Okage -Shadow King- Original Soundtrack
Okage -Shadow King- Original Soundtrack
July 31, 2001
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Okage: Shadow King (known as Me and Satan King in Japan) was a quirky PlayStation 2 RPG featuring a boy whose shadows were possessed by an evil king. A six composer team of mostly unknowns were hired to create the score and they yielded a fascinating two disc score, filled with catchy melodies, unconventional instrumentation, and a childish yet devilish character reminiscent of Elfman. Time for a closer look…
Right from the outset with the theme for the protagonist’s village Tenel, listeners are offered plenty of colourful sounds on the soundtrack. The track instantly delights with its youthful and catchy saxophone-based melody, as most would expect from a town theme. However, it goes on to take listeners through a much richer outing with all sorts of twanky and wacky instrumentation and even a liberating jazzy solo. The final result reflects the diverse setting and haunted protagonist. Other delightful setting themes include “Plain of Lumile” with its ethereal piano-supported grooves, “Addashi Desert” with its infectious Arabian solos, and “Deep Grave Pit” with its devilish vocal-dominated ambience. Such diverse well-produced tracks make the very best of the increased capacity of the PlayStation 2.
The town themes on the soundtrack are actually present in two variations. In the case of the setting themes, the normal variations being used outdoors, the ‘R’ variations being used indoors. The variations are rather subtle in approach, but have a considerable impact in terms of mood. “Theme of Madril” has an elevating sound with its lyrical flute melodies and infectious xylophone parts. In contrast, “Theme of Madril R” is slightly softer and downbeat with its suspended string backing and reduced melodic emphasis. Similar variations are found in the more folksy “Theme of Highland Village” and add further detail to the experience. Catchy, unconventional, and multifaceted all in one, the setting themes on this soundtrack are certainly among the best in any RPG.
Whereas the first disc of the soundtrack is dedicated to the setting themes, the second disc is dominated by battle themes. These tracks tend to maintain the quirky and light-hearted soundtrack while thrusting gamers into action. For example, “Normal Battle” blends yet more catchy piano grooves with a bell chime crisis motif, while “Evil King Battle” increases the tempo and electrifies the timbres. Each battle theme also receives a ‘Disadvantage Version’ to interactively accompany a turn for the worse; however, these tracks will potentially alienate stand-alone listeners with their orchestral discords, brutal beats, and other wild forces. The soundtrack never loses its overriding sense of humour, however, and each the last battle themes are cutesy affairs.
The soundtrack ends with a large number of miscellaneous tracks used during specific events in the game. These tracks range from character depictions for the devilish Stan and mellow Marlene, to light-hearted interludes such as “Moe-Moe” and “Dance with Merle”, to darker underscore such as “The Nightmare” and “Breakdown”. While each track works effectively in the game, the segmented presentation of the album makes them seem somewhat tagged on to this release; perhaps a more diverse and wholesome experience would have been offered if the soundtrack were ordered according to the game instead. The soundtrack ends with the vocal theme “HigherBreath”, featuring silly voice effects above bustling organic instrumentation. Sadly, it’s too short and undefined to be a major highlight on par with the instrumental tracks.
Although its highlights are exclusively instrumental, the music of Okage: Shadow King is certainly up there with the likes of Katamari Damacy and LocoRoco in terms of its unconventional and humorous approach to game scoring. The soundtrack will be too wacky for some and its segmented presentation is problem. Nevertheless, it is likeable on a number of levels, from its downright catchiness, to its imaginative construction, to its functionality within the game, so should satisfy a range of listeners.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.