Game Music, Reviews

Retro Requiem – Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon Soundtrack (Review)

July 13, 2018 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Retro Requiem – Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter


I don’t even have a great introduction to this review, so I’m just going to open it up as thus; 2 years ago, Castlevania developers Koji Igarashi created a Kickstarter campaign for a spiritual successor titled Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, meant to be the Castlevania that Konami had denied him the ability to make. The campaign was so popular that it made over 3 million in just pledges and broke all its stretch goals. One of the stretch goal was for the creation of am 8-bit retro-style prequel bonus game to be made separate from the main game the campaign was created for. This game was going to be released prior to the main Bloodstained game, as a taste of what backers and fans could hope for. Recently the retro bonus game saw it’s debut, first on steam and then on consoles, titled Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon.

And let me tell you, it has every bit the classic NES Castlevania feel to it’s music that you would hope for, and more. (Warning: this review contains some spoilers)

The soundtrack to Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is as much a throwback to the days of NES style as much as the rest of the game, though enhanced in a way. Ippo Yamada and Michiru Yamane, both whom are also working on the main Ritual of the Night game soundtrack, crafted a detailed set of tracks that hearkens back to the days of the original Castlevania trilogy, and kicks it up a notch.

In the story of Curse of the Moon, you follow the non-canon journey of character Zangetsu as he travels to defeat the powerful demon that has risen the castle of the moon. Along the way he meets several allies that join him in his quest. The environments the quest takes you across embody certain elements and moods to bring the player into the gameplay. The intro story to the game sets up the gloomy mood, and then you’re set to task in the first level with “Moonlight Temptation” bringing on an uneasy energy to start the gameplay off with. (Special thanks to XombieMike of the official Bloodstained forums for curating a playlist of the game’s music, and all those who uploaded)

There are eight levels you must get through before you hit the final boss. Not only does each level have it’s music, but each boss at the end of the level features it’s own unique intro jingle before the boss music “Unspeakable Horror” throws you into the deep end of battle with dissonant power. When you recruit an ally, they also feature their own fully unique theme, such as Miriam’s  which has snippets of “Curse of the Moon” within in, which players of the backer demo should be familiar with. These little additions to the game’s music lends a credence to using music to cement character within individuals of the game and add depth.

The music of the eight main stages are given the more powerful features within the game’s soundtrack. Mostly they are a trade-off between the dissonant and the melodic, with tracks like stage 4’s “Blasphemy Unto Heaven” being of the former while you have stage 3’s “The Brilliant Void” being more upbeat and energetic. It’s a nice switch-off throughout the game, and helps drive home what you can expect out of those levels in terms of challenge in some cases. The one level I found that has probably my favorite track, which would be stage 7’s “Defiler of Taboos” features incredible melody that truly sounds like a gorgeous mashup between NES Castlevania tracks and more modern-retro game soundtracks like Shovel Knight. (It’s also a bitch of a stage, so enjoy the lovely music while you’re being a frustrated mess.)

With the aforementioned track, it’s really driven home that this isn’t a true 8-bit retro soundtrack like on the NES, but the more blended chiptune music of the modern-retro games like Shovel Knight. While this can be a bit of a letdown for purists, it reflects the “advanced 8-bit” feel that is within the rest of the game. The soundtracks of the NES did amazing things for their time, but still had limitations. With Curse of the Moon, Yamada, Yamane and their team decided to not limit themselves, and did a great job of still giving their soundtrack a oldschool feel. You wouldn’t have gotten the depth out of tracks like the final boss’s “Moonlight Judgement” on the NES.

Overall, the Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon Original Soundtrack gives us a taste of what we can expect out of the soundtrack of the main Ritual of the Night game it’s prefacing. It’s delightfully nostalgic but without the limitations put on the old games it emulates, and is a worth successor to the soundtracks of the NES Castlevania games it’s paying homage to. Some tracks pay better homage than others but overall it’s fantastic and, as backers of the game can note, is a great segway into the music we can expect in Ritual of the Night when it’s released.

Unfortunately there is no word on whether or not the Curse of the Moon soundtrack will get any kind of official release. My hope is that when we get an official release of the Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night soundtrack, that this game’s music will be bundled in with it or will be available for purchase as a deluxe soundtrack. Fingers crossed.

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