Last month’s announcement of the 17th catalog release from British video game soundtrack vinyl specialists Data Discs was an exciting surprise: Policenauts, Konami’s 1994 graphic adventure game, directed by Hideo Kojima. Available on multiple formats, beginning with the PC-9821 computer, then ported to the 3DO, Sony PlayStation, and Sega Saturn consoles, this spiritual follow-up to Kojima’s classic, Snatcher, never actually got an official release anywhere outside of Japan. Despite this, Policenauts has still managed to gain legendary status among import game enthusiasts and Kojima fans alike.
Odd, then, that Data Discs would put out a soundtrack LP for a game that never got an English-language release (come to think of it, this may be the first and only officially-licensed Policenauts item outside of Japan, ever). But this isn’t without precedent, as Ship to Shore’s vinyl edition of the Lagrange Point soundtrack is another example of an official western product related to a game we never got. (Lagrange Point was a Famicom RPG, also by Konami, that included an FM sound processor chip built into every cartridge, giving it the richest and most unique music of any Famicom game.)
But, “odd” as it may be, it remains that Policenauts does have as rabid cult following, and they (we, actually, as I too am a member of said cult) welcomed this soundtrack record with open arms.
I first experienced Policenauts in 1999, after it was reissued on PS1 as part of Konami’s “PlayStation the Best” budget series. It was my third dose of Kojima’s brilliance, the first having been Snatcher on SegaCD, and the second being Metal Gear Solid (remember, the NES version of the original Metal Gear was somewhat different from the MSX version, and Kojima himself had pretty much nothing to do with it, so Snatcher was technically the first Kojima game we got in the US). I knew it was a similar game to Snatcher, and that there were also Policenauts references in MGS: the most obvious being the poster in Otacon’s office, as well as some of the cutscenes showing mecha from Policenauts and the “doo-doo-doo-doodoodoo…” musical cue at the beginning of the game. So, having been a Snatcher fan and having had Policenauts dangled in front of me by MGS, my natural instinct of course was, “welp, I guess I better play Policenauts next.”
I ordered a fresh new copy from my favorite import game mail-order joint, and after waiting a week or so for it to show up, popped it into my modded PS1 (which is able to play Japanese games, and which I still have, and still use), and proceeded to muddle my way through the game. My limited Japanese-language skills were just barely enough for me to get the gist of what was going on, although I did need to look up a guide to get through the most opaque part of the game: the diffusing of the bomb. Once you get through that, however, the rest is definitely doable. I even found the character from Snatcher who’s hidden in one of the scenes. And little did I know that Meryl Silverburgh — Snake’s volatile partner in Metal Gear Solid — originally appeared in this game.
So yes, despite Policenauts never having officially come out on my shores, I have played it. And finished it. In Japanese. Twice, actually.
But that was almost 20 years ago, and although the game left a lasting impression on me, I confess that I haven’t really revisited it since. So I had little recollection of its soundtrack when I finally received my copy of Data Discs’ Policenauts double LP and got a chance to spin it.
Policenauts’ soundtrack, performed by Konami Kukeiha Club, is a great mix of sweeping cinematic themes and smooth, noir-ish jazz that perfectly accompany the game’s sense of spooky mystery and epic danger. As a soundtrack album, it’s perfect background music for working on things such as research projects or, say, writing a retro gaming blog. This new vinyl release does have the exact same track list as the original Policenauts soundtrack CD released by Konami in Japan in 1995, which at this point goes for stupid money (a quick check on Discogs shows prices ranging from $300-$500 or more), instantly making Data Discs the savior of many.
By now, Data Discs products are known for their high quality, starting with the audio. Presented on two 33-1/3 RPM LPs, this album is mastered very well with a nice, full dynamic range. It sounded great on my external speakers, and wonderful and rich through my headphones.
DD records are also known for their deluxe packaging as well, and Policenauts is no exception. Housed in a wide single sleeve (no gatefold, despite this being a double LP) with an obi, inside you’ll find a 12″x12″ lithograph of the cover art, and a 12-page booklet with a selection of official artwork from the game.
The records themselves were offered in three colorways: the limited black and white swirl, opaque white, and classic black. I missed out on the limited edition this time, so I opted for the white vinyl, which I think is lovely and a nice fit for this record.
Of course, this also makes a lovely companion to the Snatcher soundtrack LP released by Ship to Shore!
I think many more blog posts here on Retro Game SuperHyper will be written to the Data Discs’ Policenauts soundtrack LP, and, as usual, hearing the music again and talking about it makes me want to put the game in my old PS1 and experience “Lethal Weapon in space” for a third time, after all these years.
Please visit Data Discs to order this and many more amazing video game soundtracks on collector’s edition vinyl!