Brandish: the Fine Art of Planet-busting

Brandish is a somewhat lesser-known series by Nihon Falcom. It didn’t run for as long as the Ys series, and the games themselves weren’t actually all that fantastic, but one or two of them featured some really kickin’ tunes. Since Nihon Falcom’s various musical composers have produced some of the greatest video game music in the history of mankind, your eardrums should be trembling in anticipation.

I stoled this cover

The Brandish games were live-action Japanese console RPGs, like the Zelda games. Of the four Brandish games, which you can read all about in detail on the Brandish Hardcore Gaming 101 website, the second one, Brandish 2: The Planet Buster, is probably all-round the best. It picks up where the first game’s story left off (something to do with a sexy, deadly babe in underwear) and has the best music in the series. Playing the game itself is really annoying because the gameplay functions under this system where controlling your character doesn’t actually involve him physically turning around, but rotating the map around him. Think of Xenogears or FF Tactics or Vagrant Story but on Super Nintendo, and way more annoying. If you’re still confused, just watch the video generously embedded further below.

But never mind you that! The music in Brandish 2 is so good it would be downright criminal to let it go un-praised in the annals of CRM. I’m not kidding. It is really really good. For instance, there’s a song that is called “Begging One’s Life” and it’s only like 30-40 seconds long! All of which rules! My theory is that it was originally called “Begging One’s Job” referring to the cutthroat competition of video game composition in Japan.

Falcom Sound Team – Begging One’s Life – Brandish 2 (SNES)

Then you have stuff like “Islet” which really sounds as though you’re in an underground oasis or secret grove of the dryads. Am I not correct about this? This jam totally evokes images of crystals, melting ice in dark caves and sunlight breaking through a thick lining of trees. “Islet” is also pretty short, but hey — those good times always go by so fast, right?

Falcom Sound Team – Islet – Brandish 2 (SNES)

“Castle Wall” is interesting, with a brooding sense of mystery behind it. The main instruments are a string-led melody and a string/harpsichord combination doing a bunch of minor pedal-point type progressions. The build-up is very determined but melancholy (just my kinda flavor!) and climaxes with a sound of guarded desperation or something. I must sound so nuts writing paragraph-long descriptions of these songs that loop after 40 seconds. Oh, what’s that you say? There are people who write “professional” music journal reviews of grind-core albums?

Falcom Sound Team – Castle Wall – Brandish 2 (SNES)

“Castle Town” leaves the melancholy of the previous track behind. Here we have an interesting drum, vibraphone and whistle/flute-driven tune which is pretty dang catchy. It does kinda make me think of a town that’s hidden away in remote places or whatevas. At the same time I kinda wanna call it, “Theme of kid who brags a lot” or “March of the smart-alecky people”. Ya know… kinda light-hearted mischief!

Falcom Sound Team – Castle Town – Brandish 2 (SNES)

The track, “Castle” (not to be confused with the previously traversed Castle “Town” or “Wall”) is only suitably described as “bombastically fantastic”. It is very drum and bass-driven, with a laid-back march sound to it. There is a nice mellow electronic piano providing ambiance, and the main triumphant themes are played by electronic brass patches. But don’t be fooled! This is not happy, successful triumph. No! This is the sound of an independent fortune, a brave soul who walks around castles all by himself, without even a map to point out all the trap-doors, of which there are a ton because this is Brandish.

Falcom Sound Team – Castle – Brandish 2 (SNES)

But hold those ponies! While “Castle” may seem to have been the best track yet, “Tower” slays it! Indeed, Tower is one of the best songs ever written on the SNES. A bold statement, but listen to it and I think you will agree. If you could pump this music in your ears during high-pressure situations (now possible thanks to portable MP3-players!) you would probably act above and beyond whatever you needed to do. Like, if you were running for the student council, and you were blasting this in your ear as you gave your speech, you’d probably end the song as the new school principal (An abstract joke I know, but that smile on your face is worth [almost] all the embarrassment these posts generate in my oversoul).

Falcom Sound Team – Tower – Brandish 2 (SNES)

Oh, and “Benedicte” is pretty good. That hook it repeats appears a few times throughout the game’s various themes. You know, the sad one followed that piano line that goes up a fifth or whatever. I don’t know. It’s very nicely implemented, though simple it is. Sounds like a farewell march though I’m not sure since I don’t understand the title. Maybe you have to play the game to understand it and perceive the real emotional current it carries.

Falcom Sound Team – Benedicte – Brandish 2 (SNES)

The theme of (last boss??) “Gadobardorerr” is so f’ing kicking! The intensity reminds me of Neo-Zeed’s theme from the end of Shinobi III crossed with some of the melodious progressions of Dr. Robotnik’s theme at the end of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It is a very strong boss theme. But what is up with that title? Gadobardorerr??! That would be a good band name if it weren’t so hard to remember… No! Stop! I saw it first! It’s my band name! Thief!

Falcom Sound Team – Gadobardorerr – Brandish 2 (SNES)

There are other tunes here that are hella six-pack solid. That’s a CRM guarantee! But I already posted eight freakin’ songs! If you like what you’ve heard here, I suggest you download the whole thing from snesmusic.org. Just get the little Winamp plug-in thingy and away you go! And if you simply don’t have Winamp, you can always cry about it.

______

And as promised, here’s a video clip of some brave soul chancing the dungeons of Brandish 2. Such gorgeous music! Such a confusing game engine!

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on May 29, 2008.

One Response to “Brandish: the Fine Art of Planet-busting”

  1. heya, great article. Listening to the soundtrack as we speak. my group released an English Brandish 2 patch recently!

    http://synchronicity.animeontheweb.com

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