Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara

[back cover]
Catalog Number: VICL-2169
Released On: May 22, 1996
Composed By: Masato Koda
Arranged By: Masato Koda
Published By: Victor Entertainment
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 1 CD

01 - Fanfare
02 - Time of Determination
03 - Prologue
04 - The Journey
05 - Adventure
06 - Battle at Trintan Village
07 - Disaster Begins
08 - War Cry
09 - Mission
10 - Head Down Bespia River
11 - Ambush
12 - Spirits Theme
13 - In Imminent Danger
14 - Heavy Battle Tank Juggernaut
15 - Relief
16 - Shadow Elf in the Harsh Fight
17 - Old Enemy Teluarin
18 - Wheel of Fate Teluarin
19 - Silence
20 - That Which Sleeps in the Rotting Sea
21 - Corpse's Treasure
22 - Eyes Glinting in Darkness
23 - The People of Kogo
24 - Bridge of Trees
25 - To the Throne of the Dark King
26 - Harsh Prison
27 - Forest of Illusion
28 - Forest of Bewitchment
29 - Too Much Feasting
30 - The Timbre if Rejuvenation
31 - Stone of Mystery
32 - Lost World
33 - Flying Palateum
34 - Spiral Battle
35 - True For of Nightmare
36 - Final Battle
37 - Epilogue
38 - Our Divine Protection ~First Child Amidst Death~
39 - Voice & Sound FX Collection
Total Time:

Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow over Mystara was originally a Capcom-developed Beat 'em Up / RPG arcade game, but eventually found its way onto the Sega Saturn, although only in Japan (the console iteration combining even more RPG elements to the Beat 'em Up genre). This cross-cultural oddity spawned a soundtrack, composed by Koda Masato. Even though the soundtrack is for the Sega Saturn version, the music sounds very arcade. Thus, for an arcade game, the soundtrack is diverse and vast. And although it may not be the most genuinely well-composed music, it provides a distinctly different, yet fitting tone for fantasy adventure without betraying the Dungeons and Dragons feel.

Much of the music resounds with a unique flavor of nostalgia, almost instantly recognizable in the openeing "Fanfare." For better or worse, the arcade-quality sound is also instantly noticeable. This retro sound may bother some modern listeners, but to others it will be a portal to the past. No one will mistake the soundtrack for anything new and clean, no matter how much they enjoy it, however.

The first few selections sound similar, mostly due to the overall warmth of the instruments, which pervades most of the album. Masato works well with the instruments provided him, however, and produces some tunes effective in portraying a particular state of mind or location. "Adventure" is a gentle track that could be played as a group of adventurers sit around an inn table and discuss their exploits. "Forest of Illusion" is a repetitive, but effective track for some tricky woods, leading explorers astray, and "Too Much Feasting" conjures images of an overfed party of adventurers poring over the last crumbs of a well-earned meal. Unfortunately, there are some slightly annoying songs mixed in with these appropriately fantastical tunes.

Mostly battle themes, the worst tracks on this OST consist of dominant percussion and repetitive beats. These include songs such as "Ambush" and "Heavy Battle Tank Juggernaut." Others, "War Cry" especially, are boisterous and difficult to bear at times due to obnoxious brass and similar sounds. The song may be attempting to recreate a war cry, but that doesn't mean it must be as aurally offensive as a banshee's wail. The soundtrack is a long one too, and most listeners may not make it to the end. If they do, however, a real treasure awaits them: a hilarious collection of sound effects and voice clips used in the game that will undoubtedly make even the most sober listener chuckle.

The Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow over Mystara OST is a fun and unique listening experience, and should be undertaken by those interested in fantasy, D&D, or crazy Japanese experiments involving stepping over cultural boundaries. Masato composed a strong arcade game soundtrack for Shadow over Mystara, but it may not hold up as well outside the arcade. If there are any DMs looking for a different soundtrack for their D&D adventures, as opposed to the common Western approach for fantasy as in games like Baldur's Gate, however, this may be it.

Reviewed by: Kyle Miller