Earlier this year we spoke to Komogyr’s Ivan Belcic for Grand Thrash Auto, and he took us through five unique picks touching on those games that you remember so fondly because they had such a strong impact on you at a young age. Today, his bandmate Xander Cheng takes on the challenge of whittling an extensive list of beloved games down to just five. From overlooked JRPGs to horror classics, the result is a perfect blend of landmark games and smaller titles that deserve more love.
Cheng has similarly picked some titles that were impactful at a young age but he’s also dived into the way the soundtracks of these games stuck around in his mind. Perhaps the ambient music of the horror and fantasy titles found here are a key inspiration in Kosmogyr’s atmospheric strain of black metal…
Langrisser II was the first game I played on Mega Drive, and also Langrisser IV on Sega Saturn. The background music of those two games really impressed me. The composer Noriyuki Iwadare uses the limited capacity of an old game device to create the most exciting sounds for a fantastic world of swords and magic, which involves a lot of heavy metal elements — I guess my 25-year journey with metal music started with this inception, and I hadn’t realised until I was 20.
The gameplay is also astonishing. A massive world of swords and magic brings many factions, including angels and devils. I especially loved IV the most because the gameplay introduced time order to the series’ basic turn-based combat. And another reason is the protagonist is no longer a descendant of light, but a mere human who owned their choice to destroy gods or devils.
People might say Final Fantasy is the best JRPG series, but I was never a fan. Grandia was the last resort to compete with Final Fantasy 7 on Sega Saturn. Unfortunately it was outsold, but it’s still the all-time best JRPG game in my heart. Unlike Final Fantasy games and those influenced by them, it started with an ordinary kid and his playmates in a small steampunk town.
The relaxing vibe attracted me, and the background music was always outstanding and unforgettable. I didn’t know the composer was actually the same guy behind the Langrisser series, but I could feel the composition was as good as in any great games.
Biohazard (aka Resident Evil)
This game is pure horror without any breaks. I don’t think the first release has ever been surpassed by its successors. The exquisite mansion with its dim light, the growling zombies moving slowly in silence. The surveillance camera view and the animation of slowly opening doors are scary as hell. My mind was totally blown after playing the game. Biohazard is also great because it helped me to confront my childhood fear of death, which led to my affection for the philosophy of life and death.
Akira Yamaoka is a god. This talented composer brought the game to the next level through his unique songwriting. Black metal, industrial metal, dark wave, post-rock, ambient, trip-hop, jazz, all the elements were perfectly blended in the gameplay. There are no more compliments needed, because this game’s incredible use of music is no secret.
The game itself is a masterpiece without a doubt. It involves everything a black metal lover would want — demons, devil gods, metaphysical creeps, evil and greedy characters, a cult, sirens, pain, rusty buildings, dark rooms and creepy sounds. Somehow the plot, along with the music, is a story of seeking humanity, which is totally a sobering thought. I guess it is what good music ought to be.
I like many Castlevania games, but Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is always my favourite. Whether it is the game’s plot or Michiru Yamane’s music production, I enjoy it very much. The quality of the game itself is extremely high in 2021, with a lot of exploration elements and hidden maps. The reversed castle shocked me. It was an extremely fun experience when walking in the world of Castlevania and dancing with different demons.
As someone who’s loved music since childhood, background music is an important factor for me when evaluating the quality of a game. Michiru has indeed achieved an unparalleled height. Her modern classical compositions are equal to the works of classical musicians. She combines the essence of classical music from various eras to create a set of gothic-style Castlevania music. Even to this day, I still often play the background music of this game and draw inspiration from it.
Pick up Kosmogyr’s music on Bandcamp here.
Intro: George Parr