Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins – Makaimura Theme Song (Tsunemoto and Kotani)October 25, 2009
This week I’m kicking off with a set of Halloween-related music! There isn’t exactly a shortage of creepy games on the market, but one of the originals is Ghosts ‘n Goblins (1984). Capcom’s arcade classic is notable for its insane difficulty as well as its complexity – and its music! This version of the “Makaimura Theme Song” from Ultimate Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (PSP, 2006), is by Masaya Tsunemoto and Kazuhiro Kotani, both working at Tose. I have also included the World Map Screen, as the two tracks are pretty much inseparable. These are from the album Gokumakaimura Original Soundtrack (Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins, 2006).
The “Makaimura Theme Song” is the traditional Stage 1 theme for the series while the “World Map Screen” plays before every level in the game. While the composer of the original soundtrack is largely unknown (often referred to as ‘Capcom Sound Team’), the Nintendo version of the game was composed by Ayako Mori, so he may also be the original composer. Sadly, this is a situation that is all too common with early vgm because credit standards for videogames were often poor at best, and all too often absent. Many game credits often had pseudonyms to prevent rival companies from stealing their star developers.
Makaimura (Ghosts ‘n Goblins) stands as a notable early videogame soundtracks and is one of the few soundtracks that still survives in modern games, now 25 years after its composition. This speaks volumes not only for the popularity of the series (which has received five games in the series and numerous ports) but also the strength of the original composition, which possesses a carnivalistic joy that is ironically matched with the game’s finger-breaking difficulty: not only does the player have to navigate the protagonist, King Arthur, through five brutal levels of monsters and demons, but upon completion of the final level, the player is informed this was merely an illusion set by Satan and the game resets to the first level at an even higher difficulty! It begins to make you wonder if the series’ damsel in distress, Princess Prin-Prin, is actually worth it… To add to the humor, when Arthur is hit by an enemy, his armor is knocked off, forcing him to fight in his heart-stamped boxers! (If he is hit a second time, he will be reduced to a pile of bones – “Naked knights don’t stand a chance!”) Thankfully, Ultimate Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is much more forgiving, making it very playable for modern gamers.
The “World Map Screen” theme plays at the beginning of each level. In this part, the player gets to view a map of the game world showing all the places he’s been and where he has to go next. This is an incredibly daunting view as it soon becomes obvious that this incredibly brutal level is merely Stage 1 and the map is much larger than expected because it scrolls over into a second screen.
One final note is that the album’s publisher, Suleputer, is an offshoot of the game’s developer, Capcom: the name is short for ‘Capsule Computer’, with both Capcom and Suleputer being reflections of the same name. Since 1988, Suleputer has published soundtracks for nearly every Capcom game ever made (nearly 100 albums and counting).
More Halloween-ish music to come this week!