Another foray into video game soundtracks, this time into Namco's arcade classic Time Crisis (which also got ported to the PS1).
Sometimes the simplest plots are the best. A special agent has to rescue the daughter of the president of a fictional European republic from the hands of a huge and evil organisation; becoming quite literally a one man army. Blast though a huge castle, filled with legions of heavily armed soldiers, ninjas, knife-throwing imperialists and demolitions experts, to face leader Wild Dog and save Rachel from his clutches.
I remember being really pleased to get the Time Crisis bundle pack for PS1, which included the superb G-Con 45 light gun (a marked improvement over and above the awful Scorpion light gun and some other models that were available at the time for games like Die Hard Trilogy). This was the first light gun game I had in the home, a near perfect replica of the arcade experience without having to scrounge for coins, and despite it being a relatively short game once you got good, it had an entirely new story on the Playstation version with multiple branching paths depending on whether you completed objectives and whether they were completed quickly or not.
It remains an excellent title, not just for its pick up and play nature, but the presentation and music evokes a big budget action film, with camp dialogue, heavy hitting bullet sounds and vocals shouting "ACTION" "DANGER" and "RELOAD" at the player, set to a tension-building score with sequenced instruments. The score also works well to underpin the violence with each scene as you work through the castle, always staying in the background and almost reacting to your progress as you move from area to area. I'm not sure if the score is played on a tracker system that changes on the fly (like Deus Ex) but it wouldn't surprise me.
But it's when the game ends on the chopper ride home that I want to concentrate on. It's a very cheesy slice of 90s jazz that not only sounds great but rounds off the 20-30 minute experience nicely with something calming that serves to reward your efforts. Its piano chords, synth strings and bell lead line work so well together and the inclusion of some of the sound effects you have been hearing in the score throughout the game remind you that you are still listening to Time Crisis.
A classic arcade title if there ever was one, that set the bar high for the competition and its sequels.