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Nanashi no Game Sound EP :: Review by Chris

Nanashi no Game Sound EP Album Title: Nanashi no Game Sound EP
Record Label: Square Enix
Catalog No.: iTunes
Release Date: July 21, 2008
Purchase: Buy at iTunes


Square Enix's DS horror game Nanashi no Game is fascinating in terms of sound design. Masayoshi Soken combined his skills as a composer, sound effects designer, and sound editor to produce a very effective accompaniment to the game. He paid meticulous attention to sound effects design to produce eerie dynamic soundscapes and exceptionally realistic noises and voice effects. A further innovation was his use of the DS' two speakers to create a 3D sound that enhanced the 3D first person gameplay.

The music for the title is mostly sparse, but there are several ambient cues used in crucial places during the first person gameplay. However, there is also a cursed 2D RPG to play within the game featuring melodic 8-bit music. Though Soken's efforts on the game are commendable, a full soundtrack would have never been possible given it is necessary to listen to the music for the 3D gameplay in context in order to appreciate it. In an effort to pioneer their iTunes service, Square Enix nevertheless released an EP featuring five tracks from the 2D RPG. That's definitely better than nothing.


Headlining the release is the main theme "Nanashi no Geema" used in variations throughout the 2D gameplay. The melody is warmly shaped and classically-oriented with hits of dance-like qualities. There is also a wistfulness and eeriness hinted at, but it is subtle in the initial rendition. The accompaniment provides buoyancy with its straightforward arpeggios and the theme is gradually elaborated upon during its five minute playtime. In addition, the implementation is well done given Soken creates a dated sound without resorting to harshness or superficiality.

The rest of the EP features some of the numerous variations of the main theme featured in the game. The music in "Nana? no Te-ema" is distorted even more than the track title. Unfinished phrases, dissonant harmonies, and bizarre frills give plenty of weirdness and uncertainty during certain moments of 2D gameplay. Another unconventional piece is the solo recorder rendition in "To Father". This is the best testament to the sound design of the game since it features ambient background noise and very convincingly emulates the sound of playing a recorder.

"The Requiem" accompanies the game over scene with an ethereal synth take on the main theme. It aims to convey spiritualism rather than tragedy and is quite effective in this regard. "Ending...?" is probably the most enjoyable and content take of the melody. It returns to the retro flavour but features more fleshed out harmonies and nicely explores the thematic material of the score. Were this featured as the ending theme of a real 2D RPG, it'd surely become a cult classic.


This EP does not aim to commemorate the excellent sound design efforts of the overall title. This is largely understandable given how inaccessible the music would have been, though somewhat unfortunate given a few themes would have been enjoyable out of context. It instead serves as a sentimental bonus for those who have played the game or a cheap purchase for those wishing to hear some retro music for a cheap price. Some may prefer to just buy "Nanashi no Geemu" and "Ending..." given the rest of the material on the album is somewhat inaccessible and redundant. Overall, though, it's a nice release for hardcore fans.

Overall Score: 6/10