Skeleton Krew Soundtrack (Sega Genesis), Nathan McCree, 1995
Games released at the end of a console’s life cycle often end up somewhat lost to the ravages of time – not entirely forgotten by posterity maybe, but still mostly passed over for the incoming generation of new platforms. Skeleton Krew (we’re deep in the midst of 1990s edginess) by Core Design is one such title. An isometric shooter for the Sega Genesis, Amiga and Amiga CD32, Skeleton Krew failed to elicit much interest from gamers and reviewers back in 1995. Its gameplay featured few innovations, while Skeleton Krew’s six levels meant the fun was over fairly quickly. The game’s one standout feature was its presentation (once you looked past Skeleton Krew’s slightly desperate attempt to be all dark, violent and gritty). Clever use of the Amiga and Genesis’ colour palettes, highlighting the surreal H.R. Giger-inspired bio-mechanical artwork, set the game apart from the competition.
And then there were the soundtracks. For the Amiga CD32 version, Martin Iveson composed a jazz/trip hop score, mirroring what was en vogue in contemporary music when Skeleton Krew was in development. The soundtrack for the Genesis port went for a more esoteric approach. It was written by Nathan McCree, who just came off Star Wars homage Soulstar. Now he would deliver a work that was almost diametrically opposed to that earlier game’s busy orchestral sounds. Given the time of Skeleton Krew’s release and its genre, one might have expected an industrial metal or techno score. Instead, McCree goes for something very different: glitchy, dark ambient compositions, a genre that’s immensely difficult to pull off successfully, particularly on a technologically limited platform like the Sega Genesis. As such, McCree’s work is almost unique among 16-bit soundtracks.