Ah…to be gored by the Ironsword!

It seems I forgot to follow up and rip the music from the 1988 NES/Famicom game, Ironsword: Wizards and Warriors II. Sorry – it’s ’cause I’ve been hella-maniacal busy “studying” and mingling with emotionally cold Norsemen (mostly Norsewomen, actually – oh shizzam…). Not to mention I’ve been grieving over the fact that I forgot my ever crucial USB gamepad, as now I can’t play any of the games I write about.

I mean, if one is going to write about how picturesque a game’s music is, one really needs to see and hear it in action. You gotta be there when the action goes down, son. Which isn’t to say I haven’t played all the games I write about a million times before, but when I write mondo-descriptive things about certain musical phrases such as, “This music sounds like Hermes jamming with Pan on top of the Lonely Mountain,” I need to have some of my own specific screen-captures to accompany it; other people’s will not suffice! For whom else can capture such lofty, antediluvian, philosophical concepts adeptly hidden in the single frame of a video game made twenty years ago, in four months, by ten Japanese people on a shoe-string budget? I ask you, who??! Ah, hell… you don’t know what I’m talking about.

The music in the second Wizards & Warriors game is a bit different from the third game in that the compositions are a bit shorter, more straightforward, and sound a bit more ominous. The songs have more climactic apexes in them in this one, i.e. a melodic hook which is very epic and appears only once each time the song loops. W&W III had more, uh… “contemplative” things going on in the soundtrack – a nice sense of ambiance along with more social atmospheres, like towns – whereas Ironsword features journeys through bleaker, elemental zones (awesome!) and pulls off a stronger, rhythmic, action-driven sound. It does sound like the worthy musical successor to the original Wizards & Warriors, and you can tell more time and money was spent on Ironsword. They even got Fabio to do the infamous cover – one of the best ever, for any video-game, ever; period. The portraiture here is almost as good as the cover to Helloween‘s Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II. Almost. Maybe if they had done an oil painting of Fabio instead. Maybe…

How many times do you think Fabio played this game?

Now these games are interesting, because the action is always uniquely different and less predictable than other action-platformers of the time, and the music reflects this a little bit. The progression of the games is always linear (in the first two), but the way one wanders around the levels is non-linear and involves searching for magical items.

The music in these games seems to become a little less melancholy with each installment. The first one is really bleak, minimalist and madrigal-esque; plus the majority of the game is spent underground. The change of demeanor exposes itself most definitively in Ironsword during the final showdown with Malkil the Wizard and the four elements. It features some crazy, catchy upbeat music. I remembered that jam the first time I heard it. I haven’t played through this game in like 10 years and I still remember that music (but I also am like, one of the last great men). FYI – the main instrument playing the leads in these songs is a thick square wave with a little delay/echo effect on it (or maybe it’s doubled slightly behind), and there is not as much of the 303-type bass lines used in the sequel. It’s interesting (to me at least) because in the first game in the series, much of the low-octave rhythms are instead performed by the square waves, which for some reason irritate my teeth when listening to the soundtrack on head phones.

So let’s just summarize and be done with it. This music evokes mystical, pre-medieval, elder/ancient/olde LotR-type adventures to a premium degree. It’s almost as good as the soundtrack to the animated version of The Hobbit from the 1970s.

Listen.

Or.

Be an idiot.

Find it @ Amazon

*Fun fact: Rare Ltd. worked on this title, the company that later had huge successes with games like Donkey Kong Country for the SNES and Banjo Kazooie for the N64.

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on September 17, 2007.

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