Sometimes a song gets stuck in your head. Sometimes it get stuck there for over 20 years, Such is the case of Sega's Quartet for me, composed by the relatively unsung Katsuhiro Hayashi. He was a master of FM Synthesis that worked with Sega from the 80s and left several years back, but his work on this game is every bit as memorable to me as legends like Koji Kondo or Nobuo Uematsu. If you need to know what FM Synthesis is, just click here
, but if you've played any old Sonic game or just Etrian Odyssey, you can expect some great stuff in the video links below.
Quartet isn't a game that would stand the test of time. It was - more or less - Sega's answer to the first four-player arcade game, Gauntlet. Yeah, yeah, WARRIOR NEEDS FOOD BADLY
. That Gauntlet, but this is about Quartet. It clearly wasn't a winner for arcade nostalgia, but perhaps after this post you'll see why it should earn some.
So have a listen as you read!
Click here to start the music.
During the summer of '87 my mother and stepfather worked at a booth at Water Country USA in Williamsburg, VA. Pretty much every day of the summer I was wandering around the park, which was more freedom than a ten year-old usually gets. I'd start with the wave pool, then move over to the relaxing inner tube river, fetch food and drink for my parents, attend the stunt diving and sea lion show - because seeing divers light themselves on fire and sea lions spit on hosts never gets old.
And just about every moment in between those I could be found in the arcade at the Quartet machine. I always found it a touch strange that people with sopping wet swimming trunks, swimsuits and hair were allowed around these electrical coin ops, but then, it was a water park. It also had a distinct smell from other arcades - the typical mix of cork, burnt wood, nicotine, dried bubble gum, spilt sno-cone syrup, cola, candy corn and popcorn were now accompanied by a layer of chlorine.
Quartet was a side-scrolling platform shooter perhaps best described as Contra with jetpacks and lots of death. Players worked together to defeat enemies, find the key and complete the level and in the meantime, ninja loot power-ups and screw each other over so everyone could try to get bragging rights at the end of the level. Anyone that's played Bomberman, Zelda Four Swords, New Super Mario Bros. Wii or just Uno knows the experience I'm getting at.
Its like this with more back-stabbing.
Those that owned Spiderman: The Video Game on Genesis might be interested to know that "Oki-Rap" and "FM Funk" were snatched from Quartet for some of Spidy's music.
Sega later released remastered editions of many Sega classics in the Sega Ages collection on PS2, but Sega being the cruel bastards they can sometimes be, they released none of them
in the West. I'm still rather bitter about that point, actually, but this is the same company that still hasn't made Shenmue III and seems reluctant to rerelease their Dreamcast classics in a logical fashion.
Oh well, at least Jet Set Radio is doing it right.
Still, thanks to the eventual rise of YouTube, some of the arranged music
was able to reach our ears and it was pretty good stuff. Some of Katsuhiro Hayshi's work even has made its way into Project Diva Arcade
in Japan, so while Quartet may never see a rerelease or a XBLA/PSN remake we'll always have the music and that's something.