Note Worthy 011: Twilight Symphony, NSMBU, NESteryears

Soundtracks you should be listening to!

This sounds like the Nintendo edition, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, we also have other cool stuff like The World Ends With You -Crossover- and Saturday Morning RPG, the soundtrack you never knew you wanted.

There are a lot of big releases featured in this issue, including the highly-anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Symphony album. We’ve also posted extensively about NESteryears, so hopefully you’ve already picked it up. If not, here’s your chance to do so.

Enjoy this issue and please take note that we have more samples than any previous issue of Note Worthy courtesy of the Destructoid SoundCloud (thanks to all the publishers who gave us the go ahead to feed you these samples!).

Also, as mentioned at our panel at MAGFest 11, please comment on Note Worthy’s format and let us know if you’d prefer individual posts, more frequent updates with five or so reviews every two weeks, or if the monthly format is just fine!

Release Date: December 5, 2012
Price: $9.99
Availability: iTunes
Artist(s): Various Artists

This is the soundtrack to Taito’s latest tap-based rhythm game for iOS, Groove Coaster Zero. Following in the footsteps of Groove Coaster, there are a number of electronic tracks up on offer, but the catch this time is that there are a number of big-name composers involved.

In-house ZUNATA composer COSIO handles many of the tracks, bringing a dreamy electronic soundscape to the title with original tracks like “Eclipse Landscape” and remakes of tracks from the original Groove Coaster, of which his “Invader Disco (GCZ Edition)” is probably my favorite. And if you ever wanted an electronic remix of “Star-Spangled Banner,” COSIO has you covered here. Artist Shohei Tsuchiya, also of ZUNTATA, gives us the house-tinged “Sleep” and one of my favorite tracks, “Kannanshinku (GCZ Edition).”

Regarding the special guests, Squre Enix’s Mitsuto Suzuki starts us off with a weird bassy rap that is a bit too strange for my tastes, while electronic master Shinji Hosoe gives us a fun ethnic-tinged track. Masashi Hamauzu gives us his signature sound with vocals by Mina in “Shooting Star (GCZ Edition),” while fans of The World Ends With You will enjoy Takeharu Ishimoto’s “Dreamer (GCZ Edition).”

This is a decent collection of a music, but for 14 tracks totaling less than 30 minutes of music, $9.99 is a bit steep. Still, if you enjoy the game and want to take the tunes with you, here it is.

Halo 3: ODST Original Soundtrack
Release Date: September 22, 2009
Price: $15.98
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Martin O’Donnell, Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, Stan LePard

Let’s take a look back at Halo 3: ODST, which came to us back in 2009 with a very different gameplay style and accompanying soundtrack. Lead composer Martin O’Donnell made it no secret that film noir was one of his influences for this score, and that comes through right from the start with a seductive saxophone calling out from beneath the sound of rain. The soundtrack is also considerably more emotional and character-driven than those that came before it.

Of particular note is the title’s main theme, which comes as broody and simple, yet instantly catchy, making it a great thing that it’s repeated so frequently throughout the score. There’s a contemplative version with a repetitive bass line in “More Than His Share” that I love, along with a badass rock version in “Traffic Jam.” There’s sexy and seductive in “Neon Night” and “Bits and Pieces,” and a desperate version found in “The Office of Naval Intelligence.” The ominous and windy version in “One Way Ride” and the cool electronic version found in “The Light at the End” also stand out.

But enough about the main theme. There are tons of great moments here, including the guttural opener, “The Rookie,” the Daft Punk-esque electronics found in “More Than His Share,” and the emotional piano, strings, and saxophone track, “Deference for Darkness.” There’s the Halo-standard tribal percussion and rock in “The Managerie,” and some lovely distant electric guitar wailing in “Asphalt and Absolution.” “Special Delivery” acts as sort of a climax along with “Finale,” and both provide for an epic ending.

I wrote previously that the Halo: Reach was one of my favorites in the series. I stand by that, but Halo 3: ODST was something new and entertaining all the same. It’s worth checking out for those yearning to dig back into Halo music of old.

