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DARIUS BURST Sound Team Interview

November 26, 2009 | | 6 Comments Share thison Facebook DARIUS BURST Sound Team Interviewon Twitter

The PSP shooter Darius Burst is approaching fast in Japan, just in the time for the holidays! The Darius series merges the depths of black space with the expanse of the blue ocean, turning familiar creatures of the sea into deadly mechanoids along the way. We contacted the composers who have been working on the sound design for this upcoming game, and Taito’s friendly staff agreed to lend a hand in translating our interview questions. It turns out to be hard work to balance the series’ unorthodox musical roots with providing a new and accessible experience at the same time.

Read our extensive interview to find out how the ZUNTATA sound team met these challenges during the making of the upcoming Darius Burst!

OSV: Firstly, thank you all for accepting this interview. Let’s start by introducing our 3 guests from Taito: Katsuhisa Ishikawa (sound director), Shohei Tsuchiya (composer), and Hirokazu Koshio (composer). It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with all of you today.

Ishikawa-san, as the sound director on Darius Burst, can you describe the overall sound design or concept that was set up as a goal for the team to work towards?

Ishikawa: Sound-wise, I feel one of the most remarkable things about the Darius series is how vastly the approach differs from game to game. I don’t believe there are any absolutes or restrictions regarding how Darius must sound, and I encouraged the composers to work as freely as possible.

That being said, unrestricted freedom would lead to a lack of cohesion among the songs, so in order to avoid a disconnected feeling I gave the composers certain Darius relevant key concepts –the isolation of space, life, chaos– to work from as starting points. The final result was that, despite being the work of multiple composers, I think we’ve succeeded in creating a unified vision for the Darius world.

OSV: When overseeing 3 composers, how was the work load spread out? Did you assign certain parts to each person, or did you let them all submit a bunch of tunes and then decide which one to use afterwards?

Ishikawa: When we first started work on this project the game’s producer asked that we come up with something new, with the current ZUNTATA line-up’s sound and flavor at the forefront. We had current ZUNTATA members Tsuchiya and Koshio come up with demos, with the actual tracks used selected via competition.

This time Ogura was one of a number of artists (instead of acting as the main composer), and I think having the sound designer responsible for the past Darius installments put a great deal of pressure on us, in a good way. He had an incredibly positive impact on us, both musically and mentally.

OSV: What type of mood or emotions are you looking to inspire in the gamers who play though Darius Burst?

Ishikawa: Newcomers to Darius may be able to accept and appreciate the sound in this installment more easily than those with past experience with the series. However, I think the Darius sound “DNA” that Ogura established in previous games has been faithfully carried on, and I trust that the new music will also resonate with longtime fans of the series.

OSV: Will Darius Burst be featuring arrangements of familiar songs found in previous Darius games, or will it consist entirely of brand new music?

Ishikawa: That’s a secret…but just by saying that I’m giving away half the answer! (laughs)

OSV: Tsuchiya-san, having previously composed for a diverse variety of game genres, did writing music for a shooting game like Darius Burst require a different approach this time?

Tsuchiya: The majority of the songs in the game are for battle scenes, a hallmark of shooting games. While on the surface the game is just about shooting down enemies, beneath all that there is a certain intangible aesthetic that needs to be continually expressed, and this made me realize that shooting games are a unique genre.

That being said, my approach to sound design doesn’t change very much from genre to genre. The emotions, colors, spaces, groove, smell, concept, taste, the development team’s passion, all these and other elements present in the game are a source of inspiration to me. I take all of that in and then spin it out into sound. Of course, the cooperation of the entire development team is vital to creating a successful sound for a game, and I approach my work deeply indebted to them. I don’t think of myself as a game music composer, but instead as a sort of stage director for game sound. I just happen to be the one creating the sounds I’m directing.

OSV: Is it a mental hurdle to be working on a sequel in such a long standing series? Did you feel pressure to conform to the styles of the earlier games in the Darius series?

Tsuchiya: There was a great deal of pressure, even more than I predicted, as I noticed early on that there are so many people –both the developers and fans– who are incredibly passionate about the series. My heart sank deeper and deeper as I heard more and more about the thoughts and memories people associated with Darius. Working on a sequel for something with an established vision is no easy task, and I deeply empathize with every creator who has been in the same position.

