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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Game Music Showcase: Taito Songs

Taito is one of the more well-known Japanese game makers, mostly for its classic coin-ops, and several of its gaming franchises prevail even today. But did you know that despite being completely based in Japan, Taito was not founded by a Japanese person? It's true! It was founded in 1953 by Michael Kogan, a Russian Jewish businessman as Taito Trading Company, which mainly deals in the import/export of vending machines and jukeboxes. Its first videogame was released in 1978, which is the now-classic Space Invaders, one of the games that triggered the boom period for arcade gaming in the 1980s.

After Space Invaders, the trading company shifted into the interactive entertainment world permanently, renamed as Taito Corporation. Taito was bought up by Square Enix in 2005, making it a subsidiary of the publishing giant, however its projects are still independent from that of Square Enix's, and continues to churn out high-quality games like the Cooking Mama franchise, Music GunGun and BlazBlue, and of course, not forgetting the continuing success of its classic franchises like Bubble Bobble and its countless other shooter games.

All the Taito game songs in this series are composed by ZUNTATA, the official Taito sound team founded by Hisayoshi Ogura (also known as OGR). In its more than 15 years of activity, the band has featured a number of famous Taito developers, such as Masahiko Takaki (Mar.), Yasuhisa Watanabe (Yack), Shuichiro Nakazawa (SHU) and Kazuko Umino (karn.). One of its oldest members, Tamayo Kawamoto, left the band in 2006 and founded another band, Betta Flash, with the singer Cyua.


-Taito series-


 DADDY MULK The Ninja Warriors
Taiko PS2 5x4 (221)x5 (323)x7 (626)x10 (777,733,582)
Taiko 7 to 10x4 (221)x5 (323)x7 (626)x9 (777,733,582)
Taiko 12, 12.5, Taiko PS2 5x4 (221)x5 (323)x8 (626)x9 (777,733,582)
Taiko PS Vitax4 (221)x5 (323)x7 (626)x8 (777,733,582)
 Taiko 7 to 10, 12 to 12.5, Taiko PS2 5, Taiko PS Vita
Variety -> Game Music

This first song comes from the action title The Ninja Warriors, released in the arcade on 1988. In a dystopian Earth of 1993, the President of the United States, Banglar, issues martial law, throwing a veil of terror and injustice over the nation. A group of anarchist scientists creates two androids, code-named "Ninja" and "Kunoichi", in order to stop Banglar's reign. This side-scrolling arcade has a peculiar graphical composition: its three contiguous screens (two of them placed behind the main one and reflected with mirrors) create an unusual "triple wide" screen effect, depicting the ninjas and the other characters.

The iconic Stage 1 BGM of this game, DADDY MULK, was composed by none other than ZUNTATA founder Hisayoshi "OGR" Ogura (小倉久佳). For the songs' portions that are performed with the aid of the Tsugaru Shamisen (a traditional Japanese musical instruments with strings), the solo portions and performing were handled by professional shamisen player Katsunari Sawada (澤田勝成), who later on gave other musical contributions for the Sengoku Musou and Toukiden game series. DADDY MULK quickly rose to be a cold classic alond the years, up to be a recurring track that is played in many ZUNTATA concerts of the past as well as being prime material for remixes; one of those, the DADDY MULK -Groove Remix-, even managed to become collaboration material between the Groove Coaster and maimai series, being featured in both titles as part of one of the earliest cross-over events for the Taito music game franchise.

In Taiko, DADDY MULK's Oni chart opens with a long drumroll that functions exactly like the drumrolls in the Garyoutensei songs, in that the number of hits on that drumroll will take you to different paths. You'll be able to change paths midway through the song, however, and the Normal Course is extremely easy, so it's almost impossible to maintain at that level and FC the song.

More than 8 hits: Master Course
5 to 8 hits: Advanced Course
Less than 5 hits: Normal Course

Alongside Koibumi 2000, DADDY MULK is one of the first songs with 777 notes when it was released on PS2. As a 10* song it instantly became one of the hurdles that needed to be overcome by skilled players. Though the song was downgraded to 9* right after it transitioned to the arcade, it remains a decent challenge, and the continuous note clusters/streams at the end of the song puts on a great deal of pressure, especially since a few streams are even mixed with 1/12 notes.

