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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Song of the Week! 20 September 2014

We've already seen how, with the huge number of songs out there, a lot of occasions where there is just a single letter difference between two song titles. This week's feature is no exception! Check it out and see why.

 Wonder Momo (ワンダーモモ)
x5 (255)x6 (423)x7 (509)
 Taiko PS2 3
 Pop (Game Music)

Here is another week of 80s classic Namco games! This time we're taking a close look at some musical arrangements of the company's very last 8-bit videogame (and System 87 arcade board).

The game in question is called Wonder Momo (ワンダーモモ), released in the arcades on February 1987 and ported to PC Engine two years later. This is a 2D fighting game where players guide the titular Momo on stage performances in the fictional Namco Theater. In Momo's play, she aims to bring justice to the city by defeating its many enemies, both as her regular self and as Wonder Momoi, her secret identity a-la Ultraman who sports many different fighting moves outside of her usual kicks. For its time, the game was one of the first to focus on both superhero trope parody and soft fan-service (mostly at the expense of Momo, as stunning attacks).

After some ports of the original game, Wonder Momo went through an 'underground renaissance', as the interest towards its world and characters was boosted by different forms of media. Just like Klonoa, Wonder Momo got a web comic series in 2012 (called 'Wonder Momo: Battle Idol') and an animated mini-series two years later, endorsed by Bandai Namco themselves! A second videogame is also scheduled to release for personal computers in 2014 thanks to WayForward Technologies, titled Wonder Momo: Typhoon Booster, also available on iOS and Android devices.

'Wonder Momo' is actually a custom arrangement, made by Ryo Yonemitsu (米光亮) and based on composer Kimio Yudate (弓達 公雄)'s BGMs of the game. The final result is a song using actual in-game lines, sung by TAKA (...no, not that TAKA...) and Masagoro Tsuda (津田 まさごろ). Before being featured in a Taiko game, this original arrangement was featured in the second volume of the Namco soundtrack CD series Namco Video Game Graffiti (ナムコ・ビデオゲーム・グラフィティ). The one on Taiko is a cut from this version.

It's a rather long song for its time (having more than 500 notes was also pretty hefty at the time), Wonder Momo fits in the old high-difficulty tiers with 1/16 note clusters all along the way, with a brief BPM/scrolling change in the middle. Like nearly all the songs of the PS2 game, there is no Kantan mode for this tune.

 Wonder Momoi (ワンダーモモーイ)
Taiko Anime 2x4 (196)x5 (283)x6 (436)x8 (549) (video)
Taiko 8 to 9, Taiko PSP 2x4 (196)x5 (285)x6 (436)x8 (550/530/490)
Taiko Wii U 3x4 (196)x5 (285)x6 (436)x7 (550/530/490)
 Taiko 8, 9, Taiko Anime 2, Taiko Wii U 3, Taiko PSP 2
 Namco Original -> Game Music

Add on a single character at the back and the song transforms entirely, the same way Momo does in her game! Unlike Wonder Momo, this song enjoyed a wider distribution on more Taiko games both arcade and console.

For Wonder Momoi, it's impossible to talk about the song itself without mentioning the voice actress behind it: Haruko Momoi (桃井 はるこ). Born in Tokyo in 1977, she is a well-known Japanese seiyuu/J-Pop performer whose popularity started to grow thanks to her many anime roles and videogame theme songs. Her performances for Wonder Momo are some of her highlights. Starting from her personal arrangement of the previous Wonder Momo song, she became the voice of the original Wonder Momo herself, both on stage for her concerts (with her outfit and all!) and on the little screen for the Wonder Momo mini-series! This song itself can also be seen as a personal tribute, with its title being a reference to her singer's surname (Momo-i). Wonder Momoi's popularity on Taiko also led to the release of a dedicated mini-album titled 'WONDER MOMO-i ~New Recording~', featuring an extended version of the song together with the karaoke base.

As said before, Wonder Momoi is a remix upon the previous Wonder Momo arrangement, this time around with Masatoshi 'manzo' Sashita (坂下 正俊) as its arranger. Like Haruko Momoi, this commission musician has close connections to J-Pop, Anime and rhythm games. So far, he has created three rhythm game songs; one for beatmania IIDX (CHARLOTTE) and two for pop'n music (Gattenda!! and Makai! Tsukai! Hell Dance).

Coming back to Taiko, Wonder Momoi makes its debut as an 8* Oni mode, presenting a similar challenge to the other Wonder Momo arrangement. The only changes (aside from the more difficult note patterns) are a higher base BPM and forked paths for its Oni chart. The forked paths present a rare opportunity where if a player switches paths in a very specific manner, it is possible to end up with a Max Combo higher than if he stuck to Master Notes all the way (572 total compared to Master Notes' 550).

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