Hottie of the Day: Deborah Ann Woll


DEBORAH ANN WOLL

Season 5 of HBO’s hit series True Blood just ended over the weekend and the verdict seems to be a season that was better than the previous one though still plagued with some slow moments and uninteresting subplots. It also had what many termed as a WTF cliffhanger that should make Season 6 quite interesting. But this post is not about focusing on the show, but one a particular actress in the show who plays one of my favorite characters since she arrived on the scene.

The latest “Hottie of the Day” is none other than Deborah Ann Woll who plays the immature and naively, sweet baby vamp Jessica Hamby. Better known amongst the show’s fans as “Baby Vamp” the character played by Deborah Ann Woll continues to be a fan favorite. It elps that Ms. Woll’s performance as “Baby Vamp” ranges from alluring, sexy yet also sweet-natured. While she may be a gorgeous redhead to behold it doesn’t mean that Ms. Woll’s acting skills are lacking. She’s not just a pretty face for the audience to gawk at. As evidenced by this season’s episode where she says a final goodbye to her first love, Ms. Woll can act circles around her co-stars when allowed to do so.

I’ve also selected Ms. Woll as the latest hottie because sooner or later site co-founder Lisa Marie will complain that there’s not enough redheads being featured. Good thing True Blood reminded me that there is one hot ginger out there right now for me to pick and profile.

PAST HOTTIES

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Which Way Forward For The “Batman” Movie Franchise? Take Four : The Power Of Three


There are those who insist that good things come in multiples of three and there are those who will tell you that bad things tend to come in threes — both camps have a Star Wars trilogy they can point to as evidence for their pet theory, and while neither are strictly correct, on a purely rational level, neither side is technically wrong, either.

So let’s just face facts here and admit there are some good movie trilogies and some bad ones, that within the good ones some better than others, and that within the bad ones some are better than others. All of which brings us back to that rooftop scene we started this “Rebooting Batman'” series with, from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween miniseries, the second page of which is reproduced above (and I apologize for its crookedness, it’s the only scan of this particular page I could find online).

Quite clearly, the latest cinematic iteration of the Dark Knight Detective, as helmed by Christopher Nolan, was a trilogy, and flaws aside, I think that by and large structuring the whole thing this way, whether by accident or design, by and large worked, story-wise. We got a beginning, middle, and end to Batman’s career, and a forth installment probably would have been pushing things a bit much (okay, fair enough, folks who didn’t like the Nolan films probably feel like three was too many, but that’s another matter for another time). I guess I’m in the minority on this, but I would have liked to see Tim Burton get a third crack at the bat-franchise, as well. It certainly would have been better than Batman Forever.

And this is the point at which attentive readers will tell me to back the fuck up for just a minute and pick up on that “all of which brings us back to the rooftop scene” bit. Your wish is my command. Quite clearly, the Harvey Dent/Commissioner Gordon/Batman triumvirate that forms the thematic core of The Long Halloween is what I’d like to see at the center of the entirely-hypothetical next Bat-trilogy I’m building in my head, even if I’d take pretty much no other cues from this particular book whatsoever. I mentioned last time around that giving Bruce Wayne and/or Batman a real life that included some actual friends apart from Alfred would be an idea that I. and a lot of fans out there, would be receptive to. And of course, we all know that the story of Harvey Dent is, ultimately, a tragic one that could translate well into a central theme spread out over three flicks. I’m still working out all the details as to how to do it in my head — like I said in a previous post, I’m very much making this up as I go along — but how about this for starters? In our new Bat-trilogy, Dent, Gordon, and Batman start as uneasy allies, and are pretty firm, honest-to-goodness friends by the end of the first flick. Perhaps even to the point where Batman decides to clue them in on his secret identity (although that’s not, strictly speaking, necessary — just something to keep in mind).

