Welcome to GamesRadar's daily blast of all things pertaining to the ever-growing field of game music. Each post will introduce new sounds, games, composers and fan-made remixes of gaming's greatest aural achievements.
May 6, 2010
Game: Castle of Dragon
Song: Title screen
Composer: Shotaro Sasaki
Above: Title theme from Castle of Dragon
The NES era produced some remarkable, memorable pieces of music, but few of the soundtracks that came out of the 8-bit years really, y'know, rocked. The Engrish-tastic Castle of Dragon, meanwhile, let you know right off the bat that it wanted you to get the f**k up and play air guitar. Opening with a roaring guitar lick (or what passed for one on the NES), the short-but-kickass title-screen loop was clearly drawing on '80s metal for its inspiration, and it set the stage for what was sure to be an amazing game about kicking all kinds of dragon ass around a big castle.
Of course, once you got past the title screen, you found out that the game wasn't really all that amazing, and that you actually kicked very little dragon ass over the course of its handful of short levels. However, the music that followed the title screen - an awesome-but-too-short map-screen theme and the surprisingly dirge-y first level music - created a mood of such grim determination that you didn't really care.
Above: Map-screen and first-level themes from Castle of Dragon
Like the title-screen theme, the level music was made up of short but cool-sounding loops. It was difficult to be sure of the metal influence, however, unless you'd also heard the higher-fidelity version from the arcade Castle of Dragon.
Above: Don't bother trying to listen to the whole thing - it never changes
Incidentally, the arcade version was a very different game from the one that made it onto the NES; in general the music was better, the action was more brutal and the hero got to look like an awesome robot right off the bat, instead of after the first stage.
Actually, the arcade version was just more hardcore in general. Witness this screen from the NES intro:
Above: Oh no that dragon's kidapping a princeYAAAAAAAAAWWN
And then compare it to the arcade's rather more succinct call to action:
Above: HOLY SHIT THAT'S A HUGE DRAGON CLAW
Also, while we liked its music better, the NES map screen...
... kind of pales in comparison to the arcade version's intimidating map and its crucified Lemming:
Still, it was a memorable little game, and for an ultra-obscure NES title it's got some awfully badass music. True, not a lot of it holds up as well today, but it's still a cool early example of how well games and metal riffs can complement each other.
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