Espgaluda – Developer Interviews
with Ichiro Mihara of Arika and composer SOU1
The PS2 Port
Replicating the feel of the arcade PCB’s slowdown for the PS2 port was extremely difficult. We were able to find a relatively clear solution for the enemies and enemy bullets’ slowdown, but for Ageha and Tateha replicating the internal processor’s slowdown was a huge problem, and we had to make many meticulous, small adjustments to fine-tune it.
The simulation mode and replays were reused from the Dodonpachi Daioujou port. We figured they were already perfect as training modes, so we just reused them almost in their entirety.
When we ported DOJ, we wanted to make a mode that featured you fighting back against the absolute ultimate enemy attack, and that turned into Death Label mode. In comparison, for Espgaluda we’ve toned the difficulty down. We didn’t think it made sense to do the same thing twice anyway. We were wondering what we could do that would be fun for the port, when someone suggested we try adding a whole new gameplay mode, and that’s how Arrange got started.
The Arrange mode of Espgaluda is there to test your skills to the limit. We hope people enjoy it as an example of a game that mixes player effort and some degree of chance together.
The Music of Espgaluda
—Please tell us how you came to work on Espgaluda.
Espgaluda stage 1 BGM.
SOU1: At the time I was working at a music production company. That company did subcontracting work for Cave, for their mobile content. Until Espgaluda, most of Cave’s STG music was handled by Manabu Namiki, as everyone knows, but for Espgaluda, Cave decided to try out a new business model and farm the work out to different subcontractors. Incidentally, I heard that three different companies were given this work for Espgaluda, but I have no idea who composed the other pieces that made it into the final release.
At my own company I was selected for this work—despite being a 21 year old greenhorn—because I was familiar with the MOD format, listened to trance music, and knew a lot about game music. But I heard that originally, Cave had given the work to another company, but they didn’t know anything about MOD music and couldn’t even get any sound to playback. Cave didn’t know how to help them either so the job got assigned to me.
My supervisor for the job was Toshiaki Tomizawa, who was the head of development at Cave at the time. I’ve always been a fan of his so it was a great honor for me just to be able to meet him.
—Which songs did you compose for Espgaluda?
SOU1: All the stages, the character select theme, and the last boss theme. The normal boss theme, stage result theme, and ending music were done by someone else, and have a different feeling.
Stage 4 seems to be the most popular song with fans, but I personally like stage 3 the best. It has a melancholy vibe to it, and I feel like I was able to express something personal in it.
—The first stage theme in Espgaluda was also used in the last stage; was there anything special you did for that composition, knowing it would be used for two stages?
SOU1: No, that was all done after I wrote the music. Sorry for the boring answer!
The stage 1 theme was the first song I composed–actually for something I had submitted earlier as a demo. It was my answer to the challenge of “STG Trance.” And I’m happy to say that when I hear it today, I still think I got it right!
SOU1, Espgaluda composer.
—If you have any musical anecdotes about composing Espgaluda, please share them.
SOU1: At the first meeting, Tomizawa brought the trance cd “The Very Best of Ferry Corsten” and played it back for me while showing me a poster for Espgaluda. He said, “I want it to feel like this.”
When I returned to the office at Neptune, I was barraged with questions. The truth is, every stage theme had a model that I was asked to imitate. For example, for the stage 1 theme, they said to make it like the System.F song Tenshi.
Then it was just retake after retake… “The melody and structure is different from Tenshi, so make it the same. Also, it doesn’t need an intro.” Then after that: “No, nevermind, it was better before. Oh, and add the intro back.” I was pretty pissed, but hey, that’s work.
Actually, when I was shown the commercial release, it turned out that they’d switched around all the music I did for the different stages! I was really angry at first. “What the hell were all those retakes for then? And the timing I labored over for when the midbosses appear…!!” But, you know, the kakusei slowdown means none of that timing really mattered anyway, heh.
Also, the piano in the stage 4 theme was something they originally asked me to add, but I was able to capture something of my own style with it, and I was really satisfied with how it turned out.
—Can you share anything regarding the actual release of Espgaluda?
SOU1: No one told me about the location test, but when I looked at comments on 2ch, lots of people were speculating about the music, saying “this seems weird for Namiki.” Since Cave didn’t make clear who actually composed it, for a long time rumours were that it was Basiscape.
I once tried posting on 2ch that I was the composer, and that I was thinking of releasing a doujin cd of the music. But everyone said I was just some fraud… my ego was bruised for quite some time. I couldn’t even read about Espgaluda, and deliberately ignored it.
I decided later to release a CD of my own remixes of the Espgaluda music. The truth is I was anticipating the PS2 port and planned to bring the music to Arika for them to use, but then it was announced that SuperSweep would handle the PS2 Arrange music, and I shed many sorrowful tears.