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Elder Gate OST
Catalog Number: KMCA-61
Released On: June 21, 2000
Composed By: Michiru Yamane, Sota Fujimori, Hidenori Onishi
Arranged By: Michiru Yamane, Sota Fujimori, Hidenori Onishi
Published By: Konami Music Entertainment
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 1 CD
Tracklist:

01 - Elder Gate Overture - Opening
02 - Prologue
03 - Name Entry
04 - Gate Hole
05 - Making the Map
06 - Holy Field
07 - March for the Spirit's Friends - Making Friends Conversation Scene
08 - The Town
09 - Minstrels in a Pub
10 - The Snow Town
11 - The Light of Hope - Dungeon Cave
12 - Holy Tactics - Normal Battle
13 - Exploit - Item Management Screen
14 - Sadness Serenade - Sad Town and Village
15 - The Village
16 - A Peaceful View - Inn
17 - End of the World - Dungeon Tower
18 - Lyrical Cantata - Church
19 - Wave of Aquamarine - The Boat
20 - Cheerful Desert - Desert Village
21 - Preparations House - Shop
22 - The Cave
23 - Gale of Atmosphere - Bird
24 - The Snow Village
25 - Molten Stillness - Dungeon Fortress
26 - Portrait of the Victory - Area Boss Battle
27 - Game Over
28 - The Old Castle
29 - The Big Four - Four Kings of Heaven Conversation Scene
30 - The Climax Prelude - Mid Boss Battle
31 - The Road to the Daleth - Final Dungeon
32 - Judgment day - Final Boss Conversation Scene
33 - The Last Enemy - Final Boss Battle
34 - Return to the Gate Hole
35 - Epilogue
36 - Screen Credit - Staff Roll
Total Time:
69'13''

With the classic score to Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight, Michiru Yamane seemed to have launched herself into the premiere rank of game music composers. Having pushed the envelope of sophistication for action adventure scores, I had high hopes she would do no less for the traditional RPG genre in Konami's Elder Gate. But amazingly, possibly owing to production mandated creative straitjacketing, major concussive injuries, or aliens, she failed entirely. Sadly, the music on this startlingly substandard disc is scarcely identifiable as anything more than an amateur's ramblings, much less the work of a talented and accomplished composer.

All the usual hallmarks of the "B-movie" RPG soundtrack are here; empty, inflated orchestral pomp and fanfare, anemic, simplified pseudo-folk arrangements and limp, desultory efforts at symphonic rock. We get glimpses of the genius that produced Dracula NITM only in tiny fossilized fragments; stray passages and moments that briefly recall the grandeur of Dracula before dissolving back into mediocre murk.

The overworld theme, "Holy Field" sounds like it was pieced together from 2 second samples of every other RPG overworld theme ever written, and arranged to deliver a seamless flow of absurdly predictable fantasy music cliches. You can safely and easily hum along with this one the first time you hear it without missing a beat. The same sense of déjà vu pervades the rest of the album. Everything here is so uninspired and clumsily generic it all sounds like it was written by a Turing machine.

Not only can you neatly spot every twist and turn the music tries to throw at you, but every typical convention of genre to accompany the customary RPG locales is readily invoked. I've always wondered what a snow village theme with crystal synth and wind FX would sound like. And my prayers of one day hearing a desert village theme using middle eastern percussion, melodic scales and instrumentation were improbably answered right here on this CD. They threw me for a second with that castle theme written in mock Baroque-style, but I just managed to figure it out. Perhaps some people like what area each piece accompanies to be stamped on their foreheads, but I find it a disappointing cop-out on the composer's part. Just thank god we get a cave theme with aimless, "atmospheric" string chords, pizzicato plucking and a waterfall sound in the background. I'm pretty sure that hasn't been done before. Even where Yamane isn't copying straight from the textbook, the results come out poorly. The battle theme "Holy Tactics" is an embarrassment, its somewhat novel techno/funk rhythm unable to salvage an obnoxious, screechy and poorly thought out string melody. And Yamane saves the very best for the grand denouement. If it takes 1000 monkeys with typewriters 1000 years to write the complete works of Shakespeare, I'd give 2 monkeys with keyboards 5 minutes, tops, to come up with the dismally prosaic ending theme, "Screen Credit". You don't even need to hum along with this one, you already know exactly where it's going before the first note sounds. It's all ground we've walked many, many times before, with nary an original idea in sight.

There are but two things that prevent this album from being a total waste of money (upgrading it to just a rather large one). One is portions of co-composer Sota Fujimori's contribution. The only memorable highlight of the CD for me is Fujimori's "End of the World", an ambient, futuristic dungeon theme teeming with rich, mechanical samples, layers of peristaltic synth and a powerful, evocative strings climax reminiscent of Brad Fiedel's theme to The Terminator. A couple other Fujimori tracks deliver positive, though far less indelible impressions, like "The Light of Hope", another dungeon theme with a martial Celtic flavor, and "A Peaceful View", an acoustic guitar and strings based town theme that sounds like an outtake from Chrono Cross. But with only 8 out of 36 tracks to his credit, half of which don't rise above average, he can hardly rescue the score. Hidenori Onishi *does* almost save the day with his sole track contribution, "Return to the Gate Hole": 30 seconds of sparkly whooshing sound FX. If only it was 10 seconds longer! The only other notable quality is the exceptional sound programming, the same sharp streamed XA sound as Drac X2. Unfortunately the music doesn't quite deserve it. Nor, unless married to the quotidian RPG sound, does it deserve your time and money. If this review seems overly harsh, it's because Yamane was not one I would ever have expected to tow the party line, and the wonderful RPG soundtrack that could have resulted from an adaption of the exceptional style and craft displayed in Dracula X is simply not what we got. Hopefully this is just a misstep, and not the first symptoms of a one-hit wonder.

Reviewed by: James McCawley



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