn’t the only one that thought the same.

    Horrible song, lol. So far the only good Genesis music I’ve heard on the show, although it was SEGA CD so not sure if it counts, was Popful Mail. Streets of Rage is okay but doesn’t really do it for me.

    • To each his own. There is a lot of great music on the Genesis. Given that Brett and the gang were all primarily Nintendo kids, there’s a comparative lack of emphasis on Sega stuff. There is also a lot of trash out there that really emphasizes what the Genesis did poorly, which can overshadow the better stuff.

      Of note is anything by Treasure, particularly Gunstar Heroes. Anything by Yuzo Koshiro, particularly SOR 2 and Revenge of Shinobi. Phantasy Star 2 and 4.. Landstalker. Anything by Technosoft, particularly Thunerforce 2 and Herzog Zwei. Sonic 1 and 2. Earthworm Jim. Anything by Konami, particularly the TMNT games. Batman 1 by Sunsoft. Vectorman 1 and 2. World of Illusion.

      These are what I’d say are some of the more universally enjoyed soundtracks(and games) for the Genesis, at least off the top of my head. But you’re free to hate these as well; as I said, to each his own.

  5. Love this. I’m glad a couple of Altered Beast songs got thrown in there too!

  6. I forgot to comment on the big omission: Animal riding. GA was certainly one of the first beat-em-ups that let you ride things to hurt bad guys. That was a staple all the way through the series, so I’m surprised it got nary a mention.

    Also, as you mentioned Brett, the bonus stages were classic. GA1 used thieving gnomes as the poor bastards you get to beat on. The idea of kicking around a little elf/midget/gnome for goodies, even if they are thieves, is just medieval humor at its best!

    • Yeah I should’ve mentioned beast riding, it was a unique feature for sure. And my magic point was series-wide, not just for a specific game.

      FWIW I really like a lot of Genesis music (this whole ep included) but I think the system’s clangy-grainy reputation puts some into defense / joke-making mode. I think you’re spot on about west vs east when it comes to music though – most Japanese OSTs are pretty damn good

      • Thanks for making my hurt feelings go away. 🙂

        Actually, I appreciate the way you approach all game music, Genesis included. And I agree with your comments about the Genesis sound chip.

        I recently realized my biggest criticism with the Genesis sound is its terrible sampler. When you compare most of the Sega arcade ports with their Genesis counterparts, the biggest difference in the music is the TERRIBLE samples. The FM synthesis can sound almost the same, but the samples ruin the song. Outrun is a good example of this. With few exceptions, sampled drums (and anything else) sound like they were recorded from an FM radio that got bad reception.

        I listened to the Neo Geo episode of the Legacy Music Hour recently, and they had an interesting observation about the system’s sound: They said it sounded like a mix of the Genesis and the SNES. They’re right; listening to the tracks they played, there was a LOT of FM synthesis, and good sampled strings and drums. And that combo epitomizes my favorite video game sound, just like Revenge of Death Adder. And the best Genesis tracks I mentioned earlier all take full advantage of the FM synthesis while using the shortest, cleanest samples the Genesis can muster.

      • Follin Brothers and Matt Furniss being notable exceptions…..they’re all British; must be something in the water?

  7. The mention of Sunset Riders perked my ears right up. That has an astoundingly good OST! Complete with trademarked Konami ORCH5 samples.

    I never played completely through the Golden Axes…I do have them on the Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection though. Thanks for reminding me about how behind I am on Genesis games.

    I have this vivid memory of watching an old-ass 1992 Game Pro VHS that showed off a ton of cheat codes, and one of them was this absurdly involved button code for Golden Axe II where you had to hold certain buttons down on the title screen and then switch them somehow in a most uncomfortable fashion. Back when publishers mangled your fingers to get cheats, instead of making you pay for them 😛

    I enjoyed the music here, as it’s pretty exceptional given the infamous sounds the Genesis chip can spew out. The most impressive music to come out of Genesis has to be the Gauntlet IV OST, solely for Masaharu Iwata and Hitoshi Sakimoto’s masterpieces. The sound achieved from this game is actually due to Sakimoto writing his own driver for the Genesis sound chip. Pretty awesome.

    Also gotta mention Brazilian-based VGM Metal cover band Megadriver….they performed a really awesome Golden Axe song at MAGFest…with Tim Ripper Owens-styled vocals to boot! Check it here:

    • Okay, FINE I’ll listen to Gauntlet IV.

      I’ve been hearing about the music for a long time, but I’ve never given it a chance; gauntlet to me says Atari and western and then I tune out like the prejudiced bastard I am.

      Wow, that’s really good.

