Spyro Soundtracks, Part 2

permalink         categories: technology         originally posted: 2006-11-30 04:37:16

Since my original posting, I've learned even more about the Spyro soundtracks. Specifically:

  • I've uncovered seven new Spyro 1 tracks.
  • I've found three new Spyro 2 tracks.
  • I've discovered three new tracks that I don't even know which game they came from, though I suspect they're from Spyro 3.
  • I've learned that we US citizens are lucky with regards to Spyro 3. (And Spyro 2 too, though less so.)
Read on, for a treatise in minutia!

The EU Editions

Reader Scott Jackson emailed me saying that my "channel map" for Spyro 2 didn't match what he had—the tracks were all wrong. He correctly guessed it was because he has the European (EU) edition, and I have the US edition, and they must have changed things around between the two.

Scott wrote up a "channel map" for Spyro 2, and discovered that it had an extra track! When he told me that, I knew I had to hear it for myself. So, via the wonderful world of Amazon.co.uk, and my sister (thanks, Carolyn!), I got my hands on the EU editions of all three Spyro PS1 games. All three of their "channel maps" are different from the US versions, and their content is different too:

Spyro 1 EU
Spyro 1 EU has a mind-blowing seven extra tracks. Five of the seven are what I'd call "slow" versions of tracks I already knew from the US version:
  1. Confronting Metalhead (Slow)
  2. Confronting Blowhard (Slow)
  3. Beast Makers World (Slow)
  4. Confronting Jacques (Slow)
  5. Icy Flight (Slow)
One is more like a different mix of a familiar track, the one Louis K. Thomas called "Alternative 2". and one was a wholly new track. I can't describe the new track very well; all I can say is that it just sounds Spyro-y to me.

The US version filled out its STR files with eight duplicate tracks; I'm glad to see the EU version put the space to better use!

Spyro 2 EU
Spyro 2 EU, as Scott discovered, has one extra track. It's not used anywhere in the game that either of us can recognize. Mostly it sounds like "Hurricos", with some minor elements of "Aquaria Towers" mixed in. Also, the EU version of "Bagpipe Blarney" sounded a little slower... I wonder what's going on there.

Spyro 3 EU
Spyro 3 EU, sadly, was missing eight tracks:
  1. Country Speedway (reuses "Harbor Speedway")
  2. Crystal Islands
  3. Dino Mines
  4. Haunted Tomb
  5. Honey Speedway (reuses "Harbor Speedway")
  6. Lost Fleet (I bet it reuses "Sheila's Alp")
  7. Mushroom Speedway (reuses "Harbor Speedway")
  8. Trick Skating / Rescue The Lost Wolf (I bet it reuses "Enchanted Towers / Sgt. Byrd's Base")
That explains why the Spyro 3 soundtrack I downloaded years ago had "Harbor Speedway" labeled as "The Speedway Theme", and was missing some random tracks... in all likelyhood the person who ripped it had the EU version.
And there's more bad news. For the EU editions of Spyro 2 and Spyro 3, they down-converted the music into mono. (My US editions have stereo, which understandably is much nicer.)

Why'd they down-convert the music? That's an easy one. Spyro 2 and 3 have a lot more dialog audio than Spyro 1 does, and while the US version only has the dialog in one language, the EU version has it in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German). Happily, the EU edition of Spyro 1 has the music in stereo, so those seven extra tracks are unadulterated.

And yes, I've made new channel maps for the three EU releases. You can read them here:

Channel map for Spyro The Dragon (EU)
Channel map for Spyro 2: Gateway To Glimmer (EU)
Channel map for Spyro: Year Of The Dragon (EU)

The Demos

Once Scott put the idea of my head of "different releases have different music", I had a flash of inspiration: I already had an alternate version of Spyro 2.

Insomniac Games, the creator of the Spyro series, has a very chummy relationship with another Playstation developer: Naughty Dog Games, creators of the Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter series. Back in the Playstation (1) days, their games often shipped with demos of each other's games as badly-kept secret bonuses. If you start the Spyro 2 CD in your Playstation, then make some strange secret keypresses, you can play a demo for Naughty Dog's game Crash Team Racing.

And vice-versa. The PSX game Crash Team Racing by Naughty Dog has a demo for Spyro 2. I have a copy, as it is one of the great cart racers, even today. I popped it in, found that it had a Spyro demo directory with a STR file, and ripped it with PSMPlay.