If Warner Brothers were to decide to give this hypothetical “soft reboot”‘s director a three-picture guarantee, absolutely not unheard of in the movie business, then that would seem a natural enough relationship to build a trilogy around, and we can get into Harvey’s inevitable turn for the worse as we move into discussions of (the again completely hypothetical) parts two and three. If the first flick were to be a complete and utter flop, then hey, they can always fire everybody, go back to the drawing board, and us fanboys and fangirls can endlessly debate the “great Batman trilogy that never was,” which is always a pretty fun little time-waster in and of itself, as well.

So, to recap, here’s where we are right now — the next Bat-flicks are going to have a shift in tone toward the more heroic, old-school, brains-over-bran interpretation of the character that will result in a bit less “dark” an overall tone; we’ve established Detroit at the central filming location for Gotham City; we’re going the “soft reboot” route by going back to an earlier point in Batman’s career but not obsessing over the details of his origin too explicitly; and we’re planning for a trilogy of films from the outset, one with a genuine story of friendship between Batman, DA Harvey Dent, and Police Commissioner Jim Gordon at its core.

Sound good? Sound bad? Now’s the time to chime in, and I do appreciate all your comments, both good and bad, so far. On a minor “housekeeping” note, I’ll probably be stepping away from this series for the next week or so as I attend to some business on my “main” site (trashfilmguru.wordpress.com, in case you didn’t know), but will be checking, and responding to, comments on here just the same. A guy’s only got so many hours in a day to write, and I’ve been running a series of comic reviews over there that I really want to wrap up in the next few days before showing the love of my life (yes, that would be my wife) a terrific time for her upcoming 30th birthday. Once that’s all taken care of, I’ll be back to the task at hand here with the next entry in our series, which will focus on which details I’d keep, and which I’d scrap, from the Nolan series of Bat-films. Then we can finally get into the plot of the films themselves proper, followed by arguably the most fun part of all, ideal casting choices for all the characters!

Oh, and maybe we should start bandying about some names as to who we’d like to see directing these flicks in an ideal world, as well? But I did say one thing at a time was going to be the order of the day here, didn’t I? Must try to stick with that — if at all humanly possible!

VGM Entry 29: Mario’s many sequels


VGM Entry 29: Mario’s many sequels
(Thanks to Tish at FFShrine for the banner)

While the Genesis was just getting started, Nintendo developers were pumping out sequels. Super Mario Bros. 2, Final Fantasy II, Mega Man 2, Dragon Quest III, Super Mario Bros. 3… They were coming out right and left in 1988, and most of them were improvements over the originals.

The first thing you might ask is how Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 ended up being released in the same year. Well, they actually came out a mere two months apart. There is a bit more to this story though, and since Super Mario Bros. 2 has by far the best music among NES installments of the series, there should be time enough to tell it.

The first game to be titled “Super Mario Bros. 2” was released in Japan in March 1986. It seems to be readily downloadable today, but if you’re like me and don’t play games much these days you probably only ever encountered it on Super Mario All-Stars (1993) for the SNES, where it was titled The Lost Levels. As you might recall, it wasn’t particularly interesting; it was pretty much identical to the original, music and all, just with new level designs. This was not originally intended to be the case. A much more unique and creative game had been in development, but for whatever reason Nintendo’s market research lead them to believe that an expansion of the original would have greater commercial success. The project in development was passed off to Fuji Television Network and released as Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic in July 1987. Koji Kondo’s original work went along with the package, and much of what you are hearing now first appeared in Doki Doki Panic.

Nintendo sensed a different interest in the American consumer and went ahead with the original project. You may have heard at some point years back–I know I had–that the American Super Mario Bros. 2 was just some cheaply refurbished port of a non-series Japanese title, but this is not entirely correct. The projects were one and the same for much of the game’s development. In a very peculiar turn of events by early gaming standards, North America (and Europe) got the real Super Mario Bros. 2, and Japan got the ripoff. It took so long for the game to be released in its intended form, however, that it ended up launching in North America at pretty much the exact same time that Super Mario Bros. 3 came out in Japan.

