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  • Hokuto no Ken / Black Belt (Sega, ’86)

    Posted on June 16th, 2010 keving 3 comments

    Many retro-fans know that the Sega Master System release Black Belt is a heavily revamped version of a Sega Mark III action game based on the Hokuto no Ken anime/manga property. A smaller minority would also know that both games were programmed by Yuji Naka, part of his rather prolific Sega 8-bit years (Girl’s Garden, Penguin Land, Great Baseball, the SMS port of Spy vs. Spy, OutRun, Space Harrier and Phantasy Star).

    Only a very tiny subset of that group, I’m sure, knows that the soundtrack for these two titles was handled by Katsuhiro Hayashi, a name I last mentioned a couple weeks back when I discussed High School! Kimengumi. You can pick up his distinctive drums throughout. Both music sets are nice, but if forced into a corner on the issue, I would take Black Belt’s songs, which sound more Hokuto-y than Hokuto’s own music.

    Here’s a video of Hokuto in action. This version had a secret warp where if you can defeat a boss without getting hit, you can execute a high jump at the start of the following stage to go right to the boss again.

    And now for Black Belt. Note how the bosses run on largely the same patterns, despite the completely revamped graphics.

  • High School! Kimengumi (Sega, 12/15/86)

    Posted on May 26th, 2010 keving 3 comments

    I’m in the midst of recording more chip music into MP3 format for my portable player, and I finally remembered this time around to snag the main tracks from this Japan-exclusive Master System release, an adventure game based on a quintessentially ’80s Japanese gag manga/anime.

    There isn’t much to say about the game itself, which can be beaten in five minutes and completed with a maximum score like the above video in under ten. Pony Canyon ported this game to the MSX2 platform in 1987, which strikes me as ranking up there with Mathias Rust’s plane trip as the most foolhardy endeavor of that year.

    I like the music nonetheless, some fine stuff from Katsuhiro Hayashi (a.k.a. FUNKY K.H.). Hayashi joined Sega in 1984 at the age of 18 and stayed on for four years, creating such memorable Sega soundtracks as Super Hang-On, Galaxy Force, and the SMS titles Rambo and Black Belt. You can tell his Sega 8-bit output immediately thanks to that “dit-dah dit-dit-dah” drumline that he uses in what seems like every single track.