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Super Chibi Knight OST (Review)

Super Chibi Knight OST (Review)

July 18, 2015 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Super Chibi Knight OST (Review)on Twitter

For the sequel to a Flash game created by a 30-something guy and his 8-year-old daughter, you may not expect the music of Super Chibi Knight to be much of anything. From that description, you may not expect the game to be anything either but it promises a nostalgic mix of platforming and action/RPG in the pre-64 Legend of Zelda style. A new wrinkle is the sorcerer/beastmaster dynamic which changes how Super Chibi Knight plays, which areas you’ll see and how the game winds up. It’s super expanded from the original Chibi Knight and looking at this tracklist makes that extra apparent.

Returning composer, Brian Allen Holmes, has created an immense collection of 74 tracks for Super Chibi Knight. Most were designed as loops for the game so many of the tracks are short and fade out just as I started to get into them. It’s an unfortunate concession but understandable even for a digital release when there’s so much excellent music to cover. So grab your sword and shield and let’s explore this album.

You don’t need to go any farther than the first track, “Opening Cinematic Music”, to hear what Super Chibi Knight’s soundtrack is all about. In just 23 seconds you’ll hear the orchestral synth sounds of heavy percussion and the proud staccato of horns and strings with just a bit of electric guitar sound peppered in for an edge. These sounds and styles will be repeated and played with throughout the album.

Shortly after another cinematic piece you’re introduced to one of the game’s repeated melodies with “Menu”. Bombastic horns and strings carry you to an airy bridge that brings the loop back around and lends a sense of importance to the playful bravado. Holmes regularly strikes the delicate balance of playful, serious and emotional throughout the rest of this gargantuan playlist.

Ah, the overworld music. It’s one of the defining tunes in any action/RPG as it’s one of the first pieces you’ll hear repeated over and over early on in the game. So I’m happy to say “Oukoku Overworld” is a delightful piece with that same emotional core as “Menu”. Again, horns and strings intermix with driving percussion that beckon you out to adventure. The bridge this time is a bright chorus of male and female voices that seemingly lifts you to the game’s top-down vantage point in the sky. I really wish that section lasted longer before the loop started but it’s still a great and fitting piece as it is.

Always close to the overworld music are the themes that accompany the nearby towns. For Super Chibi Knight’s starting zone that’s a handful of tracks that retain the playful pace but replace the instrumentation to define smaller regions or characters. On the light side are “Firefly Guy” that flutters by with a minuet for harp, “A Worried Mother” that dotes on the ear with a dancing flute melody and “Manna Well” that echoes with the subtlest of female hums. Alongside those tracks are the slow, earthy bounding of “Wise Old Man” and “The Butcher”, the whimsical singing of strings in “The Barn” and the airy, almost Middle Eastern feel of “Muncher Alter”.

Next to the overworld theme, the only music more repeatedly heard in an RPG has to be the battle music. Super Chibi Knight has us covered here as well with five different themes based on locations in the game world. This doesn’t even include the boss battles! Though many of these overworld encounters can be finished in seconds, each is a unique aural adventure of its own. “Oukoku Battles” bursts with more electric guitar flair and then soars with sweeping melody, “Desert Battles” calls back that Middle Eastern feel and features some nice chanting and “Beast Arena Battles” dances wildly with punchy brass and sawing synth.

We’re just now nearing the halfway point in the album so I’m going to finish up with a few standout favorites.

Another hallmark of action/RPGs are temples, elemental temples especially. “Ice Temple” sets the stage with the familiar percussion and some light strings, leaving plenty of room for a horn solo to carry the gorgeous melody. “Fire Temple” takes the same approach with a singular horn solo, this time laying down a slick for-lack-of-a-better-term, Mexican vibe. Both pieces do a great job of conveying their respective elements without sounding like typical “hot” and “cold” video game music.

What’s a game without boss fights? Again, there’s plenty of unique music to accompany them but my favorite of the bunch is “Slime Battle”. It builds steam quickly and launches a barrage of brass that’s so full of pomp it reminds me of some of John Williams’ themes from Jurassic Park. I imagine that shortly after the Fire Temple is when you’d hear “Flame Flea”, a boss battle theme that incorporates the solo, Mexican-ish horn on top of a chanting male chorus. It’s both smooth and foreboding at the same time and another track I wish had the time to grow.

Given that much of the game was dreamed up by an 8-year-old it shouldn’t be a surprise to find a dark metallic alien spaceship wedged in among the traditional medieval/fantasy setting. You eventually go inside the foreign craft and are accompanied by more of the game’s sporadic synth guitar sounds. Together with the “haunted house” vibe of the backing track they give the familiar Super Chibi Knight theme a haunting feel unlike anything else on the album. And if you somehow don’t believe it yet, let me reassure you there’s loads here.

It really is a surprisingly good and sprawling soundtrack given the tiny father/daughter team and web-based history of Chibi Knight. We didn’t even cover the half of it in this review so check out the full 74 tracks for yourself on Bandcamp or have a look at the game that goes with it on Steam.

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