Kage no Densetsu (影の伝説)
Allx4 (141)x4 (149)x7 (374)x7 (551)
 Taiko 8, Taiko PS2 6

Also composed by Hisayoshi Ogura, Kage no Densetsu (The Legend of Kage in English) comes from the game of the same name, and is its main theme song. Ports to almost everything was common back in the 80s, and just a year after the JP-exclusive arcade original was released in 1985, it was brought to several home consoles and PCs just a year later, both in JP and in the US.

The story revolves around the young ninja named Kage, who has to rescue a princess named Kiri from two other villain ninjas, fighting along a set path through a forest, a secret passage, and into the enemy fortress. The gameplay is straightforward platforming/combat, with Kage wielding shuriken for long-distance firing and a short sword for close-ranged combat. The game loops each time the princess is saved and the seasons change each time, much like stages change color in old arcade games as they are cleared. Kage no Densetsu was later re-released on the Wii Virtual Console and as part of the PC/PS2 compilation disc Taito Legends 2. It also had a sequel 20 years later on the Nintendo DS and a 3D remake on PSP.

The chart on Taiko is quite difficult for a 7* Oni chart with many plain, relentless clusters; loads of red notes and very little break. Even at the moderate BPM it is still one of the most underrated 7* charts today. Shame that the song is quite short though, the clusters are actually really fun to pull off once you get the hang of it.

Allx5 (198)x6 (279)x7 (491)x9 (678)
 Taiko 8, Taiko PS2 6, Medal 1

CAPTAIN NEO in Taiko no Tatsujin is actually a medley from the arcade side-scrolling shooter game Darius, not just the BGM called Captain Neo, and is ZUNTATA's first composition. Darius was released in arcades in 1986. With the support of the space pilots Proco and Tiat, the players have to defeat an evil, fish-like alien population collectively known as the Belser Army. It was the first arcade cabinet by Taito to use the 'triple-wide' illusion screen for the arcade before Ninja Warriors.

The original Darius's score was composed, once again, by Hisayoshi "OGR" Ogura (小倉久佳). Just like for DADDY MULK, its musical legacy had its own role to play in Taito's Groove Coaster series, as Sampling Masters MEGA's own remix of Captain Neo, dubbed Captain NEO -Confusion Mix, went on its way to become a playable song alongside many other tracks from the whole Darius series's history.

Like all medley songs, this one shows a large number of BPM changes. From the 'Coin Insert music' (which lasts barely two seconds), the music shifts to the main piece, Captain Neo, which is the music that plays during your journey to the boss. Then comes the warning music, then the boss music for the A Zone, then the Zone Select music, then the Game Over music. The warning music in the game is accompanied by the infamous message (in Darius, of course, not Taiko!)

CODE NUMBER NO. [Serial number]
[Boss name]

This message was parodied and/or used in many games to come. It also was cause for Guinness World Records celebrations, as it was officially credited as the first videogame with a boss warning BGM in gaming ever made!

CAPTAIN NEO is a tough nut to crack in Taiko. There are some tiring streams at the beginning of the song, a fast and tense middle portion, and the final quarter is 1/12 notes. The BPM changes actually go progressively faster throughout, and is at its peak during the boss battle song and the Zone Select song. Of interesting note are the four balloon notes that scroll one at a time towards you during the warning message, requiring 12, 13, 14, and 15 hits to break respectively, and scroll faster and faster with each one. The song was also included in Medal no Tatsujin as one of the songs in its Taiko minigame.

 URBAN TRAIL Night Striker
Allx3 (101)x6 (218)x6 (314)x9 (659,546,454)
 Taiko 9, Taiko PS2 7

Three years after Darius' release, another Taito shoot-em-up game, Night Striker, was released for Japanese arcades only. Night Striker is one of the few games which involves an early prototype of 3D, with the place flying from the front to the back of the screen (the background is scrolling, creating an illusion that the plane is moving), creating a 1st-person gaming experience similar to Thunder Ceptor.

Composed by Masahiko "MAR." Tanaki (高木正彦), URBAN TRAIL comes from Night Striker's first level. Many years later the Night Striker game's release (and even after its Taiko debut!), the song was remixed by ZUNTATA member Hirokazu 'COSIO' Koshio (小塩広和) and featured in the rhythm game series Groove Coaster as a playable song going under the name of BURN ALT AIR, which in itself is already referencing the original song by having a title which is basically a scrambled version of URBAN TRAIL!

