AGES II: Sega Game Archives Music Arrange Album

When is a Dreamcast game not a Dreamcast game? Why, when it's a music CD of course! AGES II from Japanese studio Woodsoft is just that - it's a music CD full of re-imagined music tracks from classic Sega titles of yesteryear, delivered in a package that looks very similar to a legitimate NTSC-J Dreamcast game case. Released at the tail end of 2014, this is actually the third in a trilogy of compilations under the AGES brand from Woodsoft, and before acquiring this CD from an eBay seller located in Japan, I was totally oblivious to the existence of such a collection. And while it isn't strictly Dreamcast related, I think the intriguing packaging and subject matter make AGES II a perfect subject for a minor investigation here at the Junkyard.
When I first saw AGES II listed on eBay, it caught my attention because I wasn't aware of a Sega Ages collection ever being released for the Dreamcast. Obviously, we have stuff like Yu Suzuki Game Works, but a proper entry in the Sega Ages series never actually came to the Dreamcast and it is that fact which initially drew my eye to it. Upon closer inspection (the description wasn't overly clear on what it was), I discovered that the Dreamcast logo shown in the photos was back to front, and it doesn't say Dreamcast - it says 'Dreamnalt.' AGES II represented something of an intriguing mystery to me, and so off I went to Google to get more information on this Dreamnalt outfit...only to find, well, very little to be honest.
If you search AGES II or Dreamnalt, Google doesn't really produce anything other than a few images from an old Tumblr account and it was only by changing the search terms several times that I came across this review over at Hardcore Gaming 101. It's a review of the first AGES collection which features music from such legendary games as Power Drift, Lunar and Fantasy Zone. From that article, I discovered that Woodsoft have several more CDs listed on the Video Game Music Database (VGMdb), which is a repository of information similar to IMDB but solely for the collection of resources pertaining to music used in games.

AGES II is indeed listed on VGMdb, as are the original AGES and the follow up AGES Gaiden. AGES II completes the trilogy and is fairly similar in packaging and content as the previous two instalments in the series. The tracks on all of these compilations are remixes or 'arrange' versions of popular and well known tunes from some of the most celebrated and influential Sega games of the 16-bit era, and the original composers are credited alongside the artists who created the new versions.  Interestingly, the AGES discs are categorised as 'Dōjin,' which translates loosely to English as a sort of fan-made or collaborative, self-published fan-made work of literature, art, film or music. That explains the use of the 'Dreamnalt' label and the reversed Dreamcast swirl, then.
The inlay for AGES II features some nice imagery of a Mega Drive and a Mega Jet (with an After Burner cart inserted as a nice touch - see above), and overall the whole package feels very well produced. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was hoping for some sort of booklet inside the case to give a few more details on the artists that remixed the tracks. Sadly, all you get is a folded insert with the aforementioned imagery and track listings...but it's better than nothing. The spine card is also worthy of note here. It looks for all intents and purposes like a genuine Dreamcast spine card, but with some cool amendments. It gives details about the content contained within in a very similar fashion to a regular Dreamcast game, but with some cheeky edits:
Need to stop biting my nails.
Here are the full track listings for AGES II:

Track 1 
Game: Altered Beast
Composition: Tohru Nakabayashi / Arranger: TOMAZO

Track 2
Game: Fantasy Zone
Composition: Hiroshi Kawaguchi / Arranger: Sabao

Track 3
Game: Space Harrier
Composition: Hiroshi Kawaguchi / Arranger: Chabinn

Track 4 
Game: After Burner II
Composition: Hiroshi Kawaguchi / Arranger: KuReKa Isatsuki

Track 5
Game: Out Run
Composition: Hiroshi Kawaguchi / Arranger: Rando-K (Mikuruga no Hito)

Track 6
Game: Galaxy Force
Composition: Katsuhiro Hayashi / Arranger: Magome Togoshi

Track 7 
Game: Thunder Blade
Composition: Koichi Namiki / Arranger: silpheed

Track 8 
Game: Super Hang-On
Composition: Katsuhiro Hayashi / Arranger: g+

Track 9 
Game: Sonic the Hedgehog
Composition: Masato Nakamura / Arranger: Puchi

As you can see, all of the games referenced are indeed from the 16-bit era and this adds even more intrigue for me. Why release the AGES series in a box that looks like a Dreamcast game...if none of the music is taken from Dreamcast games? I'm not complaining - it looks very cool and all, but having some Dreamcast-related music on the CD would have put the icing on the proverbial cake.
Even the CD label is an homage to the Dreamcast.
As it is, all of the tracks are cool renditions of classic tunes you'll no doubt recognise...but there's nothing here that is from any system later than the Mega Drive/Genesis. Anyway, here's a video of me opening up my newly arrived sealed copy, along with some examples of the tracks you can expect to find on the disc.

If you'd like more information on the AGES series, be sure to check out the Hardcore Gaming 101 review of the first AGES release. Further details on track listings and release dates for the AGES discs and all of Woodsoft's other compilations can be found at VGMdb.
You can also find Woodsoft's website here, although it is all in Japanese and the usual translation plugins don't appear to work with it for some reason.

1 comment:

hoogafanter said...

While it is strange that they packaged it like that, it's obviously just part of some fun gimmick. Considering Ages vol.1 is basically a Sega Saturn case...