And I was dumbstruck! The demo has four songs, each one exactly 1:45 long, and two of them are unique. In order:

  1. "Colossus",
  2. a sparser mix of "Sunny Beach",
  3. a sparser mix of "Skelos Badlands",
  4. and "Magma Cone".
What's so very strange about this is that you can't play "Sunny Beach" or "Skelos Badlands" in the demo. The demo has just two levels, "Colossus" and "Magma Cone". Compounding this strangeness, the demo has all the dialog audio for "Sunny Beach" and "Skelos Badlands", including a couple snippets that I don't think got used in the full game.

Did they originally plan to ship the demo with four levels? Are the other two levels actually there, and hidden somehow? I suspect I will never know.

Egged on by this, I bought the "Crash Bandicoot Collector's Edition", which by happy coincidence contains all three of the Crash games that have Spyro demos. Sadly, the demos for Spyro 1 and Spyro 3 didn't contain any new tunes, just tracks I already had (and which they'd shortened). Oh well, maybe I'll play some Crash Bandicoot: Warped or Crash Bash someday.

More (Yes, More!) From Stewart Copeland's Web Site

Stewart Copeland has posted another fourteen Spyro tracks to his web site's "multimedia" section. Go to this page:
Stewart Copeland Multimedia
and click on one of the orange ":: On Air ::" buttons. It'll launch a pop-up media player. The tracks are 56kbps MP3 files, so it's not fantastic quality, though it does a better job of preserving the treble than the ADPCM used on the game CDs. But still, it's nice to see.

These tracks were taken from Spyro 2, Spyro 3, and... well, who knows! Three of the tracks aren't in any of the STR files, and I suspect they were never used in any of the games. Though, given the distribution of the tracks, I'm guessing they're all from Spyro 3.

Mr. Copeland's site doesn't give the tracks proper names. For your reference, here are my names for the tracks, based on where they came from in the games. Tracks that are shorter than normal marked as edits.

  1. Colossus (Spyro 2)
  2. Ocean Speedway (Spyro 2)
  3. Metro Speedway (Edit) (Spyro 2)
  4. Hurricos (Edit) (Spyro 2)
  5. Idol Springs / Fracture Hills (Spyro 2)
  6. Unknown track!
  7. Crystal Islands (Spyro 3)
  8. Fireworks Factory (Spyro 3)
  9. Sunny Villa (Spyro 3)
  10. Unknown track!
  11. Unknown track!
  12. Dino Mines (Spyro 3)
  13. Charmed Ridge (Spyro 3)
  14. Haunted Tomb (Spyro 3)
Note: if you're very clever indeed, you can figure out the paths to the MP3 files themselves. I only noticed by accident, looking at the log of my web filter proxy.

In-Game Movie Soundtracks

So here's the final bad news: the background music for the movies in Spyro is not extractable, or at least not in isolation. As I had feared, the character's dialog during the movies is pre-mixed together with the music, and it's not possible to separate the two.

How'd I figure that out? I ran the games on my PC, under an emulator called ePSXe, and used a special audio driver that let me monitor the simulated sound hardware. Then I started a game and monitored it as it played the intro movie. When a movie is playing, there's only one audio track active. Sigh.

However, the sound from the movies is extractable, by using the same special audio driver. I may yet extract them and convert them to FLACs. It'd be a lot of work, though; Spyro 3 has cheat codes you can enter to watch the movies, but with Spyro 2 and Spyro 1 I'd have to play the game for real in the emulator. (Yes, Spyro 2 has a "movie theater" you can use to watch the movies, but you only get that at the very end of the game. I guess I could dig out my DexDrive and see if I could convert the savegames... again, sigh.)

Stewart Copeland, On Spyro, On YouTube

Sony used to have a quarterly "news" release called "PSX Underground". Not a magazine, it was actually an interactive CD you could "play" on your Playstation, with tips, and previews, and secrets.

And interviews! For one edition they interviewed Stewart Copeland on his soundtrack work for Spyro 1. You can see it here:

Stewart Copeland interview
I was surprised to discover Mr. Copeland's dedication: he says he finished every level before writing the music for it! If he kept that up through all three games, well, bully for him!

A Plea

There is yet more to do on this topic, and I can't do it all myself. If you've read this far, perhaps you could help? [Edit, 2008/02/25] There were originally two pleas in this section, the first asking for help getting the Japanese releases of the two games. Since then I've bought them mailorder from Mail Order Japan. I extracted the audio and made a quick pass through it—and sadly I'd heard it all before, no new music here. Ah well.

As before, if anyone has any ideas on extracting the rest of the audio from the games, let me know. For instance, the "end credits" music doesn't appear in any STR files in Spyro 2 or Spyro 3, but it does play during the end credits, therefore it must be stored some other way. I realize I've already extracted that music, as it's the same as the end credits music from Spyro 1, but perhaps there are additional musical delights lurking on the games waiting to be discovered...!

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