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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Game Music Showcase: Synchronica

Launched in 2015, Synchronica (シンクロニカ) is Bandai Namco's second arcade rhythm game, getting released on the trail of popularity of the ever-lasting Taiko no Tatsujin series. In the game, markers of different kinds will appear on the touch screen, and it's up to the player to activate them by touching the screen, flicking it in certain points and dragging markers to their end. All Synchronica arcades have their online functionalities revoked on September 30th, 2019, effectively marking the end of the series.

Synchronica songs' arrival in Taiko no Tatsujin has mainly happened due to special collaboration and events, most of which involving Bandai Namco's two series sharing songs with each other. The majority of the Synchronica songs coming to Taiko gaming are composed/arranged by Taku Inoue (井上拓), a Bandai Namco musician in activity since the early years of the 2010s.


-Synchronica series-


 Yoake Made Ato 3-byou (夜明けまであと3秒) Synchronica
Allx4 (135)x5 (189)x7 (537)x9 (814)
 Taiko 0 Mu, Taiko Wii U 3


The very first track from Synchronica grounds has been ported to modern Taiko arcades thanks to the second edition of the Tekaichi Otogesai music games tournament, which has seen the rise of this game and bemani's SOUND VOLTEX as participating newcomers. Going under the English-translated name of 'Three Seconds Left Until Dawn', Yoake Made Ato 3-byou has been inspired by a real-life situation occurred to composer Taku Inoue shortly before its creation, as also being noted in the Authors' Comment section of the 2nd Tenkaichi's first round of songs.

During the 2nd multi-franchise AOU tourney's preparation, Taku Inoue and other NBGI employees have had their offices moved to the Monzen-Nakachō district in Koto (Tokyo), making for them an everyday habit to come back home with a peaceful night sight of the Sumire river flowing under a bridge and urban buildings on the background, which gave the inspiration to the song's album cover and its video on Synchronica. When the song's early concepts were already set in the composer's mind, its actual tempo was kindled by a nighttime fishing session with other Bandai Namco employees at the Sumire river, where Inoue's relaxation upon trying to catch fishes in a cloudless night with such an inspiring new panorama was balances with his anxieties about the moskitoes flying around the area, attempting to pinch the newcomer visitors for some nourishment. Inoue wanted to translate on piano this mixture of sensations until the 2nd AOU tourney's Synchronica plans came to life and gave to the composer the occasion for a new boss-sounding track.

Yoake Made Ato 3-byou's Taiko port is emphasized by some of the highest BPM/scrolling speed modifiers combinations ever registered in the Game Music genre, be it for the song's gradual pressing rhythm inception or for its sudden-note moment. Apart from those eyecandy visual flairs, signatures from 1/12 to 1/24 are featured in equal measure on the song's Oni mode for a varying succession of stamina-draining note clusters.

 Synchronicity Synchronica
Allx3 (103)x3 (174)x6 (281)x8 (441)
 Taiko 0 W, Taiko Ps Vita


As already anticipated, Taiko gaming has received the largest portion of the transplanted Synchronica songs due to inner-arcade collaborations, involving Banapassport players to try out both rhythm game franchises in order to receive special unlocks in both fronts. During the second of those events, which has occurred between December 2015 and January 2016, Taiko games have started receiving Synchronica tracks, with one of them being the arcade's main theme.

Composed by Taku Inoue, Synchronica's flagship "Bandai Original" is named after the eponymous concept coined by psychiatrist Carl Jung, explaining the idea of Synchronicity that sees life's events as "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship, but yet seem to be meaningfully related to each other. Being one of Synchronica's launch songs, Synchronicity also had a peculiar treatment during 2016's April Fools day, where an extra difficulty for the song, dubbed as Pandora (link), was added to that song alone as a joke. Synchronicity's Pandora mode was later revived for two weeks during May in the same year, while also spawning a special poll for everyone to vote which other songs in the arcade may be elected to receive the Pandora treatment in some form in the future.

In Taiko grounds, Synchronicity's Oni mode fares like your average low-notecount 8* challenge, as repeating note patterns and low BPM make more accessible the song's cluster formations for a pleasant play.

 New World Synchronica
Allx3 (134)x6 (224)x7 (403)x9 (725)
 Taiko 0 W, Taiko 3DS 3


Always from the 2nd Taiko x Synchronica collaboration event comes yet another launch-day default track from Bandai Namco's second arcade rhythm game. The title and the song itself already are big hints in discovering this song's nature, which in reality is an instrumental rock arrangement of Czech composer Antonín Leopold Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World", which already got some Taiko recognition in form of a playable song in the Classic genre. While we forward you to this Song of the Week entry for more details about the original, here we'll digress on the independent unit which has remade the song for Synchronica.