Musically, Super Mario Bros. 2 improved on Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic by integrating peppier renditions of themes from the original Super Mario Bros. The music is also a lot more crisp, though that might be the consequence of differences between the Famicom and the NES. At any rate, it is probably my favorite early Koji Kondo soundtrack. The main theme remains, arguably unlike the original Mario Bros. theme, unconditionally pleasant. The limitations of the NES are a total non-factor here. I wish I could pinpoint what sort of style it is–I get some distant vibe of jazz and ragtime–but it either falls beyond my knowledge base or proceeds from nothing more than Koji Kondo’s incredible talent for writing instant classics. I mean, I never played Super Mario Bros. 2 back in the NES days, but it feels more nostalgic to me than the original Mario theme.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is a little less interesting in my opinion, if only because its generally laid back pace and Latin/Caribbean beats just don’t feel quite in harmony with what was probably the fastest-moving of the NES Mario games. But Super Mario Bros. 3 was also the most diverse of these soundtracks, switching up its style as needed to suit a greater variety of level designs. In some instances, most notably “Level 2 Theme” (1:09), Konjo employs sounds more akin to his work in the prequel. “Hammer Brothers” (4:28) seems to be inspired by rock and roll, and the beat-laden revision of the original underworld theme, here amusingly titled “Super Mario Rap” (2:30), is undeniably cool.

I suppose Super Mario Bros. 3 can be justly regarded as the “best” NES-era Mario soundtrack, if nothing else for the shear variety of styles Konjo successfully employed. But it lacks any particular really stand-out tracks–the sort of incredibly catchy anthems for which he is best known.

Review: True Blood S5E12 “Save Yourself”


(BE WARNED!  SPOILERS AND PROFANITY AHEAD)

As I sit here writing this, it’s been about an hour since the 5th season finale of True Blood and I’m still trying to figure out how to start my review of the episode.  Foolishly, I’ve got the finale of that terrible Aaron Sorkin male egofest, The Newsroom, on for background noise and I’m hoping that it ends with the entire cast getting staked and exploding into red goo.  It’s only a distraction though from confronting the issue of what happened during the final five minutes of True Blood tonight.

Seriously — what the fuck was that?

Up until Bill drank what remained of Lilith’s blood, the season finale was playing out in a rather predictable fashion.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was exciting and there were plenty of good scenes but it all felt somewhat familiar and I was fairly sure that Eric and Sookie would confront Bill and Sookie would be able to talk some sense into him.  I knew there would be some sort of macabre twist at the end because it is True Blood and all.  I thought maybe Lafayette’s demon would pop up or maybe Roman would suddenly materialize out of thin air.  What I was not expecting was that Bill would dissolve into a red puddle just to then suddenly rise out of the pool of blood as some sort of male Lilith.  As Sookie so correctly put it, “Fuuuuuuuuuck….”

Though tonight’s finale was dominated by the fall of the Vampire Authority, there were a few other things going on.

First off, dumbass Andy is now a father as Maurella, the faerie he impregnated earlier this season, gave birth to four girls.  Somewhat inconveniently for Andy, she did so at the exact same time that he was trying to explain the situation to Holly.  Even more inconveniently, Maurella then promptly vanished, leaving Andy to raise the four babies.  To be honest, I wasn’t really a huge fan of this plotline when it was introduced last week and I’m still not.  That said, it could be interesting to see, in season 6, how all the show’s vampires react to having four new sources of faerie blood in Bon Temps.  Especially since it now appears that humans, vampires, and practically everyone else is going to be very much at war with each other.

Speaking of war, the war for control the wolfpack was finally resolved during tonight’s episode and, not surprisingly, it was won by Alcide who not only defeated J.D. but killed him as well.  A friend of mine e-mailed me during the show to say, “I know you ladies love this Alcide guy but the werewolves bore me shitless…” I have to say that my friend is right on both counts.  We do love Alcide and yes, the werewolf storylines are never as interesting as whatever’s going on with the vampires.

