I’ve been importing videogame soundtracks for a long time now. It’s getting close to a decade. In this time, I’ve seen some companies really “drop the ball” on soundtrack releases. Sometimes we get an incomplete soundtrack. Sometimes the arrangements or horrible. Sometimes they release a boring soundtrack to a boring game. But, the most shameful thing of all is when a game with good music does not get a soundtrack release.
Meet Blade Dancer, an original PSP RPG from Hit Maker, published in the US by NIS America. The music for the game was composed by Keiji Nishino, a name I’ve never heard before. That doesn’t matter; what does matter is that Nishino-san has written some very enjoyable music for what I’m told is an unfortunately subpar game.
Now, it may just be that enough time hasn’t passed, but so far, no word on a Japanese soundtrack has been made. There were a number of vocal tracks in the game, and I suspect one can find them on artists’ singles somewhere. But as for the in-game music, no import-friendly stuff for you, Mr. Western-Hemisphere-Resident.
But, thank your lucky stars, because the good folks at NIS America did what they do best: they released a bonus soundtrack to come with the game. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s a very short soundtrack (12 songs, 25 minutes), and that only one of the vocal tracks made it onto the soundtrack (possibly for legal reasons: who owns the rights to what, etc.). The longest song on the disc is a little over 3 minutes. That’s a problem.
Let’s focus our attention back to the good stuff, though. The few songs we do get on this bonus CD are fantastic! I was seriously shocked when I had finished listening to it. Sure, the opening vocal was nothing to go crazy over, but the in-game music; wow! First of all, the quality on it rivals many PS2 titles, which blows my mind, considering this is a PSP game. Handheld games don’t usually come with the world’s best audio quality. Maybe the music got a bit of a boost for the soundtrack: I don’t know. Whatever the case, the sound quality shocked me.
The compositions themselves were a whole other matter. In a word, impressive. There’s plenty of diversity in these few songs. Various musical styles are used, and the composer was careful not to mingle these different styles in a manner so carefree that the result is haphazard and unpleasing to the ear. Generally, each song stuck to a specific style of music. From the booming chorus and fanfare of “End Times” to the Sakimoto-esque tension of “Against All Odds,” there is plenty of wonderful music to be found here.
If I owned a PSP, I would have hit myself for missing out on this preorder bonus. Fortunately, I was able to attain a soundtrack without the game, so it was no major loss for me. As for you VGM lovers, don’t miss out. It’s rare for the US to get a soundtrack that Japan doesn’t get. It is truly a “bonus” for us. Do what you can to get one before they become extremely rare.