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Castlevania NES Trilogy

Composed by Kinuyo Yamashita, Satoe Terashima, Kenichi Matsubara, Kouji Murata, Hidenori Maezawa, Jun Funahashi, Yukie Morimoto, and Yoshinori Sasaki

Castlevania started as Konami's light hearted way to present one of their versions of a highly difficult NES action platformer. Light hearted in the sense that you were a 17th century hunter named Simon Belmont, who fought his way through Dracula's castle to fight other monsters based on Universal Studio properties, and several of their minions. 

Both composers of the first game; Kinuyo Yamashita and Satoe Terashima worked under the single pseudonym, James Banana. The alias itself is a satirical reference to James Bernard, who composed the 1958 version of Dracula. Yamashita has studied music since she started playing the piano when she was four years old. She joined Konami in 1986 after graduating from Osaka Electro-Communication University, and got her first video game composition job, the first Castlevania. This would be the only Castlevania game she worked on, as she left Konami in 1989 to become a freelance composer. Terashima's resume is not as researchable as Yamashita's, due to Konami's stance on preserving the personal histories and bios of their employees. Terashima is, however, known for composing one of, if not, the most inconic piece of the entire Castlevania franchise; Vampire Killer. 

Terashima would return to the Castlevania series to help comose the second NES game, Simon's Quest. Simon's Quest turned the Castlevania action-platformer gameplay into more of an exploration based platformer, similar to Metroid. These titles would soon be the foundation that would help inspire the production of Symphony of the Night, which helped coin the term "Metroidvania." However, despite "Metroidvania" becoming a popular term to describe a 2D open world platformer, it wasn't Metroid that inspired Simon's Quest. It was Konami's own MSX game, Maze of Galious.  The score for Simon's Quest was smaller than the original Castlevania, but it did introduce another iconic piece to the franchise; Bloody Tears. Bloody Tears was specifically composed by Kenichi Matsubara. Alongside Kouji Murata, the three composers of Simon's Quest were credited under the Konami Kukeihai Club name. The name used by Konami quite frequently for their in-house musicians. Again, to protect personal information and resume from being leaked to other companies.

The third game, Dracula's Curse, used a new set of composers, again collectively credited officially under the Konami Kukeihai Club name. While Vampire Killer, and Bloody Tears were easy to identify their respective composers, the Konami Kukeihai Club alias makes it difficult to specifically identify who composed the signature piece from Dracula's Curse: Beginning. Vampire Killer from the first game, Bloody Tears from the second game, and Beginning from the third game have all been rearranged and reprised in numerous Castlevania titles for years to come.

The original release of Dracula's Curse allowed for extra sound chips to be supported, making the score more rich and vibrant when compared to the previous two soundtracks. Hidenori Maezawa helped create a VRC6 coprocessor chip, which allowed for two extra pulse-wave channels, and a saw-wave channel to help enhance the score past the Nintendo's limits. However, outside of Japan, Nintendo systems could not support the additional soundchips. Thus, Yoshinori Sasaki had to compress the entire score down from being played on eight sound channels to five for western releases of Dracula's Curse. The effort placed into Dracula's Curse wasn't just to show off how much they could push the Nintendo's limits. It was simply to show that they could make a game that looked and sounded better than Konami's own Ninja Turtle games, which Konami prioritized over all their other titles at that point. 

Castlevania as a series thrived on music with each release, and thrived on memorable yet difficult gameplay, all set to a gothic aesthetic that prooved to be a major success for Konami in the 80s, leading to continued support of the franchise going forward in the 90s and beyond.

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