Mickey’s Speedway USA Soundtrack (N64), Ben Cullum, 2000
For a few years, it felt like Rare just couldn’t help producing outstanding games for the Nintendo 64, titles that were bound to be classics – Blast Corps, GoldenEye 007, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Perfect Dark… it seemed that Rare couldn’t go wrong. That winning streak came to an end in late 2000 with Mickey’s Speedway USA. The verdict from reviewers was almost universally that yes, this was a decent enough game, with the usual depth and amount of content one had come to expect from a Rare title. But compared to its spiritual predecessor Diddy Kong Racing, Mickey’s Speedway USA fell decidedly short – unlike GoldenEye 007, this was not a game that transcended its origins as a licensed title.
In other words, this wasn’t the kind of game one would expect to produce outstanding music to rival Rare’s best scores. To make the Mickey’s Speedway USA soundtrack an even less likely success, it was the first – and so far only – game score written entirely by Ben Cullum. Outside of Mickey’s Speedway USA, Cullum mainly provided character voices for several Rare titles (including Falco in Star Fox Adventures, for which he also wrote additional music). His career continued outside of the game industry, writing his own songs and some for his brother Jamie Cullum, as well as creating TV show themes and producing records. As such, Mickey’s Speedway USA remains a one-off in Cullum’s body of work – but he no doubt makes the most of this opportunity.