Battletoads Soundtrack (NES), David Wise, 1991
The Battletoads soundtrack might be David Wise’s best and most creative NES score. That’s certainly no small feat – after all, Wise scored a whopping 46 NES games during his prolific career. Of course, a soundtrack release was all but impossible in 1991. It took until 2015 – when enterprising game music label iam8bit released a raft of Rare scores on vinyl – that the Battletoads soundtrack received its belated, but very much deserved album release.
Mind you, it wasn’t quite the deluxe product you would hope to see from a commemorative release like this. iam8bit’s album was missing the DMC samples Wise used, for example the drums on “Title Theme”. It does make you wonder what materials the album producers were working with. Thankfully, this can’t distract from the eccentric brilliance of Wise’s work. A comparison with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES games and their music is not only apt, but also proves insightful. The Konami titles took the new jack swing genre popular around the late 1980s and early 1990s and harnessed its fusion of hip-hop, dance pop and R&B to generate the kind of hard-swinging urban cool that would fire up gamers. Battletoads, on the other hand, has something very different in mind.