Game music of the day: Psycho Soldier

Game: Psycho Soldier

Song: Psycho Soldier theme

Composer: Eikichi Kawasaki

Above: Psycho Soldier theme from Psycho Soldier

To modern ears, the Psycho Soldier thememight sound like a tinny, short pop tune with static-y vocals, but it's an important piece of gaming history nonetheless. If you've never played it (and odds are you haven't), Psycho Soldier was a bizarre little game. A sort-of sequel to the awful arcade/NES game Athena, and sort-of prequel to the beloved NES RPG Crystalis, it was a hybrid platformer/shooter that tasked psychic warriors Athena Asamiya and Sie Kensou with jumping between four parallel floors to dispatch creepy monsters in trenchcoats.

Just having an unusual gameplay hook wasn't enough to make Psycho Soldier stand out on its own, though. It needed a gimmick. And so it was that Psycho Soldier became the first-ever arcade game to feature a theme song with recorded vocals.

Above: Thank you, Japanese arcade flyer! For pointing out! That the original Japanese vocalswere recorded by '80s idol singer Kaori Shimizu!

For arcade-goers in 1986, a game that sang to them as they played - actually sang - was incredible, and imbued the game with a personality that was unheard-of back then.. And while the song might have been cheesy, it became popular enough (in Japan, anyway)to be released as an impossibly '80s cassette single, which was apparently given out as a bonus to anyone who bought the Famicom version of Athena:

Since then, Athena and Sie have gone on to become fixtures in the King of Fighters series, and their theme song has been remixed and covered countless times, ranging from this arrangement in KoF 2002...

... to this acoustic cover, by a band called From the Ashes:

And all this in spite of how misshapen and awkwardPsycho Soldier's main characters looked on the front of the game'sarcade flyer:

Aug 6, 2010

Title Screen by Daisuke Morishima

Level 2 by Nobuyuki, Marumo, N. Kodaka, About SS andMaboChan

World Select by Mariko Nanba

Mikel Reparaz
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.