Snatcher Drama CD
Snatcher Drama CD
276A-7713 (1st Edition); KICA-2308 (2nd Edition)
September 21, 1989; May 21, 1993
Buy Used Copy
What we have here is a bit of an oddity. Not only is this the oldest Snatcher album in existence, but it’s actually a radio drama. However, the most interesting part is that this radio drama is completely in English! Why would Konami release an English album when Snatcher was only Japanese exclusive at the time?
Keep in mind that, in 1989, Snatcher had only been released for the MSX2 and NEC PC-8801. Due to hardware limitations, Snatcher had no voice acting and only two of the proposed three acts made it to the final product. It would not be until 1992 that Snatcher was re-released on the PC-Engine Super CD-ROM2 with new graphics, enhanced sound, added Japanese voice acting, and the restored third act. In 1994, the PC-Engine version was ported over to the Sega CD with minor changes. This time, the game was localized into English with a stellar localization. There have been a total of three releases for this album. It was first released on cassette tape and compact disc in 1989. In 1993, the album was released again, but only on CD. With all this in mind, how does the Snatcher radio drama stand on its own?
Even though the voice acting for this album is in English, the performances are simply atrocious. With this coming before the Sega CD release, the voice actors are completely different. While the Sega CD version featured excellent acting, the ones found on this album feel stiff, bored, and uninspired. The voice actor for protagonist Gillian Seed (no sorry, Gyrian Seed as it’s pronounced in the drama) sounds like he’s drunk and not even invested in his performance. To be frank, he sounds almost like Tommy Wiseau from the horrible film The Room. It’s that bad. Furthermore, the overall mixing on this album is very unbalanced. Sometimes the music drowns out the voice actors, making them very hard to understand. Other times, the voice acting just has poor audio quality.
The script that the actors are reading from does not even form a coherent story. Only bits and pieces of dialogue are actually performed here. Although I understood what was going on, this was only due to the fact that I’d played the actual game. One with no experience with Snatcher will likely be lost. “AD 2042 Neo Kobe City” and “Bio Hazard” are the only tracks that really tell any semblance of a narrative. The former is about Gillian Seed saying goodbye to his wife Jamie, before going to work at JUNKER, an organization dedicated to finding and destroying snatchers. The latter is a prologue with the narrator describing a deadly incident that killed 80% of the Eurasian population, snatchers, the formation of JUNKER, and other backstory. Unfortunately, any real story ends here. Later tracks only give us a few scenes of dialogue that make little sense taken out of context. As mentioned before, the voice acting pales in comparison to the Sega CD version.
Not everything on this album is completely terrible, though. On the actual music side of things, I actually found some enjoyment. The music appears to be taken from the PC-88 version of Snatcher, which featured superior audio quality to its MSX2 counterpart. “Twilight in Neo Kobe City” and “Theme of Snatcher” are both fantastic tracks. Both of these have been remixed countless times on later albums, so it’s nice to hear them in their original form. “Theme of JUNKER,” much like “Theme of Snatcher,” is a fast-paced, tension-filled track. “Creeping Silence,” which was actually used in the Sega CD version, is a suspenseful track. Even though it runs far too short, it was an effective piece that worked well when major plot twists were about to be revealed in the game. “Master of Puppets Among the Disease,” features some pretty impressive synth was such primitive hardware. Clocking in at only two minutes, the first half sounds somewhat like a high-pitched music box, while the second half utilizes a lower bass-like sound.
“Theme of Katharine,” (Katrina in the U.S. version) is a sleazy jazz piece that played during one of the more humorous scenes of the game. Katrina is also given another them with “Innocent Girl.” In stark contrast to the playful nature of the previous mentioned track, “Innocent Girl” is a desperate and sad piece that’s meant to convey the loss of her father. “Theme of Jamie,” another character theme, is similar in nature to Katrina’s theme. This theme played during the video phone conversations between Gillian and Jamie. “Restoration/Preasure of Tension/Endless Pursuer” is taken from a scene with Gillian Seed pursuing a snatcher. The different pieces of music flow pretty well together and the added sound effects are effective. This is one of the few tracks with voice acting on this album that’s not a complete letdown. There is also another one of these “medley” tracks with “Spreading Diehard/Eternal Promise (Goodbye Randam).” The first half is unimpressive, only containing a repetitive jingle and footstep sound effects. The second half fares better, with it being more of a sad march. To finish things “Theme of Ending” effectively combines the sadness, danger, tension, and all other themes from the game. I was actually surprised that the whole thing clocks in at nine minutes.
Overall, I have pretty mixed feelings towards this album. The voice acting is poor, the mixing bad, and the original story is almost non-existent. I can’t really even call this a radio drama. I’m not exactly sure what went on during the production of this album. Did they decide to forfeit the whole idea of a radio drama half-way through? Why even use English voice actors for a Japan-only game? The actual music, on the other hand, does provide some levels of enjoyment. Even though I praised some of the tracks, there are much better Snatcher albums out there. If you want a great Snatcher radio drama, I recommend checking out Suda51’s SDATCHER that was released in 2011. As for this album, I cannot recommend it unless you’re the most die-hard of Snatcher fans. Even if you do somehow want it, good luck finding it. With this being the oldest album in the series, it’s been out of print for years and is very rare regardless of which printing you’re after.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Oliver Jia. Last modified on August 1, 2012.