Thursday, February 12, 2015

Let's Listen: Jupiter

at 6:00 PM
Darius II (also known as Sagaia) was initially released by Taito in arcades in 1989, but over the years, it received a number of ports. Taito's Zuntata even performed parts of its soundtrack live. Below are six covers of the same song, the theme to the final stage of Darius II: Jupiter.

Arcade


The entire Darius II soundtrack is great, but this track in particular goes beyond the scope of the rest of the tracks and ends up as some kind of pop prog thing. It’s also interesting that the final stage—chock full of tough foes and the height of the game’s difficulty—is so energetic and hopeful.

Also, there’s a lady that says “papa.”



Genesis

 


The “ooh”s come across in this version as pretty weak organs, so I’m not a fan of that. On the other hand, the lead synth comes in stronger. In the original version, the lead synth has more subtle dynamics. You might say the Genesis version is a downgrade in this sense, but I find it enjoyable in its own right. This is matched by a stronger bass in the Genesis version, as well. In general, the mastering plays up the poppy angle of the tune, although the overall structure still hits that proggy sensibility.

Then, the lady who says “papa” has that raspy voice problem that Ristar did.


Master System


Darius II also got a Master System port, and while the Genesis version is a successful downgrade, this one doesn’t fare so well. The sound chip just can’t handle some of the subtler things Darius II goes for (check out 2:34). All the notes are there, but the hardware is too crude to make them sound right.

PC Engine CD


Darius II also got a PC Engine CD port never destined to see western shores called Super Darius II. I don't know who T's Music is, but you hear about them all the time while reading about PC Engine CD games, and they're responsible for this cover.

The lead synth initially comes in as a haunting choir thing, only to be replaced by a triumphant brass section, exaggerating the odd mix of tones found in the original tune.

These PC Engine CD soundtracks would always throw in their own special bits, and this is no exception. Check out the rad bridge at 1:48 that turns into a guitar solo at 2:02!

In all, a goofy and satisfying take on the original. But there’s no one saying “papa”!

Arranged OST

 

On one hand, it’s really cool that Zuntata went all out and gave lyrics to the final stage tune from Darius II. On the other hand, I think it’s a love song addressed to “papa.” I try not to think about it too hard.

Anyway, whatever. I just like the idea of blowing up giant space fish bosses while this lady sings about romance.


Live Performance


But wait, that’s not all! Zuntata also performed the final stage tune from Darius II live. Lyrics and all! It’s not too different from the arranged version, but it’s still worth a listen just because this song kicks ass. And hey, there’s some extra flourishes here and there with the horn!

Zuntata has a bunch of live Darius stuff, too. You should check it out!

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