Sagaia Original Soundtrack
Sagaia Original Soundtrack
December 23, 2009
Buy at CDJapan
Following the success of the Darius series on arcades, various ports for consoles, handhelds, and computers followed. Sagaia was a Japan-exclusive adaptation of the original Darius released for Game Boys in 1991 (confusingly, several American ports of Darius II are also called Sagaia). While decent for a Game Boy title, the game was largely a downgrade from the original, with monochromatic visuals, simplistic gameplay, and no branching stages. The soundtrack followed suit, an 8-bit downgrade of Hisayoshi Ogura’s original. It was eventually released as a stand-alone digital album by Zuntata Records in 2009. Can it possible compare to the original?
Hisayoshi Ogura’s score for the original game made the very most of arcade sound cards back in the today. He created a deep, atmospheric sound by blending synths that imitated organic and inorganic forces. Unfortunately, most of the nuances are lost in the conversion to the 8-bit synth of the Game Boy. While Ogura himself returned to supervise the sound production of this score, resulting in a competent score reduction, the programmers could only achieve so much with the Game Boy’s sound driver. Several tracks from the original game, for example “Captain Neo” and “Cosmic Air Way”, remain quite enjoyable despite being inferior to the original. That’s because these were already very melody-focused and pop-flavoured, so can withstand reduction to the Game Boy’s system.
Unfortunately, the music sounds much less effective when it is based on the more abstract themes from the original. For example, “Boss Scene 1” is a minimalistic track that resolves entirely around a repetitive pulsating bass line and some treble frills. It was quite effective in its arcade version because, despite having to make many compromises, Ogura was still able to capture a sense of a dangerous otherworldly encounter. Despite the efforts of the sound team, the bass synth sounds too feeble and the treble synth too upbeat to fully capture the danger onscreen. The other boss themes generally follow suit, never coming close to matching the originals.
While the boss themes of Darius were never its biggest drawcard, its other three stage themes were. The original “Chaos”, “Inorganic Beat”, and “The Sea” are all among Hisayoshi Ogura’s masterpieces: each perfectly captured the scenery of the stages they were used in while proving musically fascinating on a stand-alone basis due to their abstract stylings. Unfortunately, these tracks are completely broken in Sagaia: “Chaos” now sounds like a broken jingle rather than an avant-garde masterpiece, “Inorganic Beat” lacks any of the impetus or impact of the original, and the atmospheric soundscaping and exciting buildup of “The Sea”. Hisayoshi Ogura’s intentions are completely compromised in these renditions.
In short, this rendition of the Darius soundtrack is vastly inferior to the original. This is due to no fault of the programmers, but rather the Game Boy’s specifications that were never suited for a soundtrack as complex as Darius‘. Instead of attempting to translate the very complex originals to the Game Boy, the developers should have perhaps all-new compositions that complemented the simple visuals and limited specs of this game. Skip this album and stick with the originals instead.
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Posted on November 7, 2015 by Chris Greening. Last modified on November 8, 2015.