Its Taiko counterpart is a forked-path Oni, with lots and lots of note clusters and a deathstream at the end full of handswitches. Reaching the Master course involves a higher accuracy than usual, so watch out! Together with MAGICAL SOUND SHOWER, it was one of the hardest new 9* songs in Taiko 9.

 Dual Moon Metal Black
Allx4 (139)x6 (216)x7 (510)x9 (752)
 Taiko 10, Taiko PS Vita
 dual / dual2 (Taiko PS Vita only)

Dual Moon comes from Metal Black, yet another Taito arcade shoot'em up, released in 1991 and running on Taito F1 System hardware. In 2042, a companion star from the planet Jupiter hits the Earth, lowering its global defenses and the Earth is then captured by an extraterrestrial cybernetic community from the stars, known only as 'Nemesis'. Only the spacecraft CF-345 Black Fly, borne from the Metal Black Project, can stop the invaders' plan, thanks to its weapons being powered up with the same molecules of Nemesis' bodies. This piece of music comes from ZUNTATA member Yasuhisa "Yack." Watanabe (渡部恭久), and it's used for Metal Black's second level, titled 'Cry of the Moon'.

The original idea for the the song's notechart was to have a note slowly scrolling down to the player since near the beginning of the play, in order to mirror the feelings of the stage on which Dual Moon is played on, with a background small moon slowing drawing closer to the player until ultimately revealing itself as the final boss. The idea was dumped due to the Taiko 10 arcade not being capable of handling really low scrolling modifiers, but it was brought back on its outing on V Version together with the rest of the original chart and a new SongID backing it.

Overall, Dual Moon has a random, unpredictable rhythm and lots of minor BPM changes, featuring some mid-length streams and 1/24 spacing. There's a large break in the middle with only a few notes. Note patterns are complex, with many twos and fours.

 SPLENDOR Kaiser Knuckle
Allx4 (106)x6 (196)x7 (355)x8 (559)
 Taiko 11, 11 Asian

The easiest song in the selection of game music by Taito comes from the 1994 fighting arcade Kaiser Knuckle, known outside of Japan as Global Champion. Just like Dual Moon, Yasuhisa Watanabe is its composer for the second ported-to-Taiko song in a row!

Kaiser Knuckle runs on Taito F4, and is a 2D fighter (those were popular in the 90s) like Street Fighter, Tekken, Soul Calibur and whatever you can think of. But unlike the other games, Kaiser Knuckle's characters have five button for basic attacks instead of the classic three button setup, and power-up moves are available, triggered by certain events in the game. The game also became notorious for having one of the most difficult final boss battles for the genre among fighting fans!

SPLENDOR is the song that plays during the 1st boss battle, and by far, is the only Taito song to have 8* on Oni (the rest have 9*). It is thus quite easy when compared to the rest.

Allx5 (181)x5 (254)x7 (457)x9 (845)
 Taiko 13

Taito certainly loves the shoot-em-up genre. This song once again comes from one of them; the 1993 vertical scrolling shooter game: RayForce, running on Taito F3 System. In a distant future, human governments build a super-computer (named Con-Human) in order to keep track of Earth's environment. One day, when a cloned human's brain comes in contact with Con-Human, the calculator takes control of Earth, erasing all humans and other obsolete vital forms. When the machine starts to attack the human colonies in space, the humans survivors built the ultimate Starfighter - the RVA-818 X-LAY (reference to Axelay?) - in order to destroy Earth and Con-Human.

Composed by Tamayo Kawamoto (河本圭代), PENETRATION is the music that plays in the first area of the game, and offers clear and intuitive beat patterns, unlike this series' first songs. It also has the highest total number of notes in this series, and although a good song, is exclusive to Taiko 13 at this point.

 Extreme MGG★★★ Music GunGun! 2
Allx3 (118)x3 (152)x3 (230)x5 (345)
All (2P)x3 (118)x3 (152)x3 (137/138)x5 (345)
 Taiko 0, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko PS Vita

The Taito series took a long hiatus when it was absent from Taiko 14 and the console games that came with it, but it comes back as part of a software update on Taiko 0 with not one song, but two! These two were released on Taiko as part of the collaboration between Namco and Taito's own rhythm game, called Music GunGun! 2 (ミュージックガンガン!2). On MGG2's release on January 27th 2011 in Japan, Taito included Namco's most iconic Taiko no Tatsujin song in its own tracklist, Saitama 2000, and now it's Namco's time to return the favor.

