A Year of YM2612

Rambo III (written up by guest-writer and all around good fellow Brandon Teel of Andore Jr. fame) should be coming up relatively soon, but I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that that is the last game of October 1989, and therefore the last game before the Mega Drive celebrates it’s first birthday (and it’s second month anniversary in the US, a fact I forgot to mention in my haste to not update)

The earliest Genesis launch ad I can find, selling the arcade fidelity of such classics as HOLLO FIGHTER and SOCCER

To celebrate this occasion, and to distract the reader from that due to my extreme lack of a work ethic that this is nearly the one year anniversary of this website, I’ve put together a small gift for the people playing along at home. Though I don’t really talk about it as much as I probably should due to a lack of technical knowledge, the Mega Drive’s dual sound chips (The YM2612 and Texas Instruments SN 76489 Programmable Sound Generator, for those keeping track of extremely specific things at home) were capable of some pretty astounding stuff. To this end, I put together a mix cd of some of the best music from the first year of the Mega Drive’s life. Every non-sports title is represented by at least one track, which really speaks to the musical quality on display here.  Astute minds will notice that Tokuhiko “Bo” Uwabo is heavily represented on the track list. This is clearly intentional, as the man is responsible for some of the best music in the Mega Drive library, and was quite prolific in the system’s first year. Sadly, his output slows down dramatically after this, but there’s still some pretty high quality stuff on display here. Leave a comment if you like or hate this sort of thing, and I may do it periodically from here on out.

Here it is, all tagged and sorted in high VBR mp3 for your edification. Click the album art to download

And since this is the first year of games, I may as well go ahead and point out the best and worst the preceding 12 months had to offer. The worst is easily Super Thunder Blade, to the surprise of no one. The best is a little trickier.  Objectively, I know the best game is Phantasy Star II, but the endless grind and mazes really make it kind of a chore.  Space Harrier II is an incredibly strong game, but still lacking compared to it’s arcade prequel. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is probably my single favorite game from the past year, but it will be eclipsed pretty quickly. As far as games I feel I was too harsh towards, revisiting Last Battle was a treat once I had fully braced myself for what a weird and kind of bad game it was. Arnold Palmer’s Tournament Golf is also pretty fun, and has some amazingly subversive lounge music that predates glitch-hop by a full decade. As far as launch window games go, I can hardly complain about the first year of the Mega Drive.  And this is where the system really takes off. November is the last slow month for Mega Drive releases, then December has nearly as many games as the rest of the year combined, and it just escalates from there. I sincerely hope you stick around to see how that pans out.

Lastly, some thanks are in order. Most immediately, I want to thank the intrepid musical corsairs over at Project 2612 for ripping the soundtracks I used to make the mix cd.  That work was all them, I only fixed some of the looping to get the cd in under an hour and re-encoded the files to MP3. I’d like to, as always, thank Doctor Sparkle for inspiring the project and also being the type of guy who can discuss the musical merits of Magma at 1 AM. Then there are the people who’ve been ringers for me when I thought about giving up the entire project, so thanks to Andrew, Griph, Devin, Joey of the On The Stick podcast, and the whole of the Andore 7, as well as frequent commentators Nicola, Samael, Chris, and too many others to mention. We have 21 months and roughly a gross of games to go before the end of this project, and I sincerely hope to see you all then!

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3 Responses to A Year of YM2612

  1. Nicola Nomali says:

    A thousand layers of parallax scrolling all around me

    My Megadriver heart on fire

  2. Alexandra says:

    So glad you’re back! I love your smart write-ups, and this first-year music compilation is a great little present to us gen-x game nerds. My favorite blog? IT’S MORE LIKELY THAN YOU THINK.

  3. Samael says:

    Bizarrely, out of all the honors and awards I’ve received for my writing, it’s being on that list of names before the “too many others to mention” that means the most.

    Especially since I partially confused the Megadrive Ghouls ‘N Ghosts with the Japanese Supergrafx one, and gave it the credit for being the first 8 megabit Genesis game that Strider deserves…

    But nevermind that. Here’s looking forward to the next year of looking back. You’re one of the few writers who can write a review as well as any movie critic. It’s rare we’re rewarded for having a working mind, and approached on that level.

    Thank you.

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