Beep! Magazine video-game flexi-discs!

In recent years I have developed quite a fascination with video game soundtracks that have been released on vinyl. Unfortunately, these are pretty rare in the states, with only a few marquee titles like Halo and some cult hits like Sword & Sworcery getting the vinyl treatment.

However, in Japan things are different. There, video game music gets the respect it deserves. Back in the 80s, nearly every game that was worth a damn had a soundtrack release, either in its original form or as an arranged (remixed/reproduced) version. Either they were given an album of their own, or highlights were included on compilation LPs that featured a selection of video game music from a particular game company such as Namco or Sega.

Some were even given away for free in flexi-disc form as bonuses to readers of Japanese video game magazines like Beep!, a popular magazine from the 80s that stuck around in some form or another until this year.

I know this because I have a very awesome friend named Anna Hegedus. And she got me two of these amazing discs for my birthday! So let’s take a look at them, shall we?


Wai Wai GAME MUSIC (March 1988)
Music From Ninja Warriors
Are you Lady? (Kunoichi’s Theme)
Name Entry

Namco x-Mas Charity Concert Live
Toy Pop
Member Introduction 

According to VGMdb, this flexi was a supplement for the March, 1988 issue of the magazine. Side A is a collection of original music from the Taito arcade game Ninja Warriors, a uniqe beat-em-up that used three monitors to create a widescreen-style experience. (You can find out more about the game at this site). I never played any incarnation of this game from what I can remember, but this music is great, an excellent example of the kind of diverse and shockingly complex tunes that games of the time were able to produce.

On side B we find three more tracks, but instead of music taken directly from a game, they are live reproductions that were performed at a special Namco charity Christmas concert! I don’t know anything about this concert, or what charity it was supporting, so if anyone out there who does know anything about it is reading this, please let me know!

As far as the songs themselves go, the first is the theme music to Berabo-man, an arcade shooter that never made its way out to the states. Judging from the sound of this recording, it sounds like the live version still used a fair bit of synthesizers and drum machines, but I think I hear some live strings and other instruments in there as well. The second track is for another Japanese exclusive title, Toy Pop, and it’s a purely piano arrangement of that game’s theme music. It’s cute. The final track features the MC announcing the concert’s performers (each of whom perform their own quick little solos).  All very interesting stuff and something I bet most gaming fans have never heard before!

Chase H.Q. – Stand By (Arrange)/Los Angeles (Arrange)
Syvalion – Round Start Arrange)/Main Theme (Arrange)
Assault – BGM 1 (Arrange)
Marchen Maze – Round 1 (Arrange) 
Next up we have this flexi disc, which was originally included with the November 1988 issue. Unlike the Ninja Warrior tunes from the previous disc, these songs are arranged (remixed/re-recorded) versions that sound substantially more complex and intricate than the original game versions.

The disc really starts things off with a showstopper, both in terms of music quality and in game reputation, with an amazing arrangement of music from the car pursuit classic Chase HQ. I don’t know if the bassline in this version is real or the work of a synthesizer, but if it is legit, then Squarepusher and Les Claypool could learn something from whomever is responsible for it, as it’s freaking unbelievable.

Paling in comparison but still worthwhile is the theme to the Japanese-only Syvalion, which has a great sci-fi feel that fits its space shooter genre very well. After that there’s an arranged version of the background music (BGM) for the generically titled Namco game Assault, another title that never saw a US release from what I can gather. It’s probably the second-best track on the disc, thanks in large part to its awesome synth guitar solo. MIDI shredding is the best shredding.

Finally there’s the stage one music for Marchen Maze, an isometric platformer based on Alice In Wonderland. As you may have guessed considering its source material, the music is rather jaunty.

All in all this is excellent stuff, and a peek into the era. If you like it, remember you have Anna to thank for it, and if you want to make her happy, follow her on Twitter and visit her website, where she often posts crazy technical videos that are so awesome they make my brain hurt.

And I’ll be back later this week with another Japanese-themed post! Until then, enjoy this 8/16-bit goodness!

5 Responses to “Beep! Magazine video-game flexi-discs!”

  1. noraaselim says:

    Ah, Ninja Warriors. The soundtrack was the best thing about that game. Composed by Zuntata (Taito’s in house band) I would play this game just to listen to the music. Amazing for it’s time. If you ever get the chance to listen to the whole thing I totally recommend it. Especially the track “Daddy Mulk”. Loves it!!! Thanks for your kickin blog 🙂

  2. Drain says:

    So that’s what Arranged means. I’ve noticed that word quite a bit and wonder what exactly that meant, so thanks for explaining what an Arranged Version is 🙂 Thanks for sharing those and I can’t wait until your next Japanese related post.

  3. Alex... says:

    GOD save the Che! 🙂

    …. 404 404 404 404 … error …

    Thanks for your efforts !!!!! Great stuff !!!!!!!

  4. Lost Turntable says:

    link is fixed, thanks for bringing it to my attention

  5. Alex... says:

    Well, magic and very rare stuff L.T.
    Thanks again and happy N.Y. !!!!!!!

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