Dracula X Chronicles – “Cross Your Heart” (arr. Masanori Akita)March 27, 2010
Daily No. 2 for Castlevania Week is “Cross Your Heart”, the classic Stage 1 theme from the arcade game Haunted Castle (1988). This was essentially a cheap rendition of the original Castlevania, starring Simon Belmont with his big monkey arms, barbarian hair, and a slew of poorly drawn monstrosities. Still, the game had some really great concepts such as a lightning storm that sets the tall grass of the graveyard on fire, collapsing bridges, and stained glass windows that explode into shard monsters. The version here is from Dracula X Chronicles (2008), and it is essentially an arrangement of the version that appeared on the Dracula X (1993) album. Here is the original version for comparison. This version of the song was arranged by Masanori Akita (Time Hollow, Akumajo Dracula Pachislot). The original was composed by Kenichi Matsubara (Castlevania II, Gradius IV). Incidentally, you can buy this album now off of iTunes – the two-disc set is well worth it! (Heck, I thought it was worth it to import from Japan – and that was $30!)
“Cross Your Heart” has a great feeling of danger and disaster – Simon Belmont’s wife has just been kidnapped on the way from the chapel and he’s in a foul mood. He rushes out to save his beloved, tearing through an old graveyard on the way to the castle. The track has a great harpsichord opening that captures this sense of urgency and action through the rapidly rising and falling notes, but it also has a taste of the baroque. In some ways, the original was a bit over-intense – just like the game’s difficulty. There are some great guitars here for the main melody as well as a strong bass line. Halfway through the loop, at about 0:52, there is even some clapping, which was a nice touch in the original midi version. Looking back, I think it gives the piece a bit of an ethnic feel.
This track first appeared on Akumajo Dracula X (1993) as a midi remix. Now this piece is labeled “Unused Track”, which I assume means it was originally going to be included in the PCE version of Dracula X in the unused level. Or maybe it was just a demo piece.
The title “Cross Your Heart” has gone by numerous translations over the years. It has been known as “Crucifix Held Close” in a translation of the Portrait of Ruinsoundtrack and more recently has been translated as “Cross on the Breast” on VGMdb’s translation of the Castlevania Collections Best BOX. I’m sticking with this title as it’s more familiar (and I think better, though each gives different imagery). Here are some other good arrangements:
- Portrait of Ruin/Gallery of Labyrinth contained a nice remix that plays in the Dark Academy. This track works very well because as soon as the stage begins, the player warps into a drenching rainstorm with wrought-iron fences driving the player towards a tough fight. Michiru Yamane’s rendition also contains plenty of original material for a proud return to a classic track.
- Oretachi Game Center Zoku – Akumajo Dracula (2006) had a medley of Haunted Castle music with a nice midi guitar, but also has some rather funky whistling. It’s surprisingly similar to Beep Magazine Vol. 9 – Super Arrange Game Music (1988)’s remix of “Wedding March Tragedy” and “Cross Your Heart”. Both have atmospheric sound effects, but this track is better because it contains nearly all the music from the game.