Music GunGun! 2 runs on the Taito Type X2 arcade board. Players assume the roles of Cyan and Magenta, two freshly-hired members of the Muse Police ('muse' is short for 'music'), a special unit built for the elimination of Sound Monsters, rhythm-eating blobs. Using the arcade's 'Myu-gun' (ミューガン, again, short for 'music'), which is a plastic toy gun not unlike the ones you see in arcade rail shooters, players have to repel a Sound Monster by shooting the enemy's yellow Sound Eaters back to its sender. Sound Eaters scroll to players with different rhythms and patterns, and several game mechanics are involved in order to hit them, from simple shooting/dragging to charging up the Myu-gun for a blast.

Extreme MGG★★★, the first song of the two featured in Taiko, as well as the first Taiko-imported track that is composed by former ZUNTATA member Hirokazu 'COSIO' Koshio (小塩広和). On Music GunGun! 2, this song is one of the toughest songs in the entire game on VERY HARD mode (Lv.32), but the transition to Taiko was a rough patch, lowering it all the way down to 5* Oni. Though, it's not a 5* Oni without some fight in it; the BPM changes and occasional clusters make this chart more challenging than it is.

  Extreme MGG★★★ Music GunGun! 2

x9 (757)
 Taiko 0, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko PS Vita

Trust Namco not to let an awesome song which was supposed to be difficult on its game of origin go to waste with an easy chart. Extreme MGG's rhythmic potential is fully unleashed with its Ura mode, with massive amounts of 2-note clusters and long streams full of handswitches, together with many confusing BPM changes. Right away this chart is recognized as a top-tier 9*, being one of the most difficult and would even easily fit a 10* before the standards were raised.

 Music Revolver (ミュージック・リボルバー) Music GunGun! 2
Allx3 (153)x3 (222)x3 (283)x4 (443)
All (2P)x3 (153)x3 (222)x3 (213 / 218)x4 (443)
 Taiko 0, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko PS Vita

The second Music GunGun! 2 song to be featured in Taiko is made by a composer that many Taiko fans would be familiar with; the mysterious Zeami (世阿弥), father of the 'Rose' and 'no Mai' songs. Music Revolver is the hardest 2-player challenge to face in Music GunGun's VERY HARD mode (Lv.31), and is also the toughest song in the entire MGG tracklist at present.

Music GunGun's songs are arranged into genres which are nearly the same set used on Taiko: J-Pop, Anime, Kids (Children/Folk), Classic, Game Music and Originals. The most notable differences from Namco's rhythm series are a heavier presence of Vocaloid songs (which are all grouped into the 'Hatsune Miku' genre) and a higher number of Game Music collabs; from lots of other games like GO MY WAY!! (The Idolm@ster) and Bad Apple!! (Touhou), and as mentioned above, even Saitama 2000 from Taiko.

Like Extreme MGG before it, the regular Oni notechart of Music Revolver belittles the status of this song as a god-tier challenge, and instead features a clusterless, plain 4* chart on Taiko. And like Extreme MGG, its Muzukashii mode features a duet notechart for 2 players.

  Music Revolver (ミュージック・リボルバー) Music GunGun! 2

x10 (777)
 Taiko 0, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko PS Vita

The fourth new 10* song on Taiko 0, and all of them Uras (Venomous, Dodon ga Don, and Ao no Senritsu). At first glance the chart looks a lot like Taiko Time Ura, with unending clusters and little rest time, but Music Revolver ramps the whole game up by throwing some of the most confusing deathstreams in all of Taiko. They're not the longest, but with irregularity, mixed 1/24 parts and handswitching across streams lasting up to six whole stanzas each (104 notes long!), it makes Music Revolver Ura one of the most difficult song to deal with, both in passing and FCing.

