Ship To Shore Phono Co. has been producing some quality albums. It's the company I got my Mother and Mother 2 soundtracks from, they produced a quality vinyl copy of Axiom Verge, and they've pushed out soundtracks for cult films like Martin and Manos – The Hands Of Fate. They are one of the few record companies in the world making specialty records for the truly weirdest collectors on the planet—myself included. So it was interesting to receive a copy of the Snatcher soundtrack this week on my doorstep as I wanted to see and hear what the company had done with this one.
For those unaware, Snatcher is a Konami title released for the PC in the late '80s and early '90s in Japan. The brought over to the states in 1994 for the Sega CD, then the PlaStation and Sega Saturn in 1996. It's one of the few non-Metal Gear Solid games that Hideo Kojima ever made for the company, in a genre that many wouldn't expect him to work on as one of the few successful cyberpunk PRGs at the time. The game received incredibly high marks at the time, including getting one of the few A-ratings from Entertainment Weekly (back when that meant something) and 4 out of 5 stars from GamePro which was impossible for a lot of games to come close to achieving.
One of the best aspects the game had going for it was the soundtrack, which was a combo of noir jazz with pop-techno. It was the perfect fit for a detective story set in the future with a little suspense and daring put behind it. Over the years, people pirated the tracks from the ROM and created their own copies and samples online, mainly because the soundtrack had only been released in Japan at the time of the game's release and it was hit-or-miss if your CD copy would work in a western media player. So up until now, the only choices fans of the game had for owning one was piracy or experimentation with different copies.
This month, Ship To Shore released the first North American copy of the soundtrack on vinyl, and the company went out of their way on this one to make it feel a bit special. First off, the record itself is this odd but lovely clear tone with a splotch of green in the middle for both LPs. It's a strange aesthetic to see as most people who do clear vinyl are doing it to have the entire record clear, so to see the green in the middle is off-putting, but also nice and daring on the art side.
Speaking of art, the cover is awesome with Gillian Steel and Metal Gear MK.II (oh, Kojima) walking on a red and black cityscape with white highlights. Inside we see the complete case with names, The back featuring Gillian, Random Hajile, and Jamie Seed along with the track listing fits the tone nicely. Inside is a different story as we're presented with two double-sided prints. One featuring two different pictures of Gillian, the other featuring Random on one side and a cast portrait on the other. No liner notes or any kind of bonus info, which is a letdown.
As for the music, this soundtrack has been brought back to life properly. You can tell this isn't just some carbon copy rip from the original game, it's been a completely remastered edition where the horns pop, the beats snap and the tone fills the air. This is the kind of album you want playing in your car late at night as you navigate the highway, having the orange lights dart past you and only the glow of the dashboard serving as your mood lighting. You're on a journey to somewhere interesting, could be your last journey or the start of many, but it will be one for the ages when you reach it. That's the kind of soundtrack you're listening to. Tracks like "Pleasure Of Tension", "Cold Sleep", "Amnesia" and "Plato's Cavern" will find a nerve along your gamer spine and rest there for months to come, playing on a loop in your mind any time you come across a familiar situation.
Aside from the missing liner notes, as well as a failure to include a download code, this is pretty much a perfect gaming soundtrack to get your hands on. It's truly an overlooked masterpiece of that transitional era in gaming when the marketplace was full of different systems. It's a travesty Snatcher was on the Sega CD and didn't become a greater title than it should have been. But at the very least, you have some awesome tunes to listen to in a classic format.