By Joseph Walter
The "Crush" series is a collection of four (five, if counting the somewhat-unofficial, but definitely horrible, "Dragon's Revenge" on Genesis) pinball games on various consoles, starting with the TurboGrafx-16, moving to the Super Nintendo, then the Genesis, and, finally, WiiWare.
What sets these games apart from other video pinball games is their dark, dreary, and downright creepy aesthetics, along with shockingly excellent scores.
For example, "Alien Crush," the first of the series, takes place inside an H.R. Giger-inspired realm of biological entities and alien beasts. "Devil's Crush," the second, is an occult-flavored masterpiece, tasking the player to destroy demons, druids, and other abominations in a wicked castle setting.
But the one we're concerned with today is "Jaki Crush," the third effort. Its theme is that of Japanese mythology, focusing on a Japanese demon called a "jaki." The music for the main table, while not as remembered as the "Main Table" theme from "Devil's Crush" (something we WILL be covering in future weeks) due to the relative obscurity, is absolutely comparable in terms of quality, and surprisingly varied. Let us listen:
At 1:02, we go straight into the second movement, which is a very cool evolution of the first movement. It takes a more threatening approach, and has a supernatural air about it. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what feelings this music conjures, or even what images it paints pictures of, but I'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of classic video game music that perfectly nails a sound synonymous with the concept. It's not trying to be cinematic like "Super Castlevania IV" or "Chrono Trigger," nor are its instruments attempting to replicate real ones. It's purely video game music, and nails that exceptionally elusive aesthetic.
Again, the sounds they use here are very unique, and the heavier drum beat and newly active bass line is a great accent to the now-prominent synth.
After a brief, tentative bridge that starts at 1:33, the third movement explosively envelops us at 2:03, with all its glory. An elaborate break down of the second movement, the most memorable element is a wildly enthusiastic synth solo, followed by a melancholy backing, finally breaking down even further into nothing but deep drums and quick bits that sound like the Jaki himself scratching a chalkboard before repeating.
Overall, this track nails a very particular mood, but one as a obscure as the game itself. If you're looking for a fantastic example of "video game music," Jaki Crush's Main Table is what you've been seeking.