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Legend of Hero Tonma :: Review by Chris

Legend of Hero Tonma Album Title: Legend of Hero Tonma
Record Label: Pony Canyon
Catalog No.: PCCB-00004
Release Date: September 21, 1989
Purchase: Buy at eBay


While best known for their space shooters, urban beat 'em ups, and disaster simulations, Irem did produce a few light-hearted titles as well. One of these was Legend of Hero Tonma, an incredibly endearing platformer that follows the youthful Tommy's quest to rescue a princess. R-Type II composer Masahiko Ishida (aka OH!GI) scored the title in a suitable manner, yielding a soundtrack release at the end of 1989.


The first stage theme "Wait a Moment" demonstrates that Ishida has substantially diverted from Irem's dense funk sound for this title. Instead we're given a heroic but light-hearted tune featuring a highly memorable melody. The track has more in common with Super Mario Bros. than R-Type, as a result, though is surprisingly influenced more by classical music than pop culture. With its rococo cadences and stately lilt, the track is an amusing fit for the unlikely hero. Humorous yet elegant, it's an enjoyable stand-alone listen.

There are plenty of other enjoyable compositions featured elsewhere on the soundtrack. With its jumping bass and carnivalesque melody, "Cliff" proves even more light-hearted than the first stage, whereas "Woods" is a little more mellow given the slightly darker scenery. "Statue" and "Dungeon" pick up the tempo in preparation for the climax, but aren't such pronounced shifts that they become overbearing or lose Tommy's character. Both compositions stand out for their memorable hooks and elegant elaborations.

There are some darker music on the soundtrack nevertheless. The boss theme, while not quite as booming as R-Type, still sounds pretty formidable. The final boss track is also a stunning accompaniment to the scenery, though a little underwhelming out of context. Rounding off this 25 minute release are a few jingles and sound effects, all of which do their job yet aren't interesting. Though also brief, the name entry theme is also a little refreshing for the way it shifts from the rococo sound towards some mainstream rock influences.


The soundtrack for Legend of Hero Tonma is very likeable with its memorable melodies, elegant stylings, and serviceable synth. However, there still isn't all that much of it and thus only hardcore collectors should hunt it down. Perhaps this score will make it on to a Retro Game Music Collection one day.

Overall Score: 7/10