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Thread: Unpopular Opinion: Ecco Cart Soundtrack was better

  1. #1
    Stuck in the Past Shining Hero The Jackal's Avatar
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    Default Unpopular Opinion: Ecco Cart Soundtrack was better

    Basically title. Love, love, *love* the CD soundtrack, but the original cartridge soundtrack is my favourite. Very nostalgic to me. Anyone agree with that?



  2. #2
    Master of Shinobi Mega Drive Bowlsey's Avatar
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    I agree mate. I have Ecco for both the Mega Drive and Mega CD and, as superb as the Mega CD soundtrack undoubtedly is, I absolutely love the original Mega Drive score for this game. It made quite an impression on me as a kid. Very haunting, melancholic and at times genuinely creepy.

  3. #3
    Six Button Shooter Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Cafeman's Avatar
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    Good subject and I feel the same way as you two. As good as the CD soundtrack is, the original cart music had more personality and mood to it. I enjoy them both, but the CD soundtrack isn't 'better' other than being CD quality of course.

  4. #4
    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    I agree that it is an interesting subject. What adds another layer of intrigue is that the Sega CD version with Spencer Nilsen's QSound soundtrack came out about a year after the Genesis original. Yet Nilsen said in an interview the Genesis version's soundtrack was an attempt by programmers in Japan to approximate his CD soundtrack into the FM sound chip found in the Genesis, and that Ed Annunziata had always intended Nilsen to do the soundtrack for Ecco 1. Nilsen could have been misremembering Ecco 2 instead of Ecco 1 for the first point, but not the second point.

    The question then is, why did the CD version take so long to come out if the only real addition, the soundtrack, was ready in time for it to be converted to the Genesis? There were even gameplay changes to the CD version, so it's not that the title lay dormant but finished for a year. There are some questions left to answer about Ecco's development, particularly which soundtrack was the original version and which came after and how involved was Nilsen with the non-CD versions.

    Ecco 2 for comparison came out at the same time for both CD and Genesis, and the CD version was obviously the "true" soundtrack given the interviews Spencer and Ed were giving.

    I don't know which version I prefer, because I haven't been able to finish either Ecco. One day...

  5. #5
    Hero of Algol
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    The CD soundtracks back then had the burden of selling the hardware to some extent.
    Therefore, more often than not they were more intense, loud, multilayered and intrusive than the chiptune versions.

    The ones made by Spencer Nielsen had the extra burden of justifying the investment in the Sega Multimedia Studio IMO.
    So they couldn't be quiet and sparse; but a game such as Ecco requires that at times. The cartridge version has a lot more instances where it's just one or two or thee voices (instruments) being used.

    I like the production values in the Spencer Nielsen works though, none of that was cheap in any way. And they seem to always transport me back to the early 90s when I listen to them. High-end early 90s I'd say.

    I always thought those old CD soundtracks worked better with action-packed games than with atmospheric ones. The seek time and consequent interruptions you had back then even to be able to loop a track were also limitation the chiptunes didn't have (unless you're talking early sample-based stuff such as the SNES).

    Another obscure point I'd bring up is that most of the CD tracks will fall into the mid frequencies while the Mega Drive chiptunes could have a lot more dynamic range to them.
    Bio-Hazard Battle is always an example that comes to my mind as a soundtrack which can go very low and very high, and uses some quite unorthodox instruments.
    OTOH, as far as your regular TV speakers would go back then, I think the CD and sampled soundtracks could give you more distinguishable and recognizable sounds in frequencies where they had been designed to perform.

  6. #6
    Super Sexy Sega Master of Shinobi cowboyscowboys's Avatar
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    Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. The CD soundtrack is god tier. The Genesis soundtrack is medicore and thankfully improved dramatically for the sequel.
    Beat Em Up- Streets of Rage 2
    Platformer- Sonic 3 and Knuckles
    Run and Gun- Gunstar Heroes
    Adventure- Story of Thor
    Action- Shinobi 3

  7. #7
    Now with 33% more @$$! Master of Shinobi Assman's Avatar
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    CD for sure. I'm actually surprised to see such a preference for the cart version; I never thought this was in doubt. I just don't find the minimalist approach with the FM as affectingly moody as the CD tracks, nor do I find it anywhere near as suited to the intended atmosphere. That's not to say that I think it's "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, just that it really doesn't compare.

    The sequel, on the other hand, is a whole other story, and I'd definitely pick the cart version there. The FM tunes are just more memorable and the sound this time around is really no less rich than what's on the disc.