And, believe me, a lot was going on with the vampires tonight.

Last week ended with Russell, having just feasted on a faerie, now approaching the faerie night club while Sookie and friends vainly tried to hold him back.  Tonight’s episode began with Eric and Nora conveniently showing up and promptly saving the day by killing Russell.  That’s right — Russell exploded into red goo.  He’s dead and you know what?  I’m going to miss him.  Denis O’Hare brought such a wonderfully decadent sense of evil to the show and, to be honest, it was hard not to feel that he (and the character) deserved a better send off than just being killed during the pre-credits sequence.

I was probably not alone in hoping that the Rev. Newlin would be killed right alongside Russell but instead, the sleazy little toadsucker managed to scurry off and was missing for the rest of the episode.  This, however, did prove convenient for Sam and Luna because, with Newlin nowhere to be found, that allowed Luna to shift into Newlin’s form and then try to walk out of the Authority HQ with Emma (who was still in adorable wolf puppy form).  In the past, I’ve often felt that Michael McMillan has gone a bit overboard with his performance as the Rev. Newlin but he deserves all the credit in the world for his performance in tonight’s episode.  Luna-as-Newlin was a wonder to behold.

Unfortunately, right when Luna/Newlin is on the verge of escaping on wolf puppy, she’s grabbed by a very angry Rosalyn.  Apparently, the video tape of Newlin and Russell attacking that frat house has been released by the U.S. Government and Rosalyn drags Luna/Newlin downstairs to the media room so that she can do an interview and practice a little damage control.  However, during the interview, Luna/Newlin starts to have convulsions and shifts back into Luna form.  Before she apparently faints, Luna manages to tell the world that humans are being held captive at the Authority HQ.  I’m not really sure what was happening to Luna, if it was a lingering effect of her having been shot earlier this season or something even worse.  Fortunately, for Luna, she was saved from Rosalyn’s wrath by Sam who, having shifted into a fly earlier, flew into Rosalyn’s mouth and then apparently shifted back to human form inside of her, causing Rosalyn to explode into one big mess.

While this was going on, the Authority HQ was being attacked by Eric, Nora, Sookie, Tara, and Jason (who, oddly enough, is now having hallucinations where his dead, and surprisingly bigoted, parents talk to him).  After killing every vampire that they come across and freeing Jessica and Pam (which leads to a Pam/Tara makeout session), Eric and Sookie go to confront Bill, who has just finished staking the final member of the authority, Salome.

And that, of course, led us to this season’s final scene — Bill being reborn as some sort of blood God.

So, is Bill now truly evil?  Are Pam and Tara a couple?  Is Jason going crazy?  Is Luna dying?  Can a war between humans and vampires be prevented?  And who, in their right mind, would trust dumbass Andy with one baby, let alone four?

For answers to all of those questions, we’re going to have to wait until season 6…

Random Observations

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 60.
  • I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with tonight’s finale.  It’s not that it was a bad episode as much as it just really annoyed me that, after taking so long to reach this point, tonight’s finale still didn’t resolve or explain much of anything.  Nor did it even really attempt to.  That said, I’ll still return to watch season 6 so, obviously, tonight’s episode must have done something right.
  • Again, I was disappointed with how easily Russell was finally dispatched.  I also wish that Rosalyn and Salome hadn’t been killed off as they were both interesting characters and I think the series could have done more with them.
  • I also felt bad for Chelsea, the receptionist.  My sympathy is always with the receptionists.
  • Does Lafayette still have that demon inside of him?
  • Is Emma going to be in Wolf Puppy form forever?
  • I have mixed feelings about season 5 on True Blood.  It definitely was not a season to use to introduce someone to True Blood for the first time.  That said, I also think that this season featured a lot of really good moments and I’m looking forward to Season 6.
  • Hopefully, Season 6 will not feature any Iraqi fire demons.
  • I also had a lot of fun recapping each episode here on the Shattered Lens and thank you to everyone who read them!  It was fun!
  • By the way, The Newsroom did not end with Jeff Daniels getting a stake driven through his heart and that’s a shame.

