October 21, 1989
Buy Used Copy
Irem’s Dragon Breed provided a very enjoyable twist on the typical shooter format: it allowed players to ride on a dragon rather than a ship. Having impressed with his work on R-Type II and Image Fight, Masahiko Ishida was requested to compose the title and offered some remarkable compositions. The soundtrack was released on a stand-alone album and later was compiled on to the Irem Retro Game Music Collection.
The first stage theme “Theme of Bahamut” reflects Masahiko Ishida’s talent for providing twists on Irem’s typical funk sound. The typical compelling licks featured on his earlier scores are complemented with some Eastern tonalities, likely inspired by the Chinese influence of the dragon’s design. The composition is also superior from its predecessors thanks to its robust synthesis and extensive development, which culminates in an extensive gothic-tinged keyboard solo at the 0:57 mark.
The other stage themes on the soundtrack take a more moody approach. “Eyes” won’t appeal to those looking for amazing melodies, but compensates with its rhythmical idiosyncracies and booming bass, while “Color” and “Dadada” are impressive feats of ambient soundscaping that exploit the capacity of the sound board. Even more bizarre is “Big Dragon”, which shifts strikingly yet erratically from horrifying Herrmann-inspired parts into epic rock segments.
The boss theme “Theme of Zambaquous” is certainly threatening and energetic with its thrashing chords and piercing melodies. Like many tracks from the era, however, it suffers from a muddy sound due to the arcade sound board. It is disappointing that the composer did not compose an all-new theme for the final boss and instead reprised the existing theme. The soundtrack is rounded off by several short jingles and a seemingly neverending sound effects collection.
This soundtrack is less catchy than Ishida’s scores for R-Type II and Image Fight. However, it has some merits of its own with its awe-inspiring rhythms and soundscapes that make the most of the hardware of 1989. The soundtrack is too short and inconsistent to be worth purchashing on its own, but is a worthwhile addition to the Irem Retro Game Music Collection.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.