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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Game Music Showcase - Genpei Toma Den Medleys

Genpei Tōma Den (源平討魔伝, literally "The Genji and Heike Shooting Demon Tale") is an action coin-op released only in Japan and running on the Namco System 86 hardware, originally released on October 1st, 1986. In the game, players have to defeat enemies while scrolling along a Yamato painting landscape, traveling through Japan's prefecture in order to reach the headquarters of the Minamoto clan, in the far east side of the island. The game got recognition at the time due to the many different-looking sections of the game, featuring both side-scrolling platform action, over-the-head style of exploration in certain towns and 2-dimensional sword battles with bigger sprites.

The original arcade itself was never seen outside of Japan, with a Japan-exclusive home console version of the same name in 1990, made for the PC Engine (PCエンジン, aka the Japanese name of the TurboGrafx-16) and an NES semi-sequel in form of an electronic board name on October 1988, also going by the name of Genpei Tōma Den. However, the original game was later released in America and Europe in 1997 as an included game in Namco Museum Volume 4, with the name The Genji and the Heike Clans.

The original beat-em-up title's music has become a quite relevant corner-stone of the Taiko no Tatsujin series, as its score has inspired the creation of what arguably is the most popular Game Music track ever featured in Taiko history. With the time's passing, more songs have been made as a result, paying homage to both the original game and the aforementioned Game Music rendition from the earliest Taiko installments.

For the terms of this song series showcase classification, we can also consider the Game Music track SAMURAI ROCKET as an honorary member of this corner; however, as said track is already part of a much larger Game Music song series tradition in Taiko, we forward you to our Ridge Racer song series showcase for its song entry.


-Genpei Tōma Den Medley Series-


 KAGEKIYO ~Genpei Tōma Den Medley~ (~源平討魔伝メドレー~)
Taiko 5, Taiko PS2 3
x6 (412) x7 (765)x10 (765) 
Taiko 6
x6 (412) x6 (616)x10 (765)  
TDMx4 (244)x6 (412)x7 (616)x10 (765) 
Taiko 7, 8, Taiko PSP 1, 2x4 (244)x6 (412)x6 (616)x9 (765)
Taiko 9x5 (244)x6 (412)x6 (616)x9 (765)
Taiko DS 1x5 (165)x6 (245)x8 (616)x9 (765)
Taiko 10x4 (165)x5 (245)x6 (616)x9 (765)
Taiko 11 to 14, Taiko Wii 4
Taiko iOS
x4 (165)x5 (245)x7 (616)x9 (765)
Taiko 0x4 (165)x5 (245)x7 (616)x8 (765)
 Taiko 5 to 14, Taiko 0, Medal 1, 2, Taiko PS2 3, Taiko Drum Master, Taiko PSP 1, 2, Taiko Wii 4, Taiko DS 1, Taiko Wii U3, Taiko PS4, Taiko +, CD 2008
 Rock -> Game Music -> Namco Original -> Game Music -> Namco Original -> Game Music

Previously featured in Song of the Week: May 7 2011
KAGEKIYO, composed by Masubuchi Yuuji, is the most repeated Game Music song in the entire list, being used on over 10 arcade versions and 6 console games. The song has overseen nearly every aspect of the development of the game, from its old genre Rock, and fluctuating between Namco Original and Game Music during the tumultuous Taiko 7 to 9 generation, before settling in Game Music after Taiko 10, when most of the Namco-made game musics were no longer relegated to Namco Original.

The title of this medley, KAGEKIYO, is a reference to the original videogame's main character: Taira no Kagekiyo (平 景清), based on the eponymous samurai warrior of the Heian dynasty. Coming from the Taiya clan, the real Kagekiyo fought in the Genpei War (1180-1185) against the Minamoto clan. After the failed attempt to assassinate the leader of the Minamoto clan, Minamoto no Yoritomo (源 頼朝), he was captured in the battle of Dan-no-ura and died in 1185. These historical facts are reflected in the game; as a matter of fact, Genpei Tōma Den's plot tells about Taira no Kagekiyo's resurrection and his rematch against the highest representatives of the Minamoto clan.

This legendary Taiko medley cycles through many of the tracks shared between the arcade and the PC Engine versions of the game, such as the main theme for the side-scrolling stages, one of the tunes used for the top-down perspective towns (ex. Kyoto) and part of the track used for bonus levels, such as the prefecture of Amaji. All of these tracks -as well as the rest of the game's soundtrack- are composed by Norio Nakagata (中潟憲雄), a former video-game music composer who is currently the representative director of dIGIFLOYD, a minor videogame company who has made several games published by Bandai Namco itself.

It's also known that KAGEKIYO is the first Taiko song to introduce word play with the number of notes: the trend of '765-songs' (which means 'Namco' if read in Japanese) started with this when KAGEKIYO first came out on Taiko PS2 3 on Donderful difficulty. Its middling BPM is complemented by a densely packed chart with lots of 3, 4 and 7 note clusters, which are very distinctive and follow the rock guitar melody to a T. Its most famous pattern, the one on each of the three Go-Go Times of the song, are featured in a few other songs like Taberuna 2000, and also inspired the musical creation of several songs, even if not originally planned for Taiko (Samurai Rocket, from Ridge Racer V).

