Akumajo Dracula Best OST Review by The Successor

Akumajo Dracula (Castlevania)

Download Complete Package

7.37 MB

Track Length File Size
1. Underground 0:30 471 KB
2. Prologue 0:08 129 KB
3. Vampire Killer 1:15 1.14 MB
4. Stalker 1:14 1.13 MB
5. Wicked Child 2:06 1.93 MB
6. Walking on the Edge 1:43 1.57 MB
7. Heart of Fire 2:12 2.02 MB
8. Out of Time 1:21 1.24 MB
9. Nothing to Lose 1:32 1.41 MB
10. Poison Mind 0:32 504 KB
11. Black Night 0:57 892 KB
12. Voyager 0:56 879 KB

here are those that will scoff at you for listening to "game music". Especially old game music.

One day, (for some strange reason) I decided to share the Milk Bar theme from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask with my sister. She immediately dismissed it on grounds of sounding "very Casio". It's as though the music can't be taken seriously because of the medium it's presented in. To be fair, the timbre produced by older gaming platforms can understandably be offsetting to some. But, good music is good music, no matter the avenue it's heard in, right?

The 8-bit era was home to tons of great tunes. The underground chip-tune legacy that continues today is a testament to that. Of that quirky eon, one series stands above the pack with its consistent concentration on musical excellence. That series is Mega Man. But, Castlevania follows close behind, proudly displaying its faultless silver medal.

The Castlevania series is recognized for having superior music when compared to most video games. This reputation was established freshly out the womb with Castlevania's Famicom Disk System premier. Composer Kinuyo Yamashita realizes her 8-bit limitations and rocks hard regardless of them. There isn't much music on this soundtrack, but it's shimmering with a feeling unique unto itself and paves the way for its horror entrenched legacy.

An example of this soundtrack's knack for conveying sentiment in spite of technical margins is the track "Underground" -- a short ditty with attitude and spunk.
The music successfully manages to be spooky despite the primitive sound. The prologue theme justly foretells the impending horrors awaiting Simon Belmont as he enters the Demon Castle. The synth doesn't have the means to truly represent an organ, but fugal patterns heard in "Poison Mind" and "Heart of Fire" gets the idea across.

"Heart of Fire" is one of the better tracks, which is saying quite a bit. It holds a steady pace throughout. The lead melody begins with one note followed by the same note, but of a higher pitch. The interesting neat thing is that before the second note hits, you can hear it climb the entire musical staff quickly, making a nice rising effect. After that, a melody plays, and is answered each time with a more sinister sounding pattern. Subsequently, it gets into one of those baroque sequences that's become commonplace for the series.

"Vampire Killer" is adventurous but with a sense of eeriness. It has a haunting, carefully planned melody, with each note, accent, and counter melody being in just the right place. "Stalker" is ruminative, and has ingredients of mystery and stoicism, while "Wicked Child" is fast and action packed, with a tinge of spookiness.

A different approach is heard in "Walking on the Edge", which is very foreboding, carrying a heavy sense of dread and warning. It begins with a motif similar to the classic "Jaws" theme, and then continues building dynamics.

With all that said, an easy way to summarize is that the music from Castlevania is a real treat with some unexpected tricks interspersed throughout. Sometimes music doesn't contribute much to a game. But there are occasions when a game wouldn't be the same without its corresponding music. The latter is usually true for Castlevania games, and this is the soundtrack that established that long standing tradition. Castlevania doesn't waste the opportunity of having an affecting score that lends deeply to the emotional responses reaped by players.

Just like the rest of the components, Castlevania uses its music to the fullest, giving us anthemic, catchy, eerie, and idiosyncratic tunes that are unforgettable, forever enduring, and just plain fun to listen to.

Dracula 2: The Accursed Seal (Castlevania 2)
Download Complete Package 7.37 MB
Track Length File Size
10. Message of Darkness 0:42 663 KB
11. Within These Castle Walls 0:44 697 KB
12. Bloody Tears 1:05 0.99 MB
13. The Silence of Daylight 0:58 917 KB
14. Dwelling of Doom 0:59 922 KB
15. Monster Dance 0:58 911 KB
16. Last Boss 0:37 580 KB
17. Game Over 0:05 78 KB
18. A Requiem 1:59 1.82 MB

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest has much different music than its predecessor, but, at the same time, it's very similar in ways. Heavy classical influences are heard in both, as is a creepy aura that permeates the tracks. Though, Castlevania's music was frequently creepy in a fairly mischievous manner. Simon's Quest's can be legitimately bloodcurdling.

Simon's Quest is an anomalous game. It isn't utterly terrifying, but emits a rather disquieting feeling. The music has a lot to do with that. It is more complex than Castlevania's, more ambiguous, more mystifying, and… more threatening.

However, there's something that needs to be noted before continuing. This is not the music for Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
This is the music for Dracula 2: The Accursed Seal, the Japanese counterpart to Simon's Quest. There is a big difference. The songs are the same, but with different instrumentation, and even divergences in the compositions. General consensus says that Simon's Quest turned out superior to the original Japanese version. That is pretty much true.