I’ve heard so much about “the Darius sound,” but after listening to the previous installments over and over, I came to the understanding that the series’ sound style exists more in the process used to create the music and not in the resulting songs themselves. For my part, I decided to focus entirely upon that process. Putting the process into words, however, is impossible.

OSV: Did the music of Darius Burst have a lengthy development time with many alterations and rewrites of the tunes, or was there a clear path with unanimous approval of the submitted songs?

Tsuchiya: Things did not go smoothly at all; it took a great deal of time, and it felt longer than almost any of the games I’ve worked on. The reason for this was because so many people have various feelings about the game, and I wanted something that would satisfy every single member of the development staff.

Another reason was because it’s been so long since the release of the last Darius game. Sweet memories are always more beautiful than the reality of things, and that was the challenge I had to face up to. It was hell, to put it bluntly. But there’s no doubt in my mind that this became an important game for me.

OSV: Koshio-san, you had worked on the audio for recent remakes of classic Taito properties like Space Invaders and Arkanoid, correct? Did that experience provide you with a good insight on how to approach the unique music of the Darius series?

Koshio: Space Invaders and Arkanoid are definitely titles with a great deal of history at TAITO, and working on the remakes was an excellent experience for me. However, Darius Burst felt like a very different project from the remake games. For example, the goal of Space Invaders Extreme was to come up with a completely new game while still following in the footsteps of the original Space Invaders. For Darius, in addition to that, there are expectations that the unique “Darius sound” will be present as well. It took quite some time to realize this, but in the end working on the game was a valuable experience for me.

OSV: Were you able to work closely together with Ogura and Tsuchiya on the Darius Burst music, making it a unified and collaborative team effort? Or were you each composing independantly on separate tunes?

Koshio: I touched upon it in the answer to the last question, but in the beginning I had my hands full trying to grasp “the Darius sound.” I think Tsuchiya was in the same situation, and our discussions about what style best suited Darius Burst often lasted late into the night.

Because of this, initially we didn’t decide who would handle what, we submitted our individual tracks to sound director Ishikawa and let him decide what would be used and where. For the latter half of development, however, the songs for each scene were divided up and assigned between us.

The work Ogura-san would handle had been determined from the outset, so he worked independently. Because of that he didn’t participate in our debates, but in the end he came up with the most Darius-like tracks. Seeing this showed me just how integral a part he had in building Darius’ history.

OSV: How did it feel to be performing many Taito songs live, as part of the DISCONTINTENTAL party for Space Invaders Extreme 2 earlier this year? Are there any plans for future ZUNTATA LIVE shows that will include performances of the new Darius Burst music?

Koshio: Unlike regular game music concerts, DISCONTINENTAL is a completely club-styled event, and in addition to game music freaks the audience also included a great number of conventional club music fans. I worried a great deal about whether TAITO’s traditional game music would be accepted in such an environment, so I put a lot of effort into choosing the most appropriate songs, sometimes coming up with club-oriented versions of some tracks. The response for many of the songs was gratifying. I was very pleased, and the experience provided me with hints about a new direction for game music.

Details about future concerts are secret, but we may do something to coincide with the release of Darius Burst. We’ll keep you updated.

OSV: Thank you all once again for your time and participation in this interview. It’s been a pleasure, and we are looking forward to the release of the Darius Burst Soundtrack CD in January!


Darius Burst Original Soundtrack
Zuntata Records: ZTTL-0063
Release Date: January 20, 2010
Price: 2,625 Yen
Available at Amazon.co.jp

Darius Burst Sound ~ Official Website: http://zuntata.jp/pickup/db_sound.html

Interview by Carl Larson at Moonraiser Media.
All Photos and Translation Support provided by Scott Blow at Taito.































OSV:スペースインベーダーエクストリーム2のDISCONTINENTALイベントでタイトーの名曲をライブで演奏してどういう気分だったでしょうか。将来、ダライアスバーストの曲を含むZUNTATA LIVEコンサートは予定されていますか。






「ダライアスバースト オリジナルサウンドトラック」
株式会社タイトー ZUNTATA: ZTTL-0063

「DARIUSBURST」サウンド情報ページ: http://zuntata.jp/pickup/db_sound.html

取材担当:Moonraiser Media LLC Carl Larson(カール・ラーソン)
写真提供と翻訳:株式会社タイトー スコット・ブロー

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