exodus fortninety I replayed F-1 Live Information last year as part of a feature on the Sega Saturn Racing Controller for the 25th anniversary of the console. The picture-in-picture feature is a nice testimony of developers from that era exploring what was possible with 3D, but it does tank the framerate significantly. Fortunately you can turn it on and off at any point. What’s funny is the picture-in-picture option, which was kept in the Western version, makes much less sense without the context of a fake “live TV” coverage. I guess F1 was not that popular in the US anyway so maybe it was not such a big issue? But definitely a big miss for European fans. For F-1 Live Information → F1 Challenge, some fill-in BGM was commissioned to Richard Jacques by Sega of Europe when they brought the game over. The track posted by Brandon is from the intro so it’s present in all versions.
If you are fans of T-Square, you probably know all these racing games are just mimicking the Fuji TV anthem. Many Japanese F1 games in the late 80’s went for a similar mood during Sennamania, although the results were less obvious or less convincing until the CD-ROM became prevalent.
Speaking of Saturn racing sims from 1995, games that play better with the Racing Controller, and American players receiving different contents, Gran Chaser is another highly underrated title. Here is what it looks like:
Gran Chaser has my favorite boost system of that weird golden age of futuristic racers (F-Zero, Megarace, Hi-Octane, Wip3out, Xtreme-G etc.): instead of an energy reserve that would deplete until refilled at a certain point on the track, or bonus items to collect on the way, Nextech applied a sort of “stamina” system to the boost gauge, akin to the one that Monster Hunter made ubiquitous in action adventure games around a decade ago. It made the driving both technical but also more versatile. It was also the only racing sim with a multiplayer mode on the Saturn for a while! I never quite understood why the game is not more beloved among Saturn fans…
Anyway, the reason I am bringing it up here is that there are two completely different soundtracks for the game.
The original Japanese version was composed by Hayama Kōji, composer of the Chō Aniki series and a bunch of other Masaya games on the PC Engine. It had that typical synthrock vibe from the era, but also explored many different moods to illustrate the adventure and tuning segments between races. In the context of 1995, the breadth of the sountrack and the still relative novelty of CD audio, as well as getting dubbed dialogues in the adventure parts, gave a real “next gen” vibe to the experience.
For some reason, most of the original soundtrack was removed in the US and replaced with music from a band called the Bygone Dogs in the local version known as Cyber Speedway. I have only heard of the Bygone Dogs via this game so please tell me if somehow it made any commercial sense for the US market in 1995. Let’s just say, very diplomatically, it gives a completely different vibe to the game and to its vision of what the future could bring.
Europe got the American title but the Japanese soundtrack, possibly thanks to the miraculous mess of negotiating music rights on a global scale, or just sheer good taste.