Friday, December 6, 2013

Game Scores: Power Blade (NES)

This soundtrack is yet another one that I located over at FFShrine and since it was an NES game that wasn't released by either Square or Enix (before they joined forces), Power Blade never received an official soundtrack release.

Power Blade for the NES is a game that came out in 1991 from developer Natsume and publisher Taito.  Now, Power Blade is a game that I played once, probably during the summer of 1991 and never heard anything from any of my friends about it.  I may have talked about it after coming back from vacation, but aside from Nintendo Power # 23, I don't recall hearing anything else about the game from anyone, which is a bit of a shame because Power Blade was a decent enough game.  The gameplay was similar enough to Mega Man and Castlevania along with Contra-esque elements to be comfortable with the controls, but different enough from each of the aforementioned games to be enjoyable and still feel new.  Imagine controlling Bill "Mad Dog" Rizer through Dracula's castle with Cut Man's ability permanently equipped, but with upgrades.  That was Power Blade.

What also helped Power Blade feel even more familiar was the fact that the music was composed by Kinuyo Yamashita.  What's that?  You don't recognize her name?  Maybe you'll recognize her from one of her other alias', James Banana.  Yeah, I thought that'd ring a bell.  Yamashita did an interview back in 2009 where she talked a little bit about composing for Power Blade as well as another interview in 2010 where Power Blade is briefly brought up.  It's a decent enough read if you choose to do so.

Now, for why you're still here reading my drivel: the music!  Power Blade is a solid soundtrack for a science fiction, dystopian action/adventure game where you have to save society by restoring a worldwide computer system (the internet?) that has been taken over by aliens.  So how do you write music for that kind of a set up?  Like this!

You can just feel Castlevania and Mega Man pulsing through the music from the first stage.  Although Kinuyo Yamashita didn't write music for the Mega Man series until Mega Man X3 in 1995, it's very obvious why they went with Yamashita although surprising that they didn't seek her out sooner.

What I've found with a lot of the music for the stages is that they're not manic.  There isn't a sense that you have a set amount of time to finish the stage (i.e. a timer a la Super Mario Bros.or the first Castlevania).  The music is paced, as I've alluded to before, similar to that of Mega Man.  The theme to Sector 2, I feel perfectly illustrates that sense of running along rolling hills amidst a dystopian planet held hostage by Aliens.

Lastly, the music from Sector 5 is another wonderful example of NES era music that would sound fantastic performed by an 80s tribute hair metal band with talent.

Really, the whole soundtrack, which comprises 15 tracks of music and two incidental tracks for when you complete a stage and when you run out of lives.  Power Blade has a solid 20 minutes of music (including repeats) and while it definitely feels like it came out of 1991, this is what nostalgia sounds like, even if you've never heard it before.

Thank You

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