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Akumajo Dracula Apocalypse Game Soundtrack :: Review by Jon Turner

Akumajo Dracula Apocalypse Original Game Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula Apocalypse Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-7942
Release Date: March 26, 1999
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


The score for Castlevania 64 (aka Akumajo Dracula Apocalypse) is generally regarded as one of the weakest of the series, especially after the masterpiece PlayStation score that preceded it. Composed principally by Masahiko Kimura, it is dominated by event, setting, and action themes written in a dark orchestral style. While the score is an interesting experiment, it is only partly successful in the game and lacks stand-alone merit.


The "Prologue" reflects the new direction that Masahiko Kimura has decided to take the series. He emphasises the foreboding tone of the opening cinematic with suspended strings and heavy percussion. The result sounds even more dark and cinematic than the moodiest material on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Yet while it is effective in context, it is far too repetitive and dull to be worth stand-alone listening. Kimura takes a similar approach for most other cinematic cues on the soundtrack, placing a focus on drab synthesised strings. He also doesn't hesitate to create highly dissonant pieces, such as "Shudder", "The Villager", and "Rhapsody of Another Dimension". These are powerful accompaniments in the game, yet again are utterly alienating on a stand-alone level. Unfortunately, these cinematic cues are so numerous that they significantly detract from the stand-alone experience.

Thankfully, the setting themes are generally more carefully constructed pieces of ambience. "Quiet Madness", "Maze Garden", and "Science Tower" offer particularly remarkable timbres, thanks to their excellent mixing and synthesis. However, they are still somewhat let down by their repetitive elements and premature loops. They're listenable on a stand-alone basis, but not as rich or developed as, say, Resident Evil 2 released around the same time. A more accomplished example is "Invisible Sorrow" which, while mostly focusing on fragile harp arpeggios, undergoes an immersive progression with evocative chord progressions and sporadic synth additions. Serving as both an atmospheric accompaniment to the underground tower and an excellent stand-alone listen, this collaboration between Furukawa and Kimura somehow manages to be unsettling yet soothing at the same time.

There are thankfully some more expressive tracks to break up the experience. Following a dark introduction, the core of "Mark of Blood" is actually deeply personal; it creates a sense of lamentation with successive violin and piano solos, written in the spirit of Michiru Yamane. Other more intimate brevities include "Rosa", "Planetarium", and "Brief Tranquility". Yet while there are comforting moments, listeners should not expect any upbeat themes and rock anthems on the soundtrack. In fact, the only direct references to past scores in the series are provided by a fleeting appearance of "Bloody Tears" and two brutal modernist orchestrations of "Dancing in Phantasmic Hell" and "Illusionary Dance" for the action scenes. Even the "Staff Roll" theme is a subdued and conflicted affair, hinting that the Castlevania saga is far from over.

The soundtrack release concludes with three bonus tracks. "Melodies of Castlevania" reflects the melancholy underlying the soundtrack with a synthetic orchestral rendition of the main theme, before moving into a much-needed brighter passage at the 2:11 mark. Guest composer Motoaki Furukawa interprets the score's main ambient highlight, "Invisible Sorrow", in his character jazz fusion style completely with semi-acoustic guitar work and relaxing tropical beats. Those who enjoy this style will like this piece, though it lacks the subtle beauty of the original. The score concludes with an arrangement of the ending theme "A Night in Peace and Quiet" for piano and violin. The intimate writing here is beautiful and the studio-recorded performances bring out the most of Kimura's part-writing.


It's admirable how Masahiko Kimura attempted to intensify and modernise the Castlevania 64 with dark cinematic, ambient, and action elements. However, his approach to creating such themes generally lacked the subtlety and variety needed to compare against most mature scores at the time. What's more, it is certainly alienating for those who have grown up with the mostly uplifting music of the Castlevania series and a middle ground similar to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night may have been a superior direction. Both flawed in concept and execution, the Castlevania 64 score is an interesting addition to the series, but a mostly unappealing stand-alone listen.

Overall Score: 6/10