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Composer Compendium: Iwadare Chapter 2 AND LP

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[Originally posted on on June 26th, 2013.]

Noriyuki Iwadare: Chapter 2

When we last left off with Iwadare’s career we just stopped at Der Langrisser, and covered the big Lunar games and one remake, now its time for a new series to rise, and Lunar to continue with its remake train.

In 1996 Iwadare and Pack-In-Video worked together to make Monstania, a short tactical RPG for the Super Famicom that you guessed it, was never localized anywhere. It was quite late in the Super’s lifecycle by then and Japan already had the Nintendo 64 to play with. Also, Pack-In-Video almost never localized their games anyway.

In the same year Iwadare and Game Arts released the Playstation remake of the first Lunar, adding Story to the end of the title for some reason. Anyway, this is more than just a simple remake, since the Playstation has more power than a Sega CD the developers were able to upgrade graphics, sound, music, everything, and with the upgrades came new songs.

A year later saw the Japanese exclusive release of Langrisser IV for the Sega Saturn, Iwadare worked with a couple of others to produce the music for the game. The aforementioned remake of Lunar Walking School, Magic School Lunar, also released for the Saturn and only for Japan in 1997.

What the rest of us got from the wonderful year of 1997 is another work from Iwadare and Game Arts, a new project, one that’s not Lunar. Grandia. Grandia originally came out in 1997 for the Sega Saturn (for Japan only of course), but it was ported to the Playstation and released internationally in 1999 (2000 for the Euros out there). Because of its similarity to Xenogears in appearance and camera control it is the cause for some finger pointing ire amongst RPG fanboys, or did back when people cared.

1998 would see a couple more big projects from Iwadare. Langrisser V would release for the Saturn and Playstation (what geographical area do you think it was released in?) This is currently the latest game of the Langrisser series until Schwarz releases. Iwadare is credited as the composer for this upcoming game as well. But, the big news, at least internationally, was the remake of Lunar 2, getting the full Playstation treatment just like the first game got.

The next year was fairly quiet for the international Iwadare fan. None of the games would release outside of Japan but one did start a brand new series. Well, it is a new game in a way. Growlanser released in Japan only in 1999, but we would get some of the later games in the series.

In 2000 the world of role playing would be shaken to its core, or it should have been if it didn’t, because Game Arts and Iwadare came out with an all new Grandia for the new at the time Sega Dreamcast! I consider this game to be in the Holy Trinity of Dreamcast RPGs alongside Skies of Arcadia and Phantasy Star Online. Just ignore the PS2 port and get the DC version!

Let us start the 21st century by saying that the next couple games had no chance of releasing outside of Japan. Mercurius Pretty is a remake of an old Japanese PC-98 game, there was no exposure when it was originally released and most likely not going to attract even a niche fanbase at the time. True Love Story 3 is a dating sim, that’s about it for that one.

So the next music the international crowd was introduced to is a Grandia spin off, Grandia Xtreme. I have not played this game yet as I have never owned it and did not rent it back in the day, it is on my hunting list though as I have been digging the music.

Another True Love Story would come out along with an… ‘adult’ visual novel called Wind: A Breath of Heart. All the good stuff is in the PC version as it was cut for the console market. 2003 would see Iwadare work on that timeless PS2 classic Mega Man X7 with an entire music crew. Counting him, there are 9 credited composers for that game. Yikes!

Anyway I’ll skip the Mega Man X7 for now and move onto something else completely awesome. Lawyers. Namely, Capcom’s resident lawyer Nick Wright and crew. Yes, Iwadare started in the Ace Attorney series with the 3rd game, which we know as Trials and Tribulations. These games originally released as Game Boy Advance games. They were later remade for the Nintendo DS and released internationally a few years later, when I got in on the series.

Iwadare finally got to work for the big name in console RPGs, Square Enix, to compose the soundtrack to Radiata Stories before going back to compose the music for the Grandia I wish I could forget, Grandia III. After this he went back to making music for some Japanese exclusive sims primarily he made a return to the Ace Attorney series with Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth in 2009, and its UNLOCALIZED sequel Gyakuten Kenji 2 in 2011.

Alongside the new Ace Attorney spin off Game Arts and Iwadare made ANOTHER Lunar remake for the Playstation Portable. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony came out in 2009. The awesome Limited Edition has some sexy Lunar girl cards and a sweet CD soundtrack of all the music in the game! This is more of a slight enhancement to the PS1 remake than a different overhaul of the Sega CD original.

Grandia Online released in 2010 with Iwadare composing the entire soundtrack. Yes, this MMO is exclusive to Japan. I think its getting quite clear why Noriyuki Iwadare might not be as well known as he should be. Half his music never made it across any body of water!

The most recent games that Iwadare has worked on are the aforementioned Grandia Online, Gyakuten Kenji 2, and Kid Icarus: Uprising. Upcoming games with his music are the newest Ace Attorney game and Nick’s return; Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, as well as Langrisser Schwarz.

