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Crime Crackers Original Game Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Crime Crackers Original Game Soundtrack Album Title: Crime Crackers Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label: Antinos Records
Catalog No.: ARCJ-15
Release Date: July 1, 1995
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Media.Vision's action RPG Crime Crackers was one of the launch titles for the PlayStation, released in Japan during December 1994. Keen to define the new generation of gaming, Sony Computer Entertainment exuberantly funded the project, right down to the soundtrack. Experienced composer Noriyuki Asakura was hired for the project and instrumental performances of the music were streamed throughout the game. It was certainly a fine demonstration of what the PlayStation could do, but does it stand up all these years on?


Crime Crackers' soundtrack was progressive in many ways, but it still maintained one of the defining features of game soundtracks of the time: catchiness. This is first evident in "Assault - The Lightning", which has a very addictive hook running throughout. The funky stylings here are actually pretty reminiscent of the theme songs of '80s cop shows, which is pretty fitting given the style of the game. But it's not complete trash either and clear effort was made to colour the track. The electric guitar solos, keyboard frills, and saxophone interludes, in particular, demonstrate the benefit the use of using streamed instrumental performances. While one of the shallower tracks on the soundtrack, it still makes the most out of the new technology.

Like many of Asakura's subsequent soundtracks, one of the most impressive features of Crime Crackers is its fusions of stylistic elements. In this case, the fusions centre on combining orchestral elements with contemporary music. "Duty", for instance, fuses an anthemic rock sound with some transient cinematic orchestration; it sounds unlikely in theory, but Asakura blends the contrasting elements convincingly and captures both the fun and danger portrayed in the game. Also surprising is how "Crash - Barrett Storm" emerges from its ethereal panpipe introduction into a saxophone-led jam. It's a slight pity that neither of the theme is given the chance to fully loopy, but their extensive and multifaceted development is still highly impressive for their time.

While the introduction of the soundtrack is quite frivolous, there are some much darker tracks on the soundtrack. "Struggle to the Death", despite ripping Peter Gunn a little too closely, is incredibly effective in representing the heat of the action with its edgy brassy orchestration and thrusting ethnic percussion elements. "Devilishness - Ghost Dog" is an impressive example of ambient soundscaping, undergoing sufficient rhythmical and timbral development to sustain interest and surprise listeners. "Delusion - Symphony of the Dead" is the most impressive track on the entire soundtrack. It captures the climax of the game with a striking brassy orchestration and lavish piano decorations. Certainly nothing quite like this was ever created in the Super Nintendo era...

There are also some much more personal tracks on the soundtrack. "Seal - Plot Heart" is another piece written for strings and piano, but the elements are treated in a much more intimate way here. The succession of ending themes are also excellent for quite different reasons. "Hope - Unconnected to All Thought" is a particularly liberating way to unite the rock and orchestral elements of the soundtrack. The soundtrack ends with two vocal themes, the upbeat rock performance "Crime Crackers" and the sentimental ballad "Legend of the Stars". Neither are favourites of mine, in large part due to vocalist Yuko Anai, but they still broke new ground given vocal themes were rare on video games back in 1994.


Overall, Crime Crackers reflected what the PlayStation could offer back in the day. The album sounds a little technologically dated today and isn't quite as artistic as Asakura's subsequent soundtracks to the Tenchu and Rurouni Kenshin series. However, there is a sufficient amount of emotional highlights, memorable melodies, and surprisingly fusions to ensure the soundtrack is entertaining over 15 years on. Those who played the game will particularly enjoy revisiting it.

Overall Score: 8/10