01 - Opening Theme
02 - Leblanc
03 - Meeting in the North
04 - Good Luck
05 - Makiko and Megumi
06 - Okhotsk Vanishes
07 - Life in Susukino
08 - Pursuit
09 - Fighting Shunsuke
10 - Ending Theme ~ A New Departure
One of the oldest graphic adventures to come from Japan has somehow managed to escape any presence in North America. Originally released for PC60 (the precursor to PC88) in 1984, the game was ported and re-released many times in the 1980s, culminating in the 1987 release on the Famicom, which many Japanese gamers consider to be the "definitive" release of the game.
Before Kojima's Snatcher, and long before the popular comedic "Phoenix Wright" graphic adventure series, Hokkaido Serial Murders struck gold by having a dark, but appealing, story, manga visuals that fit the style of the time, and a pretty interesting soundtrack to boot. Historically, the game is important because it was created by Yuji Horii (Dragon Quest, et al). But let's get down to the music.
Now, of course, this is an arranged soundtrack. It's a mix of mostly high-grade MIDI (for the time) with some live instruments recorded over the MIDI mix. And I'm going to summarize the nature of this soundtrack real quick here: it's quintessential '80s. The electric piano rules the day. When they experiment with time signature, they go all out; otherwise, it's usually a driving 4/4 beat. But even with the typical '80s crap involved, that doesn't mean it isn't fun to listen to.
In fact, I really enjoyed this soundtrack. The melodies are strong and quite memorable. Compared to soundtracks for other early graphic adventures (including Koichi Sugiyama's "Angelus: The Devil's Gospel"), I'd say this is one of the best. And until recently, it had been overlooked by the English-speaking game music community. Having recently discovered it myself, I must say that it's a worthwhile purchase.
But let's face it: you're not going to find this 1987-printed CD. The good news is that a two disc version exists, and it was printed in 2002. The first disc of that set is this same disc, and the second disc of that set is the true "original soundtrack." So if you're interested in this soundtrack, try to find that version.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann