Artistic Discussion – The Good and Bad of Gaming Box Art: 3/13/2012

Good – Dragon Buster (Arcade, Namco)

Wow, I say – this was done in the gaudy, over-neoned ’80′s?  This is an astoundingly beautiful gaming poster in an era where such words rarely combined together.  The colors, the mood, the cool details in the foreground and background…this person should have gotten more work.

Bad – Bust-A-Move 2 (Saturn, Acclaim/Taito)

Oh my god EYEBALLS

Gah, I can barely even look at this monstrosity without feeling a bit queasy.  And that does NOT sell video games!

(honestly, I can’t analyze it.  I am afraid I may spew.)

Tunage: Michiru Yamane

Michiru Yamane

Primarily known for her work on the Castlevania series, Michiru Yamane was one of Konami’s all-time great composers. Beyond that storied franchise, she also worked on several other Konami franchises, including Suikoden, Rocket Knight Adventures/Sparkster, Gradius, SD Snatcher, Ganbare Goemon, Contra and Twinbee. Since parting ways with Konami she continues to compose for video games, with her latest being the all-woman fighter Skullgirls.

Like Koji Kondo, Yamane has gotten plenty of acclaim for her compositions in games, and has been involved with several projects since her 1988 hiring by Konami. This article will present key examples of the diversity she brought to Konami’s soundtracks (plus the games she composes for post-Konami), as well as spotlight the excellent Castlevania sound she created that defined the franchise for years.

Note – There is a possibility that Sony, in their odd tyranny over KONAMI’S CASTLEVANIA SERIES, have prevented me from sharing Symphony of the Night, Curse of Darkness and one of the Dracula X Chronicles tunes from Youtube with the embed feature. You may have to click through to hear them on Youtube directly. I’m in the process of revamping this article in the hopes that this can be avoided, but I don’t want to erase this notification just in case Sony still has its mitts all over something it doesn’t own. XD

Complete Discography (Newest to Oldest):

Skullgirls (2012, PS3/Xbox 360, Konami/Reverge Labs, Composition w. Vincent Dimante)

Mushihimesama Bug Panic (2011, iPhone, Cave, Composition)

Otomedius Excellent/Otomediusu X (Ekuserento!) (2011, Xbox 360, Konami, Composition [Kokoro Belmont section])

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia/Akumajo Dracula: The Stolen Seal (2008, DS, Konami, Composition w. Yasuhiro Ichihashi)

beatmania IIDX 14 GOLD (2007, Arcade, Konami, Composed “Kamiro Una Mendesu”)

Elebits (2007, Wii, Konami, Composition w. Naoyuki Sato)

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin/Akumajo Dracula: Gallery of Labyrinth (2006, DS, Konami, Composition w. Yuko Koshiro)

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow/Akumajo Dracula: Cross of the Blue Moon (2005, DS, Konami, Composition w. Masahiko Kimura)

The Sword of Etheria/OZ (2005, PS2, Konami, All Composition)

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness/Akumajo Dracula: Curse of Darkness (2005, PS2/Xbox, Konami, All Composition)

Suikoden IV/Genso Suikoden IV (2004, PS2, Konami, Composition w. Masahiko Kimura, Norikazu Miura)

Rumble Roses (2004, PS2, Konami, composed Immortal Revenger and The Thorn of Justice)

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence/Castlevania (2003, PS2, Konami, All Composition)

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow/Castlevania: Minuet of Dawn (2003, GBA, Konami, Composition w. Takashi Yoshida, Soshiro Hokkai)

Winning Eleven 6 International/World Soccer Winning Eleven 6 (2002, PS2, Konami, Composition with Sota Fujimori)

Suikoden III/Genso Suikoden III (2002, PS2, Konami, Composition with Takashi Yoshida, Masahiko Kimura)

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance/Castlevania: Concerto of the Midnight Sun (2002, GBA, Konami, Composed “Pitch-Black Door” and “Night Head”, Arrangement (“VK2K2″), with Soshiro Hokkai)