Composer Compendium LP – Stewart Copeland

Introducing the Composer Compendium Limited Play, or LP for short. The idea behind the LP is to highlight a short career in video games. Perhaps a life was tragically cut short, or an artist made music for a handful of games and moved on, or, and this is the most common one, they exist as a popular entity outside of video games already. They have a made name with clout behind it, whether the person was in a famous band, does Broadway music, movie and TV soundtracks, whatever else they were doing beforehand does not matter.

As an extra to the conclusion of Noriyuki Iwadare here is the Limited Play of The Police’s drummer Stewart Copeland’s work in the video game industry.

Sadly, he only worked on one series of games and one other random game, but the best games in that series. Mr. Copeland composed the music for the first four Spyro games. He started work on the very first one for the Playstation, and finished with Enter the Dragonfly on PS2.

This time coincided with many musicians outside of the realm of video games entering the medium in the West. They no longer needed in depth knowledge of a system’s sound capabilities with the rise of CD gaming. The CD brought incredibly high quality music with it since NEC first introduced the Turbo CD as an add-on to the Turbografx-16. You did not need to be Yuzo Koshiro and create your own music coding language just to create high quality music. This brought many new audio styles to the world of mid-late 90’s gaming.

I love me some Insomniac, and part of that reason is that I grew up with the PS1 trilogy of games and this music. I still like to try and play through them every other summer for some fun and nostalgia. Even back then I thought the music was much different from anything I had played on the Super Nintendo and PS1 beforehand. This may have to do with Copeland’s lack of experience with the overall gaming market. He wasn’t listening to the soundtracks of other games to get a style of what a game should sound like, he just made great music to fit the style of the one game he was working on at the time.

The one non-Spyro game soundtrack Copeland did is Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare. I have not played this game so I don’t know how it holds up, but I know its supposed to at least be creepy and mildly scary at times. I’ll leave you with this nice, pleasant, limited little Spyro sample and this interview footage of the man himself.

Psycho’s Gaming History: Top 10 Important Games from my Childhood 5-1

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Welcome to part 2 of my countdown of the most important games that shaped young Psycho!

5 Spyro The Dragon

A dragon voiced by the Taco Bell dog.

A purple dragon with a mean charge, fiery breath, and could glide through the air. This was my first 3D platformer, and my oldest sister and I would play it whenever she was over on weekends. It was because of our team effort with this game, and its two sequels, that helped us beat everything 100% or more. This game blew my mind when I first played it and the original trilogy is still enjoyed every summer for a quick playthrough on those scorching hot days.

4 Super Mario All-Stars

Ah, another good wholesome SNES classic. Sadly during my childhood my experience with SNES games didn’t reach much further than the Mario series. I wouldn’t really begin learning of non-Mario adventures on the Super until the years of the supreme Playstation overlord phase of my childhood. I also would not get the chance to explore many of them until my high school years and current collecting days. But, all that said, when compiling a list of very important SNES games I decided that I would not want to read one, think about my own life, and not have All-Stars be of the utmost significance. Everything, Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, AND 3? And go ahead and toss in the real Japanese SMB2 for good measure? And to think if I would have recieved my SNES much later then Super Mario All-Stars+World could have been the pack-in. Oh gracious me.

3 Gothic II

I bought this game randomly a few months before I bought the video card upgrade to my old PC. This RPG introduced me to the idea of open worlds in a deeper way than GTA2 and GTA3 did. Gothic II also got me interested in the larger world of PC RPGs in general, leading directly to Morrowind and KOTOR leading forward, and back in time to Fallout and even further backwards. Unfortunately, like Final Fantasy I can’t stand the newer releases of this series, but in my mind the first two games are prime examples of how to do open world exploration right and despite being 10 years old, still has more NPC behaviors than Skyrim.

2 Suikoden III

All 3 colored characters are the main protagonists, letting the player see the events of 2/3s of the game from multiple angles.

This game is one of the most important discoveries of my life, and it barely squeaks onto this list. I discovered my favorite console RPG series on a random rental, much like the same day that I randomly rented FF8 and for some reason discovered a lifelong love of the RPG genre period. I rented this game when I was 12, just a few months before becoming a teenager and marking my endpoint of thought for this list. The anime styled intro cinematic had my jaw on the floor and the Trinity Sight System had me hooked as soon as I understood it. Since then I’ve discovered an obsession, and have strong feelings as a fan of this series. This will not be the last time I mention this game or series.

1 Super Mario World & Super Mario Kart

What else should really go here? These two games were the first games that were mine. For a few months they were the only games outside of rentals that I could play. As the first two games for the first system that is mine (and I still own and use nearly daily) this one holds a lot of nostalgic value and just keeps trucking. That SNES has been through many years, and I only hope that it lives alongside me for many more. This well built, rugged Super Nintendo has outlived my first dog, these two carts always nearby for a quick play. Some random days I’ll just pop in Super Mario World and do a quick Star Road speedrun to kill some time. For a bit more of a touching story Super Mario Kart is still the only game I’ve really gotten my dad to play with me, it was never for very long, a race or two on that Christmas day and a couple other times. But, those memories and that bonding will stick with me forever, giving me a good idea of how to be a father to my own children when that chapter of my life unfolds.

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