Nanosweep 14 / overdrive hell 7: Hizumi Tengoku to Kanja no Ishi
Release Date: August 13, 2012
Price: 500 Yen ($6)
Availability: Limited
Artist(s): SuperSweep

Alright, it’s about time I get to talk about Nanosweep and overdrive hell from SuperSweep. In case you haven’t heard of SuperSweep before, the studio is headed up by electronic extraordinaire Shinji Hosoe who’s one of the most prolific composers and arrangers in the business. Just look at his VGMdb profile here. He’s worked alongside Ayako Saso and many others over the years on a variety of game soundtracks, but every once in awhile the team releases a set of original compositions events throughout Japan for cheap.

Nanosweep encompasses electronic music by a bunch of Ridge Racer guys, including SuperSweep and Namco Bandai’s Hiroshi Okubo. This edition gets five tracks starting with the super cool and icy “Blue” by Okubo, the deep funk “Luz” by Ryo Watanabe, the racey “Deep Freeze Gun” by Hosoe, a club tune with vocals called “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” by Saso, and a pounding and chaotic “Welcome(flex)” by SuperSweep’s Takahiro Eguchi.

Now, overdrive hell on the other hand is an electronic music experiment that’s not for the faint of heart. Lots of sampling of vocal snippets, throbbing percussion, hammering synth lines, and vulgar titles are its hallmark. The tracks are titled in sequential ‘lessons’ with lesson 27 through 30 found here. Track titles include “Harry rage of kidney stones,” “Beat Malfoy diarrhea,” and “Dudley fart dance” this time around. I can’t say much stuck with me from overdrive hell 7, but I found the weird folky acoustic guitars in “Beat Malfoy diarrhea” and the emphasis on the lower end in “Dudley fart dance” that sounds… well, farty, to be humorous.

These discs are hard to come by outside of Japan, but are worth having a friend pick up if they go to game music events where SuperSweep is on hand.

Release Date: January 3, 2013
Price: $10 (physical) / $7 (digital)
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): bLiNd

If you don’t recall, bLiNd’s DJ set at MAGFest 11 was one of my favorite performances of the event. Most of what was performed came from his recently-released album, NESteryears.

Now, if there’s one thing you need to know about bLiNd, it’s that he’s one of the best remixers out there doing electronic music, and you can bet there are a lot of those. What makes his work so great is that he takes liberties with his arrangements, transforming them in unexpected ways so that even those you’ve heard remixed a million times sounds fresh and amazing.

And that’s the genius of NESteryears. There are a lot of game music standards here, including the Super Mario Bros. world 1-2 theme, “Vampire Killer” from Castlevania, “Wily 1” from Mega Man 2, “Title” from Metroid, and the fight theme from Punch Out! However, there’s always a spin on the melody, a shift in the bass, or an unexpected breakdown that really adds something entirely new. His tasteful use of sound effect sampling will also bring a smile to your face on more than one occasion.

Some remixes are from lesser-known but equally awesome sources. Take “Death Mountain” from The Legend of Zelda. Who remixes that? Prepare yourself for this dubstep-meets-rock arrangement that will have your subwoofer rumbling. From there, “Killer Seaweed” from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will blow your mind with its dreamy electronic ambiance, and “Moonstyle” from Ducktales (one of my favorite songs of all time) will have you bopping your head with the beat. And the Pac-Man remix? It’s weird as hell.

All of the tracks on this album are pure magic, and it comes in at nearly an hour in length. Stream it below and on Bandcamp, then buy it! I can’t wait to call this one out as one of my favorites of 2013 when the end of the year rolls around!

New Super Mario Bros. U
Release Date: N/A
Price: N/A
Availability: In-game
Artist(s): Shiho Fujii and Mahito Yokota

When a new Mario game comes out, I’m always interested in hearing what they do with the music. While the Super Mario Galaxy titles have featured some of the best music in the franchise, the New Super Mario Bros. titles have been somewhat lackluster in the soundtrack department over the years, so would the Wii U get something new and exciting to show off the system’s audio capabilities?

The answer is simply no. I think most fans are already aware that most of the game’s music was re-used from previous New Super Mario Bros. titles, which is really a huge missed opportunity. With Mahito Yokota on board (the primary composer of Super Mario Galaxy), I had high expectations, but even the borrowed material wasn’t all that great to begin with. The main theme is new, but doesn’t really do much to capture me with its melody.

