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Friday, May 15, 2015

Game Music Showcase: Tales

Starting with Tales of Phantasia for the Super Famicom in 1995 and still going strong today, Bandai Namco's 'Tales' series is one of the most prolific, long-running JRPG series to date. Each game takes place in its own continuity, much like fellow JRPG series Final Fantasy, but shares certain recurring themes. What sets it apart from other JRPGs is it's now easily-recognizable action-combat battle systems, as well as stories that may turn many of the common themes in RPGs on their heads. The games were first developed by a subsidary, Namco Tales Studios, but has since been reabsorbed into the main company, which continues to develop games to this day.

Seeing as they share a common publisher, it wasn't hard to get songs from this prominent JRPG series into Taiko no Tatsujin, and as of the new HD version, new songs have been released fairly often.


-Tales series-


Karma (カルマ) Bump of Chicken
Taiko 8, PSP2x4 (141)x5 (211)x6 (450)x8 (701)
Taiko iOSx4 (141)x5 (211)x5 (450)x7 (701)
Taiko 8, Taiko PSP 2, Taiko +

While not in the Game Music category, Karma is noteworthy as the opening theme to Tales of the Abyss, and as such has its place here in this series.

Tales of the Abyss takes place in a world called Auldrant, where the Songstress Yulia Jue used her powers to read the memories of the planet itself, detailing her findings in a prophesy called the Score. Since then, two nations known as the Kingdom of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and the Malkuth Empire have fought over the scattered Fonstones upon which the Score is written, and between them lies the Order of Lorelei, a religious order dedicated to the safekeeping of the Score, who act as a neutral arbitrator.

This is the world in which sheltered aristocrat Luke fon Fabre, a Kimlascan noble, lives. A past incident where he was kidnapped from his vacation had resulted in the loss of his memories and his being forbidden from leaving the manor. That all changes when a mysterious mage called Tear Grants breaks into his manor on an assassination attempt on Luke's swordsmaster Van Grants, whom is also her brother. One accidental magical mishap later and Luke and Tear had been teleported halfway around the world, landing right in the middle of Malkuth. The game then focuses on their journey home, while unravelling the secrets behind his status as a supposed chosen hero detailed in the Score.

Karma plays over the animated opening to Tales of the Abyss, later being reused as the opening theme to the anime adaptation of the game. Due to licencing issues, though, the version that plays in the international versions of the game is an instrumental variant. In Taiko no Tatsujin, the cut of the song is identical to the one used in the opening to the game, accounting for its rather long length of 2 minutes and 29 seconds. For more information, check out the Song of the Week feature!

Tales of the Abyss (テイルズ オブ ジ アビス) The arrow was shot
Allx5 (172)x6 (269)x7 (542)x8 (693)
Taiko 0, Taiko 3DS 1, Taiko Wii 4

6 years after Karma, a new song originating from a Tales game was released in the then-new HD Taiko, simply titled 'Tales of the Abyss'. The song is a medley of the eponymous regular battle theme, The arrow was shot, as well as the self-explanatory Victory! theme. As Tales of the Abyss uses random encounters, represented by roaming enemies on the overworld, expect to hear this theme a lot if you play the game!

Composed and arranged by in-house Tales soundtrack veterans Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura, the main battle section of the medley is a synthesizer-heavy rock tune, lending itself well to a chart with a decent speed and plenty of clusters. It's a simple-to-play 8* Oni, its difficulty coming mainly from its not-insignificant BPM of 180. It caps off with the victory theme, running at a more leisurely 130 BPM, and shouldn't be much of a problem for players who can manage the main battle section.

Tales of Xillia Medley (テイルズ オブ エクシリア メドレー)
Allx3 (176)x5 (258) x7 (568)x8 (765)
Taiko Wii 5, Taiko +

In the world of Rieze Maxia, humans and monsters co-exist with the Spirits, who grant their power to humans in exchange for protection. The most basic form of this is the ability to channel mana as Spirit Power, which can be used to power everything from street lamps to magical spells. Two countries vie for supremacy of Rieze Maxia: Rashugal, an empire whose extensive use of Spirit Power has granted it incredible prosperity; and Auj Oule, a developing country whose power comes from the control of monsters.

Jude Mathis is a bright young medical student studying in the capital of Rashugal. When a large number of patients are suddenly admitted to his hospital, he investigates the cause and encounters a mysterious woman called Milla Maxwell. Milla claims to be "Maxwell", the legendary King of Spirits, and has come to investigate a recent wave of spirit deaths within Rashugal. From there, a conspiracy is uncovered and the pair are forced to flee the military, setting the pace for the game.

Tales of Xillia is, to date, the best selling Tales game, making it an obvious choice for inclusion in Taiko no Tatsujin. The medley consists of Jude's generic battle theme Clenching the Fists, Millia's generic battle theme Daring Sword, boss theme Belief in Me, final boss theme Battle for a Future to Believe In, and the victory theme Delight in Victory. Motoi Sakuraba is once again the composer and arranger behind all the tracks.

Befitting the orchestral Belief in Me and Battle for a Future to Believe In, the chart is almost completely red clusters in those sections, contrasting with the fast synthesizer-heavy rock for the generic battle themes and victory themes. Overall, the chart's combination of speed and simple clusters make this a comfortable 8* Oni.