VGM Entry 28: Altered Beast


VGM Entry 28: Altered Beast
(Thanks to Tish at FFShrine for the banner)

The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive was launched in Japan on October 29th, 1988. By the end of the year, only four titles had been released on it. Three of them did not have very impressive music. Space Harrier II (Sega) and Super Thunder Blade (Sega) were designed more to showcase the system’s visual capabilities, presenting for perhaps the first time serious three dimensional gameplay outside of the arcade. In regards to audio, they both exploited the system’s sound capabilities towards the end of excessive and rather tasteless sound effects. Osomatsu-kun: Hachamecha Gekijō (Sega) was a bizarre, very Japanese side-scrolling cartoon game which might best be forgotten altogether. But the fourth game, Altered Beast (Sega), was an altogether different matter.

Toshio Kai will forever hold the honor of having composed the first excellent fourth generation gaming soundtrack. Altered Beast might not have been on par with the sound quality achieved by Hisayoshi Ogura on Darius in 1986, but it was getting pretty close, and you could enjoy it in your bedroom.

Or perhaps I am going too far here. It is easy to forget what Takahito Abe, with a little help from Yuzo Koshiro, accomplished on the PC-8801, especially since the computer was only ever marketed in Japan. Xanadu Scenario II, Ys I, and plenty of other titles completely obscure to American audiences, like Taiyou no Shinden (Nihon Falcom, 1988), were all just gorgeous, and the sound quality does not appear to be any poorer than Altered Beast. The brilliant stretch of compositions Takahito Abe crafted in 1987/88 were consistently subtle, however, and his genius may well have extended into writing music which catered to the system. Toshio Kai did not have to worry about being subtle.

Altered Beast has a bass track that actually sounds like a bass, a piano which can at least be identified as such, fuller drumming, and synthier tones which sound so by choice, not out of necessity. It really feels as though the artist was not restricted in any critical sense, and in 1988 that was something of a novelty, or at least a luxury held exclusively by arcade composers.

“Gaum-Hermer” might not be the most exciting track in the game, but it merges with the gameplay in a sort of manner that you just don’t hear on the NES or Master System. It sounds like the sort of thing Hirokazu Tanaka just couldn’t quite pull off on Metroid. It is of course because Toshio Kai does such an excellent job that the ambiance of the song hits home, but I question whether such a track was even possible before.

Altered Beast did appear first as an arcade game. It was not necessarily composed with the Genesis in mind. But the fact that it could be ported without major alterations is something of a first. Developers of ports for the Nintendo had long been in the habit of commissioning entirely new soundtracks, or else altering the arcade music in extraordinary ways, such as in Double Dragon. Decisions to simply replicate the original as closely as possibly, such as in the eventual NES port of Altered Beast, tended to fall flat. You can hear subtle changes between the arcade and Genesis versions, but the NES version sounds terrible, and some of the songs are barely recognizable. Besides, most of the differences feel more like efforts to improve the song than failures to replicate it. The ruthlessly obnoxious drum line plaguing this arcade soundtrack from start to finish, for instance, is drastically subdued.

It’s pretty hard to argue with the “Game Over” song. A lot, perhaps even the majority, of the best gaming music ever written appears on 4th generation platforms. It was an era that offered the best of both worlds. Here the sound is still electronic enough to form a distinct style. You couldn’t say, go hire a symphony orchestra and carry the recording straight away into the game. Musicians still had to work with limitations. But the technology had finally reached a point where those limitations did not deny the possibility of reproducing the same aesthetic appeal as say, an orchestra or a jazz band. The creativity and ingenuity required for good third generation song writing unabated, it was now given a medium in which to reach its full potential. The Mega Drive got a slower start than you might expect, and it wasn’t until well into the SNES era that a large collection of good Mega Drive soundtracks begin to appear, but by 1988 the possibilities were there.