Simon's Quest features a way more powerful sound. The bass and drums have 10 times the impact of what is heard in this collection, and the instrumentation is better overall. The songs carry greater anxiety. The music is colder, more sinister. That doesn't mean what is included here isn't worth a listen. The Accursed Seal deserves to be judged on its own merits and not the standards set by something that came after.
Let's consider The Accursed Seal.

"A Message of Darkness", the opening theme for the menu and the password screen is more macabre than anything heard in The Accursed Seal's forerunner. A bitter, ghoulish atmosphere is established from the beginning.
"Bloody Tears", a critical track not just for this game, but the entire series, is first heard here. The Accursed Seal brings forth a landmark song for Castlevania. Think back to the first time "Bloody Tears" ever blessed your ears. It's incredible, despite losing a bit of luster due to short sighted mishandling.

As is the case with many things that catch on, those in power exploit that popularity and mar the product by milking it for all it's worth. It's not the song's fault, it's Konami's. On its own, "Bloody Tears" is one of the best video game pieces there have ever been. It's refined and awfully catchy at the same time. Bloody Tears plays during the day sequences of Simon’s Quest, and I remember wanting the days to last longer because, dang, that song is hot!

Again, this version doesn't have the force of Simon's Quest, but the Accursed Seal's "Bloody Tears" does some things well. There is great blending between the background and lead melodies, though the drumming isn't near as well done as the North American counterpart.

"Monster Dance". . . takes some getting used to. It is not hard to deem it a lost cause at first, but after about 3 or 4 listens, it starts to come together. "Dwelling of Doom" has a Halloween-ish sensation, and many classical overtones. This music creates a very strong monster mash mood without being trite or stupid.
"The Silence of Daylight" is a very good piece, but comes out sounding almost cheerful, which is in stark contrast to Simon's Quest's downtrodden adaptation. Concluding this story is "A Requiem". There is a strong impression of resolution and quietude, though it is fairly sad. It's one of those affecting ending themes that cause you to reflect on the account that has transpired, filling you with a sense of completion and accomplishment, but still leaves you yearning for more of the adventure you left behind.

The music for the Accursed Seal has a hazy feeling. This game excels at creating mood, atmosphere, and feelings more so than its two compatriots. The music is one of the biggest proponents to that. Though it stumbles with songs such as "The Last Battle" and "Within These Castle Walls", the Simon's Quest versions show us that they can be retooled to become amazingly impressive. This soundtrack definitely leaves its mark. It's quizzical, refined, sophisticated, creepy, and terribly expressive. It was truly ahead of its time.

Legend of Demon Castle (Castlevania 3)
Download Complete Package 29.9 MB
Track Length File Size
3. Prelude, Epitaph, Beginning, Boss Fight, Block Clear 6:01 5.51 MB
4. Destiny, Clockwork, Mad Forest, Anxiety 6:21 5.82 MB
5. Rising, Stream, Game Over 3:36 3:30 MBn
6. Dead Beat, Nightmare, Encounter 4:17 3.92 MB
7. Aquarius, Pressure 2:30 2.29 MB
8. Demon Seed, Deja Vu, Riddle, Overture, Big Battle 7:52 7.20 MB
9. Evergreen, Flashback 2:31 2.29 MB

This is it! Akumajo Densetsu – deemed by some as the epitome of Castlevania on the NES, or the Famicom in this case. It has the striking graphics, numerous amounts of music, and untouched sound quality for our audio pleasure.
Yes, Akumajo Densetsu is majestic and daring. The music honorably represents this. This release brings listeners an excess of high energy fight music perfectly tailored to the adventure it rocks to. It's a throwback to the original Castlevania in terms of composition. Though not as morose as Simon's Quest, emotions are conveyed, and Densetsu isn't afraid to mix up the pace here and there.

The music is just as “classical,” extravagant, and gothic as the others, but with greater intensity. The prologue theme, "Prelude" reads like an epic story book. From a breathtaking, hushed, serene intro, to flowing extravagance with a shade of sorrow, it is continually impressive. The many fine details gone into it are remarkable. They're a reminder that (good) video game composers, even at that early stage in the industry's life, care about their craft, and this musical medium is every bit as legitimate as any other.
The conclusion of "Prelude" leads to something that may bug some listeners.
Individual songs are sharing tracks. For example, the first track has "Prelude", "Epitaph","Prayer", "Beginning", "Boss Fight", and "Block Clear" . If you're in the mood for "Beginning", you will have to wait until three songs before it play through, or inconveniently fast forward to the desired song.

There are sound effect interludes between songs, which are usually nice and fitting, but sometimes last too long. The worst case of this debacle is track 7, which begins with "Aquarius", arguably the game's best song, followed by arguably the game's worst song, "Pressure". It's pretty annoying.

