EXTRA 2008: Yuzo Koshiro on Etrian Odyssey

By Jeriaska . October 19, 2008 . 5:29pm

When looking at the magnitude of music composed by Yuzo Koshiro for the Etrian Odyssey series of role-playing games, its breadth amounts to a small kingdom of sounds. The original soundtracks for the first two titles make up five discs. In addition, a drama CD, two Super Arrange records, a piano collection and an album of arrangements on live piano and strings have also been published. During this year’s EXTRA Hyper Game Music Event in Shin-Kiba, Japan, Koshiro joined arranger Norihiko Hibino to perform several tracks from the Etrian Odyssey series on keyboard. In this interview with Siliconera following the live concert, the composer discusses the making of the series’ music and the approach underlying the nostalgic fantasy atmosphere of the Nintendo DS RPG series.


Translation by Ryojiro Sato. Japanese-language version forthcoming.


Siliconera: Many game players are familiar with your electronic dance-style music for the Wangan Midnight racers, as well as the dark, epic quality of your ActRaiser scores. What atmosphere did you set out to create for your two Etrian Odyssey titles?


Yuzo Koshiro: The music of Eterian Odyssey II mirrors the style of the original Etrian Odyssey, which is a continuation of the kind of music I wrote for the PC-8801 during the 1980s and 1990s. The atmosphere that I sought to bring to the game was the feeling of an “ancient melody,” so to speak, hearkening back to the ’80s. In addition, the sound quality of the electronic music serves as an homage to the arcade systems of yesterday. That objective of creating a nostalgic environment was vital to the process of the music’s creation.


Siliconera: Do you have a long history of creating songs with the PC-88 computer?


Yuzo Koshiro: In my career in electronic music, this was the computer I started off with. Though I am thorougly familiar with it, it continues to be an desire of mine to get the most out of this hardware. Since the Etrian Odyssey series began, the PC-8801 has been the chosen source for sampling sounds for the project.



Siliconera: Does composing for the sound card of the Nintendo DS pose any particular technical challenges when compared with home consoles?


Yuzo Koshiro: If you take a look at the specifications of the Nintendo DS sound source, you discover that the system is capable of streaming playback. For this reason, it is quite natural to compose music for the console. My first scores for the system, created around the same time, were Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and the original Etrian Odyssey.


Siliconera: What would you say was your overriding concern as a composer in complementing the gameplay style of Etrian Odyssey?


Yuzo Koshiro: The producer of the game requested that I compose the score as if it were a continuation of Sorcerian. Though the request to some extent was for me to imitate my own music from some time ago, I have never composed for dungeon crawlers. I had to remind myself that this time around, it was a dungeon RPG. It took me a month to fully formulate my own image of what music was appropriate to the dungeon atmosphere, because my songs from Sorcerian often were light and rhythmic. My feeling was that I should try not to compose anything too up-tempo or overly dramatic. Once I had settled upon this approach, I began working on creating an old school feel by sampling sounds from the PC-8801.



Siliconera: How did it come about that the Super Arrange Version album was created?


Yuzo Koshiro: The planning of the arranged album and the original soundtrack was managed by the director of 5pb. Records.


Siliconera: Were there any interpretations of your compositions by the guest arrangers on the album that took you by surprise?


Yuzo Koshiro: It is up to me to decide what I would prefer in terms of the direction of the musical arrangements, but musical director Norihiko Hibino’s understanding of my music was very impressive. His arrangements never left out important structural elements. I was very surprised by the treatment of “Labyrinth I – Woodland Ruins” and particularly “Battlefield – Inspecting the Resounding Weapons.” The latter turned out counter to my expectations in a very welcome way.


Siliconera: Your music has been featured in international concerts and has been followed by audiences outside Japan since the Ys games received official album releases. What do you hope to communicate to listeners in other countries?


Yuzo Koshiro: It’s true that in those days the music of the Ys series was well received, though most familiar to listeners in Japan. Before the internet, I held out hope that the music of Streets of Rage would reach an overseas audience, though I was not certain how realistic it was to concern oneself with the views of listeners abroad. These days, with the full emergence of the internet, you can only imagine how many people are tuning into your songs at any given time. For this reason, it is my hope to contribute a wider variety of music, not confining myself to the aim of meeting the expectations of listeners in Japan alone.



Etrian Odyssey II Super Arrange and Live Music by Piano and Strings are available on Amazon.co.jp. Images courtesy of 5pb Records. Photo credit: Jeriaska/ Siliconera.

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  • http://server50734.uk2net.com/azu/wakaba.html matty

    Cool! I love this guy. Been hearing he music since I was an itty- bitty matty.
    Is there more of the article or did you just wanted to remind everyone how awesome he is?

  • Jeriaska

    There’s more. This post has been experiencing technical difficulties, which should be fixed now.

  • jeffx

    Excellent article, I’ll pass the word around.

  • BatAttack

    Gah! What’s that image with all the Etrian characters on it? Is there a larger, high res version somewhere?

  • Pulstar

    Thanks for this nice interview! I hope one day he is signed up for a Streets of Rage sequel.

  • Ana

    Just wanted to say thanks for the interview as well! I listened to the Streets of Rage tunes way too much when I was a kid, bwahaha. I love his recent game music too.

  • Jeriaska

    That’s the front cover of the original soundtrack for Etrian Odyssey II. There is a higher res scan on VGMdb, here:


  • http://www.club-penguin.org/ club penguin

    What’s that image with all the Etrian characters on it? Is there a larger, high res version somewhere?

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