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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sympho-Neighbours - It's Actually "Shi"

A big name in rhythm gaming as well as a personal friend of current Taiko Team leader Etou, Tatsuya Shimizu can boast an interesting work history that spans across multiple music-based franchises like few before him!

With the Taiko no Tatsujin franchise being the place where his musical activity returned to flourish after his health-concerning hiatus between 2007-2010, it seems fitting for us to also spotlight some of the many faces and shapes the composer has taken form in his career outside the Bandai Namco ballpark. Hop aboard!

As we mentioned in the past, Tatsuya Shimizu's musical prodcution started at Bemani's, where he was in charge of the direction of titles from the beatmania IIDX series. During these years, the artist has cultivated a number of nicknames for either solo or duo/unit artist (Tatsh among all), while crafting some of the series' most iconic tracks.

One of these is IIDX 11's RED ZONE, the Speed Rave piece whose popularity has managed to bloom into Internet meme territory (here, have some samples). This notorious track has been a six-hand work with Tatsh as the main composer, former Konami musician Naoki Maeda (前田尚紀) at the guitar (and inside the song's original video) and the nicknamed Kraig E. as the singer. The first of Tatsh's "Eurobeat Series" songs, RED ZONE also managed to get ports on DanceDanceRevolution and jubeat as well.

Tatsuya Shimizu also worked on songs for pop'n music, the bemani division's 2nd-eldest rhythm game series. His works here were mainly for songs featuring female singers, both recurrent vocalists in Tatsh songs of Bemani-linked singer.

For a case of the former category, we have pop'n music 14 FEVER!'s Tabidachi no Uta (旅立ちの唄), sung by Junko 'Ayane' Hirata (平田純子), with which Shimizu also made many songs in the aforementioned beatmania IIDX series under the unit name of platoniX.

Back to DDR talk, here's a little surprise for those who are used to associate the man with hard-as-hell songs! Sung by Scott Dolph under the lyrics written by Yuichi "U1" Asami (浅見祐一), Lesson by DJ is a DanceDanceRevolution tutorial song from the Nintendo Wii's HOTTEST PARTY console game, singing to newcomers what the series is about in one of the series' easiest songs to date.


*A-hem* As we've seen in Taiko gaming, Tatsh can also hold song-creating talent on his own, which was the very case of his debut in the jubeat series with HEAVENLY MOON. This "Moon Core" song has had some occasions to cross roads with other bemani series years later, with the pop'n music and REFLEC BEAT series receiving the song as a result of cross-unlock events.

For the now-called GITADORA series, the only original songs by Tatsuya Shimizu were made with the support of the nicknamed singer REN. The latest track from the couple is Like&Love, showed in the video above in its EXTREME Drum mode.

Bouncing to REFLEC BEAT grounds, the latest Tatsh song the series has received so far is yet another solo intrumental track that goes under the name of Wizard. Survive the randomized ping-pong mess under this 10-rated Hard mode!

Out of bemani there's another kind of song inclusions from Tatsh that started to sprout seeds in many external music games with the rise of Touhou arrangement songs' popularity; as the holder of the TatshMusicCircle label for all of his independent works and Touhou-oriented album arranges, Tatsh is frontline involved into the adaptation of many of his solo/collab works in shorter portions for selected rhythm games.

One of his most popular exports is the so-called "Ver. β" of FOUR SEASON OF LONELINESS, which -much like the original arrangement- features Sariya-jin as the singer! While Taito has put a stake on this song among others by making it playable in the Groove Coaster series as well (link), Andamiro's dance-oriented PUMP IT UP franchise takes one step further (did you get it) by making the original, longer version a playable track alongside the above-embeded edited cut of the original!

Much like the Taiko no Tatsujin series, Groove Coaster has seen the return of the freelance composer by being the other major series to host a number of works under the familiar music style typical of the Zeami pseudonym, while occasionally jumping to some of his other aliases for later songs and pre-existing original songs/Touhou Arrange ports.

His first original song for the series has been Seizya no Kodou (聖者の鼓動), one of the series' first songs to have long chains of single-hit notes towards the end. This is also a recurrent trait for most of the later songs by Tatsuya Shimizu, while adapting other kinds of visual gimmicks from time to time.

From the wide screen of the arcades we jump to the portability of smartphone apps, where Tatsh has been active for Taiwanese game developer Rayark's musical games. Starting from the eldest one we have Cytus, a game that is played by touching the markers that are popping up on the screen; according to their form, these markers have to be touched, held or swipe-connected as soon as the horizontal black bar that acts as the song's metronome reaches them.

Tatsuya Shimizu's appearance on Cytus has seen him taking yet another secret identity by nicknaming himself as 'Persona'; much like what happened on Taiko grounds to the Zeami nickname's early reveal, while the 'Persona demasking' was originally planned for the Cytus arcade's announcement, the alias was already unveiled months earlier on the Korean website of the game. Whoops...

Found in Cytus's Chapter 4, the above-featured Area 184 song already holds some merits for having high-rated difficulties on its own; if that's still not enough, there's also a special playable version of this song in the Million-download commemorative chapter that goes under the subtitle of Platinum Mix. Being a remix of this one and his other trio of original tracks made for the Cytus app (Green Eyes, Blue Eyes and Red Eyes), there sure is something for the fastest players to grind their teeth on!

Always from Rayark we have shards of Tatsh in the Playstation Vita enhanced port of the posterior music game Deemo, a piano-centric title where players have to touch and/or drag their fingers on the markers as soon as they scroll towards the player to a black bar. In comparison to the aforementioned Cytus (which also got a Ps Vita port), Deemo's venture into Sony portable gaming with Deemo: The Last Recital comes with some after-credits lots of songs that are exclusive to the Vita port.

One of the Vita-exclusive packs is completely made of Tatsh songs, all of which have been subsequently featured on his 2015 album Rebellion, whose name is based on the song that is being played in the video above.

Our Tatsh travel across rhythm gaming ends with a first for the Sympho-Neighbours family of features, as we finally have a shot to spotlight Capcom's CROSSxBEATS series!

Much like with Groove Coaster, this series has started from a 2013 i-device app directed by Naoki Maeda, where lines appear on screen intersecting in many kinds of cross-shaped formations; the player has to hit the markers that are placed on said crosses' intersections at rhythm with the song, involving multiple techniques to tackle them such as flicking in certain directions or holding them for a while.

Last year, this franchise has made it into the arcade scene under the name of crossbeats REV., bringing fan-favorite tracks from the original (still running!) iOS app while also bringing new compositions to the table. One of the brand-new inclusions has been another Tatsh/Ayane song in I.D., starring note markers of any kinds while still being in the game's "averagely-hard" difficulty spectrum.

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