Quick Review: Premium Rush (Dir. by David Koepp)


I have a love / hate relationship with David Koepp.

Loved The Shadow, Stir of Echoes, Angels & Demons, Panic Room, Jurassic Park and The Lost World (even to see him get eaten by a T-Rex while running down a busy street). I hated War of the Worlds (I’m sorry, but there’s no way Justin Chatwin’s character could have made it through that film), Mission: Impossible and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Sometimes he hits the mark, and other times he misses.

Premium Rush falls somewhere in between. I really don’t have a whole lot to say about it. It’s mostly very good, particularly the bike riding scenes, but overall, the story could have been a little stronger and Michael Shannon (to me, anyway) felt really out of place here. It’s one of those movies where you pluck your brain out of your head and place it in the seat next to you. As long as you don’t give the movie too much thought and just enjoy the ride that’s presented to you, you’ll do just fine. At only 90 minutes, it moves very quickly and you’ll find yourself at the end before you really know it. I’ve seen this type of film before with Thomas Michael Donnelly’s Quicksilver, starring Kevin Bacon and 1993’s Airborne, directed by Castle Producer and former X-Files alum, Rob Bowman.

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the best bike messenger around. He’s so good that he rides a ‘fixee’, a bike with no brakes, no sets of gears other than the basics and where the pedals always move (no cruising). Weaving in and out of traffic, he makes his way through each delivery with lots of style. There are these decision points that happily reminded me of both my bike riding times and motorcycle ones where Wilee has to find the next available angle to ride through. Scenes like that help to keep the action moving, when it happens. Premium Rush also showcases some great areas of Manhattan as they travel around. It’s a great looking film in that sense, with low cuts of bike wheels and jumps, but again, you’re either riding through the city and hoping they don’t hit, or you’re off the bike waiting to find out if they’ll jump onto another one again.

Basically, the story is that Wilee is given a special package that he needs to deliver, and a corrupt cop is on his tail, played over the top by Michael Shannon. That’s all there is to it. Get the package where it needs to go. Levitt does well in the film, as does Dania Ramirez and Aasif Mandvi. If there’s anyone in the movie who didn’t quite gel with me, it would be Michael Shannon. Shannon’s a good actor, and he’s not bad here, just really animated. It felt like a role that would have been better suited for Willem Dafoe or someone strange like that. I never felt any kind of fear or even worry when Shannon was around. He came off more like a bumbling crook in a film like Baby’s Day Out”, than someone who really needed what Wilee was carrying.

Koepp is getting better at directing, but some of the writing is a little off. The film suffers from the same problem that Green Lantern had with it’s climax or Tron: Legacy did with some of it’s parts. You have a few scenes where it could have been stronger had things moved in one direction, but then veers off. The impact just isn’t as great. I won’t go into detail on what they are, but for me, I saw a few things that could have been changed (or at least one in particular).

Overall, Premium Rush is a fun film that may get you wanting to ride after seeing it, but just don’t ask a lot of it. Just get your popcorn, sit back and enjoy where it all goes.

VGM Entry 27: PC-8801


VGM Entry 27: PC-8801
(Thanks to Tish at FFShrine for the banner)

If I want to cover every field, it would be a certain mistake to overlook the impact of the NEC PC-8801 during this time. I have incorporated a few titles into the mix already. Thexder (Game Arts, 1985) by Hibiki Godai was the first noteworthy soundtrack for the platform I’ve found making use of the Yamaha YM2203 sound chip. Xanadu Scenario II (Nihon Falcom, 1986), predominantly the work of Takahito Abe, and Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished (Nihon Falcom, 1987) by Yuzo Koshiro the following year were developed for various platforms, but the PC-8801 seems to have been Falcom’s flagship. Unfortunately I’ve found it nearly impossible, between the language barrier and the myriad ports, to find suitable examples of most of Takahito Abe’s other PC-8801 works, and Yuzo Koshiro’s pre-1988 works seem to be just as obscure. But were they the only composers making the system shine?

