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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Song of the Week! 30 March 2013

Today's featured song is right before Easter, and is another niche arcade-exclusive track, this time from the Game Music genre.

 TE-20 Fighting Layer
Allx4 (149)x6 (222)x7 (435)x8 (628)
 Taiko 12.5, CD Full Combo

Some Game Music songs in Taiko games have a rather bizarre life cycle through the franchise: if a song isn't popular enough to be featured in more than one arcade and/or console game, a soundtrack CD will later make the song known to players for years to come. That's the case for TE-20, which was revived with last year's 'Full Combo!' soundtrack together with two other rare Game Music tunes from the generation.

TE-20 (pronounced 'teh-two-oh', not 'tee-ee-twenty') comes from the 1998 Namco arcade Fighting Layer (ファイティングレイヤー), a 3D fighting game developed by software house Arika. This pretty obscure coin-op game, born as another variation of Street Fighter's formula, is mostly known around the world for its connection with the actual Street Fighter EX arcade series (also developed by Arika), from which two of Fighting Layer's playable characters (Allen Snider and Blair Dame) come from.

TE-20 is composed by Takayuki Aihara (相原隆行), composer of another new song in Taiko 12 Zoryoban - Negaigoto Puzzle from the Namco Original genre - and other two obscure Game Musics in Taiko (BLUE TOPAZ and Knuckle Heads ~Ouburoukou~). This song is the BGM theme of Tetsuo Kato, one of the game's fighters, and the weird, codename-like title of the song is, as referenced earlier, pronounced as 'tetsuo', the fighter's name (with number play by pronouncing the 20 in English).

However, TE-20's first contact with rhythm games wasn't with Taiko no Tatsujin; several years before Taiko 12 Zoryoban, a different cut of this song was also included in the 2001 PS2 rhythm game Technictix (テクニクティクス). This Japan exclusive game features electro-jazz music from several well-known composers, such as Sampling Master AYA and Mega (both of them once worked in Arika). A PS2 sequel with more songs, called Technic Beat, was later released for both Japan (2002) and North America (2004). Technictix has unorthodox rules for a rhythm game. Players control a small character in a squared stage. In order to clear the stage, players have to activate rings which appear on the stage in time to the music by moving their characters onto them. Rather than explain it further, it's easier to just look at some video footage, like this one with TE-20.

Despite the 8* Oni rank, TE-20 offers repeated, generic note patterns which can also be spotted in many other songs, and is generally pretty easy and unremarkable, which contributed to it falling out of Taiko no Tatsujin right after 12.5 ended its run. If we were to ever see TE-20 in Taiko again, it would probably be a 7* Oni.

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