Friday, May 8, 2015

VGM-FACE OFF PRIMER ADDENDUM: Part 8 of 10: Wolfchild SNES vs Genesis VERSION OFF!

For the Introduction/explanation to this mini-series, here's Part 1. The original VGM FACE OFF Primer post this is all based off of can be found here. For your convenience, here are the tracks again. Please listen to them BEFORE reading my write-up:



In the case of the WolfChild VERSION OFF:

Which version was the original? Well, ultimately, neither of them. The Amiga version was the original version, and since I have no idea which came out first of the SNES and Genesis versions, I guess we’ll call that a draw. However, since the Genesis version features a Matt Furniss retooling of the Martin Iveness Amiga original, while the SNES and Sega CD version feature versions of a COMPLETELY new soundtrack, I guess we’ll call the Genesis version the original.

Familiarity/Novelty Disclosure: I somehow happened upon a copy of the Genesis version in the summer of 1994. This is the summer after finishing middle school, and before starting high school. This is the summer of Black Hole Sun, and my discovery of Grunge and Metal in general (my parents kept us relatively sheltered before this), this is the summer I got braces, this is the summer Taco Bell introduced the seven layer burrito, and this is the summer I discovered a particular one of the countless swimming pools in the Des Moines metro, one that I still frequent all these years later. The Genesis version of Wolfchild, as well as Shinobi III, and a handful of other games were the soundtrack to those days and those things, and will forever bear an inseparable cross-association (both Wolfchild making me think of those things, and those things making me think of Wolfchild.) I was vaguely aware of the SNES version at the time, and played it once or twice with the sound off at a used game store. But it wouldn’t be till the very very late 90’s that I’d actually get a copy of the SNES version, and it also wasn’t till then that I heard the soundtrack.

System hardware preference disclosure: [THIS IS A VERBATIM COPY/PASTE OF MY ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION FROM THE STREETS OF RAGE VS SUPER ADVENTURE ISLAND VIBE OFF POST] Back in the day I was exceedingly pro-SNES in pretty much every way - including sound system preference. In 2003 or so, I began to find myself changing my preference to become pro-Genesis in most ways, but didn’t become pro-Genesis in the sound department till about 2009, 2010 or so. I ended up as strongly pro-Genesis on sound as I was pro-SNES way back when. While I would still call myself pro-Genesis now, I’ve been finding myself drifting back towards the center on the matter of late. Frankly, smack dab in the middle is precisely where I want to be. These two systems’ sounds are such a give-and-take, pros-and-cons trade-off, that I really can’t call them anything but a “tie”, a “draw”, a “stalemate”…you pick your word, I guess. So, if that’s where I am objectively, I’d really like to be there subjectively as well. I guess we’ll see where I am in the next year or so. There’s SOOO much more that can be said about Genesis sound vs SNES sound. A few years ago I wrote a series of articles about the 16-bit console wars that appeared in an online magazine that’s now defunct (and the website pulled down). The articles went into a lot of depth on the matter. At some point in the future, I plan to dust those off, retool them for the blog medium, and post them here as a series. I guess I’ll save the in-depth SNES vs Genesis talk for those posts.

My verdict: Genesis version.

Why? First, let me say that I love just about everything about the SNES version. It’s a fantastic track! It’s actually the only track where I prefer the SNES version to its Sega CD counterpart (though the two are surprisingly close to being identical). Let me also say secondly that really neither version does a tremendous job of matching the feel of the level they take place in. They take place in this old decrepit temple filled to the brim with large bugs (including man-sized cockroaches that walk upright and fire projectiles at you) as well as spike traps and boulders. Neither of them really capture that vibe. BUT, I think the SNES version misses it by an even larger margin than the Genesis version. As catchy and punchy as the Genesis version is, there’s a certain darkness to it, and the plinky melody is a bit exotic sounding, fitting the old temple vibe just a bit better than the splashy jazzy slap bass SNES track. Also, while I have nothing to complain about at all with the composition and arrangement of the SNES version itself, it just doesn’t seem as inspired as the Martin Iveness via Matt Furniss Genesis version. Plus, come on, the pimple-faced 14yr old sudden-metal-head in me still loves his seven layer burritos poolside with his favorite jams!

Was this a close contest? ABSOLUTELY! I really came sooooooo close to just punting and calling these a tie.

So, what about you? Agree? Disagree? Think I'm totally nuts? There's a comments section. Light it up!

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