Hikaru Yami (光る闇) Tales of the World Reve Unitia
Allx3 (117)x5 (181) x5 (281)x8 (387)
Taiko 0 K, Taiko Wii U 2

Reve Unitia takes place in a dream world known as Revalia, fueled by the dreams of its inhabitants. The Lufres Tribe maintains balance in the world by fighting the Vule, manifestations of darkness that dwell in the hearts of Revalia's inhabitants. Normally, people known as Dream Keepers fight against these Vule, but they have somehow mysteriously disappeared. Desperate, the Lufres decide to summon people from what is known as the "Awake World" to fight the Vule. Such is the setting of this crossover tactical RPG game for the 3DS, where heroes from different other Tales games are summoned to do battle.

Released for 3DS in October 2014 as a spin-off game, Reve Unitia was the most recent title in the franchise, and as such a song from the game was placed in Taiko no Tatsujin to promote the game. Hikaru Yami is the opening to Reve Unitia, with Taiko no Tatsujin again using the cut from the animated intro. It is composed and arranged by Go Shiina, and performed by Nami Nakagawa, who has performed other Namco Originals (Toyokami no Mori, DON'T CUT). The theme lends itself to a simple melody-based chart with some simpler longer clusters thrown in the chorus, making this an easy 8* Oni.

believe in you Tales of Asteria Theme Song
Allx4 (103)x5 (148) x6 (244)x7 (313)
Taiko +

Another spin-off crossover game, Tales of Asteria, was released in spring 2014 for iOS and Android, with a second chapter in winter 2014. The protagonists from previous games return in this mobile RPG to participate in a new original scenario, which is different for both chapters, but revolves around a legendary temple that turned out to be not so legendary, prompting responses from the various nations that may escalate into conflict.

believe in you is the opening for the first chapter, performed by J-Pop band Do As Infinity (it is included in a pack of Do As Infinity songs in Taiko iOS). A slow rock ballad, it lends itself to a slow chart with simple clusters of three and occasionally longer streams, placing it at a comfortable 7* star Oni. The cut used in Taiko is slightly longer than the opening version, using the full first verse and chorus.

 Tales of Zestiria Medley (テイルズ オブ ゼスティリア メドレー)
Allx2 (128)x4 (197)x6 (466)x8 (621)
 Taiko PS Vita

The medley above is made of music originated from Tales of Zestiria, the 15th installment of the Tales series after Xillia's sequel. The game's story follows Sorey, a man blessed with powers by a mystical spirit race known as the Seraphim who act as a stabilizing force in the land, as he travels to free the land of Glenwood from the threat of the Hellion, creatures spawned by negative emotions.

Originally released on January 22nd, 2015 in Japan, Zestiria features many returning gameplay element from the previous entries like the series' trademark Linear Motion Battle System (also known as LMBS), with the protagonists' passion being the main engine that fuels the game's story and character developments. While not being receives as positively as the Xillia games, Zestiria was also a praised entry whoquickly found its way for Western releases on October 2015, both for Sony consoles (PS3/PS4) and Microsoft Windows systems through Steam.

The Zestiria medley includes the overworld theme "Uphold Your Will with a Sword in Hand", the battle theme "Cheer Yourself Up" and the celebratory jingle "Sparking Victory in Your Hands", all of which have been composed by series-recurring personality Motoi Sakuraba (桜庭統). By mixing 3 and 4-beat stanzas and small clusters of both 1/12 and 1/16 spacing, the medley's Oni mode proves to be a bigger threat than the Xillia medley's Oni challenge, while being shorter on notes.

 Tales of Berseria Medley (テイルズオブベルセリアメドレー)
Allx4 (129)x6 (268)x6 (466)x8 (675)
 Taiko PS4

The next entry in the series, Tales of Berseria, is set in a fraction of the Holy Midgard Empire from Zestiria: the archipelago of Desolation, where a mysterious disease known as the daemonblight causes the transformation of whoever gets infected with it into daemons, human-turned-monsters who have lost any trace of their humanity. The game's story, set as a prequel to Zestiria's, follows the journey of the daemon Velvet Crowe, moved by a desire of revenge against his brother-in-law who sacrifices her human brother in front of her eyes, 3 years prior to the bulk of Berseria's story line.

Tales of Berseria made its Japanese debut on both Playstation 3 and 4 on August 16th, 2016, with Western PS4 ports for North America and Europe (as well as a worldwide PC version) being released on January of the following year. The series' trademark Linear Motion Battle System has been revamped in the so-dubbed "Liberation-LMBS", now giving more liberty of movement and camera control to the player in the battlefield.

Once again, the Taiko no Tatsujin medley features music from Berseria that was entirely made by Motoi Sakuraba (桜庭統): 'Theme of Velvet', 'Shout your soul', 'Burn your soul & fly' and 'Raise your soul and burn it', with fragments from each of these songs being played in that order. Being a medley made of differently-paced tracks, many different notechart approaches have to be expected along the way, from cluster-less 1/16 charting to fast-scrolling portions, chained small clusters and 1/12 cluster formations.

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