Vanquish Original Soundtrack Liner Notes
Shinji Mikami - Director
To all of you who bought this soundtrack:
Foreign shooter games don't contain much music during gameplay. It is probably an attempt to follow the concept of a war simulation, as no music plays in the field during a real-life battle.
During the development of Vanquish, the emphasis on sound effects (of gunfire, explosions and so forth) came to form an environment in which the music that had been composed was difficult to hear. The music that had been done was good, but placed into the game, it couldn't be heard well. It was a real problem.
From the beginning, I decided that we would go with techno-style music, since orchestral music would be too mundane, but after playing the game for a while, I got fed up with it, and the sound effects were consistently burying the music, so I decided that orchestral elements should be added to the composition.
Somewhat unusually, the duo of composers worked in their own separate styles. This can tend to upset the feeling of cohesion in the whole, but I felt that it was fine, and wanted them to bring their own sensibilities to the fore. (In the end, both of them stayed away from going too far, and it turned out feeling pretty coherent.)
At the beginning of the game, instead of opening with something overly dark and heavy for the war, we went for an uptempo piece with a feeling of speed, so that players would act aggressively rather than conservatively.
Differently from the gameplay segments, we tried to match our ideas of the feelings behind the cutscenes, as well as their coolness, with the music. The level of coordination between image and score in the scene in which the space ship invades the colony is high, and it's a favorite of mine.
In the ending, there's a shooting part, and the music is amusingly garish and energetic. I think that it's a chance to laugh and exhale after all of the trouble of clearing the game. I feel bad for the composer, because I purposefully asked for the piece to be garish.
Although many of the pieces here were created in service of the game's overall quality, I believe that they can serve well outside of the game as well.
Erina Niwa - Composer
Nice to meet you. I'm the lead composer of Vanquish, Erina Niwa. This project was the first time I worked on a score from beginning to end, handling everything. I decided on a direction for the music, I set up the system, I worked with the outside composers, did bug checks, all for the first time, and I was sure I wouldn't be able to handle all of it. It was truly a rough start.
Everything proceeded through trial and error, and it is thanks to the assistance of Takada-san and Sugimori-san, both of whom have had storied careers, that this soundtrack was completed. To work with such people with a wealth of experience was a rich experience for me. Thank you both very much.
Now, let's talk about the soundtrack. In foreign FPS and TPS games, there is almost no music, or the music has a very weak presence, but in Vanquish, there is a lot of music, and it takes a role more akin to an action game. At the beginning of development, the director said "the score will be like a back-up dancer," but as the game's speed and action elements slowly increased, the score's direction was changed as well.
The most difficult of the directions which the director gave were the concepts of "a feeling of war and a feeling of mystery." "Even though it's a science fiction near future, bring out an unrefined feeling of war." I felt opposed to having such elements in the score, but I kept going so that I wouldn't create restrictions for myself, so that I wouldn't be tied to a predetermined concept, but that I also wouldn't be separated from it.
I changed the feel somewhat for the cutscene music, mixing in some orchestral instruments to bring out a sense of scale, and trying to match the movements of the action. For various reasons, not every piece is recorded here, but I feel that it is a great soundtrack with a good deal of quantity.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Takada-san, Sugimori-san, and everyone on the staff for working hard on Vanquish for so long. Thank you all very much.
Masafumi Takada - Composer
Thank you for allowing me to participate in the music production for Vanquish. I'm really grateful! This is the second project I've composed for that Mikami-san has directed, following the PlayStation 2 game God Hand, and musically, it has an entirely different concept. It's a shooter that emphasizes speed, and instead of going the easy route with orchestral music, it's electronic! I wanted to express the feel of high speed war amid the sound effects that filled everything. ...Yes, it was very hard.
The main characters in Vanquish's sound are the sound effects. And because the sounds themselves make such an excellent background, my mission was to let the music that would be built on that framework aid the sounds in expressing the situation and the atmosphere of each area, all while emphasizing the feeling of high speed battle.
What? The direction for the music has been decided after only one piece, and I avoided all of the agonizing over how to proceed? No...no way!
Or so I thought, but I was jumping to conclusions, and including the time I spent in self-criticism (thinking, I can't be satisfied with this, and trying to chisel a jar from a pot), I went through a number of works that I had to throw away before finding my destination. I felt I had to go to Osaka (at that time Sound Prestige was in Saitama, and I had been working alone) and work among the people at PlatinumGames, and after the music was done, I would return to my own studio. That's the way to do it!
That was the breakthrough. As I had thought, working among the team turned out better. From the few concepts and conversations I had, I made many discoveries, and it was important for me to work in an environment I felt familiar with. On top of that, the food in Osaka was delicious. If I get another chance to go...
Once I came to understand the concept, I still broke my back in that wider environment. So, when it came time to write the ending, I said, "I can do anything you want for Vanquish, Boss!" I could do it on auto-pilot. (laughs)
Usually, due to scheduling reasons, ending themes aren't created at the end of production, but this time the ending piece was the absolute last thing to be composed. I think I let out a little of the ill will I'd had during God Hand in that piece (Staff Roll Shooting). (laughs)
Well, let's meet again somewhere!
Masakazu Sugimori - Composer
He had been my supervisor when I worked at Capcom. I am talking, of course, about the director of Vanquish, Mikami-san. Working with him, I was educated daily on how to make a quality product. Although it was effective, it was also, in a way, frightening, as I had to cross large mountains, put to hard work. All of the development staff members, especially Mikami-san, helped me to get through it. Thank you. I hope that all of you who play this game enjoy the music as well.
Liner Notes Translated by Ben Schweitzer. Do not republish without written permission.