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Classic Dungeon Soundtrack 8bit Edition :: Review by Chris

Classic Dungeon ~Magic Team Assistance~ Soundtrack 8bit Edition Album Title: Classic Dungeon ~Magic Team Assistance~ Soundtrack 8bit Edition
Record Label: 5pb. Records
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: February 18, 2010
Purchase: Buy at eBay


In 2010, Nippon Ichi Software continued the trend of recent retro-styled portable games with Classic Dungeon: Magic Team Assistance. This title brought back memories of the early Dragon Quest series with its dungeon-crawling gameplay, NES-styled graphics, and, of course, hybridised musical score. Toshimichi Isoe's ZIZZ Studio actually offered two scores for the title — a full sound version featuring a range of world music and an 8-bit sound version featuring authentic chiptune renditions. Bundled with the game, the Classic Dungeon ~Magic Team Assistance~ Soundtrack 8bit Edition, contrary to its name, features six themes from each sound version. How does it fare?


The album opens with the game's vocal theme, "You're a Treasure". An elegant theme overall, the triple metre gives a dance-like feel, particularly during the elating chorus sections. The Japanese vocals provided by Ikuko Ebata are modest yet enjoyable, achieving an appropriate balance between sounding mature and childish. The accompaniment is also a refreshing deviation from video game norms with its South American influence and gives a hint of what to expect from the main soundtrack.

The majority of the original compositions featured on Classic Dungeon: Magic Team Assistance continue to evoke a feeling of South American music. A particularly representative example is "Crimson Moon Night ~ Theme of Despoina", which is styled like an Argentine tango. The passion and intensity of the dance is initially captured by the interplay of the violin and cello, while elaborations such as the trilling clarinets and 'celli solos demonstrate the personality and beauty of Despoina. It is both wonderfully arranged and implemented, making full use of streamed instrumental performances.

Much of the other instrumental compositions feature similar influences, but ZIZZ Studio is still able to keep things fresh. For example, "forester" is a pleasant variation on the typical starting off theme featured in most RPGs, with its calming grooves and scenic violin lead. "Den of Evil" meanwhile thrusts players into action with its brisk rhythms and wild wailing woodwinds, to great impact in and out of the game. "Knight of the Foreign Country" is a favourite among those who played Classic Dungeon for good reason. It shares the anthemic quality expected from many RPG character themes and nicely hybridises it with the Latin music, already characteristic for its emphasis on strong melodies.

The 8bit version of the soundtrack reduces the fully-fleshed instrumental renditions of the aforementioned themes into humble chiptunes. It's fascinating to hear compositions such as "You're a Treasure" and "Knight of the Foreign Country" in chiptune form and they still appeal thanks to their strong melodies. It's nevertheless quite clear from the somewhat hollow sound created in the reductions of tracks such as "Crimson Moon Night" and "forester" that these compositions weren't principally intended for 8bit sound and the full sound version certainly reflects ZIZZ Studio's intentions better.

The 8bit sound version of Classic Dungeon has a very different sound to other retro soundtracks in recent years, such as Etrian Odyssey and 3D Dot Game Heroes. The samples used here are just like those from the days of the NES — raw, choppy, and limited — and they are not enhanced or smoothed over in any way. This won't necessarily appeal to all, but it's potentially appealing to hear the compositions in these unglorified forms. When coupled with the game, it makes the experience feel even more authentic and nostalgic.


Overall, the Classic Dungeon ~Magic Team Assistance~ Soundtrack 8bit Edition gives a good insight into the game's score. It provides a representative selection of music from the full sound version and 8bit sound version for the game, reflecting their individual strengths and character. Nevertheless, the full Classic Dungeon ~Magic Team Assistance~ Original Soundtrack is a far better purchase, since it features all these themes and many others of similar style and quality.

Overall Score: 7/10