One day while browsing Square & Musique, I decided to check out the newly created DigiCube section and while I looked quickly, I noticed a soundtrack I’ve never heard about…Tengai Makyou ~ The Apocalypse IV…Catalogue number SSCX-10006. Then I asked myself: “What in the world is this?!” Not long after, I was contacted by the eBay seller m-2 for one of his auctions I’d won. He had offered that he could find any soundtrack I’d wanted off of Yahoo Japan Auctions. It was too good to resist, so I had given him a list that included other extremely rare soundtracks like Treasure Hunter G and All Sounds of SaGa. Trusting recommendations from Chudah, I chose to throw this unknown mystery in the list. About 3 weeks later, I got an email from m-2 confirming he managed to get all of the soundtracks I had listed. Needless to say, I was breath-taken by the amazing news. About a month later, I received the package; my heart was racing: a few of those soundtracks were ones I had been searching after for years, and finally, they were all laying before me. Of course, Tengai Makyou ~ The Apocalypse IV was the first soundtrack I popped in my CD player.
Through the first play-through, I thought it was alright. After a second listen… I quickly began to spot my favorites in the mix. Afterwards, this OST quickly grew on me. So who composed this oddity? Some guy named Toshiyuki Sasagawa. Sounds familiar? Didn’t think so, although I believe he may be the main Tengai Makyou series’ composer, since he had a hand in the equally excellent Tengai Makyou Zero soundtrack for the SFC. In the case of Tengai Makyou ~ The Apocalypse IV, it saw the light of day on the doomed Sega Saturn. And to those that are fortunate enough to own a Saturn, you know the synth quality is as high as those last generation PSX titles. No joke here; the sound, composition and musical variety is so high that it feels as if the music were ahead of its time.
Sasagawa seems to concentrate his themes here on three distinct styles: techno, rock and atmospheric music. But there’s more than that! for example: the opening theme “New Orleans” seems to be comprised of accordions, harmonica and flutes, which is really something you don’t hear often in RPG scores. It is overall a quiet opening theme, but a good one nonetheless. The Battle Themes are a mixed bag; some tend to be good, while others seem too lighthearted. One of the more lighthearted is easily the first “Zako Battle”; it actually sounds more mischievous than anything, but I can imagine it fits the game’s animated battle sequences really well. The important boss theme “The Twelve Apostles Battle” sounds extremely epic and serious, as organs and techno beats are used to give a sense of danger and help visualize a tough, but still fair battle. The final battle, entitled “Battle with the Absolute God”, sounds fairly decent with the extensive use of organ and flute samples. It sounds evil enough despite the slight lightheartedness of the theme. For town themes and dungeon themes, they often fit into the atmospheric category. “Hollywood” sounds especially stylish, from the 1950’s lounge jazz music; smooth piano and saxophone are what make up the most of this track, which makes it stand out from the rest. “The Inuit Village” has tribal drums and a bit of flute, which sounds typical for such an area, but the solo flute in the middle of the piece gives it an original flair. This soundtrack also has a decent share of oriental themes, such as “Dance with the Geisha” which uses a bit of flute and a bit of shamisen (an ancient Japanese lute) and “Chinatown” which obviously has the eastern sound all over it, yet they still don’t sound quite typical as most RPG scores. We are fortunate enough to have a few orchestral arrangements of several tracks at the end of the soundtrack, all of which are expertly performed.
So in conclusion, I believe this soundtrack has a lot of originality to offer, be it quiet to slightly goofy themes to oriental themes. However, coming across this soundtrack is no easy task. Yahoo Japan Auctions seems to be the place to go for such an obscure soundtrack. I got mine for about $50, which is a fairly good price.