Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks: Castlevania Legends (GB)

Welcome to another edition of Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks.  Today, we’ll feature a game that even Konami wants to disappear with a soundtrack written by, well… I’m not even sure.

Castlevania Legends (Akumajō Dracula: Shikkoku Taru Zensōkyoku 悪魔城ドラキュラ 漆黒たる前奏曲)  released in Japan on November 27th, 1997 and in the US March 11th, 1998 for the Nintendo Game Boy.  It also released in Europe in 1998 (no exact date found!).

The game follows Sonia Belmont as she tries to defeat Dracula and meets Alucard and… wait… what?  She doesn’t have a sub weapon and uses magic.  WHAT!?  Yeah.  It barely makes sense.  In fact, in an interview with Nintendo Power in 2008, Koji Igarashi (the producer of the Castlevania series) said that they actually removed the game from the timeline stating “Legends remains something of an embarrassment for the series. If only that development team had the guidance of the original team of the series.”  Ouch.

That being said, I actually liked the gameplay a lot.  I don’t get why this game gets such a bad rap.  I blame fanboys who like to pile on.

The composer for the game is… well… no one has even bothered to find out.  The game only lists the “Sound Designers”.  This could mean that one or none of these programmers actually composed the music.  Some proof:

Who are these people? I’m not sure myself.

So there you have it.  Research has shown me little to no information about either of them.  Igarashi probably had them change their names and disappear because they worked on this game.

The music… well, people have called the music disappointing.  I don’t really understand why.  They change things up a bit.  Let’s listen to a couple tracks in particular:

Every single fanboy: “Yey, Bloody Tears… wait… what?  It’s different!  NO!  YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”

Too bad.  I love the reorchestration and the chords.  How many times do we need to hear the same theme the same way?  I get the nostalgia of it all but we need to move forward sometimes.

Love this neo-classical stuff.  Uptempo and epic.  And a nice random circle of 5ths.  What I love about this soundtrack is that it’s all over the place.  There are a lot of modulations, meter changes, and half ideas that shift into new ideas mid-phrase.  It keeps the listener interested.

So wait, this is a stage where we play as Rockman, right?  No, though this is very much so a Rockman-esque track.  Still, as it continues to move on, it gets very Castlevania again with classical chord structures.  It’s a bit bright though.

Bro, do you even baroque?  I love this track.  It’s overly complex.  Reminds me of the music of Gesualdo in the worst way.  It would make sense, though;  both Gesualdo and Dracula killed people.

Every single fanboy:  “Yey, Vampire Killer… wait… what?  It’s different” etc etc etc

Dude, this track is great.  Take the nostalgia out of it and listen to what’s there.  Meter changes, key changes, feel changes, heavy unison triplets- this track offers a lot.  It’s the final battle.  You’re going to KILL a vampire, hopefully.  Vampire… Killer?  Get it?

Anyhow, below is the full original soundtrack.  Listen and enjoy.

About Classical Gaming

Steve Lakawicz holds an MM in Music Performance from Temple University as well as a BM in Tuba Performance from Rutgers University . His teachers include Paul Scott, Scott Mendoker, and Jay Krush. His love of video game music has lead him to form a blog, Classical Gaming, to promote discussion both casual and academic about the music of video games. He is the co-founder of the video game/nerd music chamber ensemble, Beta Test Music and regularly composes/performs chiptune music as Ap0c. He currently resides in Philadelphia where he teaches college statistics at Temple University. View all posts by Classical Gaming

One response to “Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks: Castlevania Legends (GB)

  • cary

    Great post! I’ve not played this game, but I don’t mind the music at all. It sounds very “castlevania,” as it were, maybe a little more mixed than some in the series. And I’m not just saying that because I’m working on a rather similar post of my own… 🙂

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