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8-Bit Mondays – Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge – “Praying Hands” (Hidehiro Funauchi)

January 26, 2010

Here is another classic GameBoy piece for 8-Bit Mondays, this time from Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge (1991). Castlevania really has a lot of excellent music, but the GameBoy soundtracks seem to be overlooked rather often. “Praying Hands” is probably the best piece from the early handhelds, but there is a lot of great stuff on there. The soundtrack was printed in Akumajo Dracula Best 2 (1991) along with the soundtrack to Super Castlevania IV and Castlevania: The Adventure. Be sure to turn up the volume and ideally put on a good set of stereo headphones before listening: it is very absorbing.

Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge – “Praying Hands” (Hidehiro Funauchi)

“Praying Hands” plays in the Cloud Castle stage. It has a very soothing effect evoking the water element, but also the calm collectedness of a praying man. The track accomplishes this by keeping its dynamics around a central set of long, deliberate notes. The opening is powerful, overflowing with determination and fervor, and as the track develops, the four sound channels of the GameBoy are layered to the best effect. There are even some bell-like bloops that you would expect to hear on the NES, but not the GameBoy. The only real downside of this track is that the loop goes on for a bit longer than 10 seconds (the normal fade-out period). However, the fade effect at the end is pretty incredible.

If you’re a chiptune connoisseur, you will notice this is incredible sound coming from a GameBoy. The drums have the solid Konami Sound you would expect from the Famicom and the square waves possess an overwhelming buzzing effect that is completely absorbing over a stereo system. Hidehiro Funauchi was responsible for the sound design on a good many of Konami’s GameBoy titles, including Castlevania: The Adventure and Operation C, the latter of which is exceptional. Belmont’s Revenge was produced later in his career, after he had mastered the system hardware, and is a testament to both his skill and the surprising capabilities of the GameBoy. The game isn’t that bad either.

Another interesting bit about the soundtrack is that it contains an arrangement of “Passpied” from Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy and “Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue (BWV 903)” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

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