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The Super Shinobi and Works – “Flash Flash Flash” (arr. Yuzo Koshiro)

January 20, 2010

I was going through some old Slightly Dark albums on my drive today and came across some music by Yuzo Koshiro. I’ve always been a big fan of his Actraiser work, but this was the first time I sat down and really listened to some of his music. Koshiro’s style of action music is very hip, with a dance and pop feel to it; in some ways it reminds me a bit of Michael Jackson.  It’s very distinct and you can often spot a Koshiro piece simply by listening to it. This song, “Flash Flash Flash”, is from the shooter Bosconian for the X68000 (a Japanese personal computer famous for many popular videogames such as Akumajou Dracula). It is from The Super Shinobi & Works (1989), a compilation of music and arranged pieces from Shinobi 2 on the Genesis and Bosconian.

The Super Shinobi & Works – “Flash Flash Flash” (arr. Yuzo Koshiro)

“Flash Flash Flash” has a strong guitar intro, which coupled with the main melody give it a nice sense of drama. The bells give some nice highlights and serve as counterpoint to the guitar. There’s also a nice synth series of and guitar solos beginning at around 1:35-2:10, which integrates a nice sense of dueling with both guitar and synth vying for dominance. This could be seen as an interplay between the spaceship and the enemies and so fits nicely. The only downside to this track is the ending, which is too sudden – it needed a little bit more build instead of ending kind of flatly.

It’s interesting to note that this structure of “Theme-Variation 1-Guitar Solo-Variation 2-Build to Finish” is found in nearly every major vgm arrangement, a five-part formula that is probably best demonstrated in the Dracula Battle arrange albums. This seems due in large part to the structure of vgm as looping audio: the same tune plays over and over and over again in the background of the stage. It’s fun to listen to, but the artist wants to try something different and so adds variations to the main theme. He adds a little of his own flair and originality through the guitar solo in the center, then follows up with a reprise of the main theme before building to the finish.

“Flash Flash Flash” is played with Yuzo Koshiro on the keyboard and Hiroshi Nagashima on the electric guitar and is a nice example of the genre. I will also say that nearly all of Koshiro’s albums have a photograph of him posing in a nice, dapper suit, which I think gives a bit more sophistication to his music. Thankfully, he didn’t get obsessed with plastic surgery!

About the game: Bosconian is a multi-directional shooter originally developed by Namco in 1981. The player gets to fly the spacecraft in eight directions in a large, free-scrolling map, a mechanic that is more widely known in Thunder Force II.

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