Founded on April 2010 in Tokyo, the progressive rock band LAGITAGIDA is currently formed by guitarist Kohhan Ohtake (大竹康範), bassist Takehito Kono (河野岳人), drummer Takayoshi Yazawa (矢澤孝益) and keyboard/supporter kAoru ikArAshi (五十嵐馨). The band's name came out with the idea of having something that was never heard before, with its own rhythm and musicality in its pronunciation. So far, the unit has one album and two mini-albums with both original songs and other Classic works custom arrangements such as Cracked Nuts, a remix of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. It's possible to know more about the band from their official website.

In Taiko gaming, New World is the second Synchronica song to receive portable console ports, after Synchronicity's V Version appearance. Its 9-star Oni notechart heavily relies on two factors: a main 1/16 cluster regimen that tends to follow the original drum percussions of the song and 1/12 note patterns that may or may not give a wink or two to the infamous 6* Oni mode of Taiko games' cover of From the New World.

 Canon (Synchronica Remix) (カノン (シンクロニカ Remix)) Synchronica
Allx3 (130)x6 (192)x7 (334)x8 (543)
 Taiko 0 W, Taiko 3DS 3


Always during the White Version firmare's lifespan, a third Taiko x Synchronica campaign was issued, with the Taiko side -once again- receiving another instrumental Classic cover from Synchronica, based on Johann Pachebel's Canon in D Major. As Taiko games have already let us talk about the original song for the Kare Kano Kanon Song of the Week feature, here we'll be talking about the artist who re-made it for Synchronica.

This jazz arrangement of Canon has been made by Takeshi Nakatsuka (中塚武), formerly employed by Namco as a planner and currently an independent musician. Born in Yokonawa on June 27, 1973, he started his solo career as a composer/singer in 1997 upon presiding over the band QYPTHONE and making his overseas debut in Germany. Nowadays, he's the owner of the Delicatessen Recordings label, under which his albums are published. Among his other works in gaming grounds are arrangements of songs that have been featured in special Konami and Namco soundtracks, including Katamari Damacy collections and Xevious's 30th Anniversary album! Head over to Takeshi Nakatsuka's official website in order to know more about the artist's works.

The song's swing rhythms make for a rampant return into Taiko of fast 1/12 patterns mostly made of small clusters alongside single notes, with the ending more akin to the 4-beat stanzas and a slower 1/16 long clusters portion.

 Surf Zapping t+pazolite / Synchronica
Allx4 (190)x6 (280)x7 (498)x10 (840)
 Taiko 3DS 3


After witnessing the debut of many Synchronica-spawn tracks on the Taiko arcade scene, the hardest of the bunch was instead unleashed as a console-first feature! Surf Zapping is the very first boss song of Bandai Namco's second arcade music game franchise and, much like with the case of Garakuta Doll Play for maimai, it's made by -core music composer Tomoyuki "t+pazolite" Hamada (浜田知幸).

The song's changeling-speed nature is channeled into the Taiko series by the use of two base BPM value and scrolling changes from x0.5 to x2.0 the default speed, making room for a cluster-heavy notechart that still has its calm moments along the way to completion.

 God Ray Synchronica
Allx5 (???)x6 (???)x7 (???)x10 (777)
 Taiko 0 Y


While the console front's first Taiko top-rated Synchronica boss song was from an outsider composer, the arcade front's hi-tier challenge debut is manifesting the work of a NAMCO SOUNDS-affiliated musician, all for Synchronica's very first Technical 18 challenge!

The name and concept of the God Ray came to life due to a misunderstanding by Synchronica series director KimizuP (キミズP), mistaking the song's prototype title as a manifestation of the Synchronica director himself's merciless chart-making suggestions, manifesting to its players in form of a godly-looking beacon of light. God Ray is the debut track for the series for the nick-named kyo, already known for its work in the iDOLM@STER series as well as Taiko gaming's 'Zero no' songs with Sariya-jin. The singer of this track, however, is the vocalist/songstress Miki Tsuchiya (土屋実紀), currently working both on commission and as part of videogame developer company INTI CREATES's musical unit III. In 2017, Synchronica got a God Ray sequel song that goes under the title of Libera Ray, featuring a different music-making cast altogether.

The next 10-star Oni to run behind the 777-notes trail after Namco Original Calculator, God Ray proves that there is still space for repeating-pattern charts for the current hi-difficulty meta, as mixed 1/16-to-1/24 clusters have multiple istances to shine through, together with some dense cluster spikes and slightly-increasing scrolling speed variations for the performance's very end.

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