While the game’s soundtrack is a disappointment, I will say that from a sound design perspective, the team at Nintendo has done a lot of fun things with the game’s audio. Take, for instance, the added musical backing when riding Yoshi or the singing of baby yoshi. These are new sounds that were not featured in previous Mario titles (the singing baby yoshis are particularly adorable), but I can’t say this is new. Also, the dancing coins found in a few stages and the enemies stopping to dance along with the melody, while cute, are also borrowed from past Mario titles. Still, I appreciate the interactive themes used in the game’s sound design.

Much as people complained about re-used visual assets in the game, I’m just as let down by the audio, but I hope this means that Yokota is busy on the next major Mario or Zelda title given he didn’t contribute much, if any, new music to this game.

Release Date: February 2, 2012
Price: $5.99
Availability: Steam
Artist(s): Baiyon

I’ve heard a lot about PixelJunk Eden and its soundtrack created by artist Baiyon. It’s not really fair to simply call Baiyon the game’s composer, however, as he was also involved with the game’s visuals, which, in my opinion, are inseparable.

Included here are the soundtracks to PixelJunk Eden and the DLC content. I happened to give this one a listen before playing the game and thought to myself, “Okay, this is some pretty authentic house music.” There isn’t much in the way of melody, so I didn’t find myself hooked like I had expected. I’d describe this soundtrack as heavy chillout music for the most part, which I found matched perfectly with the game’s psychedelic neon-colored visuals when I finally got around to playing it. As far as outside listening is concerned, however, you’re not going to find a lot to drag you in, but it does make for great electronic music if that’s your thing.

The problem for me is that I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the game. As such, I’m not the biggest fan of the game’s soundtrack. I did enjoy “Flat frog” with its ribbit-like sounds in the background and the jazzy “621 Balena,” but I think this one may be best reserved for those looking for some experimental electronic chillout music, and more importantly, those who loved the game.

The PixelJunk Eden soundtrack was released on CD back in 2008, but this release encompasses the DLC content. Unfortunately it’s only available on Steam to those who purchase the game, which is fine given that the music is best enjoyed in the context of the game.

Release Date: July 27, 2011
Price: 2,625 Yen ($30)
Availability: Limited
Artist(s): Kouichi Namiki, Hiro

Prepare yourself for the excitement that is Rail Chase! I’ve never seen this arcade (maybe it was only in Japan?), but apparently somebody loved the music enough to warrant Sega releasing a soundtrack album to celebrate the series (yes, there are three Rail Chase titles).

What you’ll care about is the original Rail Chase soundtrack which is composed in classic Sega fashion with fantastic melodies, and oddly, track names in Spanish. The pumping boss themes are particularly cool, but everything here is great.

Rail Chase 2 gets an upgraded sound, but most of the melodies are uninspired with tracks making use of strange samples that are more annoying than entertaining. There’s “Dark Beat” that reminds me a bit of Ninja Gaiden and the dancey “Runnin’” that I enjoyed, and there’s even an unused track titled “Devil’s Factory” that is more pop-tinged with strings and tribal percussion accents. The final game in the set, Rail Chase The Ride Eiyuu Fukkatsu Hen, gets the cinematic orchestral treatment with a pretty snazzy main theme that is repeated throughout. “Setting Off” stands out for sounding almost like a Zelda field theme.

The booklet features some funny promotional art and shots of the arcade machines. Unfortunately Sega doesn’t sell many of their smaller CDs like this through major outlets, so it is a little hard to come by. Really, though, $30 isn’t worth what’s here. If this ends up on iTunes, I recommend checking out the original Rail Chase soundtrack for some classic Sega goodness.

Saturday Morning RPG
Release Date: TBA
Price: TBA
Availability: Not for sale
Artist(s): Vince DiCola and Kenny Meriedeth

Surprise! Vince DiCola is working in videogames.

In case you didn’t know, Vince DiCola is the man behind the Transformers animated movie soundtrack and Rocky IV, and is one of my musical heroes. His signature progressive rock sound with heavy electronic bass lines will probably remind you of the ‘80s, but I think it’s great even today, and his work has been cited as a major inspiration to composers including Jake “virt” Kaufman and many others.

Saturday Morning RPG is an episodic indie game that pays homage to the 1980s, and DiCola and his writing partner Kenny Meriedeth’s soundtrack couldn’t be more appropriate. Those familiar with his work on the Transformers animated movie will be right at home from the time the main theme kicks in with a beautiful marriage between synths and live guitar work. From there, several upbeat tracks are featured, but my favorites are the heavy rock-oriented battle themes as well as his rock variation of a track titled “Castle of the Gods.” You gotta love that deep electronic bass that DiCola is best known for, and his use of rock organ in one track will have you thinking of more modern acts like Nobuo Uematsu’s The Black Mages/Earthbound Papas.

