Bounty Sword Music Collection

bountysword Album Title:
Bounty Sword Music Collection
Record Label:
Pioneer
Catalog No.:
PICA-2005
Release Date:
November 22, 1995
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

Bounty Sword is a strategy RPG released for the SNES in 1995. While Kohei Tanaka is traditionally known for his orchestral scores for games and animes, this title demonstrates his prowess using more retro styles; while there is an orchestral influence in this soundtrack, retro sounds resonate throughout the experience. Though the soundtrack fell into obscurity like the game, it is worthy of more attention, stacking up well against other SNES RPG soundtracks from the series. As might be expected for a strategy RPG, there is a decent range of pieces, spanning heroic marches, action-packed battle tracks, and an excellent main theme.

Body

“Prologue” serves as a brief introduction to the soundtrack, creating a suitably dark, epic mood with chorals and bell chimes. The main theme is introduced with “Invincible Knight”, a militaristic composition with a robust brass melody and a strong percussion line. It is the first track that demonstrates Tanaka’s ability to blend retro synth with solid orchestration. “Meeting Those from Far Away” fleshes out the theme further and give it a more personal feel.

The battle themes resonate with Tanaka’s brass leads, but carry variations in their underlying harmonies that give each theme a character. “Attack” reflects Tanaka’s signature dark style — building tense layers of sound with underlying piano riffs, strong percussion, and dominating brass lead. In stark contrast, there is the uplifting march theme “Wind of a Battlefield”, reminiscent of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s strategy works. “Everyone Forward” follows a similar structure, a very brassy and sweeping war theme. “Battlefield” boasts some interesting chord progressions and sweeping harmonies that give it a sense of urgency.

There is quite a bit of diversity in the soundtrack. Peaceful tracks like “Loose Flow”, “Star’s Guidepost”, and “Looking Up at the Night Sky” feature tender use of the SPC sound chip and enhance the fantasy feel of the score. “Unexplored Regions” provides the soundtrack’s mystical forest type theme, while “Messenger of the Orient” and “Foreign Land” incorporate more ethnic approaches. There are also small hints of Wild West influences here, demonstrating Tanaka’s long-standing influence from Ennio Morricone.

That said, my favourite theme on the soundtrack is “Fighting for Victory”. It is one of the most heroic themes on the soundtrack and, for me, it sums up the soundtrack’s approach to development — not relying heavily on looping leitmotifs but instead developing the build up of instrumentation and harmony. “Desperate Struggle” seems to follow Tanaka’s usual structure for a boss theme: high-pitched edgy brass, rhythmic malevolent string chords, and a development into a resounding valiant tune. “Nine Despair, One Hope” is the last boss theme, and a good one at that. It is more atmospheric than melodic, but is rich in it’s chord progressions and rhythms. Bell chimes, choir, and percussion provide a dark and urgent intro. It progresses into a war march and builds-up into a laudable climax.

“Victory Bells” begins the epilogue of the soundtrack, followed by the majestic “Triumphal Return”. The soundtrack concludes with “End Title”, reprising the main theme. This ten minute epic is a mix of peaceful melodies and majestic sounds. Finally, there are two vocal themes featured at the end of the soundtrack, which was something quite novel for 1995. “Battle Wind” is a prog rock theme sung by Tomokazu Seki — it’s catchy and amorously cheesy! “Distant Memories” is sung by Masami Suzuki and is a bit more relaxed, but equally fun.

Summary

Overall, this is a good title to check out if you’re a fan of retro melodic RPG soundtracks. Despite not playing the game, I found it an enjoyable work to get into. The only pang I have with the CD is that tracks only have a single loop; though the pieces are strong enough to hold there own, it is disappointing to hear them only once before being thrown on to the next track. It easily matches other classics of the era such as Romancing Saga, Ogre Battle, and Final Fantasy IV.

Bounty Sword Music Collection Christopher Jones

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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Christopher Jones. Last modified on January 23, 2016.


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