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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Song of the Week! 9 June 2018

Today's double feature is about Sega gaming in the Taiko no Tatsujin franchise's recent history, between both a console-exclusive and an arcade-only contender. Let's go!

 Outride a Crisis Super Hang-On
Allx4 (204)x6 (372)x7 (738)x9 (890)
 Taiko 3DS 3

We've already seen in the past how the final 3DS game's Game Music selection has been really keen on including tracks from other videogame companies' past, and today we're closing the circle with the Sega-rooted inclusion to Dokodon! Mystery Adventure's starting song roster, coming from the 1987 racing arcade game Super Hang-On (スーパーハングオン).

Developed by the Sega AM2 division under the design of the formerly-Sega-affiliate Yu Suzuki, this is a sequel to 1985's Hang On, with the players once again being called to join a globe-trotting motorbike race circuit. Much like the formerly-released Hang-On and OutRun, Super Hang-On is based on the "Super Scaler" technology to allow a pseudo-3D rendering at high rates to the arcade cabinets. This racing game has the same objective of the original of winning the races against AI-controlled players in one of the 4 available continental tours, with the added feature to trigger a turbo speed boost when the 'base' maximum velocity is reached.

The game has received a plethora of arcade-accurate conversions for home console gaming, including 1987's ZX Spectrum/Amstrad CPC/Commodore 64 ports and a number of home computer ports that were released between 1989-1990, including Commodore Amiga/Mac/DOS ports and the Sega Genesis one, starring the exclusive Original mode. While the original arcade didn't come out in a motorcycle-shaped cockpit with motion controls like the original Hang-On, the game was later on distributed to arcade rooms in 1991 with the original title's motorcycle cabinbet, as Limited Edition Hang-On. Super Hang-On still lives to this day through modern re-releases, most prominently on Nintendo platforms (Wii and 3DS) and on the Yakuza 0 game as an unlockable extra.

Among Super Hang-On's features is the possibility to choose a BGM track to play before a race a-la OutRun, and among those is Outride a Crisis, made by former Sega Sound Team member Katsuhiro "Funky K.M." Hayashi (林克洋). Its Taiko notechart treatment was handled by Taiko Team veteran Yuji Masubuchi (増渕裕二), offering a 1/16-based pure notechart challenge. While the song's Taiko cut has a really generous length for gameplay means, the more cluster-based sections can still be the hive for careless errors, so thread lightly!

 Ikazuchi (怒槌) Takenobu Mitsuyoshi / CHUNITHM
Allx5 (260)x7 (513)x8 (749)x10 (1194)
 Taiko 0 Y

For our second pick, it's time to don up the big-boy pants, as we have one of the earliest boss songs in one of Sega's ongoing music game series!

Premiered in Japan on July 16th, 2015 after a few location tests occurred on November of the former year, the all-caps-titled CHUNITHM is the second major, non-Project-Diva-related music series from the Tokyo videogame developer. The first arcade running under the PC-based Sega Nu system board, this is a touch-based game where the note lane spans all across the screen's lower-horizontal length, meeting the end of an horizontal touchpad keyboard that the player has to press accordingly in order to clear most of the note markers by either tapping or holding the approximate portion of the touch pad that corresponds vertically to the respective note lane. Later versions of the game have also added a couple of upper motion-sensitive sensors to the side for the 'Air' notes, to be hit by moving the hands up and down accordingly to the note marker's kind. This arcade-only series consists of three main entries as of late (the original firmware, CHUNITHM Air and CHUNITHM STAR), each receiving a 'PLUS' version to extend their respective firmware lifespan.

Ikazuchi (lit. 'Angry Hammer') is the earliest example of 'in-house boss song' for the series, composed by longtime Sega Sound Unit/H. member Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (光吉猛修), making music for the company's titles (including Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA) since the early 90ies. This aggressive drum 'n' bass track's inclusion into modern Taiko gaming's song roster came to be thanks to last year's edition of the Tenkaichi Otogesai crossover tournament, with Sega's cross-over share of the Phase 1 being fulfilled by this song; for this reason, the song also appears in the other main participating series of the tournament as well: Konami's SOUND VOLTEX and Taito's Groove Coaster. Wonder of all wonders, Ikazuchi's hardest difficulty setting in both the aforementioned series has become the overall note king in their history since its inception, trumping all the other max note counts to this very day!

While this is not the case for the song's note-heavy Oni mode in Taiko gaming, we're still nearing Yuugen no Ran/Infinite Rebellion numbers regardless, for the Game Music genre's note king. Tremble in fear as the 200 BPM-averaging song throws at the player aggressive 1/16 note formations one after another, with the song's final chorus climaxing in some of the genre's most brutal note stream combos ever made!

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