As a huge fan of Yuzo Koshiro and his work on ActRaiser in particular, I couldn’t be more excited that his 1991 Synphonic Suite from ACTRAISER got a 2018 update with new arrangements and a new performance by the New Japan BGM Philharmonic Orchestra (NJBP). The concert featured an original opening theme and Koshiro’s music from The Scheme, Streets of Rage, Streets of Rage 2, Etrian Odyssey, and of course, Actrasier. Most are presented as short medleys of a few songs from the game and are fantastic, but the highlight for me is the ActRaiser soundtrack performed in its entirety, re-establishing itself in my mind as Koshiro’s longstanding masterpiece. The CD presents the music as a tidy listening experience without the MC portions. It’s also a treat to watch the concert itself on Blu-ray, featuring an exuberant and enthusiastic concert master and a LOT of talking. There’s actually more talk by play time than music, so if you know Japanese, there’s likely a lot to glean from the MC/conductor and Koshiro’s on-stage discussions. Watching the ActRaiser suite brings a whole new appreciation for breadth and depth of the score and highlights the solo performances that are a part of the new arrangements. As usual, we have SuperSweep to thank for publishing the album which contains both the music CD and Blu-ray disc tucked inside a slipcase with snazzy artwork. As “Archives 1,” I hope there’s more to come from the NJBP in the future.
The NJBP Concert Archives 1 ~ANCIENT FESTIVAL~ album is an exclusive to the SuperSweep store, but it’s worth the trouble to try to get your hands on.
Many fans were looking forward to getting the Protect Me Knight 2 (Gotta Protectors) soundtrack, and after SuperSweep released a collection of music from the game dubbed Volume 1, it was only a matter of time before Volume 2 surfaced.
This album is best thought of as an accompaniment album with alternate versions of many of the songs. You’ll find the adventurous beat-’em-up main theme, militaristic marches, comical battle themes, spooky atmospheres, and tons of tunes to pump you up courtesy of Yuzo Koshiro and the SuperSweep sound team. Included are up-tempo versions, long versions, then a smattering of FM (most of disc 1), MKIII, Famicom, Game Boy, and OPN versions of various themes from the game. There’s also a full production remix that brings in a cheesy big band and male vocals sounding like something from a variety show.
It’s available at CD Japan if you want to give it a spin.
This album has likely been on a lot of people’s most-wanted list. Protect Me Knight was released in North America in the Xbox Live Indie Arcade, developed by the studio of renowned game music composer Yuzo Koshiro, with 8-bit-style tunes written by Koshiro himself. There was never an official soundtrack release, but with the development and launch of Protect Me Knight 2 in Japan, there’s finally a soundtrack release featuring Koshiro with legends from across the shmup and 8-bit scenes, including SuperSweep’s Shinji Hosoe, OGR, Motoaki Furukawa, and Hiro. It’s an impressive line-up, and the album comes courtesy of SuperSweep.
The catchy main theme and the upbeat “Retro-Nitro-Girl” are sure to be fan favorites. The album includes the 8-bit soundtrack, some up-tempo versions, and original versions of songs before they were created in 8-bit style. It can be purchased at CD Japan.
I have a soft spot for Christmas music, and obviously game music. I generally break out the Christmas music on the ride home from Thanksgiving, and I have a playlist that contains lots of winter-themed game tracks to fit the mood. Square Enix has made finding game music to listen to for the holidays even easier with their annual X’mas albums, with two previous entries coming as compilations, and a surprise announcement this year: an entire album of remixes from Bravely Default arranged for the holidays.
The album is fantastic, and even more, Square Enix fans will appreciate guest arrangements by Junya Nakano, Motoi Sakuraba, and Yuzo Koshiro. The addition of bells, lots of reverb, and jingle bells could be viewed by some as gimmicky, but I certainly appreciate the effort. I particularly enjoy the bubbly opener, “Land of Beginnings,” the moving choir and piano in “Under a Hollow Moon,” and the majestic Christmas adventure, “Horizon of Light and Shadow.” There are a few picks that are more gamey and electronic in nature, such as “Baby Bird” with its quirky vocals, and overall, I couldn’t be more happy with this album and think it’s a perfect addition to any holiday play list. It’s out now on CD Japan, and here are links to the first and second X’mas albums from Square Enix if you want to dig deeper (Yuzo Koshiro’s arrangement of “Rydia” from Final Fantasy IV on the second album is my favorite).
Fans of SuperSweep head and Scarlet Moon Artists composer Shinji Hosoe may consider looking into last year’s release of the Dragon Saber soundtrack from SuperSweep Records. Following in the style of his more widely known Dragon Spirit soundtrack, Dragon Saber is also one of his earlier works, containing a mix of fantasy and epic shmup soundscapes.
Those who know his work on Dragon Spirit will be right at home with the energetic and upbeat 80s synth work along with the dark and ominous atmospheres that dominate the later areas in the game. With a gritty rock-based final battle theme, a funky piece to accompany the continue screen, and pop to go with the name entry screen, the score is classic Hosoe. The second disc includes selections from the Dragon Spirit soundtrack recreated using the Dragon Saber sound chip. There are also guest arrangements by SuperSweep’s Yousuke Yasui with a bumping retro sound, and by Ancient Corp’s Yuzo Koshiro with powerful electronics and classy brass.
The album also includes artwork from the series and comments in the booklet. It’s currently available on CD Japan.