Ghouls n Ghosts -G.S.M. Capcom 1-
Ghouls n Ghosts -G.S.M. Capcom 1-
January 11, 1989
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Some of the earliest game music albums were from Pony Canyon’s G.S.M. series dedicated to companies such as Capcom, Taito, Sega, Nintendo, Namco, Irem, and Jaleco. The seven part G.S.M. Capcom series was the most successful in this line of albums and mainly featured original scores and bonus arrangements from Capcom’s Arcade games. The main entry to its 1989 debut Daimakaimura ~ G.S.M. Capcom 1 was Tamayo Kawamoto’s original score and bonus arrangement for the 1987 Arcade sequel Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (aka Daimakaimura). Other additions were the original scores for Forgotten Worlds (aka Lost Worlds) and 1943 Kai, as well as a special Mega Man 2 medley.
Tamayo Kawamoto and Yoshihiro Sakaguchi’s score to the classic side-scrolling shooter Forgotten Worlds (aka Lost Worlds) is the first of three original versions on CD. Following a short but intense “Opening” theme, the score provides an impressive first stage theme featuring grand melodies and avant-garde motifs. Despite a cumbersome harmony, the second stage theme captures listener’s hearts with its surprisingly rich and emotional melody, while the third strikingly combines influences of Sousa’s militaristic marches with Ravel’s Bolero. Creativity is further evident in the mixture of ethnic and electronic sounds in the fourth and sixth stage themes, the minimalistic and percussive fifth stage theme, and the ghostly and abstract sixth stage theme. The boss themes mainly build on tense rhythms with a few decorations, so are rather uninteresting on a stand-alone basis but reasonably effective in the game, while “Shoppin'” is a very memorable jingle. The soundtrack’s climax exceeds expectations with the eighth stage’s intricate organ solo, ninth stage’s electronica-infused march, and the decent avant-garde final boss theme. This leads into a satisfying mixture of pretty and rock-based ending themes. Despite its stylistic and technical naïvities, the score for Forgotten Worlds is very creative.
Yoshihiro Sakaguchi’s score for the World War II shooter 1943 Kai — the enhanced version of the sequel 1943: The Battle for Midway — is the shortest of the set. It nevertheless compels with “Anti-Aircraft Battle BGM A”, a motivating rock-influenced action theme with a tense introduction and triumphant centre. Also charming are the jazzy compositions “Anti-Aircraft Battle BGM B”, where the music imitates the sounds of repeating gunfire in places, and “Anti-Aircraft Battle BGM C”, one of the best developed of the set. As for the boss themes, whereas “Anti-Ship Battle BGM A” is quite a frivolous rock composition, the other two are intimidating orchestral pieces filled with martial intent. Rounding things off is the power rock theme for the final mission — to destroy the ghastly Japanese battleship Yamato — and a superficial victory fanfare. Overall, the score for 1943 Kai is the least creative and developed of the set, but is a very catchy bonus addition. Those looking for the complete score for 1943: The Battle for Midway should try Capcom Game Music Vol. 3 instead.
The music for 1987’s Arcade hit Ghouls and Ghosts (aka Daimakaimura) is the final score in the set. Introduced with fanfares and a brief cinematically inclined composition, the first stage theme “The Execution Place & Floating Island” is a light ‘ghost dance’ arrangement of Makaimura‘s classic “Graveyard Stage”. Perhaps inappropriately, the second stage theme “Village of Decay & Town of Fire” is a frivolous dance with very few haunting components. However, the score quickly builds up intensity with the dissonant boss themes and third stage theme inspired by American avant-garde approaches. Other highlights include the minimalistic and crystalline fourth stage theme, the organ-based final stage theme, and the disorientating theme to represent the motion of the flying demon “Beelzebub”. The final battle theme “Astaroth & Loki” focuses on building tension by assimilating many of the compositional techniques previously featured. This climax is followed by a set of less important pieces, though the ‘rock meets nationalism’ ending and ranking themes are among the highlights here. Overall, Tamayo Kawamoto’s score for Daimakaimura is a diverse, fitting, and memorable one that successfully builds on the framework of its predecessor.
At the start of the CD there is also a special arranged version by Capcom’s in-house sound team Alph Lyla. It opens with a seven minute string quartet arrangement of music from the Daimakaimura score. It’s clear that the arranger, presumably Tamayo Kawamoto, has had some classical training in string quartet composition; she demonstrates clear understanding of the capacity of the individual instruments involved, especially impressing with the expressive viola use, and uses them collectively to provide appropriately balanced and dynamic soundscapes. The arrangement initially focuses on a high quality rendition of the avant-garde third stage theme before gradually achieving consonance with a thorough rendition of the ending theme that takes the arrangement to the seven minute mark. The Mega Man 2 funk medley achieves plenty during its four minute playtime. It opens with a rendition of “Heatman Stage” with emphasis on slick bass guitar riffs and lyrical synth licks and later segues into “Metalman Stage” featuring catchy bass riffs and even a fleeting distorted male voice sample. In probably the catchiest moment in the medley, the “Crashman Stage” theme appears in all its goofy funked-up glory. Finally, “Staff Roll” concludes the medley with a triumphant soft rock piece.
Despite being the shortest of the set, Daimakaimura ~ G.S.M. Capcom 1 provided a good display of what Capcom was capable of. The scores feature plenty of catchy and fitting action compositions as with a lot of game music produced around the same time. What separates Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Lost Worlds from the rest are Tamayo Kawamoto’s regular expressions of stylistic creativity and diversity. The well done 1943 Kai score and arranged tracks are a fine bonus. This is a rare purchase that only fans of Capcom’s old-school music should consider, but is nevertheless a very enjoyable item.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.