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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Game Music Showcase: Muscle March

In 2006, a new arcade game was released in Japan, consisting of two vertical levers. The game inside the cockpit was full of typical Japanese insanity, and was called Muscle Kōshinkyoku (マッスル行進曲), or what we know in the US today as Muscle March (500 Wii Points on Wiiware). The idea was to control a bodybuilder's arms with these two levers (or your Wiimote) and chase after a protein shake-stealing thief. He busts through walls and your arm positions have to match the hole created to proceed. Simple concept, but with a crazy presentation, crazier than we are trying to make it sound. Go look for footage of the game! You will never keep a straight face after that.

Starting from Taiko 11, part of that game's soundtrack was used as songs in Taiko no Tatsujin. They are sung by Kani Prince and arranged by Akitaka Toyama (遠山明孝) known for the creation of other Namco Original songs like The Carnivorous Carnival.


-Muscle series-


 PaPaPa Love
Taiko 11, All consolex4 (128)x6 (188)x6 (303)x8 (456)
Taiko 0 Mx3 (128)x5 (188)x6 (303)x8 (456)
Taiko 11, Taiko 0 M, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 2, CD 2008
 Namco Original -> Game Music

The first Muscle March song, introduced in Taiko 11. The lyrics are pretty much about nothing but love for buffed-out bodies and six-packs. Also starts a trend for the rest of the series- there's always one absurdly long balloon note slotted in somewhere in the song. In this case, it's in the middle, before the chorus. 120 hits! You need muscles to finish it. A frantic mix of clusters and overall quite a tough 8* Oni chart, even without the balloon note factored in.

 Hole in the wall
Allx4 (123)x6 (182)x7 (311)x8 (413)
 Taiko 12, 12 Asian, 12.5, Taiko Wii 1, CD Donderful

Second song in the series, seen on more Taiko versions than its predecessor. Hole in the wall...well, even if you didn't know this song was from Muscle March, you do now, as the game is all about the holes in walls. Features many repetitive beat patterns repeated again and again throughout the first and last part of the song, and the long balloon note, put at the end of the song, has been ramped up to 180 hits. Good luck, you'll need it!

 Make Inu Henjou feat. Kani Prince (負け犬返上 feat.蟹プリンス)
Allx4 (101)x5 (132)x7 (289)x9 (530,491,410)
 Taiko 14, Taiko Wii 3, CD Donderful

Translated as "Losers Give Up", the song revolves around the same theme as the previous two, being from the same game, but you already know that, right? Unlike the first two songs, this one is a different arrangement from the original one by the same name. In the English version of the game, the song is called Underdog Returns! instead.

Make Inu Henjou is the first Muscle March series song to have forked paths and 1/24 notes. It also moves the series from Namco Original to Game Music. There's no long balloon note this time, but that does not stop it from being difficult. In fact, the Master Notes, with all its 1/24 streams and clusters from the middle of the song onwards, is top-tier 9* together with songs like Stage 0.ac11, being full of combobreakers and traps. It gets even worse after the speedup, where it's tough to even remain on Master Notes to FC the song.

 Kinniku no You na Bokura (筋肉のような僕ら) ~Muscle Love Theme~ (~マッスル愛のテーマ~)
Taiko Wii 4x5 (149)x6 (181)x6 (377)x8 (587)
Taiko 0 Mx4 (149)x5 (181)x6 (377)x8 (587)
 Taiko 0 M, Taiko Wii 4, CD Donderful

Like the other Wii games before Ketteiban, it has one song from the wacky Muscle March videogame, and... guess what? It's about muscles again! Unlike the previous three tunes, Kinniku no You na Bokura (titled 'We're like a Muscle!' in Muscle March's English OST) is composed by Yano Yoshito (矢野義人) and not by
Touyama Takaaki. Yoshito is well known for a few Namco Originals and is the person responsible for the boss songs in DS2 and DS3 (Yami no Tamashii and Jigoku no Daiou). Kani Prince did the vocals as usual.

Another oddity can be found in its songID: though this was supposed to be the fourth song from Muscle March in Taiko, its song ID is mscl5. So....where's number four? Oddly enough, the song identified as mscl4, AWAKE, was released much later than this song, making for a songID confusion no one knows the answer to.

Thanks to its fast BPM, its wild cluster succession and its insane Don-note streams (there's a really freaky one at the end!), this song may be mistaken for an Angel Dream song with a title like 'Muscle Dream'! However, Kinniku no You na Bokura's short length puts a restraint on its difficulty level.

AWAKE ~Muscle Mezame no Theme (~マッスル目覚めのテーマ~)
Allx3 (161)x4 (225)x4 (407)x7 (636)
 Taiko 3DS 1, 3, CD Full Combo

The missing piece in the puzzle of the Muscle series was filled in with this song, once again composed by Yano Yoshito (矢野義人). Together with Kayou ~ Flourishing Blossoms ~ and a few other songs, AWAKE was featured in the Full Combo CD soundtrack before getting a playable console release.

Though it has the lowest star rating among the Muscle March songs, it has the highest notecount among them! With the exact same BPM of Kinniku no You (i.e very fast), AWAKE's Oni mode does not have the pressure of multiple clusters as its predecessor. But the real thrill this song offers are the eleven balloon notes, instead of one absurdly long one, and the number of hits increases more and more towards the end, with the time limit for each of them remaining the same (3 beats long)! This pattern of ascending balloon note hits resembles that of Metal Police on regular Oni.

In an unusual twist for the genre, AWAKE is one of the few Game Music songs to get revived for two Taiko games for the same console, with the song being used in Dokodon! Mystery Adventure for the first battle against Hexaglia member Arnold.

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