Silpheed (Game Arts, 1986) was another product of Hibiki Godai, at least as best I can tell. The only credits I could find were for the 1988 MS-DOS port by Sierra On-Line, which list Hibiki Godai, Nobuyuki Aoshima, Fumihito Kasatani, and Hiromi Ohba. Since the majority of the other names in the credits are Americans, it’s quite possible that all four of these musicians had a hand in the original composition.

In a way, the music feels a little bland compared to that of the European musicians I’ve recently discussed. This is certainly a product of differences in sound chips, but I am at least a little inclined to believe that both the distorted nature of Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum sound and the atmosphere of experimentation and bold composition that permeated European sound programming did in fact inspire better music than competing scenes managed to produce at the time. Even so, Silpheed has some exceptional songs–most notably the one beginning at 13:00–and it’s a good example of what Japanese computer gaming sounded like.

Or so I like to believe. Sorcerian (Nihon Falcom, 1987) is yet another Yuzo Koshiro and Takahito Abe collaboration, with Mieko Ishikawa additionally credited. Kenji Kawai is listed separately as the 1992 PC-Engine arranger, so for once we can at least make some distinction in that regard. But so long as the same names keep popping up, I can’t help but think I’m only getting a very small sample of a much larger field. And furthermore, the significance of the PC-8801 for these titles musically is not a given. Almost all of Nihon Falcom’s games were released across an enormous spread of systems which typically included at least the PC-8801, PC-9801, Sharp X1, and MSX2. As has been shown with Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished, this entailed endless variation and reinterpretation of the central themes. “Dark Fact” almost seemed to evolve with every port, with no clear explanation as to whether Yuzo Koshiro changed his mind about how it ought to sound or port arrangers independently reinterpreted the music at every step, often basing their take on previous ports rather than the original.

If these composers knew that their songs would take so many forms, did they really write their music for the PC-8801 at all, or were they aiming for compositions which could function through a wide array of sound configurations? Or, if they were personally involved in the ports, did they perhaps gear their music towards a preferred system for which the game might not necessarily be released on first? No amount of exploring PC-8801 compositions has helped to clarify these questions.

The problem is compounded by a complete absence of credits for the vast majority of PC-8801 games. In the absence of a PC88 game library (I am eternally in debt to such sites as Lemon 64, World of Spectrum, and Lemon Amiga), I have absolutely no clue what Shinra Bansho (Nihon Telenet, 1987) is beyond the name of its developer. This is my second favorite PC-8801 soundtrack (after Snatcher, which I’ll be addressing later), but I haven’t a clue who wrote it. Perhaps Nihon implies Yuzo Koshiro and Takahito Abe, if they were the only house musicians, but since this is Nihon Telenet, not Nihon Falcom, and I have no idea what that distinction entails, it would be folly to ascribe any artist attribution.

I am entirely at the mercy of grad1u52 on youtube for finding PC-8801 music in the first place, as he is the only member taking active steps to preserve it, but the information he supplies for each game is unfortunately non-existent. Lots of other titles, the music for which is readily available, fall into this same boat.

The only substantial hint I can offer is that composers hardly ever freelanced at this time, and developers rarely boasted a large sound staff. If you can identify a developer’s house composer in the mid-80s, it almost always seems to be the case that they scored every release during their tenure. Square and Enix make a good case in point. Such obscure PC-8801 titles as Cruise Chaser Blassty (Square, 1986) and Jesus: Dreadful Bio-Monster (Enix, 1987) were composed by Nobuo Uematsu and Koichi Sugiyama respectively, not passed off to secondary musicians (not that Uematsu had succeeded in making a name for himself by 1986). Both soundtracks were second rate, with Uematsu sounding completely lost in a non-fantasy setting and Sugiyama cutting corners to the extent of including tracks from Dragon Quest, but that is quite besides the point. With the company consistently identifying the composer, there might still exist a means to figure these old, cryptically credited PC-8801 games out short of learning Japanese.