Monday, February 20, 2017

Arkista's Ring (NES) Soundtrack Review

Arkista's Ring was a game published by American Sammy Corporation and released in 1990 for the NES.  The game itself received good praise and modest critical success.  What I'll be focusing on, however, is the game's soundtrack, written by Shizuyoshi Okamura, also known as Sizlla Okamura.  Okamura's other work is also interesting and diverse, including soundtracks and other sound design on SD Keiji Blader and P47 Thunderbolt.  The soundtrack for Arkista's Ring has a pretty good popularity of its own, with a lot of themes standing out and remaining very memorable.  I'll talk about a few of them below.

Character Profile
This is a pretty good theme.  I think that the main cool thing about this song is that it features a small melodic theme that gets features later in the soundtrack.  I'll get more into that later.  The song has a kind of standard waltz background part and the melody is pretty nice.  It sounds like something on a carousel.  There's also a later section in 5/4 or 5/8, which is pretty cool for NES music.  Overall, a pretty funky track that provides enough variation to be fun to listen to.

Title Theme
Aside from the final theme in the game, this is definitely one of my second favorite song on this whole soundtrack.  It starts off in a cool kind of descending fashion which reminds me of a Joe Hisaishi composition.  It then switches to a more fast paced, driving part with octaves in the bass part, a style that Okamura seems to like a lot.  Overall, this is a cool song that has a fun descending chromatic style and is also very fun to listen to.

Stage Theme 03
This is probably my least favorite of all the songs on the soundtrack.  It's a lot of arpeggios that repeat a chord change over and over.  It definitely sounds intense though, so I'm sure it would have fit the right mood in whatever context it might have been used.

Stage Theme 02
This is also a very cool and intense theme.  It has a pretty cool bassline that repeats constantly along with the classic white noise percussion of NES games.  This song also has a lot of high octave three-note patterns which go over the bassline and add intensity.  It sound like some spooky theme from Mario!

Stage Theme 01
This song is very familiar to the Title Theme.  It has a nice bass octave part and a pretty simple melody, but it doesn't fail to sound nice and relaxing at any point.  The B section is definitely the coolest part, bringing the melody up to a higher register before flawlessly taking it back down and transitioning back into the main section.  Overall, this is probably my third favorite song from this game.

Life Lost
This is just the death sound for this game.  I can't really compare it to anything because I'm not experienced with other death sounds from NES games.

Game Clear
This song is, without a doubt, my favorite from the entire game.  The first upward melody in thirds, which was a very small part of the Character Profile theme is restated here.  However, it's much more drawn out.  There's also a descending part in the bass, something that seems characteristic of ending songs.  This song is definitely the prettiest song in the entire game and it's really relaxing.  It must have been so exciting for players to finish the game considering how had it is said to have been.  Perhaps it was the bittersweet feeling of an ending, the kind perfectly expressed in this song, that they felt as the end credits rolled and this final song played.

In conclusion, although I never played this game, the soundtrack still brings me immense happiness.  Overall, Okamura did an amazing job on it! I'll attach below the sources that I used to find the information about this game and its soundtrack, as well as Okamura's soundcloud and the youtube playlist for the soundtrack.  Also, I liked the ending song so much that a friend of mine did a midi transcription of it.  I'll put a download below if anyone would like it.

Shizuyoshi Okamura's Soundcloud


MIDI Transcription (It will have to be slowed down a bit though)

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