Exploring new territory, the sleek and smooth “Power Plant” impresses with its sexy guitar work and snappy percussion, while “Saved by a Bell” explores pop territory with bell tones and deep reverb over a warm melody.

I can’t be more excited that DiCola is getting involved in games. As more episodes are released, more music will be out there, and we hope that a soundtrack release will be prepared. In the meantime, enjoy the samples below and tell us how awesome it is. And check out the game itself here.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Symphony
Release Date: Early 2013
Price: $49.99 (physical) / TBA (digital)
Availability: Sold out (physical) / Digital retailers (TBA)
Artist(s): ZREO

After being involved with the reveal of this massive undertaking both at OSV and Dtoid, the release of Twilight Symphony, an impressive three-disc orchestral re-imagining of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess’s soundtrack is finally upon us.

To really appreciate this album, you’re going to need to listen to it in its entirety. It’s emotional, fun, dark, and epic, just like the game. Unfortunately the game never received a proper soundtrack release, but after listening to this, I’ve come to realize that this was the way to go. Even if the soundtrack were to be released today, it would sound dated, and so this re-imagining which uses high-end sample libraries augmented with live performances and choir is truly the best way to experience this soundtrack.

Right from the opening “Overture,” which visits many themes from the game, you know you’re in for something special. I love the whimsical “Ordon Village,” the wonderful guitar work in “Ordon Ranch,” the beautiful and mysterious “Midna,” the nostalgic “Hyrule Castle,” and the dark and moody “Light Spirit’s Message.” The epic take on “Hyrule Field,” the gentle and sweet “Kakariko Village,” the moody guitar work in “Gerudo Valley” and the soothing piano found in “Rutela’s Wish” are all highlights of the album. On the topic of piano, “Midna’s Lament” comes as a gorgeous piano concerto, and the surprisingly tumultuous “Princess Zelda,” foreboding “History of Light and Shadow,” and majestic “Fishing Hole” were unexpected treats.

There are many epic cues that come in towards the end, and it’s obvious a lot of the recording budget was used here. I was never a big fan of the broodier Zelda stuff, but as far as the listening experience, this brings us to the climax quite nicely. The ending theme meanders through several tracks, tying everything together.

I’m so thrilled to see this album finally on the horizon. I know fans are going to love it, and it’s great to see such a massive undertaking by what amounts to a group of hardcore Zelda fans with some amazing musical talents.

The World Ends With You (Subarashiki Kono Sekai) -Crossover-
Release Date: September 20, 2012
Price: 1,890 Yen ($24)
Availability: Square Enix e-Store Japan
Artist(s): Takeharu Ishimoto

For those who were excited about The World Ends With You Crossover for iOS, this album’s for you. It contains ten tracks spanning almost 45 minutes that includes everything from remixes and originals featured in Crossover to remixes from the recently-released Kingdom Hearts 3D soundtrack.

Yes, The World Ends With You was featured in Kingdom Hearts 3D, and three key tracks received new remixes, including “TWISTER,” “SOMEDAY,” and “CALLING.” The latter is probably my favorite as it’s the most different from the original with dreamy bell tones and a more synth approach. It’s nice to see these here for fans who love The World Ends With You but don’t care for Kingdom Hearts (what kind of person is this, you ask? Why, me!).

The two Crossover remixes of “TWISTER” and “DTM” are also great, with new vocals. The nearly seven minute-long “DTM” is particularly cool with its new duet between male and female vocals.

The new tracks are the highlight, however. I love the pop-oriented “Jump Over Yourself,” the grungy “TATAKAI” with a chorus section that reminds me of Faith no More, and the guttural and high energy “MMM / The World Ends With You.” My favorite track on the album, however, is “RUN AWAY,” mixing piano, glassy and filtered synth lines, and English vocals that turn from melancholy to inspirational. It’s worth checking out.

Overall, this is a solid collection, but unfortunately Square Enix hasn’t made it widely available. Hopefully it’ll hit e-Stores outside Japan in the near future.

Jayson Napolitano