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Sega Touring Car Championship :: Review by Chris

Sega Touring Car Championship Album Title: Sega Touring Car Championship
Record Label: Marvelous Entertainment
Catalog No.: MJCA-00002
Release Date: October 17, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Sega Touring Car Championship was the little cousin of Sega Rally Championship released for Arcades and the Saturn during 1997. While the game was critically panned, the electronic score was largely well-received. The score's production represented quite a change from the normal Sega approach. While a team of in-house employees were involved, there were also vocal tracks and trance tracks outsourced to various professionals. The overall aim was to produce an exciting and varied accompaniment to the game in a modern electronica style. With its hybrid of licensed and in-house original sounds, does the album release come together to form a cohesive whole?


The album begins with three licensed tracks by Avex artists. While a strange precedent to the eventual emphasis on licensed tracks by non-Sega racing titles, these tracks are actually pretty well done. "So High" is a very motivating trance anthem featuring especially emotional female vocals; its production values are probavly higher than pretty much all the other tracks on the soundtrack. "Are You Wake Up", in contrast, is relatively quirky with a series of catchy electronic riffs and the occasional male vocal sample. Needless to say, it's well done once again. Finally, "Don't Drop Me" is a fast motivating anthem with very punchy electronic beats. The female lead vocals are as balanced well as "So High", but bring a lot of emotions to the track and a retro influence. For some reason, this track reminds me a lot of the former pop band Steps, though it's not as bad! All in all, these tracks are big highlights.

The 'trance' section featured between tracks 4 and 9 attempts to give Ridge Racer a run for its money. It only slightly succeeds. "Over True" is a hyper-fast super-happy anthem coloured by various synthpads and piano work while "Brave Nu Charge" is a fairly refreshing blend of hardcore sections and more uplifting anthemic trance. However, "Intense" (well "Intence", whatever) is an extremely repetitious and generic drum 'n bass track with no gaming spirit whatsoever. "Rising High" isn't much better and rather jarring in places, though at least develops a little. Easily the best contribution of the bunch is Riow Arai's "Sonic Drive". It doesn't sound anything like his repetitious Front Mission Alternative work and features a blend of rock melodies and upbeat jazz improvisations. It's wonderfully implemented too right down to the soprano saxophone solo. Apparently a few of his tracks were rejected from Touring Car Championship and that's a big shame considering what they could have done in place of "Intense".

The Sega sound team make their late debut on the album between track 10 and 19, though largely maintain the electronic emphasis. Hiroshi Kawaguchi's "Loose Control" and "Target" both feature hyperactive blends of old-school melodies with modern trance; the latter is especially exciting with its string overtones and vocal sampling. Early in his career, Hidenori Shoji already demonstrates his rhythmical edge with "Inductee" and even blends in some stylish jazz improvisations. There are a couple of less impressive efforts, though. Yusuke Takeda only just seems to be getting the grasp of creating breakbeats in "Cool Tropics" so ends up repeating certain treble elements too much. Although functional in the game, Seiichiro Matsumura's "Condition Red" is even less impressive. Keeping the game spirit alive, at least Matsumara's "Higher Steamer" is a surprising but welcome rock track with a few hints of Sega Rally. On that note, the album ends with a high-octane trance remix of Takenobu Mitsuyoshi's Sega Rally 2 hit "Conditioned Reflex".


Despite its three-tiered hybridised approach, Sega Touring Car Championship comes together as an album pretty well. There is a variation in quality from vibrant hits such as "So High", "Sonic Drive", and "Target" all the way to repetitive stinkers such as "Intense" and "Condition Red". Overall, though, the production values are high in terms of both composition and implementation. There is also a feeling that it is quite pioneering for its time even though its effect was lost given the quality of the game. Regardless of the game, there should be enough diversity and quality here to keep most fans of upbeat electronica entertained.

Overall Score: 7/10