Moving along, the stage music in Akumajo Densetsu is generally inspiring. "Beginning" is a vigorous, exciting way to start things off. After a distinctive drum roll, the action begins, hearkening back to "Vampire Killer" from Castlevania with its intent. "Beginning" chooses to instantly grab players and force them into the adventure, contrasting with Simon's Quest's slower paced start. Good as it may be, "Beginning" is a bit over inflated, garnering praise and remixes when not needed.

"Clockwork" is one of the best songs in the series. It being done on the Famicom makes it all the more remarkable. It's a spindling, fast, precise baroque piece that some how fits a clock tower perfectly. They were right on the money with this one.
A song with a much different sound is "Mad Forest". It starts with a plodding intro and then gets into the main course. It's entertaining the whole way through, and has a solid rhythm, topped with a strange, but endearing melody.

Bonus Tracks
Track Length File Size
1. Beginning Arrangement 3:22 3.8 MB
2. Bloody Tears - Haunted Castle Version 1:18 1.19 MB
31. The Silence of Daylight - Simon's Quest Version 1:14 1.13 MB
32. Bloody Tears - Simon's Quest Version 0:48 764 KB
33. A Requiem 1:36 1.5 MB

A piece previously touched on is "Aquarius". When compared to certain other Castlevania tunes, it's underappreciated. Regardless, it's probably the best song from Akumajo Densetsu. While executed better in Densetsu, the Castlevania III version has the greater mix. The neat background melodies are kind of difficult to hear in this. Subtleness can be nice, but decreasing such an awesome part to this degree is disappointing. Surprisingly, the bass line is the loudest, even out-blasting the lead melody. That's not inevitably a bad thing, but it would have been nice if the supporting melody were more prevalent.
Nitpicking aside, "Aquarius" right up there with Accursed Seal's "Bloody Tears". It's such a shame it's immediately followed by "Pressure".

That song sucks.
It builds anxiety and gets players to panic, but it's not something you're going to want to hear in your leisure when not hunting Dracula. The only thing it builds then is annoyance.

Speaking of anxiety, another bad song is "Anxiety".

There lies the problem with Densetsu. It's got the most music out of the NES/Famicom Castlevania games, but it also houses some of the worst music from those games. On top of that, with the songs pasted together the way they are in this collection, it's difficult to avoid the bad tunes.

A peculiar song with mixed reactions from listeners is "Nightmare". It's negative, dawdling and a definite stand out due to its style. It's the most avant-garde piece from the NES era. I'm almost surprised it didn't come from Harmony of Dissonance. It's inharmonious, but that works if you know what you're doing. "Nightmare" doesn't seem to have much going on, but manages to have the impact of a Mack truck, like "Aria of Nightmare" from Lament of Innocence.

"Demon Seed" is another notable song. It exhibits a similar attitude to Castlevania's "Underground". A smooth bass line carries the piece, and a clever melody adds its touches -- not too much, but not too little.

There are numbers of additional music, aside from the stage music. They're short, and often repetitive, but fulfill their rolls. "Destiny" is scary sounding -- unadulterated horror music on the Famicom. The same can be said of "Epitaph". Neither will blow you away with sheer awesomeness, but they're fitting and creepy.

"Encounter" is dreary, but it almost doesn't matter with how short it is. Still, a great short tune would have stood out more than a mediocre one.
An. . . attention-grabbing song that deserves to be mentioned is "Boss Fight". It's easy to tell what this song is aiming for. It's attempting to emulate "Poison Mind" from Castlevania… except it isn't near as good. It comes off as an utter cacophony. Conversely, "Evergreen" is very touching, with impressive, creamy, violin like instrumentation. Like Simon's Quest's "A Requiem", it is forlorn, but fills players with resolution and tranquility. It's the best ending theme out of the three NES games, and ranks pretty high against other entries in the series.
"Flashback" spits on what "Evergreen" established and comes out way too hokey. It's like it's trying to get the same feelings that the NES Metroid had for its ending theme, but left out everything that made Metroid's good.

Akumajo Densetsu does have a number of the best NES Castlevania tunes on it. The bad part is it also has a number of the worst. But, the bad aren't so bad that they make this album not worthwhile. On the other hand, the good are so great, and plentiful, that any Castlevania fan would be doing themselves a disservice for skipping this important part of the series' musical heritage

Reputed songs for the series are instituted here, such as "Beginning", "Aquarius" and "Big Battle". They deserve to be heard in their original incarnations. Not just because self respecting Castlevania fans owe it to themselves, but more importantly, the original incarnations, for better or worse, have yet to be topped. You're not going to hear a better "Aquarius", "Clockwork", or "Big Battle" elsewhere.

When all is said and done, the Akumajo Densetsu soundtrack is immensely satisfying. All of the NES games are.
Which has the best soundtrack? It almost doesn't matter when they're as good as they are. They've all got great music, a distinctive sound, and they bleed atmosphere. It's all worth listening to and it's all bundled up in this precious compilation.


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