With the advent of Wii’s Virtual Console, we’ve seen the interest in classic, nostalgic titles resurrected. Not just arcade classics, but some of the best and brightest offered to consoles over the past two decades. Some of the best games known to us have also had excellent soundtracks from great composers. Many have learned the name “Yuzo Koshiro” and everything that comes with it. With these new three disc set from Five Records, we hear what Koshiro brought to some of the earliest RPG-ish titles (note that “Best Collection Vol. 2” features more action, beat-em-up style titles).
Not one to hold back, Koshiro hits us with the power-packed punch of Actraiser right off the bat. This first disc is nearly identical to the original, now highly valuable, print of the Actraiser OST. The few differences include the lengthening of some short tracks, and the addition of track 16, a “Level Up” jingle. The best-known track from the album, “Filmoa” (or, as Americans know it, “Filmore”), can single-handedly disarm your ears and give you a taste of something strong, adventurous, and fun. But it’s not all in-your-face upbeat music, here. Koshiro’s softer side shows on tracks like “North Wall” and “Birth of the People,” both of which being excellent contemplative pieces.
Like the first disc, disc two is a reprint of a now very old and obscure CD. The game Misty Blue was an early entry into the world of graphic novel/love adventure, and Koshiro was around to add a pretty unique score. Koshiro went heavy into late ’80s dance rhythms, and it shows. You could, hypothetically, jump into a time machine, travel to 1985, and hand these tracks off to Cyndi Lauper or Whitney Houston. The result would sound fantastic, if you can appreciate this genre. A personal favorite of mine from Misty Blue is track 12, “Catch the step.”
The second half of disc two contains more Actraiser music, except set to a different synth processor. There are some previously-unreleased tracks in this section as well. Now, I much prefer the Super Famicom’s chiptunes to just about anything else, but I couldn’t help but appreciate these alternate versions of some of Koshiro’s best compositions.
Disc three contains the soundtrack for Story of Thor, known to American gamers as Beyond Oasis. Never before has a soundtrack been printed for this game, so what we have here is the exclusive part of the collection. For some, this may be the disc that makes the collection worthwhile. For me, however, I felt it was quite the opposite.
You see, there’s a reason why Story of Thor didn’t have a soundtrack printed for it 15 years ago: it’s not that good. It’s some of the most bland and boring music ever to come from Koshiro’s mind. The synths are annoying to listen to: grating to the ears, so to speak. Koshiro attempts to branch out on a few tracks, checking his bags in the hotel of ambiance. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty run-down hotel. As a consumer, you could find better stuff with Koshiro’s name attached.
Then again, this is a package deal. Unless you want to spend well over $100 hunting down the OSTs for Actraiser and Misty Blue, you’re much better off buying this collection and accepting Story of Thor as the “B-side” of the album. Give Koshiro his dues, and his royalties, by purchasing this fine collection!