      • It’s good because the freaking composers of Final Fantasy Tactics, and the composer of Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter, Final Fantasy XII, Valkyria Chronicles and Odin Sphere worked on it. 😀

        The rest of the OST is phenomenal too, but “Sortie” is by far the most epic one.

        • In a serendipitous happening, I happened to hear the Comic Book episode of LMH just after I checked out Gauntlet IV…..therein was The Punisher for Genesis, which was also done by Sakamoto. I ended up finding a handful of titles he did(Devilish, Verytex, Midnight Resistance, King Salmon); he’s now on my short list of favorite Genesis composers(Along with Koshiro, Matt Furniss, and Naosuke Arai/
          Tomomi Ōtan, who composed for Technosoft)

          • Brent Weinbach corrected me: Sakimoto created the sound driver that was used in these games; much or all of the composition was done by others. And Punisher was not Sakimoto; I meant to say Captain America and the Avengers(again, just the driver).

            But yeah, the OST to Gauntlet IV is just so GOOD. I do an old-school game night periodically where a bunch of like-minded old bastards(late 20’s and up) play multiplayer 8 and 16-bit games. I’m going to have to pick this one up.

  8. Hey VGMpire and thanks for doing a show on Golden Axe! Lots of sweet tunes in this episode, but I am also surprised that you didn’t include the obvious one – Stage 1 – Wilderness. It is very recognizable to most people who ever played the arcade and quite catchy. Keep up the great work and thanks for creating hours of solid audio entertainment!

  9. I was surprised by how good this episode was! I didn’t know anything about the series before this episode.

  10. I kind of like the ending to Altered Beast music. I guess you have to look at it in relation to the arcade ending that was changed from the Genesis.

    Skip to the end of video for ending. It presents the whole game in a kind of comic light and present the game as if the whole thing was a movie with actors in suits with a big last shot party of the actors drinking beer.

  11. Also the arcade Golden Axe revenge of Death Adder is definetly worth checking out. It is far and away the best Golden Axe and was never released on anything outside the arcade. Great fighting play. More characters and the characters are actually even more distinct in play style. Magic is drastically different. With one of the Charachters magic being purely support ie growing tress with health fruit pickups. And branching paths and a ton of rideable animals. And then catapults that could be added to rideable animals, almost like medieval mechs. One of my to arcade games of all time. Shame it was never ported to home consoles.

    • Okay, that is the best Avatar. How did you get Darkfalz(that IS the SMS version after all) on there?

      • I think I uploaded it to Gravitar. That got linked to my WordPress account. I just found a good JPEG online and cropped it a bit.

  12. Hey Brett. Thanks for another great episode. I love the insight and anecdotes as always. Keep up the great work!!!

  13. You guys weren’t too enthusiastic about the series so it was hard to get into the episode, but I did enjoy the music from GA3 and the credits from GA 2. So much Genesis bashing…. There’s good music/games on there, you showed us!

    • FWIW, after the show I checked out the entire GA3 soundtrack and it is GOOD. If you liked what was in the show, GA2-3 are worth a listen.

  14. Don’t know jack about this series, by the music was certainly interesting. And yeah, I feel like the sings in GA the duel were so close to being brilliant, but the melodies didn’t go all the way. Shame, because the instrumentation was top notch.

  15. […] Adventurous tunes await those who dare to don phones of the head and pay tribute to Sega’s long lost axe ‘em up series. LISTEN NOW! […]

  16. So many of the songs in this ep reminded me of Shinobi 3 for some reason.
    Been a big fan of this show since day one, so Brett, keep em coming!

  17. Ah, man… why the hate for Altered Beast? I love that game. I had the original Altered Beast Genesis that I saved up for and bought with my own money as a kid. Coming home from Toys R Us, hooking up the console, and firing up Altered Beast in all of its beautifully weird 16-bit glory is one of my fondest video game memories.

    It is also the inspiration for my Tumblr page name: Beauty and the Altered Beast:

  18. Wow, I played the crap out of Revenge of Death Adder when I was a kid. I’d totally forgotten about that until this episode. I loved playing as the female centaur (she had awesome lightning/boulder-throwing magic) and I was downright obsessed with collecting potions. I don’t think I ever managed to beat the whole game before my parents showed up to haul me back home. That game was long! Thanks for that bit of nostalgia!

  19. I’m a little shocked at the weirdly negative reaction to this, in the comments, from Chris etc. The game is whatever but this music has always been a touchstone of sick Yamaha synth work, in my mind… I used a sample from Golden Axe on one of the first tracks I produced for an actual record label.

  20. Altered Beast actually has some great chord progressions and synth sounds too…

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