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Thunder Force III – “Venus Fire” (arr. SSH)

August 17, 2010

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a little shmup music. “Venus Fire” has been sitting around on my to-do list for awhile, so today is a good time as any to introduce it to you. I’ve already done a few Thunder Force tracks, but “Venus Fire” from Thunder Force III (1990) is my second-favorite in the series. This is my favorite arrange of it by guitar master SSH (Saitama Saisyu Heiki).

Thunder Force III – “Venus Fire” (arr. SSH)

SSH’s rendition of “Venus Fire” is pretty epic. It goes on for over six minutes, but provides enough variety in the melody to keep it original. The track is also quite memorable with its short main section that feels like short bursts of flame coming off the burning sun (it actually looks like it takes place in an inferno). The guitar also sounds a bit similar to the ones used in the Genesis version, which in this case happens to be a nostalgic plus. There are a couple of good guitar solos in here two, one at about 2 minutes in (and about a minute long!), the second at about 4 minutes in, and both provide an excellent display of guitar virtuosity. The track gets back to the main theme three minutes in with some brilliant layering. SSH combines the guitar with his trademark synth strings and organs. While the guitars do not sound as clean as in Toshiharu Yamanishi’s rendition (below), this still gets the win for epicness.
Another great arrange is by Toshiharu Yamanishi, composer of the original, for ABSOLUTE AREA -project Thunder Force VI-. This one has an absolutely astounding guitar, but the synth line is a little too high-pitched for my liking – plus, it feels a little too short and ends rather abruptly – I think they could have easily gotten another minute or so out of this. I have to say, I really am torn, especially with that awesome guitar which sounds like lightning (and the piano break!), but SSH takes the win for me this time. But you take your pick for best – they’re both good tracks!
Here’s a video of the game in action with yet another mix:
Toshiharu Yamanishi did all the best tracks inThunder Force III (including “Back to the Fire” and “Truth”), as well as other Technosoft classics such as Elemental Master andThunder Force IV with my other favorite track, “Metal Squad”. The similarities between “Metal Squad” and “Venus Fire” are actually kind of interesting – both establish a driving musical base using short guitar loops and layer above that with desperate synth lines. Really, a good shmup composer.

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