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.
This album is actually the second publishing of the CD. And though it bears the exact same album title, it comes with a second disc. The first disc is an arranged soundtrack, which I have reviewed in detail (check out the original 1987 version's review). In summary, it's cheesy '80s goodness.
But I was really surprised by the chiptuned goodness of this soundtrack. I'm fairly certain this is the Famicom version of the original soundtrack, from 1987. It sounds like the 8-bit chiptunes I know and love, after all.
The "Title" music uses the same chord progression as the "Young and the Restless" theme music, so you know we're steeped in '80s cheese from the start. But the music only gets better and better. The "Name Entry / Password" track is over a minute long (a rarity on this short disc), and that is one insanely catchy melody right there my friends!
Throughout the disc, I found a lot of great, catchy, classic Famicom tracks. The percussive sounds and the fast tempos often remind me of tracks from Ninja Ryukenden (known to Americans as "Ninja Gaiden"). The sound design and production, for NES times, is fantastic. In many ways, I think I prefer the OST to the arranged album. These are some fine fine songs from over two decades past.
You may have clicked on this review thinking "wow, what a totally random and obscure CD to cover, and what a random and obscure game!" I often find that things are obscure for a reason: their quality is mediocre. But this soundtrack gives me goosebumps. Get it if you can find it!
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann