When publisher Sunsoft unleashed Aero the Acrobat in 1993 the idea was that the little bat who performed amazing stunts under the big top of a traveling circus would become the company's mascot. As you'll recall, the successful launch of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog ushered in the age of the cute gaming mascot wars in which just about every publisher sought to create the same brand identity: cool animal with attitude. Aero is one of the many characters produced during this era, but the soundtrack to his debut game for the Super NES and Sega Genesis (and later, the Game Boy Advance) stands apart from the me-too efforts of, say, Rocky Rodent and James Pond.
Aero the Acrobat begins with ex-clown-turned-evil-industrialist Edgar Ektor returned to the circus that once humiliated him. He sabotages the performance and takes the entire cast of the show hostage with the exception of a single bat by the name of, yes, Aero the Acrobat. Aero must travel from the circus through the theme park into the woods and to Ektor's twisted museum where the clown and his henchman, Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, await.
Considering that the game is set around the circus, the soundtrack takes a lot of the traditional sounds of the show. Synth organ plays heavily along with cranked-up electric guitar and a dash of hard percussion. Let us step through and sample some highlights from the soundtrack, shall we?
Aero the Acrobat's title screen theme starts things off, pulling players into the madcap world of a circus run amok. This theme also extends into the first act of the game, reappearing now and then as the game progresses.
Before each level this song is heard while Aero's objective is clarified. The recording here actually plays more of the song than you'll hear while playing the game, as the assignment screen fades out into the actual level before the tune can finish and repeat.
The game's second act contains a bonus ball item. Collect it to play a bonus act in which Aero dives into a small pool from off the very high diving board. During descent he can fall through floating rings for extra points. Comparisons to Pilotwings's skydiving levels are unavoidable here, although dare I say that Aero's take on the matter features a better background tune.
While in the woods Aero must navigate his way down a waterslide made of hollow logs while dodging spikes and other nasties. His wet journey takes place during this tune. A similar song exists elsewhere in the game during a comparative challenge.
Boss Acts conclude most major sections of the game and this crazy tune accompanies the action when Aero takes on lesser bosses. Intense!
Major boss battles (such as against Ektor's squirrel sidekick) are set against this variation of the previous song.
After a long battle our hero comes to the twisted museum of Edgar Ektor himself. These three songs make up the score for the museum's trap-filled levels.
Ektor's reign of terror comes to end as the credits roll during this exuberant song. You can't really expect Sunsoft to kill off their new mascot's arch-rival so soon, however, as Ektor returns in both Aero the Acrobat 2 and the spin-off title Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. I'm afraid that's Game Over for this installment of Beyond Beeps.