World Soccer Winning Eleven 5 Final Evolution (2001, PS2, Konami, Composition with Norikazu Miura)

Elder Gate (2000, PS1, Konami, Composition with Sota Fujimori, Hidenori Onishi)

Gungage (1999, PS1, Konami, Composition with Sota Fujimori)

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night/Akumajo Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight (1997, PS1/Saturn, Konami, All Composition)

Sparkster (1994, SNES, Konami, Composition with Kazuhiko Uehara, Masahiro Ikariko, Akira Yamaoka, M. Matsuhira)

Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 (1994, Genesis, Konami, Composition w. Akira Yamaoka)

Castlevania: Bloodlines/Akumajo Dracula: Vampire Killer (1994, Genesis, Konami, All Composition)

Contra: Hard Corps (1994, Genesis, Konami, Composition with Aki Hata, Hiroshi Kobayashi)

Rocket Knight Adventures (1993, Genesis, Konami, Composition with Masanori Ohuchi, Aki Hata, Masanori Adachi, Hiroshi Kobayashi)

Wild West C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (1992, Arcade, Konami, Composition with Hideaki Kashima)

Astérix (1992, Arcade, Konami, Composition with Mutsuhiko Izumi, Junya Nakano, M. Egama, A. Hashimoto)

Bells & Whistles/Detana!! Twinbee (1991, Arcade, Konami, Composition with Hidenori Maezawa, Masae Nakashima)

Vendetta/Crime Fighters 2 (1991, Arcade, Konami, Composition with Hideaki Kashima)

Lightning Fighters/Trigon (1990, Arcade, Konami, Composition with Kenichi Matsubara)

Nemesis (1990, Game Boy, Konami, Composition with Shinya Sakamoto, Yuji Technouchi, Tomoya Tomita)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (1990, Game Boy, Konami, Composition with Tomoko Nishikawa)

SD Snatcher (1990, MSX2, Konami, Composition with Masahiro Ikariko, Mutsuhiko Izumi, Yuji Takenouchi, Harumi Uekoh, Yuko Kurahashi, Tomoya Tomita, Tsuyoshi Sekito, Kazuhiko Uehara)

Ganbare Goemon 2 (1989, Famicom, Konami, Composition with Kouji Murata)

Gradius II Gofer no Yabou Episode II/Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction (1988, MSX, Konami, Composition with Motoaki Furukawa, Kazuhiko Uehara, Yukie Morimoto, Masahiro Ikariko)

Examples of her Work:

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Dracula’s Castle


Tunage – Naoki Kodaka

Naoki Kodaka

Noaki Kodaka spent close to ten years composing incredible music for Sunsoft. His mastery of the NES sound chip is evident upon listening to the soundtracks of Blaster Master, Batman, Ufouria: The Saga and Journey of Silius. He also handled the soundtracks for the Albert Odyssey series on his own, and collaborated with other Sunsoft composers on additional Batman soundtracks, Super Fantasy Zone, Super Spy Hunter, After Burner II and Gremlins II: The New Batch. He seemingly retired in 1996 and little is known about his current whereabouts.

Kodaka made amazing music that stands in a league of its own, especially for the NES. Consistently he pushed the NES sound hardware to its limits, composing tunes that were way ahead of their time. Despite his obvious talents and his imprint on early gaming music, Wikipedia continues to ignore Kodaka’s accomplishments. LVLs. is proud to spotlight this important figure and give him the home he rightfully deserves.

