Snatcher Zoom Tracks


Review by · December 18, 2006

Note: The obvious typos on the tracklist are the work of the publisher, and not this website. “Tears stained Eyes” and “Tention” are due to bad Engrish, not bad RPGFan staff.

One of the things I’m known for in the circles I run in is my fondness for power rock. I’m a huge, huge fan of thrashing guitar and wailing synths. Falcom is my church and Ys is my god. What is not commonly known is that I have a passion far greater for something else: jazz. Long before I heard my first taste of rock goodness, back when I was a little kid, I was deep into jazz. It’s a love that’s continued to the present day. The unfortunate thing is that I must be listening in the wrong places, because lately I haven’t really heard much new on the jazz scene. I’ve been a bit starved for it, frankly. It was during this jazz drought that I was introduced to Snatcher, via an online radio channel I listen to.

Snatcher, and its heir Policenauts, are probably Hideo Kojima’s biggest cult titles. Unlike Metal Gear Solid, which has grown to incredible proportions, or Zone of the Enders which has seen a recent revival over rumors of a PS3 entry, Snatcher was never adopted by the general populace. From what I’ve gathered, it received critical acclaim at the time, but had the misfortune of being on the Sega CD which more or less died in a hideous fire of poor PR and a price tag that was a kick in the nads. But one thing the game is known for, apart from its plot which is Hideo’s usual master’s thesis-quality stuff, is the music. And primarily, that music is a fusion of cyberpunk and jazz/blues.

The great bulk of the Sega CD version of Snatcher is produced via the console’s sound chip, which is frankly ancient. However, certain scenes of the game were given primo treatment, which included redbook-quality audio. These tracks were then placed on this album, Snatcher Zoom Tracks, minus the voice-acting present in those scenes. And right from the beginning, the music excels in ways I always dreamed of.

One Night in Neo Kobe City is the theme of the game’s introductory scene and features some really, really cool sax work backed up by blasts from trumpets and thumpin’ drum work. The whole thing package is dripping with jive and really sets the mood for things to come, such as the very next song. Twilight of Neo Kobe City is the song that was replaced by One Night, though both are used in the game. Where One Night was upbeat and in your face, Twilight is more the lounge singer. Blues piano and bass take the center spotlight with most a most subdued groove. It’s the kind of thing you wouldn’t find out of place if you heard it when you were down at a local jazz club. It’s all wonderful, wonderful material.

Of course, a good cyberpunk adventure wouldn’t be complete without some electronica-infused action themes, and Snatcher easily delivers there as well. Pressure (Pleasure?) of Tension is such a piece, with all kinds of electronic blips, beeps, and robotic voices bringing a sense of urgency up immediately. However, the jazz portion isn’t ignored either, with occasional wails from a saxophone butting in and a groovy, sometimes-creepy piano inserting itself around halfway through. It’s all very complicated compositionally and is really pleasing to hear pulled off in a successful manner. Unfortunately, most of the more artificial songs were left to the sound chip to deliver. Many of these did show up later on in additional albums, thankfully.

Honestly, I can’t praise Zoom Tracks enough. It is jazz VGM like none other, a rare jewel that comes along once in a blue moon. Every piece is, in its own way, touching somewhere deep down inside. Even some of the cheesier tracks, like Theme of Snatcher (Part 1) and Faded Memories have something unique and special to deliver that you just cannot miss out on. This is where the bad news comes in: availability. This album is old. Getting your hands on it is going to take some serious digging, most likely through eBay, and even then it’s not guaranteed. That being said, it’s definitely worth the time and effort to locate and procure it and comes with my highest recommendations.

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