Stories From Aka to Blue Type Revolution With Soushi Hosoi and Ikeda Minorock! We Talk to Them About Taking Inheriting the Arcade Sound Just Before Their Live Performance!
The arcade shooting game Aka to Blue Type Revolution was officially released on 11/27/2019. Having been awhile since a new shooting game was released in arcades, this long-awaited title acts as the debut game to utilize the new exA-Arcadia board. Today we bring you a special in-depth conversation about arcade sound with Sonic Wings series composer Soushi Hosoi and Game Center Mikado owner Ikeda Minorock. They were preparing for their live performance at a rock event called “Game to Techno ga Suki!” (officially titled “We Love Video Game & Techno!”) (taking place on 02/16/2020), and talked to us quite a bit about the idea of inheriting the arcade sound.
Soushi Hosoi – Formerly the composer for the Sonic Wings series from developer Video System. These days he produces various musical artists, performs live himself, and is also involved in streaming.
Ikeda Minorock – The Representative Director of INH. Not only is he responsible for the planning and business operations of Game Center Mikado arcades as the owner, but he’s also a musician that serves as the lead guitarist for band Heavy Metal Raiden.
Yearning For That Arcade Sound
(Ikeda) We began playing as a band when Go Sato (the composer of Raiden) and I met, and then I’ve worked with WASi303 (the composer of Psyvariar) and Daisuke Matsumoto of Cave as well. The last holdout was Sonic Wings. That’s why I wanted to have this conversation with you as well, since we’re both in bands.
(Hosoi) I actually was always just barely missing seeing you at live events, so I just went to Mikado to meet you myself! (Laughs) My yearning for the arcade style of sound over that of console games has been strong for some time now. Of course this doesn’t really work anymore, but when I was younger I used to bring a battery-powered radio cassette player to the arcade to record music directly, and I’d learn to play it by ear at home. This is from back when that sort of thing was allowed, it’s definitely not anymore.
(Ikeda) You’d go early in the morning when there weren’t many people, right?
(Hosoi) Yeah, yeah, when no one was there! (Laughs)
(Ikeda) There was this trick to reduce noise that involved putting two ash trays from the arcade on the radio cassette player to create more electrical resistance! (Laughs)
(Hosoi) I’d think that I’d gotten a good recording, but then when I got back home and listened to it you’d be able to hear people talking! (Laughs)
Arcade Sound and Genre
(Hosoi) There was just a lot of appeal in the sound that came out from an arcade cabinet.
(Ikeda) Speaking of cabinets, the new arcade shooter Aka to Blue Type Revolution is officially up and running now, so what did you think of it?
(Hosoi) I’ve been playing Aka to Blue since the mobile version, but it feels completely different in this version since basically everything has been redone for the arcade! There’s just a joystick and two buttons, which kind of felt like going back to basics…it was a feeling that you can only get from playing shooters in an arcade.
(Ikeda) What did you think of the music? I feel like an arcade shooter like Aka to Blue Type Revolution that’s turned so completely toward the rock genre for its music is pretty rare these days.
(Hosoi) That’s true, and it was also all recorded live. Originally I couldn’t actually play any instruments, and don’t have the musical foundations that a regular musician would.
(Ikeda) Oh really? That’s surprising given that your music incorporates so many different genres into it.
(Hosoi) Right? (Laughs) I barely even knew anything about rock, so I couldn’t really talk about things like music genres….Partway through composing the music of the Sonic Wings series I persuaded myself that genre isn’t necessarily something determined by the creator.
Those That Will Inherit Shooting Game Music
(Ikeda) The genre of music for Sonic Wings 3 was very cutting edge for the time, I was surprised at how featured it was within the game. Sonic Wings takes place in different countries from level to level and feels like it makes song choices that aren’t incredibly Japanese or American feeling, but I felt they were very good ones. What made you want to do things that way?
(Hosoi) That’s related to figuring out how I was going to capture the feeling of music in shooters, so it’s a bit of a difficult question. Aka to Blue Type Revolution has a very nice feeling rock guitar sound to it. And I think that’s one perfectly correct way to do things. Even if you were to boil the shooting genre down its most basic form, there are an infinite variety of feelings of tempo and world that are unique to each game. It’s not like just because a game is a shooter the music has to be catchy and up-tempo.
(Ikeda) I agree.
(Hosoi) It’s a similar situation to Aka to Blue, I decided on going for a band-sound. I really don’t like the idea of saying “It’s a shooter, so the music should be like this!”.
(Ikeda) For example, Raiden has a slow scrolling speed so Go Sato wrote medium tempo songs to match.
