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Akumajo Dracula MIDI Collection :: Review by George

Akumajo Dracula MIDI Collection Album Title: Akumajo Dracula MIDI Collection
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-7809
Release Date: October 22, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Akumajo Dracula MIDI Collection features diverse arrangements of 20 classic themes from the Castlevania franchise, spanning the original game to its PlayStation instalment. While the music for Castlevania is often labelled as gothic, the series' origins actually lie in fun and catchy chiptune music. It's clear that even the arrangers of Akumajo Dracula MIDI Collection understood this. They embraced the fun attitude and catchy melodies of the originals while managing to add dimension and personality to the arrangements. Still, the overall musical style is reminiscent 80's synth-pop, and depending on personal taste, that's either a good or a bad thing. The album is very limited in technology, and as a result, sounds dated and synthetic.


The album initially features interpretations of a range of themes from the original Castlevania. Starting with a pretty generic and disappointing arrangement of "Vampire Killer", "Stalker" thereafter is actually quite catchy, maintaining the original's motifs but drastically changing the tone and adding some cool solo sections. There's definitely something to be said about the drums, bass, and keyboards that are synthesised here. The same could be said about Kimitaka Matsumae's groovy hip-hop makeover of "Heart of Fire", which is very entertaining with its catchy rhythm and melodies. These tracks certainly make the most of MIDI synthesis.

Without a doubt, the best track in the album is the excellent arrangement of "Wicked Child". It's hard to screw up with such a fantastic melody in the first place, but this arrangement manages to sound very unique among the mostly typical arrangements out there. Keeping the same synthpop style as the rest of the album, the main melody is played by a flute and it's accompanied by a decent groove maintained by the old-sounding drum samples. Later, synth-guitars are used for some pretty catchy solos that really manage to stand out in this synthfest.

Another interesting arrangement is "Walking on the Edge". This receives a dramatic orchestral makeover that, if it wasn't for the intentionally synthetic sound, would have been truly stellar. Manami Matsumae's "Nothing to Lose" receives the same treatment and manages to really stand out with its militaristic percussion, ominous brass melodies, and dramatic string sections. On the other hand, "Out of Time" combines the aforementioned orchestral elements while adding a smooth sax solo section in the middle.

Aki Hata's "The Silence of Daylight" is actually quite fantastic. It manages to be an impressionistic orchestral arrangement in the start and later develops with the album's typical; synth-pop rhythms. It manages to be catchy and fun, while not deviating from the gothic motifs of the original. The same could be said about "Battle of the Holy", which still manages to be entertaining despite the cheesy synth makeover. "Theme of Simon", on the other hand, doesn't feature any substantial additions and is rather similar to the original. The samples and synths used don't make the matters any easier.

Unfortunately, there are some rather worthless additions to the album. Despite most of the first eleven tracks being decent and enjoyable arrangements regardless of their sound quality, the subsequent five tracks are described as "Game Sound Simulation". They are actually more like aural downgrades to their respective originals. Everything is note for note identical to the original themes, but the samples used aren't particularly good and even the original chiptunes of Castlevania are more enjoyable than these versions. Michiru Yamane's score for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is also downgraded with such treatment.

Even worse, the last track is disappointing at best. It's actually taken from the Akumajo Dracula Best album, and I don't really understand why it was included in this release. Anyway, this arrangement of "Beginning" is very weak, lacking the energy and drive to entertain, while suffering from a pretty awful sound and some poor artistic choices. Expect cheesy electric guitars and cheesy sound effects throughout, and not of the welcome sort.

Fortunately, the two preceding tracks are enjoyable piano arrangements that actually worth listening. The arrangement of "Lost Painting" from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is pretty good. The piano sounds slightly synthetic, but still manages to entertain with its mystical and ethereal nature, sounding almost like a nocturne. On the other hand, the piano arrangement of Kid Dracula's theme is very entertaining, keeping the charm and fun vibe of the original melody while sounding like a ragtime piece.


There are some serious flaws in this one. The low sound quality, dubious artistic choices, and original translations sadly hinder the overall aural experience. It's actually fun to listen in parts, but unlike the Perfect Selection Dracula album that was hit-or-miss in places, this one really falls flat. Just a few good arrangements and the two fairly entertaining piano tracks aren't enough to justify the whole album. I recommend it only to the most hardcore fans.

Overall Score: 5/10