Gunstar Heroes! We could go on a rant or two about lost treasures of the Sega Genesis that have been forgotten to time, and this game would be one of the benchmark titles we could discuss. At the time of its release in 1993, it got a ton of awesome reviews and was probably one of the most played games on the Genesis. It also came out at the same time that gaming was starting to take a few new directions, and as quickly as the game came around it was almost as quickly forgotten. But if you had a chance to play it at its height with everyone else wanting to jump in on the game, you’d like exactly how magical this game was as far as early ’90s titles go.
Data Discs, a London-based record label dedicated to releasing video game soundtracks, got the chance to remaster and publish the game’s entire soundtrack on vinyl! We were very fortunate to be one of the few to get a copy and review it in all its glory. The first thing we’re going to address is the packaging, which is adorned with concept art and illustrations from the M2 archives in Japan. These are magnificent and give a lot of insight as to the design of the game during an era of significant change in graphics and style.
The inside of the album is much the same with some awesome poster art of the original cover one one side and a full display of the cover art on the other. If I were a teenager with a video game room again, this would absolutely be on my wall in seconds. The presentation and the gloss are great. Then you move onto the sleeves themselves, which feature even more amazing designs. If you were really into this game as a kid, this is basically the treasure trove of concept art. This is the kind of stuff I wish appeared in the manual for the game.
Then we look at the vinyl records themselves, which are presented as 180g in very bright candy colors of red and blue. To the touch, they are well produced and well cut, the company clearly spared no expense in making sure these weren’t just garbage pressings that came out of a factory. Each one plays like a dream with no errors or cuts to skip, not a single imperfection on my copy to cause any hissing, popping or scratching.
As to the music itself, this is one of the better recordings I’ve heard of an old-school soundtrack. Sometimes when you put digital tracks that are specifically designed for another platform like gaming onto vinyl, you end up losing a little in the audio translation. One a few occasions I’ve received an album of a game I own or have played, and I can hear very specific additions on my television or computer that don’t come off in a soundtrack on CD or digital release.
Data Discs has managed to capture Gunstar Heroes perfectly, capturing every small drum beat and synth tone to perfection. This is the kind of soundtrack you work out to, you run with, you punch a bag and train to. Each track will get you excited to do something and get the heart racing just a bit. Even if you didn’t play the original, this is motivation music in all of its 16-bit glory. I personally recommend Stage 4 Boss on the C-Side if you’re looking to run up steps like Rocky, but that’s just me.
The Gunstar Heroes soundtrack an amazing effort by Data Discs and a must-own if you’re into gaming soundtracks. The Mega Drive/Genesis days for SEGA has a lot of cool games, but there aren’t a lot where you can point to the soundtrack and say “that’s amazing.” This is one of those few and it is totally worth your time to at least check it out.