8-bit arrangements composer game music review VGM

Hiroaki Suga & Hideki Kanazashi – “HAL Game Music” Review

HAL Game Music is an old soundtrack from 1988 featuring mainly arrangements from the game series – a series I have no knowledge of at all! The composers are Hiroaki Suga & Hideki Kanazashi but the first eight tracks are arranged by Masao Hiruma. Suga & Hiruma only have one other game music credit to their name and judging by this piece – that is a shame as HAL has an interesting set of ideas, just not perfectly executed.

“Yogen” opens the soundtrack with a synth arrangement of a pretty Japanese styled tune which actually sounds like it belongs to something from Shenmue! It’s followed by “Ihen” which sounds more like a random Mega Drive/SNES era dungeon battle song. It has quite a bit of character which is slightly confused by all the random warning sirens and sound effects which come across to me like spaceship noises thrown in almost at random. “Muma” is up next – another slightly confusing track with a time-stepped background snyth with detuned harp samples playing. It’s eerie and detuned but still trying to be elegant at the same time. This causes friction between the two sides of the song but it definitely doesn’t make it unlistenable – it’s just very interesting!

“Kyoko” ups the ante with a dramatic Mega-Drive style battle track which redeems the quality of the soundtrack somewhat indeed. “Haikyo” is only a minute long breezy and slightly dysfunctional interlude once again giving a very oriental disorientated feel before “Fukkatsu” gives us an uplifting tune of military standards. It’s very well done but once again you have to remember although these are arrangements – they are old arrangements so sound like a 16-bit sound chip and at times early PS1 music. Depending on your view of music at that time will clarify whether you’ll enjoy these tracks or not. “Shintaku” is a fun and fast paced ditty showing a more lighthearted side to the soundtrack ending the arrangements.

“Eggerland” gives us a wonderful ten minute piece of original music sounding like classic gameboy music to me. The bleeps and blips are spot on, clear and crisp. “Interlude” is just a small chirpy piece before “Fire Bam” gives us an eight minute rendition of original music. These two big tracks loops themes quickly before the next theme comes in – Eggerland seamlessly moving between tracks while Fire Bam fades out and restarts. Both tracks are superb however.

HAL Game Music is old so you wont find too many of them about. The arrangements aren’t bad but the strength comes from the original soundtrack included – a surprise for me to say these days. I had no previous connection to the music but quite happily bounced along to the original soundtracks without a care – that’s good music. Not classic. Good.

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