Posts Tagged ‘Namco’

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Katamari Damacy – “Katamari on the Rock” (Yu Miyake & Masayuki Tanaka)

May 20, 2010

Here’s an all-time classic vgm piece from a wonderfully quirky (and fun!) game, Katamari Damacy. You may be familiar with the game through the craze it spawned in 2004, but if you’re not, you need to pick it up and play it! (I’d recommend the original two, as Keita Takahashi did not design any of the later titles as he is averse to sequels). The object of the game is to roll a ball around and collect objects smaller than the ball; the more items the ball picks up, the larger it becomes and the larger the items you can pick up. Excellent music and wonderful cartoon graphics make this entertaining mechanic even better. The soundtrack to the original was published in Katamari Damacy Soundtrack “Katamari Fortissimo Damacy” (2004). “Katamari on the Rocks” is by far the most famous piece from the game, and is the “main theme” that plays in multiple places.

Katamari Damacy – “Katamari on the Rock” (Yu Miyake & Masayuki Tanaka)

“Katamari on the Rock” is an excellent fast-paced, uplifting song with great taiko drums and trumpets. The rising and falling full notes match the upward and downward movement of the ball as it is pushed by the Prince through uneven terrain while the quick, rolling beat fits the pattering of his feet. The track is also very inspiring (Don’t worry, do your best!) which both reassures and invigorates – especially with the enthusiastic yelling of vocalist Masayuki Tanaka. The ‘chu-chu-chu’ that makes up the female vocal support is Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound made when kissing, too. Yu Miyake composed a clear winner when he did “Katamari on the Rock” – each note is so full of joy that you can’t help but smile.

The lyrics have also been translated here, so you can follow them along as you go. They reflect a love for the beauty of the world and the significant other – joy of life and living, which is exactly Keita Takahashi’s philosophy. I believe the title refers to the Earth. Of course, the song also mixes English with Japanese (which seems to be fairly common), but there is enough here that a translation is required! A shortened instrumental version of the theme plays in the intro, which is one of the best and funniest (and most ridiculous) in game history:

The album still sells quite well, and you can buy the whole thing from places like CD Japan (just watch out for the crazy import fees on top of the overpriced costs of the albums themselves! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Namco x Capcom – “Brave New World” (Yuzo Koshiro)

May 19, 2010

Namco x Capcom (read Namco cross Capcom, 2005) was a nostalgic crossover game mixing characters from the long history of Namco and Capcom. They cooperate to save the world from an evil outside of time. The game was only released in Japan, probably due largely to the fact that many of the source games were released in Japan only. However, there is now a patch for this game that lets you play it in English. The soundtrack combines themes from both companies’ long histories, and many of the arrangements are excellent. Still, the main theme, “Brave New World” is what really stands out from the rest – the song, composed by Yuzo Koshiro, is incredibly catchy, and matches many of the game’s underlying themes.

Namco x Capcom – “Brave New World (Long Version)” (Yuzo Koshiro)

“Brave New World” works best as a trance/dance, referring not only to contemporary anime main themes, but also drawing from the dance like nature of many traditional game tunes. The recording of flair performing the music is high quality, with a little distortion of the voice over the microphone, another feature found in many Japanese pop songs. I’m not quite sure of the history behind this style, but it seems to suggest an ideal form of the singer, a voice disembodied from the physical.

The vocals and melody communicate a quest of seeking an ideal through hope, struggle, and friendship. I find this ideal reveals a tinge of sadness as well, something that is also present in the nostalgia factor – a desire to relive a lost time. The repetition and call/response of the two main elements of the theme reinforces these themes. In all, it is a fully mature work of Yuzo Koshiro. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Legend of Valkyrie – “Main Theme” (Hiroyuki Kawada)

March 24, 2010

Legend of Valkyrie was picked by Scitron as one of the best soundtracks of 1989 in their ‘Best of‘ album. The soundtrack was released in Namco Game Sound Express VOL. 1: Legend of  Valkyrie, and is an arranged version of the original soundtrack. With her first appearance in 1986, Valkyrie is one of the earliest videogame heroines (and also the same age as Samus). Unlike Samus though, Valkyrie does not hide her feminine appearance, but both can kick but just as well as the guys. Sadly, she has the incredibly un-original name of just plain old ‘Valkyrie’.

Legend of Valkyrie – “Main Theme” (arr. Hiroyuki Kawada)

Legend of Valkyrie‘s “Main Theme” is fun to compare with the first stage themes to Sparkster and Detana Twinbee. Each of these three songs expresses the freedom of movement and has a catchy tune built over a steady beat. I suppose it’s definitive of ‘classic videogame music’. Regardless, it’s pretty adventurous and lots of fun. Here is video of the original game. The game looks in some ways like Zelda, and the bright atmosphere of slaying demons and helping the villagers is communicated by the music.

Legend of Valkyrie was composed by Hiroyuki Kawada (Winning Run, Dragon Spirit). He was one of Namco’s first composers and is still making new music today. There was a nice symphonic remix of this on Namco Game Music Grafiti Volume 6. (Sounds like the album was a bit scratched up though).