It is the first song since Akuukan Yuuei ac12.5 to have 777 notes, the first Taito song since Daddy Mulk to have this number of notes, and is far harder than any other song with 777 combo, exceeding Koibumi 2000's difficulty by miles, all because of the four crazy deathstreams. Two notes scrolling at x5 speed punctuate the very beginning and end of Music Revolver Ura, and both are very potent in catching players off guard, just like the bullet fired from a revolver.

Like the regular Oni notechart, a noteless section can be seen halfway through, as a tribute to Music GunGun's original gameplay. That long pause matches the Chance Section of the song's MGG gameplay, where players are able to score big points and miss without worrying about life gauge draining.

 Densha de Densha de GO!GO!GO!GC! -GMT remix- (電車で電車でGO!GO!GO!GC! -GMT remix-) COSIO (ZUNTATA/TAITO) / Sawashiro Chiharu
Allx4 (130)x6 (205)x6 (351)x8 (555)
 Taiko 0 M, Taiko PS Vita

Like for the previous two songs, Densha de Densha de GO!GO!GO!GC! has appeared on Taiko arcades thanks to another arcade collaboration, this time involving not only Taito and Bandai Namco, but also Sega as well. The real peculiarity of this event -the Game Music Triangle- was that the main songs being featured were all new remixes and arranges from each of the three software houses's videogame past, with this song being representative of Taito's gaming tradition.

This song is an updated remix of Hideki 'Dr. Haggy' Takahagi (高萩英樹)'s J.A.M. no Densha de Densha de GO!GO!GO! (J.A.M.の電車で電車でGO!GO!GO!), the main theme for Taito's JP-exclusive train simulation franchise Densha de Go! (電車でGO!; lit: Go by (electric) Train!). The games of this series feature a wide number of computer-drawn train/tram routes based on real services in Japan, with the player's task as the conductor being to make sure that the trains crossing their lines reach their destination in time, while also respecting the scheduled timetables and other prescribed indications.

After the arcade debut in 1996, the Densha de Go! franchise counts a huge number of console games for almost every portable and home device since the Playstation, Game Boy Color and Wonderswan period, with each of them featuring different lines, train models and even custom controllers for the games. The main franchise continued both on consoles and PC (thanks to Japanese developer Unbalance) until 2004, with Densha de Go! Final as the ending point of the series. However, this peculiar series found new life after Taito's acquisition by Square-Enix, with another slew of console and mobile phone titles which lasted until 2011.

Being a remixed song, ex-Zuntata member COSIO's Densha de Densha de GO!GO!GO!GC! kept part the original singing provided by Sawashiro Chiharu (沢城千春), a young voice actor whose sister -Sawashiro Miyuki (沢城みゆき)- is also a voice actress as well. The main change between the two songs lies on its lyrics: while the original ones are more related to a traditional Japanese enka song, the ones of the GMT remix follow a more modern vibe, with many references to Taito's rhythm game franchise Groove Coaster and its in-game elements. More specifically, it's about playing the smartphone/iOS Groove Coaster game while riding a train, trying to achieve tons of 'true Full Combo' in there (the so-called 'Full Chain') by hitting correctly both the regular notes and the hidden beats known as AD-LIB.

Densha de Densha de GO!GO!GO!GC! has a rather small BPM, but on Taiko games many in-game gimmicks -such as the Go-Go Time zones during almost all the 'Go!Go!Go!' shouts- keep exciting the upbeat mood of the song during the gameplay, even if the low BPM still makes even the longer and trickier clusters easier to beat. Many different scrolling multiplers also occur during drumrolls and hitballoons (respectively x3 and x5 on Oni mode).

On Taiko, this song's notecharter (which is rumored to be Kuboken after several tweets) has set special notecount values to all of its modes, aside from Oni mode's 555 (which is read as 'Go!Go!Go!' after the song); indeed, Kantan to Muzukashii notecounts all reference popular Japanese electric train series which were also included in Densha de Go! games, such as the KiHa E130 series (Kantan), the 205 series (Futsuu) and the E351 series (Muzukashii).

 Got more raves? E.G.G. / Groove Coaster
Allx4 (344)x6 (414)x6 (546)x8 (702)
 Taiko 0 K

For the fourth time in a row, the addition of a Taito track in a Taiko arcade release is by yet another collaboration event. And what a collaboration it is! In late October 2014, the nationwide event known as the Tenkaichi Otogesai (天下一音ゲ祭, lit. The Universe's Greatest Rhythm Game Festival) brought together rhythm game players in the participating stores of the Arcade Operating Union (AOU for short), to try out old and new tracks from 4 different franchises in a dreamy crossover event linking Bandai Namco, Taito, Sega and Konami for the first time ever! The first phase are song exports from each producer, and from there we find this infamous boss song as the representative of Groove Coaster, Taito's latest (and most successful) rhythm franchise right now.

