Contra 4 – “Harvest Yard” (Jake “Virt” Kaufman)June 23, 2010
The Contra series has a lot of memorable music. If there’s one thing Konami is good at, it is hiring composers who know how to make good vgm that not only has an attractive melody, but one that is easy to recognize and remember. “Harvest Yard” from Contra 4 is a perfect example of this. The level is really cool because it is the inside the body of a giant alien. The theme from the final stage, it captures both the intensity of the battle as well as the build to the finale, as it constantly builds intensity but ultimately never reaching a final height due to the loop. Jake Kaufman also pushes the limits of the DS sound chip to get some good samples coming out of the system’s tinny speakers.
“Harvest Yard” is memorable from the opening two seconds of the track – if you have played the game and heard this song before, it will be immediately recognizable. This is because the punctuation on those notes is so strong, and they stand alone. This punctuation is repeated throughout the piece, creating a march that is very easy to leave an impression. Additionally, Kaufman uses an instrument selection consisting of strings, drums, and piano, along with some deep brass that recalls the Alien Hive levels from Contra Spirits/Contra III: The Alien Wars, with the same punctuation but a bit less discord than “The Showdown“, a collection of end boss themes. This is particularly emphasized by the monster growls and howls and the screams of victims that fill the background. In fact, this is really straight out of Aliens, particularly the awesome piano break at 1:08.
“Harvest Yard” has an absolutely fantastic remix in Contra 4: Rocked ‘n’ Loaded, but you’ll have to pick up the album for that one (sorry – but it’s only $12 and worth every cent!). However, you can listen to an early rendition of “Alien Hive” (“Let’s Attack Aggressively”) from Dwelling of Duels (January, 2008). The complete Contra 4: Dual Spirits (Japanese title, 2008) soundtrack was released through Konamistyle and contains a remix of the Harbor theme by The Smash Brothers. Unlike Danimal Cannon, et al, Konami charges an arm and a leg for their stuff (and that’s not including shipping!). At least it’s got an awesome cover…