Complete Discography (Newest to Oldest)

Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean (1996, Saturn, Sunsoft, All Composition)

Waku Waku 7 (1996, NeoGeo/Arcade/Saturn, listed under Special Thanks)

Albert Odyssey 2: Jashin no Taidou (1994, Super Famicom, Sunsoft, All Composition)

Albert Odyssey (1993, Super Famicom, Sunsoft, All Composition)

Super Fantasy Zone (1992, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega/Sunsoft, Composition w. Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Hara Nobuyuki and Shinichi Seya)

Super Spy Hunter/Battle Formula (1991, NES/Famicom, Sunsoft, Composition w. Hara Nobuyuki and Shinichi Seya)

Ufouria: The Saga/Hebereke (1991, NES/Famicom, Sunsoft, Composition w. Hara Nobuyuki and Shinichi Seya)

Batman: Return of the Joker (1991, NES, Sunsoft, Composition w. Hara Nobuyuki and Shinichi Seya)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, NES, Sunsoft, Composition w. Hara Nobuyuki and Shinichi Seya)

Journey to Silius/Raf World (1990, NES/Famicom, Sunsoft, Composition w. Hara Nobuyuki, Shinichi Seya, Marumo and Mabochan)

Batman (1990, Game Boy, Sunsoft, Composition w. Hara Nobuyuki and Shinichi Seya)

Batman (1990, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sunsoft, All Composition)

After Burner II (1989, Famicom, Sunsoft, Composition w. Naohisa Morota)

Batman (1989, NES, Sunsoft, Composition w. Nobuyuki Hara)

Blaster Master/Chô Wakusei Senki Metafight (1988, NES/Famicom, Sunsoft, All Composition)

The Wing of Madoola (1986, Famicom, Sunsoft, Composition)

Examples of his Work:

Blaster Master/Chô Wakusei Senki Metafight

Area 1


Happy Video Game Nerd: Enemy Zero

The HVGN, Derek Alexander, is back for his annual Halloween video. This time he’s taking a look at Kenji Eno’s Enemy Zero for the Sega Saturn. The sci-fi horror game was a spiritual follow-up to the cult classic D, which Derek already covered two years ago. Check out the video at the link below.

HVGN: Enemy Zero

Derek has teased that he’ll actually be releasing three videos for Halloween this year, so we can expect to see more very soon!

Artistic Discussion: The Good and Bad of Video Game Box Art – 5/21/2010

A day late – my apologies.  I’ve been prepping material for my vacation, and I totally blitzed doing a new one of these. XD

Good – Tales of Symphonia (GC, Namco)

I absolutely love the character designs for Symphonia.  I bought an import art book, so that ought to be enough proof to showcase my passion.  It all began when I first saw this excellent piece (with a slightly different background) on a Nintendo Power issue.  I liked the choice of colors used, the poses drawn, and thought that the designs were fairly unique at the time.  Looking back on this art reminds me of how much I enjoyed this game when I played it.  Out of what I’ve seen, this is my favorite work from Kosuke Fujishima.  He did a fantastic job on these.

Bad – Street Fighter Alpha (Sat/PS1, Capcom)

And then we get this, an absolute abomination of Street Fighter Alpha’s excellent character designs.  I don’t know who Capcom hired to put out this atrocious attempt of artwork.  The only thing that I could even remotely say I liked is how M.Bison is handled on the piece.  Akuma’s symbol is randomly slapped on the ground.  Rose, Chun-Li and Charlie are so poorly illustrated and lacking in detail they should have been omitted.  Ryu’s Hadoken pose is awkward looking to put it nicely.  Ken’s probably the best looking of the bunch, but that’s not saying a whole lot.  What really is terrible about this though is that Capcom had QUALITY MATERIALS FROM THEIR OWN STAFF they could have used.  Check this out, for example:


Dai-Chan’s excellent piece captures the spirit of Street Fighter Alpha perfectly – Ken and Ryu, younger than we last saw them in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, fighting it out.  The difference in style is apparent, too.  This wasn’t used for box art (it may have been the GBC box, but that wasn’t the system they should have used this gorgeous piece for), but it SHOULD have, especially over what they decided to use for NA.  Bleh.  I may be a little harsh of Capcom’s fighting boxes, but I think I need to be, because they have an art staff other devs would die for, and it would be nice if they put some of the good material these guys and gals produce onto their NA cases.


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