Developed by Matrix Studios and released worldwide, Groove Coaster is one of the few arcade rhythm game series that started up as a simple application by the same name for Apple's iOS family, back in July 28th, 2011, that is still running. In the game, players are represented by an avatar character that travels on a rail, like in a roller coaster ride. As the song progresses, notes of different colors and shapes pop up and it's up to the player to hit them correctly by either tapping the touchscreen, hold certain notes and flicking their fingers in certain directions.

While the original game had a preset selection of songs (mostly featuring tunes from in-house ZUNTATA composers, COSIO and Shohei Tsuchiya), the 2012 free-to-play sequel Groove Coaster Zero features experience-based song unlocking methods and additional song packs that can be purchased, in the same fashion as the Taiko Plus app, with many J-Pop and Anime tracks available as exclusives to Japanese users. One year later, on November 5th 2013, Groove Coaster became an actual arcade game in Japan, where the touchscreen control inputs are replaced by two paddles that can be tilted and pushed, making for a new array of arcade-exclusive notes and an all-around more advanced experience. The arcade can be updated through software and firmware updates just like most modern arcade cabs, with their first major firmware update -Groove Coaster EX- released on May 26th in 2014. One month earlier, the arcade was also released for overseas market as well, under the RHYTHMVADERS title.

One of the Tenkaichi Otogesai's youngest franchises, Groove Coaster shared Got more raves?, the very first boss song of the original arcade release. Among the Phase 1 songs for the event, GMR was notable for two merits: it's the only one of the crossed-over songs to have a long version (featured in the 2014 Groove Coaster Original Soundtrack) and it's the only track whose composer was only known by his alias rather than a real identity. The song is made by E.G.G. (acronym for 'Everything Get Groove'), a mysterious composer whose songs have become notorious not only for their high challenge rate but also for creating hidden English anagrams within the title; for example, in the case of Got More Raves? the title can be re-arranged as 'Groove master?', further underlining its status as boss song. Later on, it was revealed through a doujin album release that the person hiding behind the E.G.G. alias is actually Hirokazu 'COSIO' Koshio (小塩広和).

On Taiko, the song's high BPM value would result in an insane scroll speed, but it is relieved slightly by a lower scroll speed of x0.65 to x0.75, also giving a false sense of 1/12 note patterns where they are actually the typical 1/16 (like in Xa). Aside from the beginning and very end, this gives Oni players a manageable first taste of hyperspeed songs above BPM 250, which have become quite a trend in current difficult notecharts.

  Got more raves? E.G.G. / Groove Coaster

x10 (824)
 Taiko 0 K

All three first-phase Tenkaichi Otogesai crossover songs have Ura Onis, all of them capping out at 10*, and all of them ungodly difficult. When compared to its siblings from Sega (Garakuta Doll Play Ura) and Konami (FLOWER Ura), Got more raves? Ura is the easiest of the bunch, though that's not saying much if you're not yet used to hyperspeed.

Taking a page from Phantom Rider's Ura Oni book, GMR amps up on its original Oni chart by adding more clusters and complex patterns, and many varied scroll speeds to trip players up.

 FUJIN Rumble COSIO / Groove Coaster
Allx5 (223)x6 (352)x8 (532)x10 (751)
 Taiko 0 K

The next Taito song in Taiko gaming also comes from the aforementioned 1st edition of the Tenkaichi Otogesai event, with Groove Coaster's Phase 2 instrumental song about the power of the wind. After all, Fujin is the Japanese god of winds!

