Category Archives: Bass Cadet

Bass Cadet 02 – Musha Aleste

Welcome to yet another edition of Bass Cadet!

This week I’ll be showcasing another one of my favourites. Compile’s seminal Aleste series was lucky enough to get the Toaplan treatment. Two of the world’s greatest shmup developers united and gave us the mighty – Musha Aleste or M.U.S.H.A as it was known in the States.

There are no words to describe what a phenomenal game this is. Boasting fast-paced shooting action within a stunning futuristic-oriental world setting. Unlike other shmups where the player often pilots a spaceship of some sort. Here we get something way cooler. The so-called metallic uniframe super hybrid armor happens to be a fully fledged mecha. Manga and anime fans, rejoice!

This is a vertically scrolling shooter with some impressive parallax, particularly on the third stage. It was a fairly early release for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis since it came out in 1990. Which just make some of the technical achievements in this game, even more notable.

Another stand out point is the music. Composed by Toshiaki Sakoda, he managed to deliver the ultimate shooting game soundtrack of the early 90’s. Everyone who loves the genre is still reminiscing Musha Aleste’s hard rocking, heart pounding, synth-assault of an allegory of an electric metal orchestra.

It seldom gets any better than this. Few game soundtracks get the blood pumping like this one does. I am not aware of an actual OST album for Musha Aleste ever getting released. An unfortunate oversight that I hope will be rectified, one day.

Die-hard fans probably have the cart rammed in their Mega Drives permanently, the volume set to max. They get to enjoy the music every time they try to make it through to the end, on hard mode. It’s quite the experience. While the above video doesn’t even come close to recreating the exhilaration, the music is there for all to enjoy.

 

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Bass Cadet 01 – Thunder Force IV

Welcome to my new weekly feature – Bass Cadet.

Every week I will be showcasing a piece of music that’s relevant to the retro enthusiast right here on Bass Cadet. Requirements and criteria for a me to cover a single track, album or even a live performance are as follows:

  • Composition must be strictly electronic.
  • The production may be for a game or any other medium but it must be able to work as a game soundtrack.
  • Vitally important for all compositions to be instrumental but samples and singing are permitted, provided they are a good match.
  • Experimental compositions are allowed but they must be listenable.
  • It may be an old or new production but it must sound positively retro.
  • Last but not least, it must sound great!

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s kick off this week’s feature with something awesome. Technosoft (also known as Tecno Soft) were the code house behind the truly remarkable Thunder Force series. They were also know for the astounding sound work on their game releases.

Thunder Force IV on the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis for those in the U.S.) is one of my favourite horizontal scrolling shmups of all time. It’s just one of those games that strikes the right balance between visuals, sound and play mechanics. A masterpiece bar none.

Since TFIV was developed for the Mega Drive the music is obviously using the system’s Yamaha YM2612 FM-based chip. The previous article covered FM-Synthesis and gave some excellent examples of it’s applications.

However, Thunde Force IV is the standard-bearer for FM-Synthesis on the Mega Drive. Composed by Takeshi Yoshida, Toshiharu Yamanishi and Tomomi Otani they managed to put that little Yamaha chip through it’s paces. If you click on the video above, the results speak for themselves. Fusing techno-jazz with metal, this can only be described as 16-bit cyber thrash, space orchestra. Enjoy!