May 112016


The composer of Batman Returns, Ecco the Dolphin and Spider-Man vs The Kingpin joins us LIVE to discuss the creation of three incredible Sega CD soundtracks.

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0:00:00 – Act 1 Driving (Batman Returns)

0:16:20 – Platforming Area (Batman Returns)

0:18:50 – Schreck’s Wonderland (Batman Returns)

0:21:42 – Act 2 Driving (Batman Returns)

0:39:47 – Aqua Vistas (Ecco the Dolphin)

0:44:17 – Jurassic Beach (Ecco the Dolphin, NovaTrade)

0:49:47 – The Machine (Ecco the Dolphin)

1:00:41 – Song 7 (Spider-Man vs The Kingpin)

1:03:44 – Song 8 (Spider-Man vs The Kingpin)

1:06:41 – Song 6 (Spider-Man vs The Kingpin)

1:21:03 – Swing Time (Spider-Man vs The Kingpin)

  22 Responses to “VGMpire 116 – Sega CD with Spencer Nilsen”

  1. Finally back! And a composer episode. These have consistently been the best so am definitely looking forward to listening.

    • Loved hearing the stories about influencing the next generation of musicians through VGM compositions. Pretty cool to see game music having an impact.

  2. I can breathe again! You had us a bit worried, Brett!


  4. YES, I’ve waited for an episode dedicated to the Sega CD for years! Listening now!

  5. Spencer Nilson is one of the reasons the Sega CD was great!!

  6. Man, this episode was fantastic! Spencer seems like a very cool dude.

    This episode really makes me want to check out Ecco the Dolphin, never gave those a shot for more than a handful of minutes. I wonder though — is the Sega CD version’s music just a Redbook Audio version of the Genesis version, or original tunes that replaced the Genesis soundtrack?

    Apparently there was some sort of release of Spencer’s Batman Returns soundtrack on an impossible-to-find Sega Multimedia Studios CD –
    Pretty cool that you’ve got some official titles of the Sega CD tunes from Spencer — it’s amazing how many Sega CD soundtracks don’t have true titles and all we have to go by are where they play in the game and/or the generic “Track 1, Track 2” etc.

    That first Spider-Man tune gave me Mega Man X5 feelings (retroactive, I know). Makes me wonder if Naoto Tanaka was familiar with Sega CD music prior to working on the X series! The styles are pretty similar!

    The “more about touting the technology than the people” comment by Spencer is just soooo damn true and made me kind of sad! I do feel that VGM fans (even casual ones) should make an effort to know the composer name to what they’re listening to — if people can associate “Alan Silvestri” to The Avengers or Back to the Future or “Vangelis” to Blade Runner, or “John Williams” to Star Wars or Home Alone, this should apply more to game composers too.

    That story about Bear McCreary was freaking awesome too! My brother got to meet Bear at this past MAGFest, I hear he’s a swell guy. It’s so awesome to know that younger composers such as Bear (and even Jake Kaufman) were influenced by older game composers.

  7. Great episode. Never knew the sega cd was capable of this. Can anyone recommend other sound tracks from the console?

  8. So glad to have the show back, I’ve missed you!

    Spencer Nilsen sounds like a great guy. I still listen to the Ecco soundtrack on a regular basis when I paint and create my illustrations. Thank you for all the wonderful tunes Spencer!

    Another great episode! 🙂

  9. This is gonna sound corny, but this episode had a GREAT NPR interview feel to it. I love this episode as much as the Tommy Tallarico episode, which add variety to the show structure.

    Spencer is a really cool composer and his work made me feel like the coolest kid in the neighborhood; blasting the tv speakers as loud as I could while playing Batman Returns when my dad would rent the Sega CD from our neighborhood video rental.

    • Sweet jesus, I really missed out on the Ecco Sega CD soundtrack. This is ethereal.

  10. Another great episode of forgotten gems and buried treasure! Sega CD Ecco the Dolphin just made my day! Thank you VGMpire!!!

  11. Great episode! Never listened to much Sega CD music, there’s definitely some great stuff. Spencer was a really interesting and knowledgeable guy too, loved hearing his stories!

  12. Brett started out nerding out about older games, which Spencer clearly didn’t know, then adjusted nicely later on, not leaning on the game music knowledge so much. Sometimes it’s interesting to hear how people with little interest in games can still do a good job, and be influential.

  13. Oh, thank your god of choice. VGMPIRE is back!

  14. I loved the interview. I liked Spencer Nilsen’s stuff, but I was baffled as to why they changed the Sonic soundtrack for the American release. At the time, it served as evidence to me that SOA didn’t really have a clue what avid gamers really wanted or needed(along with their box art and things like the 32X).

    But Nilsen is a gold mine of good info. I loved the story about McCreary as well, and I was amazed at the Ecco Soundtrack. I’d never heard it, and it really was amazing. I’ll have to do a sit-down comparison between that and Tim Follin’s DC Ecco OST.

    Brett, with your involvement in the Street Fighter II Brave Wave soundtrack, did you get any info on Super SFII’s Q-Sound? I listened to a really great interview with Mohammed Taher and Marco Guardia on Back in My Play, where they mentioned having great difficulties pulling the music off the boards because the Q-Sound boards had some proprietary tech that complicated extraction.

    In any case, I’ve always been interested in Q-sound; it was a tech that was used a bit in the early 90’s on pop soundtracks. I think your comment about Q-sound (being used on Capcom arcade games because it stood out amongst the din of arcade noise) was spot-on. It used stereo tricks to make sound from 2 speakers seem to come from all around the player, so it would have been very useful in arcade games.

  15. The one thing I wished you would’ve asked about is whether Spencer Nilsen was related to Al Nilsen(one of the key members of the SOA team in the early 90’s). Since you didn’t, I did a bit of sleuthing and found out that they are not related.

    But I know back in the day, it was widely rumored by critics that Spencer Nilsen got his job as a result of nepotism. I believe I even read that in a magazine at some point(probably Gamefan).

  16. Haven’t commented in maybe years here. But thanks for doing this episode as its one I wanted for a long time. I have particulate affection for the Ecco CD music. The best thing about it is you could just pop the game in your CD player and play all the tracks. Between it and the sequel I’d listen to it all the time, mostly before bed, it has relaxing magical quality to it that I can just get lost in. I don’t think there is single track on it that I don’t like,

    But where I probrably enjoyed this most was when I was in the Navy on a submarine, traveling underwater, I’d hit the rack for the night listening to this CD. My berthing sometimes was near the hull and you could hear the faint noise of the ocean underwater passing over the hull. Id play this and it just kind gave you the relaxing effect of being underwater and losing yourself in the music, And letting me drift to sleep literally while cruising in the deep, forgetting temporarily that I was stuck underwater for months at s time doing a monotonous job day in and day out. I’d drift off and for awile the soundtrack would briefly penetrate my dreams before ending to the sound of water monotonously drifting by the hull. Anyway best rest and sleep inducing soundtrack ever. It’s been years since I listened to it and this episode bought back some of those relaxing memories. It almost caries its own emotion attached to it whenever I hear it.

  17. I also wish they would release some of these soundtracks on iTunes. While I suppose I could just rip my game CD;s I’d gladly pay for it. The CD Spencer bought to the show is in fact super rare. I’ve priced it a few times and it’s always in the hundreds. I saw it once in the 90’s at the Monterey Bay aquarium in their gift shop. It was sold with I believe and Ecco story book or something and maybe a stuffed animal and the proceeds were supposed to benefit some undersea wildlife charity or something, I think the whole package may have been like 60.00. Wish Imwould have bought it.

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