FUJIN Rumble is composed by Hirokazu 'COSIO' Koshio (小塩広和), a former ZUNTATA member whose works have heavily sustained the foundation of the Groove Coaster franchise. Born June 2nd, 1980, he joined the Kyushu Institute of Design in 2003, from where he graduated 2 years later. Right after obtaining his Acoustic degree, Koshio was hired by Taito's in-house sound musician unit, where he made music for some of the company's games, such as the Music Gun! Gun! rhythm series, the mobile game Space Invaders Infinity Gene and the aforementioned Groove Coaster, for which he -together with ZUNTATA member Shohei Tsuchiya (土屋昇平)- single-handedly created most the game's playable songs, while also contributing on the creation of more tracks for the franchise's later releases. He graduated from ZUNTATA on November 2015, as announced during the 'ZUNTATA Night 8' livestream session, and he's currently a freelancer musician. To know more about this composer, you can check out COSIO's Twitter account and website.

Much like for Got more raves?, FUJIN Rumble's Taiko modes are charted by Arihotto (アリーホット), who emphasizes the song's aggressive BPM with both Go-Go Time cluster barrages, occasional scrolling speed spikes and confusing note spacing towards the end, mixing up 1/12, 1/16 and 1/24 beat intervals altogether for an hectic race towards the song's end.

 Good-bye my earth Dariusburst
Allx3 (83)x5 (123)x7 (265)x8 (476)
 Taiko 3DS 3

After all the fancy rhythm games collaborations with Taito on the arcade grounds, the third Nintendo 3DS Taiko game has introduced to the drumming franchise a Taito song which on the paper doesn't seem to have a rhythm game past... OR DOES IT?!

Before answering this self-made question, let's delve into the game that originated it: Dariusburst (ダライアスバースト), the latest chapter in Taito's space shoot-em-up Darius series. Set a century after the original Darius's first sequel (Darius II), a new couple of pilots are called upon to use the new models of Silver Hawk fighters to repel the latest attacks of the fish-looking Belser Army from the Darius planet's surface. New to the game is the titular Burst system, which allows the players to gather energy from each enemy destroyed to be channeled into a secondary laser cannon, whose fire trajectory can be adjusted by moving and can be fired together with the ships' regular weapons. Players' choice is also a relevant factor in the game, be it between the two pilots, the three Silver Hawk models and branching paths inside the levels that may lead to multiple endings.

Being initially released for Japanese console grounds (more specifically the Playstation Portable) on Christmas' Eve in 2009, Dariusburst has gained a surprising number of ports and remasters, starting with an arcade version titled Dariusburst Another Chronicle (ダライアスバースト アナザークロニクル) on December the year after, under the Taito Type X² widescreen arcade model. The Type X² cabinet screen's aspect ratio is currently the biggest one in arcade gaming worldwide, and as such it has awarded the Darius series of yet another Guinness World Records award in 2010!

The Another Chronicle arcade was updated to the Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX version in 2011 with new features, while a port for Android/Apple devices was released on February 10th, 2012, under the name of Dariusburst Second Prologue (ダライアスバースト セカンドプロローグ). The rest of the world has been able to jump into the Dariusburst action only with the aforementioned Apple app and the original Dariusburst's revised version Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours (ダライアスバースト クロニクルセイバーズ), available in the Western market as a PS4/PS Vita/Windows title on December 2015, with Japanese releases slated for the following month.

The song Good-bye my earth is made by Dariusburst's very own musical center-stage star: Shohei Tsuchiya (土屋昇平). Born on June 1979, he learned playing the piano since his kindergarten years, while also playing the electric bass for school bands up until the university years. His will to compose music made him drop his university studies at the third year in order to enter vocational school, under which year he composed an impressive amount of original work in one year, with the artist himself revealing for a 2-parter Dengeki Online.com interview to be from 300 to 400 pieces! This musical dedication has made it stand out to From Software studios, which have employed him for four years from 2004. In 2008, he became a member of Taito's in-house ZUNTATA unit and after some musical jingles for the 2008 medal game Fantasy Coliseum (ファンタジーコロシアム), he became the main composer for Dariusburst, despite of the fact that Shohei Tsuchiya had very little knowledge about either Taito of the Darius series! Either way, his musical debut was proven to be a success, with the composer still in activity for Taito gaming means, especially towards the company's rhythm game franchises with the aforementioned Music Gun!Gun! and Groove Coaster, which also received Good-bye my earth as a playable song (link).

The Taiko notecharting's thought process appears to be one of the most intuitive ones ever conceived in musical grounds, as the song's modes are mainly based on the drum percussion in the base song! For its Oni mode, this meant the implementation of both 1/16 clusters and mono-color 1/24 spikes for a well-balanced 8* challenge.