  KAGEKIYO ~Genpei Tōma Den Medley~ (~源平討魔伝メドレー~)
All arcade

x10 (999/998/997)
Taiko Wii 4x4 (290)x5 (471)x7 (756)x10 (999/998/997)
TDM (2P)
x6 (355/348)
x9 (527/518) (video)
Taiko 11 to 13
Taiko Wii 4 (2P)

x9 (527/518) (video)
Taiko 14, 0 (2P)

x10 (527/518) (video)
 Taiko 14, 0, Taiko Wii 4, Taiko Wii U 3, Taiko PS4, Taiko +

Taiko 14 introduced a much-needed upgrade to this classic song together with Ridge Racer. Now it has more notes, longer streams and some nasty 1/24 note clusters which have little to no resemblance to the characteristic notes of the original and are much harder to master (if you look carefully, the 1/24 bits involve handswitching too). KAGEKIYO's Ura Oni is also a forked-path song, although it isn't anything significant, occurring in the very final stanza with the final three notes, and all three paths are just one note apart. The trick to get to the higher paths in this chart is by getting accurate hits on the large notes, and there are 7 of them. Less than 2 良 and you go to the Normal route, 3~6 to Advanced, and all 7 to Master. Guess who made this insane chart? Etou, of course!

In terms of 2P however, KAGEKIYO has already had a Ura before this. KAGEKIYO has had a 2 player exclusive notechart first seen in the PS2 game Taiko Drum Master, and has been used in Ura mode for 2 players, like Soul Calibur II before it, since Taiko 11. It's possible to play the 2P charts in Taiko 14, although why this old 2P chart is still 10* on Oni is anyone's guess.

Also for some reason the BPM on both 1P and 2P Ura Oni fluctuates a little around 133 although the music is completely identical to regular Oni. Whether this is due to inaccurate measuring of BPM on regular Oni way before this, no one knows for sure yet. The 1P version of this Ura Oni has two Go-Go Time bugs: the 1st one ends a stanza later than it is supposed to last, while on the other hand the 3rd Go-Go Time section starts a stanza later than usual.

Allx5 (149)x6 (193)x8 (369)x8 (412)
 Taiko DS 3

A Taiko DS3 exclusive, KAGYUKIYO immediately reminded players of KAGEKIYO and everyone expected either an alternate version or remix or something of it. Well, it is, but it's something no one expected. Kita Saitama 200 started the slowdown phenomenon, and KAGYUKIYO takes it one step further, cutting the BPM by a complete half, making for the slowest song in Taiko history! Even the Japanese pun inside the name tells everything: in Japanese, Kagyu (蝸牛) means 'snail'. 

The title is also linked with Ushi-Oni, the cow demon fought in DS3's RPG story mode who uses this song; the word Gyuuki (牛鬼) means 'cow demon', and KAGYUKIYO's SongID is ds3bs1, which makes this Taiko DS3's boss song, and will not be easily ported over to other Taiko games. Why it is called the first newcoming boss song in its ID is unknown, as there is one other DS3 boss song before it: Bubbly Queen (the rest are existing songs and series with their own IDs).

If we were to slow down the entire length of KAGEKIYO for this, the song would last more than 4 and a half minutes long, which simply is not feasible on the tiny DS cartridge since it's a large music file, and also playing such a slow song for that long a period would probably put many players to sleep. Instead, the entire second half of KAGEKIYO was cut off, and this version ends in the middle. There are sped up notes which would be considered 1/32 notes of the song's BPM, and KAGYUKIYO has a lot of room to play with note scrolling speed given its BPM.

 SHOGYO MUJO Genpei Tōma Den Medley - COSIO
Allx2 (137)x3 (236)x7 (481)x9 (765/765/765)
 Taiko 0 Y

Normal Route
Advanced Route

Seven whole years the third Nintendo DS Taiko game, the ongoing Taiko arcade generation has brought back the echoes of Genpei Tōma Den once more, this time around by employing the composing skills of the freelancer musician Hirokazu 'COSIO' Koshio (小塩広和). This is the artist's first Game Music featured in the Taiko series since his departure from Taito's in-house sound unit ZUNTATA, coming out as one of Yellow Version's Winter Shop limited tracks alongside the Namco Original newcomer OK I'm blue rat, for which COSIO has used his E.G.G. alias instead.

Paying homage to the original KAGEKIYO medley in more than one ways, this song's Oni chart is one of the few forked-path tracks to bear the same number of notes on each route, calling back to the oh-so-familiar 'Nam-Combo' note count trend started by the very same KAGEKIYO. Much like the Butou songs, there's only one route-switching point to note, with the branching conditions for the remainder of the track being dictated by how many hits are landed on the first drumroll: hit it 98 or less times and the play is set on Normal route, 100 or more hits lead to the Master chart while the Advanced condition requires exactly 99 drumroll hits.

Each of the different notechart alterations have their own quirks to show off within the 765-note likit, be it notechart formations from the original KAGEKIYO's Oni mode (Normal), 1/24 cluster spikes with some winks back to KAGEKIYO's Ura Oni challenge (Advanced) or the Master Route's most handswitch-based challenge of 1/16 clusters of varying length, a feature that is also available in the former variants (to an extent). Visual flairs by scrolling speed changes/special notes are also featured in all three variants, so don't let the giant notes/drumrolls make your Full Combo attempts fade away!

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