Sunday, April 25, 2010

Song of the Moment - Otomedius G - Snow Field - Beyond the White Storm

I finally caved and bought myself a Japanese Xbox 360. It was mostly because I found one relatively cheap, and came with a copy of Otomedius, which was one of the only Japanese exclusive games I was interested in. I wrote some initial impressions awhile back and didn't feel it was that great. I've spent some more time with it and rather like it now, even though it's immensely awkward - it can't decide whether to be a modern score-driven arcade game or a classic Gradius-style game, and neither really works.

In keeping with the general quality of the game, the music, outside of a few songs, is pretty anemic compared to Konami's legendary library of shooters. However, Otomedius was one of Konami's first big experiments with DLC, offering additional levels and characters, for a price. Amongst these were a total of seven music packs, each of which accompanied one of the main characters and gave them new theme music for the entire game. All of this music consisted of arrangements from past Konami games, including Gradius and Salamander, as well as XEXEX, Thunder Cross and others, many arranged by longtime Konami composers like Michiru Yamane and Akira Yamaoka. Alas, this experiment didn't turn out too well, because while the original music was all excellent, the arrangements were (mostly) kinda bad. The cost didn't help - buying all seven packs at $5 each means it costs $35 for the whole deal, or approximately how much it costs to buy the recently released Platinum Hits version. (Which, unfortunately unlike Halo Wars or Fable II, does not feature any of the DLC.

It's not a total wash though. A handful of the songs rearrange the music using the synth of a different sound chip, in some cases going technologically backwards. I've seen some fan arrangers do this, and it's always fascinating to hear, say, Genesis music done like NES music. The particular arrangement above is the Snow Field theme, "Beyond the White Storm", from Gradius Gaiden, a Playstation game, done with chiptune synth. It's a bit more advanced than a typical Famicom, although it's sounds similar, so let's just say it sounds like it could be from a fictional enhanced sound chip like the VRC6. I always loved the original theme - it ranks up next to "Burning Heat", the first level song from Gradius II, as one of my favorite pieces of music in the series - and this arrangement really captures why I love it so much. It's so warm, peppy and upbeat, typical of the 8 and 16-bit Gradius games, and it sounds right at home. You can listen to the original PSOne version below to compare, although any sane person should hunt down a copy of the Gradius Collection for the PSP to play it immediately, since it's one of the best shoot em ups ever made:

If you want to hear all of the music from Otomedius, including the arrangements, the fine folks at the Gradius Home World have ripped them for download here.


  1. I really wish this game would be ported to PS3 or get a budget Xbox release in the states.

  2. I have Gradius Collection for the PSP but no PSP to speak of! :( (well, I'm saving up for one, so in a month or two, I'll be able to play it). BTW, what do you think of the other Konami PSP collections? Are they must imports? I'm really interested in the Parodius Collection, but not so sure about the other ones.

    PS "Speed" from Gradius Gaiden is another one of my favorites from that game.

  3. The other Konami compilations are pretty great. Salamander is the best, not so much for the actual Salamander games, but for XEXEX and the Gradius 2 MSX remake. Both Twinbee and Parodius are excellent as well, although Pop'n Twinbee is in a really ugly stretched mode that I don't think you can change.

    The downloadable characters in Otomedius have arranged music mostly from Gradius Gaiden including "Speed", and a few from Falchion. I've got the full link somewhere which details what they are.

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  5. Also worth noting that Konami love to remix Gradius music for their Bemani games. There's been at least three mixes of Gradius tracks in Beatmania, including Burning Heat and a Gradius compilation mix.

  6. I count at least 6~9 Gradius remixes in the Bemani franchise, depending on how you wanna count them.

    -Salamander Beat Crush Mix by NITE SYSTEM (remix of Starfield from Salamander)

    -Salamander Beat Crush Mix (CRASH MIX) by DECADE (remix remix; pretty far removed; only appears on classic 5-Key Beatmania)

    -GRADIUSIC CYBER by TAKA (uses video from Gradius Deluxe Pack; not sure exactly what this remixes, but...)

    -Burning Heat! (Full Option Mix) by Mr.T feat. Motoaki.F (the composer of Gradius II)

    -GRADIUS -FULL SPEED- by Mr.T (medley of all the Gradius I music)

    -A SHOOTING STAR by Motoaki Furukawa (guitar fusion self-remix of the same Gradius II tune; appears on Guitar Freaks + Drummania & pop'n music)

    -TACHIBACHI by Motoaki Furukawa (see above; appears on Guitar Freaks + Drummania; uses the opening video from Gradius II & IV)

    -Morning Music by Bubble System (only on Keyboardmania; sorta counts as Gradius, I guess...)

    -SENSATION-from SALAMANDER2 remixed by Shinji Hosoe (only on Keyboardmania)

    This doesn't count all the other Konami game remixes that span all Bemani series, including Castlevania, Gyruss, Getsu Fuuma Den, Contra, Twin Bee, Metal Gear, Goemon, Rumble Roses, Suikoden V, Winning Eleven, Goonies, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Magic Academy, Bio Miracle Upa -- even obscure stuff like Kuru Kuru Lab, Arabian Crystal, Wartran Troopers, & A-JAX