Deep Cuts: Puggsy (Sega Genesis)
While we all enjoy a good Zelda or Mario cover, there are hundreds if not thousands of soundtracks that go unnoticed and unloved. Deep Cuts is a series that seeks to bring attention to lesser-known soundtracks. For this first episode, I reached out to Hyde209 and asked him to choose a soundtrack that is special to him. He chose Puggsy, a 2-d platformer from the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) era with a delightful soundtrack. After listening to the soundtrack myself, it’s easy to see why he fell in love with the Puggsy soundtrack.
What does the Puggsy soundtrack mean to you?
Hyde209: I first played Puggsy during my summer break in 1994, and I fell in love with the character and the game as a whole. The music was so catchy that I recorded what I could of the soundtrack on tape so I could listen to it whenever I wanted. This soundtrack has pretty much followed me over the years, and I still enjoy it very much.
What makes the Puggsy soundtrack unique or special?
Hyde209: Matt Furniss, the composer, is responsible for some of the very best soundtracks in the SEGA 16-bit library. His unique sound is easy to spot, and he always creates fantastic drum samples. Being a drummer myself, that’s something that I really appreciate. A good strong melody is also key in his work.
How did you approach your arrangements of the Puggsy soundtrack?
Hyde209: I like to keep true to the original tracks and focus more on the arrangement and sound. For my Puggsy tracks, I've tried to ease in the melodies with a few bars of just beats and harmonies before the lead melody starts. I also like to create variations, letting different instruments take turns in leading the melody.
What was the hardest part about covering the Puggsy soundtrack?
Hyde209: Staying true to the original while still adding my own spin. The Puggsy soundtrack is also hard to tackle since it has followed me over the years. I know all the tracks by heart, and that makes it a bit difficult to be creative and open for changes.
Did arranging the Puggsy soundtrack teach you anything specific?
Hyde209: I think all soundtracks by Matt Furniss are a good excercise in mixing if you want to stay true to his rich and full sound. It's also a good place to study the importance of interlocking bass lines and drums.
Why should other cover artists pay attention to the Puggsy soundtrack?
Hyde209: Matt Furniss is a legendary VGM composer, and Puggsy has a damn good soundtrack by any standards.
If you’re interested in creating a Puggsy cover of your own, be sure to check out some of MIDI files available from the game at https://vgmusic.com/music/console/sega/genesis/.
Of course, a great soundtrack is only one piece of the video game puzzle. For people like myself who haven’t played Puggsy, I thought it would be helpful to see Puggsy in action, so I reached out to a Let’s Player, MasterMark, who has a complete play-through of Puggsy on his YouTube channel.
Had you played Puggsy before your Let's Play?
MasterMark: The first time I played Puggsy was on my Sega Genesis when I was just a kid. I used to play it with my brother, and we would always have a lot of fun, but we never actually made it to the end of the game. So, I actually did another play-through of Puggsy on my channel back in 2009 of the Sega CD version, and that was the first time I made it to the end of the game.
What makes Puggsy unique in your opinion?
MasterMark: Well, nostalgia is a big reason for me. Puggsy is probably my all-time favorite game on the Sega Genesis next to games like Sonic The Hedgehog, Jurassic Park, and Mortal Kombat.
Puggsy is a game that makes you think. Sonic can be fun, but it’s not as complex as our alien friend Puggsy. Puggsy can grab objects that interact with the world like balloons to help him fly, keys to unlock doors, and various weapons to fight off baddies. This, combined with the amazing soundtrack and strange bosses, kept me coming back to play more.
Could you describe the Puggsy soundtrack?
MasterMark: The intro song is a good example to describe the feeling of the soundtrack—it starts off with slow drones as Puggsy is drifting through space. As he lands, the music picks up, and it’s exciting to see this new world our hero has found. The game carries that feeling all the way through as you explore new lands, wondering what lies around the next corner.
Matt Furniss, the composer, did an oustanding job with this game, and Puggsy was supposed to have a SNES release, but it was cancelled. This would have featured the entire soundtrack on the SNES soundchip, and I believe there was some other goodies as well.
What are some of your favorite levels/stages and why?
MasterMark: The first few levels on the beach are the most nostalgic for me, and this seems to be a common occurrence with nostalgia itself. With movies and other forms of entertainment, the opening is always the most memorable since it restarts the good memory you have of it.
Apart from the first few levels, one of my all-time favorites is Star Fall Lake which has one of my favorite songs of the game and also throws in swimming/water mechanics into the game. The foxes also get diving helmets which is a nice touch. The game has recurring enemies with slight variations on them to keep the game feeling fresh.
Darkblade Forest is also another great set of levels. It has a spooky feel to it with flying candles, trees with faces, and a level where you get chased by a strange creature with no way to defend yourself. Your only hope is to hold it off long enough so Puggsy can escape into the Diamond Mines.
What's your favorite part of the gameplay?
MasterMark: Solving the various puzzles and unlocking the secret levels. A lot of games have secrets, but in Puggsy you can unlock shortcuts and entire new areas by exploring. If you just went through level by level and did not look for secrets, you would be missing out on some the best levels in the game.
Why should someone play Puggsy?
MasterMark: This game is not for everyone—it can be slow sometimes, and the platforming can be very difficult especially on the secret levels (AKA Lunar Jet Pug). It can also be a pain to get a working Sega Genesis with a controller and a copy of the game, but its totally worth it.
I would say if you plan to get a Sega Genesis, this is a hidden gem and a must-buy for platforming fans. Honestly, the game is worth getting just for the soundtrack alone, but there’s so much more to love. Puggsy throws you into this strange new world and makes you think, rewarding inquisitive players with secrets and hidden areas. The boss fights are all fun and fair, as long as you can read their movements. The graphics in this game are great, characters are well-animated, and some effects in this game are amazing for the time/technology available on the Sega Genesis. It sucks we will probably never get to play Puggsy 2, but we can always go back and play the first game to relive the nostalgia.
I hope that you enjoyed this first episode of Deep Cuts! If you’re a video game cover artist who would like to suggest a soundtrack for the series, feel free to message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.