 Rising Warrior Blade
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 Taiko 3DS 3

For another song from Taito gaming that actually had no music game links before Taiko, here's one of the BGM tracks from Warrior Blade (ウォリアーブレード), the unsuspected third and final chapter in the classic Rastan videogame series, as also the 'Rastan Saga Episode III' subtitle tells us.

Released in 1991 as a Japan arcade exclusive, this game diverges a bit from the path marked by the two previous games; while these were mainly 2D action/platform games, Warrior Blade was a wide-screen side-scrolling brawler instead, with game mechanics not very dissimilar to other games of the time such as Double Dragon, Sega's Golden Axe or the (then) freshly-released Final Fight by Capcom. In this game, the barbaric warrior Rastan is traveling across the land of Depon in search for treasures along his two companions: the hireling Dewey and the thief Sophia. The music of the game is composed by Masahiko "MAR." Tanaki (高木正彦) of Ninja Warriors fame, while the arcade became distinguishable to have a playing field that's double the size of an average screen (for arcades of that period) by simply linking two screens together for a single arcade. The game was ported later on in one of the twin Taito Memories II collections for PlayStation 2, but it never ventured outside the Japanese borders.

Featuring a fluctuating BPM, the DADDY MULK vibes in this song make quite easy to make the comparisons notechart-wise, but while continuous note clusters and the shamisen portion are the highlights of the former, Rising is more incline to different timing signatures for its clusters, especially during the song's second half portion.

 OLGA BREEZE [Sun Scene] (OLGA BREEZE [太陽シーン]) Darius II
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 Taiko 3DS 3

With Taito-based songs contributing to Dokodon! Mystery Adventure's default song list lineup with two never-heard-before tracks, yet another song from the arcade-oriented company's gaming legacy was given the privilege to write the end chapter of said Taiko game's DLC content support, with a choice song medley from the 1989 horizontal shooter Darius II (ダライアス) being featured in the very last song pack.

The source game is a direct sequel to the original Darius from 3 years before and as such, the story being told is a continuation to the victorious conclusion achieved in the first game, with the colonized planet Darius being rid of the invading Belser army and undergoing a steady reconstruction progress. During the planet's restoration, the inhabitants of Darius were relocated on planet Olga, which one fateful day is greeted with an SOS signal coming from planet Earth. With the support inquire describing space ships reminishent of the Belsar army design, Olga's inhabitants believe that the request might have come from their Earthling ancestors, thus deciding to send there the sons of the first game's protagonists -Proco Jr. and Tiat Young- to investigate.

Darius II features the same brand of multi-screen horizontal shoot-em-up action from the original game, now enriched with a more diversified weapon upgrade system and sub-bosses to face in the middle of the game's stages. The console porting history of the title had quite the curious route among the ages; starting from the edited version for Sega consoles, we can nover a Master Drive/Genesis version (December 20th, 1990 in Japan and the year later in NA) as well as the Europe-exclusive Master System port of 1992, each featuring less stages/bosses and being ported under the alternate title of Sagaia (サーガイア). Japan got two exclusive console versions in the months of December in 1991 and 1993, respectively the release dates for Darius II's Game Boy and Turbografx-16 edits. The actual arcade version was instead fully ported for Japan and Europe only as a Sega Saturn title in 1996, with a later port slated for the Japan-exclusive PS2 collection game Taito Memories II Joukan (タイトーメモリーズII 上巻), on January 2007.

Faithful by the standard set on Taiko by the CAPTAIN NEO medley, the 'Sun Scene' version of OLGA BREEZE that has been made playable is actually a medley consisting -in that order- of the credit-triggered COIN BGM, the Stage 1 music track OLGA BREEZE and the end-level ROUND CLEAR jingle, all of them being composed by Hisayoshi "OGR" Ogura (小倉久佳). Alternating between regularly-paces 1/16 stanza sections and trickier cluster formations, the OLGA BREEZE-inspired medley makes also use of some subtle scrolling speed changes to match the pace of both the beginning part and the pre-Go-Go Time portion, with the more intricate cluster-based segments being left for the latter half of this medley.

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1 comment:

  1. Video link for CAPTAIN NEO is broken
    New one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuui2Ld31ak