Thursday, September 11, 2014

Soundtrack September: Strider

Game: Strider / Strider Hiryu (1989)
Platforms: arcade, Genesis/Megadrive
Composer: Tamiya Junko

I recently showed my affection for the original Strider soundtrack in one of my PS4 Strider Hiryu gameplay videos. Progressive and ambitious for its time, the music in this game sticks with the player long after the game is over, making for some of the most memorable music in the Genesis software library. (Yes, the music in question originally came from the arcade game, but in my opinion most of the soundtrack sounds better in the Genesis port.)

As natural as it would have been for a game about a superninja with a speed-of-light sword that cuts everyone in half to have a rock soundtrack, Strider shows remarkable restraint, instead opting for future-baroque melodic turns, unpredictable dissonance and a pronounced lack of percussion. The action opens with the Strider Hiryu jumping from rooftop to Kazakh rooftop to the driving tune of "Defense Line," and follows him into snowy caverns ("Siberian Tunnel") where chimes and reverb set the tone. His brief stint in the jungle is accompanied by the appropriately tribal "Valleys and Rivers," and the final boss battle takes place over "Hiryu," a whirlwind of fast articulation juxtaposed against chords that walk steadily downward.

It's worth noting that this is one of several examples in which Capcom handed the soundtrack composition duties to a female composer, another notable example being Shimomura Yoko's iconic soundtrack for Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. I don't know why there are so few women in the TV/film/game music industry. They clearly know what they're doing.

This video is a medley of music from the Genesis version's soundtrack. Some of the tracks are blended into others, resulting in the titles shown in the video's description not always matching the content.

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