Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Gaming Audio History: Castlevania III (1990)

It's certainly been a while since I've updated My Gaming Audio History.  This is one of my favorite sections of my blog, but it takes a tremendous amount of time and mental energy for each post.  I'm hoping this summer that I can create more of these entries.  I'm particularly interested to get into the SNES games so I can compare soundtracks and lengths with all the Atari, Gameboy, and NES games I've written about.  It'll definitely enrich the game music class I teach for me to get further with this research.

I'm now up to Castlevania III.  I loved Castlevania III-- the ability to change characters and play different routes in the game was amazing.  It also made a lot more sense to me than Castlevania II, which I played a bit with a friend, but never committed to purchasing and really getting in to.

Who created the audio experience?  There's definitely plenty of internet chatter about this, and here's just one site I found helpful.  Sounds as if Yukie Morimoto did the brunt of the work and Jun Funahashi did some composing as well.  Part of the difficulty in this era is that jobs like sound designer, audio engineer, etc, weren't well defined and credits to games weren't always accurate either.  Would love to gain certain clarity by hearing from involved parties.  Is this the same Yukie Morimoto?  If so, I'm very surprised he doesn't list Castlevania III among his credits as I think the music here to be outstanding!

Also, Vampire Slayer is rearranged from the first game, so though where on the internet seems to acknowledge it, Satoe Terashima also has music in this game.  Compare the Vampire Killer from Castlevania III against the original version from the first Castlevania.  Same key, same length, same form, yet a more sophisticated audio in terms of voicing, chromatic part-writing, sustains, decays, and overall sound palette.  Nice display of the progression of game audio over between the original game and this one.  There's a visual update to the original castle in this game that coincides with the audio update as well.  A very cool, clever moment.

The other thought I have as I listen through to the music is that nearly everything in the game is in the minor mode.  Very fitting, considering it's a "horror" platform game.  Then, at the final all clear, once you've beat the game you hear a cool thing called a "Picardy Third" that shifts the music to major.  This same shift happens during the ending music as well.  This just gives a little lift, satisfaction, transcendence, to the end of the game.  Also, a major arpeggio plays when you shake hands with another playable character, inviting him/her onto your team.  Interesting that the title screen music starts in C minor and ends in the relative major Eb major, and the credit music is in Eb major at the end of the game is in Eb major as well.

Notable sound effect: sound of water flowing in various stages.  Too bad your attacks make the water sound effect cut out!

Also, fascinating that the music can accompany various levels depending on the path you choose.  This is to say that if you take Grant with you, the same music that you hear in stage 4 is the same music you hear in stage 7 with Syfa, etc.

As usual, here are my detailed notes on the game audio.  All in all, I count about 16.5 minutes of music in the game.  Three times the length of the music from the original Castlevania.  Impressive!

These notes were made from this soundtrack link.

-Title screen: 1:42. C minor (starts A ish, ends Eb major)  Synced up with onscreen story.  Intro A A B C
-Opening: 10.5 sec  E minor, ends half cadence.
-Stage 1: 51 sec.  D minor.  Intro (5) A B(4) C(4) D(6)
-Boss: 25 sec.  G minor.  Intro (6 sec) accelerates.  Lots of tritones and chromatic motion.  Diminished chords.  Awesome pitch range through arpeggiation.
-Stage clear: 4 sec.  A minor.
-Choose your path: 15 sec.  F minor.
-Stage 2 (Clockwork): 42.5 sec.  G minor.  A (12) B C (4 measures, triple meter)
-Stage 3 (Mad Forest):  44 sec.  D minor. Intro (4) A B C.  Cool syncopations.
-Anxiety: 61 sec.  Ab?  A (in 7) B C D (in 6) Starts 7 Irregular meter.  Awesome groove.  Lots of tritones.  Rising pitch, especially in section C.  One of the most "musically interesting" pieces.
-Rising: 50 sec.  D minor.  A (4) B C.  Irregular meter in C.  Another really awesome piece of music.
-Stream: 37 sec.  A minor.  Intro (4) A B.  Very regular.  The V-bVI motion in the B section gives a Spanish sound.
-Dead Beat: 44.5 sec.  A minor.  Intro (4) A A B.  Second A adds an upper voice.
-Nightmare: 45 sec.  D?  A (11) B (in 5).  Teeters between D and Ab just as Stage 4 did...  Very chromatic.
-Aquarius: 37 sec.  D minor.  Intro (4) A B.
-Demon Seed: 45 sec.  C minor.  Intro (4) A B (5) C (2).  Intro sets up bass vamp.  Doesn't repeat in loop.
-Deja Vu (Vampire Killer):  30 sec.  D minor.  Intro (4) A B (4).  Both visual and audio remakes for this section of gameplay.
-Riddle: 34 sec.  C minor.  Intro A B (4) C (4)  Frantic sound.  Intro comes to a pause, then the main tune begins.  Intro doesn't repeat.  Frantic sound with arpeggiation.
-Pressure: 6 sec.  D minor.
-Overture (Dracula's Room/Battle 1): 57 sec.  D minor.  A (6) B C Irregular meter, patterns of 11 (4 x 2, plus 1 x 3).  Crazy!
-Dracula Battle 2 (multi-faced): 37 sec.  G minor.  Variations.  A (4) (pedal bass) A' A'' (7) A'' (7), in 3, except last measure of A'' is 4!  Starts with drum roll.
-Dracula Battle 3 (statue): 32 sec.  Ab minor.   Same form as Battle 1, but doesn't start with drumroll.  Up a half step and faster.
-All Clear: 8 sec.  A minor-major (Picardy third).  Classic stage clear music, but with an added tag that brings you to major.
-Encounter: 12.5 sec.  A minor.  Irregular phrase, 7 measures.
-Password: 21 sec.  C# minor.  Weird sound effects... laughing?  howling?
-Ending: 65 sec.  G minor- major (Picardy third).  A A' (countermelody) B(4) C (10) Sound choices remind me of Final Fantasy Adventure.  Beautiful melodies!
-Credits: 71 sec.  Eb major.  Intro A A A+ 3 measures concluding.
-Lose a life: 2 sec.  E minor.
-Game Over: 6.5 sec.  G minor- major (Picardy third)

No comments:

Post a Comment