Game Music of the Day: Castle of Dragon

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, butfew of the soundtracks that came out of the 8-bit yearsreally, 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 andplay air guitar. Opening with a roaring guitar lick (or what passed forone 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 thatthe gamewasn't really all that amazing, and that you actually kicked very little dragon ass over the course of itshandful ofshort 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-levelthemes 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:


Also, while we liked its music better, the NES map screen...

... kind of pales in comparison to the arcade version's intimidating map and itscrucified Lemming:

Still, it was a memorable littlegame, 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.

Game music of the day: Lords of Thunder
Epic shredfests by Miyashita

Game music of the day: Bionic Commando
Main theme by Fujita and Tamiya

Game music of the day: seven amazing cover bands
The Advantage, Black Mages and more

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.