Corpse Party: Haunting Melodies


Review by · July 20, 2018

One of my absolute favorite albums of 2015 was Corpse Party: songs of the dead. The North America-exclusive two disc audio set from XSEED Games came as a bonus alongside the physical release of Corpse Party: Blood Drive for PSVita. The soundtrack featured music from all three entries in the original Corpse Party trilogy. It combined rare music from Japanese pack-in discs with some fully previously-unreleased tracks as well. It was such a great release, I had actually witnessed some international demand for this album, with Japanese fans clamoring to get a more complete set of music from the Corpse Party trilogy.

Not long after songs of the dead was released with the PSVita game, XSEED released the 3DS remake of the first Corpse Party title, which first reached English-speaking gamers on the PSVita nearly a decade ago. With the limited edition of this 3DS game, gamers received the single-disc — though packing that disc with nearly 80 minutes of music — Haunting Melodies disc. This disc featured a complete set of audio from Corpse Party, specific to the remixed and upgraded music found in this 3DS version. You might not know it, but the original Corpse Party has been remade so many times since its inception as an RPG Maker title in the late ’90s in Japan, it is truly a challenge to keep track of how many versions of various songs are out there. And with the same composer/arranger, Mao Hamamoto, leading the way, any listener is left wondering … is any one version better than another?

Given that the 3DS game and its accompanying soundtrack is the latest and greatest, I felt compelled to give the soundtrack more than a passing glimpse. Having played the PSP and 3DS games, and having gotten ahold of some of the old RPG Maker / PC-98 audio as well, I have a pretty good sense of what changed, and how.

Generally, what I noticed were sound bank upgrades. The sequenced music hardly changed in and of itself … maybe a tempo change here or there, or a two-measure transition between sections of songs. But, for the most part, tinny artificial instrumentation was switched out for more lifelike sounds. In some instances, new instrumental lines were added. For example, the gritty guitar work in “Men’s Room” stood out to me as something strange and new … previous versions did not have nearly that strength to them.

Which songs were changed for the better, and which for the worse? That is purely a matter of opinion. I can say without hesitation that some tracks are, indeed, better than their source material thanks to the new upgrades. But which tracks, in particular, those would be … that is the subjective domain. I cannot say for sure. Even the new recording of Shangri-La, which I very much enjoyed, may be unappealing to fans of older versions of this classic opening vocal theme.

One thing I absolutely appreciate is that Hamamoto did not frontload the task. Typically, it’s easy for gamers to remember the iconic audio of chapters 1 and 2. But the later chapters were given equally high-quality treatment in the remake. To point to two examples, check out the audio samples for “Ray of Hope” and “Vanishing Memory.” They sound fantastic.

Considering the extreme rarity of the Japanese Corpse Party soundtracks published to date, and the fantastic work XSEED has done in bringing exclusive versions of the soundtrack to North America, any fan of this franchise would be foolish not to seek out the Limited Edition prints of both Blood Drive and Corpse Party 3DS so as to obtain the songs of the dead and Haunting Melodies CDs. Though I definitely prefer the variety of songs of the dead, it is a treat to have a full version of the original Corpse Party soundtrack in my grasp as well.

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.