Music Appreciation (with Contra: Hard Corps)

I never owned a Sega Genesis so I didn’t get to experience many of the amazing games that weren’t multi-platform. Growing up, I always thought of the Genesis as severely lacking aurally. After hearing music from games like Super Castlevania IV, I would shun many Sega Genesis titles merely because of the stark contrast in audio abilities. One of the titles I wrote off happened to be a classic Contra game. To me, it was just “the game that wasn’t Contra III”.

Over in the SNES side, we received Contra III: The Alien Wars which is an amazing game by all accounts. However, on the Genesis side they received an entirely different game, Contra: Hard Corps. Comparatively, Hard Corps is a much bigger game. To name just a few exclusive features: it had more levels, several playable characters, and secret endings . Like most Contra games, Hard Corps is brutally difficult, especially for the US release. Being older, I now appreciate everything it offers in addition to this, it had one hell of a soundtrack.

I recently heard this Contra: Hard Corps song for the first time in as long as I can remember*:

There’s something about this track that feels perfect. It feels Contra-like. This is what the Sega Genesis should sound like.

The Genesis used a couple sound chips that produced a very unique sound compared to what the SNES could offer. In a lesser person’s hands, the Genesis’ sound chip wasn’t used effectively which resulted in a sound I can only describe as grating and industrial. When composed by a skillful artist who knows their way around the Genesis, it was capable of producing beautiful works that the SNES could never hope to recreate.

A game may be fun, innovative and look beautiful but it’s the sounds and music that are the glue that holds the entire experience together. Think about your favorite video games or movies for a second. While many differences, the commonality will inevitably be the masterfully composed and fitting soundtracks. Take a minute to appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating not just a beautiful video game soundtrack but a soundtrack that is engineered for such a specific sound chip as to fully immerse you in the world that is presented.

*I did not upload the video posted. I apologize if the video ever goes down.