Darius II MD Original Soundtrack
Darius II MD Original Soundtrack (Darius II Original Soundtrack -MD Ver.-)
February 12, 2014
Download on iTunes
Just before he became famous as the composer of Langrisser and Lunar, Noriyuki Iwadare spent his time porting the soundtracks of classic arcade titles for franchises such as Space Invaders, Ys, and After Burner to home consoles. Among his efforts, he converted the score for 1989’s Darius II over to the Mega Drive / Genesis in 1990. How was this early effort from him? Did he preserve the quality of the original?
Of all the scores in the Darius series, Darius II is the most pop-inspired. While it featured plenty of experimental sampling, stylistic fusions, and abstract moments, at the heart of the soundtrack were its memorable melodies and infectious beats. As a result, the soundtrack was inherently easier to port than its prequel. Whereas the adaptations of Darius‘ music for the Game Boy and TurboGrafx-16 fall flat, most of the tunes here transition fairly comfortably to the Mega Drive under Iwadare.
Throughout the soundtrack, listeners can enjoy fairly faithful adaptations of Ogura’s originals. Throwing players into the first stage, “Olga Breeze” maintains the bouncy, adventurous spirit of the original. While I am still partial to the arcade version, many will find the Mega Drive synth more appealing. The renditions of “Jamming”, and “To Nari” are very faithful and about as charming as the originals. Even Parts of “War Oh!”, a rather atypical boss theme, will remind listeners of the Streets of Rage series with its bass-heavy funk sound rendered on the Mega Drive.
Some of the more subtle tracks on the soundtrack, for example the ethereal “Muse Valley” and hybridised “Cynthia”, lose some of the depth of their originals. While Iwadare pushed the Genesis’ sound source towards its limits, it inherently lacks the timbral range of the original version. But even in the most ambitious stage themes, notably the multi-tiered “Say PaPa”, still sound incredibly impressive for their day. Iwadare very sensitively integrated FM synthesis into such pieces to preserve the sound of the originals and show what the Mega Drive was capable of.
The Mega Drive port of Darius II is one of the most successful adaptations of the series’ music. This is in part due to the nature of the original material, but also due to the skills of Iwadare and the capacity of the Mega Drive. While a few tracks are less nuanced than their originals, most of the adaptations capture the fun, spacey vibe of the overall score. If you are interested in purchasing the Darius II soundtrack, it is worth comparing side-by-side the iTunes samples of the arcade and console version. Go with whatever one is closer to your personal tastes.
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Posted on November 8, 2015 by Chris Greening. Last modified on November 9, 2015.