Sparkster (SNES) – “Lakeside (Stage 1)”February 24, 2010
Konami produced many great soundtracks throughout the years, but some of them have been a bit forgotten. One classic from the early 90s, Sparkster (1994) appeared on both the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Though cut from the same thread as Sonic the Hedgehog, Sparkster gives a different feel to the ‘lovable rodent with attitude’ genre that emerged at the time, standing out for its use of a jetpack and sword – and everyone knows jetpacks are inherently cool. The trouble is, the games for some reason didn’t catch on, but remain classics of the time. Sparkster’s upcoming reappearance on XBLA and PSN breathes new hope into this forgotten franchise. While the main theme to the SNES and Genesis versions of the game is similar, the SNES version is far superior due to the bolder synths used.
“Lakeside” has the great adventurous feel you would expect from a game starring a knight with a jetpack launching into the blue. Fantastic trumpet and string synths here are supported by the steady rhythm of the bass line. The trumpet is incredibly bold, with unabashed heroic fifths. If you listen carefully, at 0:19 and 0:33, you’ll hear the strings to kick in with a nice flourish. The second part of the song beginning at 0:36 is dominated by strings. The entire piece gives a sense of floating and sailing at high speeds. This carefree, adventurous hero music is perfect for an opening stage, and fully embraces the feel of flying through the air at high speeds on one of the coolest means of transportation ever invented.
This is a very solid example of standard vgm, but there’s ultimately no harm in that – it’s ultimately accomplishing what the medium does best, and that’s providing fast-paced major-key action music.
The Genesis version isn’t as bold as the SNES one (the two games were actually quite different, with the SNES version considered the better of the two – and this was the closest anyone could get to Sonic without owning a Genesis). Akira Yamaoka and Michiru Yamane’s rendition is a bit more fully developed and has the nice grating sound you expect from the Genesis, along with some great drum synths. Also worth a listen.
The SNES soundtrack was composed by a whole slew of composers (Kazuhiko Uehara, Masahiro Ikariko,M. Matsuhira, Y. Yamane, Akira Yamaoka), the principle of these being Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill, Castlevania Chronicles), who also worked on the Genesis version. Uehara-san and Ikariko-san also worked together on several Goemon games as well as Sunset Riders. However, it’s also notable that Michiru Yamane helped compose the Genesis version of the soundtrack.