Ghosts n' Goblins + Ghouls n' Ghosts
Composed by Ayako Mori and Tamayo Kawamoto
This series is notorious for exemplifying insanely difficult gaming experiences, long before anything Hidetaka Miyazaki directed. Ghosts n' Goblins is not just the name of this series, it is a literal description of the types of enemies that will first destroy all your armor in one hit, forcing you to trek in your briefs, before making you explode in a pile of skeleton bones in one additional hit. And did I mention that you have to endure the entirity of this arduous experience twice just to finish the game one time? The legacy of this game goes beyond the difficult gameplay. It extends to the music. Specifically, two of the pieces in the soundtrack. One, the brief map theme, setting the tone for the trecherous level you will play. And the first level theme. Both pieces, recurring across the entire Ghosts n' Goblins series.
These iconic pieces, in addition to the rest of the score from the first game, were composed by Ayako Mori, one of the first composers to work for Capcom. Based on a round table interview with Beep magazine translated by Shmuplations, the development of the game's score wasn't an easy one. Mori felt as if the music department was given the least priority over all of the other groups that contributed to the development of the game. She also had to work with people who had little to no knowledge on music terminology, making communication between composer and developer tough. A lot of the ideas she came up with for her scores come from sleeping at the Capcom offices. She also felt that there were excuses for other parts of the game to not go well, or be late in development. Yet if the music was off, or late, there were no excuses. The development of the score, based on Mori's own experiences, were much harsher than anything the player experienced when playing the actual game.
The second game, Ghouls n' Ghosts, was composed by Tamayo Kawamoto. Tamayo Kawamoto was a promenant composer for Capcom in the 80s, primarily working on their arcade games. She was also among the first set of employees hired by Capcom. Unfortunately, some games did not give her any credits (which was normal for Capcom to do at the time). Her first scores were for the game SonSon, and Pirate Ship Higemaru. She frequently collaborated with Ayako Mori, who was also a promentnat composer for Capcom in the 80s.
There were few differences between the first and the second game. It did establish Mori's haunted graveyard theme as a recurring leitmotif in the series, as well as the map theme that plays before each attempt at a stage. The games, and the development of these games, were harsh, to put it mildly. Despite the tough development cycles, the games and their scores remain one of Capcom's most important titles. No game, past or present, has come close to putting gamers through so much effort just to finish the game a first time. And with a score that emphasises the horror asthetic above everything else, the experience becomes just as haunting as it is a daunting experience.