Well, here it is. The last Wescin Rocks Records project for the year, there’s still a few more collections that will come out down the line, but this is it for 2023. This one in particular is rather different as it hits a bunch of video games that you really wouldn’t expect to get the lo-fi / downtempo / hip-hop chill treatment. Heck some of these have all but been forgotten.
As you might have surmised from the title, the connection to this collection is that these are all games that I’ve specifically worked on, to varying degrees, in my previous games industry life. Unfortunately the non-SEGA ones didn’t make the cut, but if I ever get to Volume 2 I’ll definitely shove at least Heroes of Ruin in there. Although that guy was Ehehewkay and not AAUK… but that’s probably splitting hairs.
1) “Drift Into The Darkness” for OutRun Online Arcade
Also Outrun 2006 and Outrun 2 as well I guess, but I didn’t work on those so OutRun Online Arcade it is.
Taking influence from ‘Night Flight’, a.k.a the track I’ve been saying for the last decade deserves more respect, for what an absolute banger it is. Drift Into The Darkness, takes OutRun a synthy, haunting direction. You can feel the street lights flicking over the car as you cruise the roads at night.
2) “Don’t Mention The Octopus” for Phantasy Star 0
When it comes to the Phantasy Star series I’ve worked on a few games, but none more enjoyable than the mostly forgotten Phantasy Star 0 on the Nintendo DS.
This delicate track shows some love to the theme of Sarisa, a kind and gentle Newman who ends up joining your party as your atypical healer-sort. While very innocent she’s got a bit of spice to her too, and will soon tell you what she thinks of you if pushed. But she’s generally a calm influence. Unfortunately for Sarisa, the thing she’s most famous for is a scene in the game where she gets up close and personal with some enemy tentacles.
Now you know where the track name comes from.
3) “We All Float Here” for Sonic & The Secret Rings
For a series where its music is much praised, even when a game is thought to be utter rubbish, the music normally is deemed the best thing. Secret Rings is one Sonic game where people really sleep on the soundtrack. It’s pretty unique with some bonkers songs and rock out moments. Of those, ‘Unawakening Float‘ – what a name, right? – is one of my favourites. The intense music as the singer dramatically bellows Must I float away? / Will I ever wake?
Given they lyrics, we took the melody from the intro and leant into the dreamy aspect. You can end up anywhere in dreams, so let them take you where you need to go. Just watch out for any red balloons.
4) “Large Magellanic Cloud” for Infinite Space
That’s kind of the problem for Infinite Space. It got rather outshined by literally everything else around it. Another Nintendo DS title, this time an RPG set in the far-flung future where humanity has colonised the stars – even the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. So yes, ‘the LMC’ is actually relevant to the plot!
There’s missing siblings, father angst, anime haircuts and alien plots aplenty in this game about a young boy who wants to be a space captain. Building up a fleet of ships which you then have to use in tactical battles. It’s different, but actually really enjoyable.
Which is why it’s a pity that just after you really start to get going you get your legs cut out from under you thanks to UNWINNABLE PLOT DEVELOPMENTS. Reducing you back down to a zero and, honestly when I played it I just couldn’t get going again after that. Everything suddenly was unwinnable.
This track takes inspiration from two pieces of music from the game: ‘Space Tranquil Pair’ and ‘Chelsea‘. Both of which are very atmospheric and indicative of ‘you are in space’, unsurprisingly. The end result is a light, chill hip-hop track that has a sense of being part of something much bigger.
5) “Rock ‘n Rotor” for L.A. Machineguns
Wait Kevin, isn’t L.A. Machineguns an arcade game? Why yes! But you forget it was ported to the Nintendo Wii in a double-pack with Gunblade NY – and guess who worked on that?
Influenced by ‘Water Raid’, we go from night cafe jazz to flying over the coast and then back to the cafe to round off the night. Plus there’s a little nod to the arcade past thrown in at the beginning – not by me, I might add but the musician I was working with really wanted that in there. I wasn’t convinced at first, but it grew on me quickly.
6) “Drinkin'” for The House of the Dead: OVERKILL
HOTD: Overkill has so many great tracks it was tricky to pick one. Ultimately I decided to save ‘Dim Sum For Papa’ for another day and I frankly wasn’t brave enough to even begin explaining The Brothel Creepers’ ‘One Night In Bayou’ to someone. Instead we have this, which is actually one of the oldest tracks we’ve produced, being one of the ‘test’ projects I sent to some musicians to see how working with them would go.
What we have here is the theme (I guess) of Varla Gunns, ‘Torn Out Twisted’… twisted. The way I described it to them was “You’re in a club’s bar, the noise is too loud and you can’t really hear what anyone is saying. You see a girl and try to have a non-verbal conversation.”
7) “A Tiger Drop In The Ocean” for Yakuza 4
Our first Like A Dragon track! About time…
This one’s also pretty heavy on synths. Taking boss fight track ‘Smile Venomously’ and turning it into something you might hear in the background as you take in the sights of one of the seedier corners of Kamurocho. It’s also got a cameo from Navi in there for some reason.
8) “Escape Notice” for Sonic Unleashed
This is my escape. I’m running through this world
And I’m not looking back
Back to Sonic we go and Sonic Unleashed. My goodness, Sonic Unleashed. The soundtrack to the game also known as Sonic World Adventure is one of if not the best and most well-rounded soundtracks to any game. Not just those featuring the blue speedy one.
Taking its queues from main theme ‘Endless Possibility’ we get a piano reinterpretation of the elements to that song, but the result is still a very different and relaxing beast.
9) “Just The Job” for Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing
Bit of a leftfield choice for this title, because ultimately a lot of the music is related to other franchises just given a bit of a light spin (if any). That essentially leaves doing something with either main theme ‘So Much More…’ or doing something with the incidental music.
In this case we’ve taken the music from the Mission Menu and made it into something more tranquil. You’ve still got the ripple effect that is indicative of the menu theme, but I likened the result to watching the clouds go by.
As for ‘So Much More…’? You’ll have to wait for another day.
10) “In Memory of Whip Select” for STORMRISE
STORMRISE was fun to work on, if only because everything was being done out of the Australian based arm of Creative Assembly and the result was a heck of a ride as you wondered just what the heck was going on. But as much as I joke about STORMRISE, I still maintain there’s a heck of a good game in there. At least in terms of the story. I was invested in that game right up until the point it became an unwieldy mess to control.
Speaking of which, the title is named after Whip Select. The much vaunted control scheme that would allow unparalleled control over your soldiers as you dealt with the verticality of the terrain. The original music wasn’t anything to write home about, and it took a long time to get something suitable. The source was the track ‘Thor’, although this changed several times.
The AAUK Collection: Volume 1 is available now on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and many other places. You can also find it as part of the Instagram/Facebook and TikTok/TikTok Music/Resso/Luna music libraries.