(Hosoi) Right. And the tempo in Psyvariar is really fast, so WASi303 used techno. It may be stating the obvious, but I feel that it’s a composer’s job to fuse together all of the passion that they feel from the creative side together into a final product. Go Sato is a serious person, and I suspect he overthinks and agonizes over things like this. But he’s cultivated his talents and career up till now by not letting that worry reduce his output, but rather increase it. I’m a worrier as well (Laughs), so I have a lot of respect for someone who’s so thoroughly thought through the meaning of sound effects and necessary sound elements in shooters.
The Reason Hosoi’s Sound Effects Are So Unique
(Ikeda) Your sound effects are very unique, and I really love them in Sonic Wings 3: The sound of the shots, running into enemies, those kinds of things. It makes me wonder how everyone goes about making them sound good.
(Hosoi) It’s just done through playing the game, tuning them, and repeating. I’m the type who doesn’t tend to pick them based on what the board can do natively (Laughs)
(Ikeda) I was surprised at how distinct yours and WASi303’s work sounded from everything else when you composed music for the Neo Geo Pocket. It made me think “It’s actually possible to get this kind of sound out of this hardware?!”. I mean, it wouldn’t feel weird to hear a song from Last Resort in Art of Fighting 2, but the Sonic Wings series was different altogether.
(Hosoi) There was a huge difference between hardware sound sources back then, and there was this image that FM sound was the only way to go. Like if you didn’t go that way, you’d just end up with some default sound or something. I think anyone who composed for the X68000 would really understand this, but there were 128 default tones…and they were all useless. I guess you could say that sound creation began with throwing those away. Then it was a matter of taking god knows how much time to create sounds one by one, just using your natural instincts.
It’s All Connected: As Long As We’re All Here, Everything Will Be Alright
(Hosoi) So when I heard that Go Sato was in charge of the sound effects for Aka to Blue Type Revolution, I was once again very impressed. You were really busy with prep work for the board too, weren’t you Ikeda?
(Ikeda) I barely played on the soundtrack for the game at all. Instead of I worked on lower level tasks: Getting the boards distributed, promoting the game to arcade operators, etc.
(Hosoi) I’m sorry I bugged you about playing gigs when you were so busy then! (Laughs)
(Ikeda) It’s fine. Anyway, I felt that everything going on around me was resulting in us sort of inheriting the legacy of the arcade. WASi303, Go Sato, and myself formed a band called Heavy Metal Raiden. Hiroyuki Kimura made an offer to WASi303 to compose rock songs for Aka to Blue. And when the idea to theme the arcade version around live music came up, it turned to talks of you being involved in the performance…When you try doing something, it results in something else happening in the future. So if you don’t try, nothing’s ever going to happen.
(Hosoi) As someone who’s involved with arcade games, it’s very interesting and fun to say that the soundtrack to this game that just came out today is handled by people like WASi303 and Go Sato, and that people who have entered the industry from love of game music were involved as well. It all has a very arcade feeling to it, doesn’t it? Like sitting in the seat even after you’ve not continued. But like Hiroyuki Kimura says, Aka to Blue Type Revolution doesn’t tell you “game over”, it tells you “try again”. It tells you “Thank you, try playing again”, and I really like that. And I personally really love the music that plays on the continue screen, it gets you fired up. It feels like a song that was made to pull the player back in again.
(Ikeda) WASi303 is listening to the conversation over there and nodding furiously (Laughs) It’s not about the continue screen song, but to “continue” on with the conversation…thank you very much for inviting Heavy Metal Raiden to participate in your concert in February 2020.
(Hosoi) It’s my pleasure! At first the plan was just to invite you as a guitarist, but the event was postponed to February 2020 due to a typhoon, and things got all screwed up. But as luck would have it, this ended up turning into Heavy Metal Raiden participating in the concert as well…and since everyone involved was already there, I thought it would be great to perform some songs from Aka to Blue.
(Ikeda) I can see you’re really looking forward to it. I feel like it may be something similar to Sonic Wings inheriting from Raiden…Those two games are like Aka to Blue’s older brothers! (Laughs)
(Hosoi) Right. And performing those songs normally would be boring, so I’m working on planning something special…(Laughs)
(Ikeda) The problem is that whenever we plan on doing something together…there’s always a typhoon! (Laughs)
(Hosoi) I think it will be okay since it’s in February, though we might have a snow storm! (Laughs) But the weather is unusually good today, it’s a launch-day miracle.
(Ikeda) I’m sure it will be fine as long as we’re all here! (Laughs)
Mr. Hosoi and Mr. Ikeda are involved in some of the music that comes from arcade cabinets as composers and guitarists. They’ll be participating in the “Game to Techno ga Suki!” live event on Sunday 02/16/2020 at Live Theater Orpheus. Songs from both the Sonic Wings series and Aka to Blue Type Revolution will be performed, so you’ll be able to experience this inherited arcade sound first-hand!