  8. #8
    Super Sexy Sega Master of Shinobi cowboyscowboys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Assman View Post
    CD for sure. I'm actually surprised to see such a preference for the cart version; I never thought this was in doubt. I just don't find the minimalist approach with the FM as affectingly moody as the CD tracks, nor do I find it anywhere near as suited to the intended atmosphere. That's not to say that I think it's "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, just that it really doesn't compare.

    The sequel, on the other hand, is a whole other story, and I'd definitely pick the cart version there. The FM tunes are just more memorable and the sound this time around is really no less rich than what's on the disc.
    This is probably going to be the only place on earth the cart wouldn't get absolutely shit on. Tides of Time is an incredible cart OST.
    Beat Em Up- Streets of Rage 2
    Platformer- Sonic 3 and Knuckles
    Run and Gun- Gunstar Heroes
    Adventure- Story of Thor
    Action- Shinobi 3

  9. #9
    Master of Shinobi Mega Drive Bowlsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboyscowboys View Post
    Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. The CD soundtrack is god tier. The Genesis soundtrack is medicore and thankfully improved dramatically for the sequel.
    lol oh I admit a lot of it could be nostalgia. It's just a soundtrack that I thought was really haunting and powerful as a kid. The CD soundtrack is superb as I said, it's just that I spent a lot more time with the cart version as a kid and didn't get it for the Mega CD until many years later.

  10. #10
    The Cat in the Hat Shining Hero NeoVamp's Avatar
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    The CD music is BEAUTIFUL!! but.. it lacks the required emotion for the scenes.
    its like they asked that Spencer Nilsen guy to just compose some new age tunes without telling him what it was for.

    One example I love bringing up is Jurassic Beach, the story here is that Ecco has to travel back in time to retrieve one of the Asterite's orbs from his former self.
    so after a long journey Ecco finally finds himself at the Atlantean time machine and sends himself back in time, and in the cart version the music that plays when
    you arrive there is this spooky tune that's totally unlike the previous musical tracks. its eerie and fast, showing that Ecco is now in an era that is completely hostile to him.



    But now we have the CD track, Ecco gets send back in time aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand. it feels like he's at some sort of open air concert sitting on his blanket vaping and pretending to be enlightened.



    Every sense of dread is GONE.

  11. #11
    Hero of Algol
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    The instrumentation is far better on the CD, no discussion on that and the cartridge one is mediocre I'd say.
    But the compositions of the cart version are superior and fit the game better.

  12. #12
    The Cat in the Hat Shining Hero NeoVamp's Avatar
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    I don't understand why they didn't just give Spencer Nilsen the sheet music and told him to make it sound fancier, why all this freedom to do his own thing?

    Story: Ecco has to travel the long open ocean filled with dangerous predators to reach the Ice Zone where the Big Blue resides..


    Cartridge music: oooh so many dangers, so cold. don't relax but push on through!



    CD music: eh.. so when's Bjork gonna sing?

  13. #13
    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    I don't understand why they didn't just give Spencer Nilsen the sheet music and told him to make it sound fancier, why all this freedom to do his own thing?
    That's what I was getting at in my post. Nilsen insists that he wrote the music for both versions, and that the CD version is the "true" soundtrack and actually came first, the Genesis version is just an approximation of his original score. I find this hard to believe. No one has really investigated this, specifically which soundtrack came first during development and who wrote it.

    According to Ed, Nilsen was involved from the beginning as Ed wanted a synthetic/aquatic "Pink Floyd" like sound to the game. But somehow the Genesis version came out an entire year before the Sega CD version. Not to mention it sounds very different from the final CD version.

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoVamp View Post
    But now we have the CD track, Ecco gets send back in time aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand. it feels like he's at some sort of open air concert sitting on his blanket vaping and pretending to be enlightened.
    LOL

  14. #14
    The Cat in the Hat Shining Hero NeoVamp's Avatar
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    https://www.sega-16.com/2007/05/interview-brian-coburn/

    Sega-16: What was it like to work with Spencer Nilsen? Hes quite popular among Ecco the Dolphin fans.

    Brian Coburn: Spencer created some great music at Sega and I think Ecco was a great match for his composing style.
    I converted his original tunes for Ecco into Genesis format. I had to recreate all his studio synth timbres using the Genesis fm synthesizer.
    Hmmm so Spencer did supply the sheet music, it just turned out way different than the CD music.

  15. #15
    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    I wonder if Nilsen created a soundtrack, which was converted to the Genesis, then redid it completely for the eventual CD release. That would explain the huge difference between the releases. That would mean the original Genesis release has the "true" soundtrack.

    Someone should ask Brian or Spencer.

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