I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Takayuki Hattori -- I.Q. Final Perfect Music File

I think I've only written one other article on a song that originated from a computer game: "Ame no Musique"(雨のmusique)for "Symphonic Rain".

This game is quite a bit more esoteric than "Symphonic Rain" but has a more personal connection with me. Soon after I moved into my Ichikawa apartment from the mid-1990s, my place soon became a frequent drop-in place for some of my then-single buddies. And one old friend often made pilgrimages from Mie Prefecture to come to the big city to spend a week with me while bringing over his massive array of game platforms. Of course, one of those platforms was the blockbuster Sony Playstation 1.

I have never been a computer game geek but even I have to admit that I was slowly getting seduced by the PS1 until I finally succumbed to its digital charms and bought it one day in Akihabara for about 20,000 yen. And having usually been the one odd fellow in my group, my very first PS game was the weird-but-wonderful "I.Q." Basically, a game about eliminating huge blocks through a lot of running and strategic pressing of buttons, it was quite the engrossing challenge.

But what really got me was the game music. For something like "I.Q." which first came out in 1997, I had expected some minimalist techno on the level of Philip Glass. Instead right from the introduction, I got this epic orchestra with some really haunting choral accompaniment. I thought John Williams crashed the party here. And although I long abandoned the game after peaking at the Fifth Stage, the soundtrack managed to stay with in my head all these years.

And I only just found out that it was famed Japanese composer, arranger and conductor Takayuki Hattori(服部隆之)who came up with the music for "I.Q.". He's done a number of soundtracks for dramas and movies, and most recently he even got his own article on "Kayo Kyoku Plus" for the recent drama "Naoki Hanzawa" thanks to JTM.

Above is the appropriately titled "Opening Chorus" for the album "I.Q. Final Perfect Music File" which came out in 1999. It all starts out rather ominously before Hattori introduces a bit of "Vertigo" music and then the triumphant chorus yelling "I.Q." I was half-expecting a huge obelisk to pop up on the moon Titan! When I first heard this, I just felt like this was pretty darn epic for a weird game about blocks.

"The First Tide", as the title indicates, is the music that provides background for First Stage for the game. It has that feeling of the player kinda making his baby steps into the game and gives that hint of thinking things through. Definitely not Philip Glass. I could imagine this track providing musical accompaniment to that famous scene of how to destroy the Death Star in the very first "Star Wars".

"Courage and Hope" was the one other piece of music in "I.Q." that really caught my attention. In fact, I distinctly remember popping my eyes and letting a whoosh of air when I first heard the triumphant notes on one of the stages. Did I just win something? This sounded more appropriate for the final victory rather than for one particular stage. Still, the jaunty march did offer me some of that courage and hope while I was trying to melt the blocks without being stomped by them.

Of course, I never did reach the final stage so it was interesting (and enviable) to watch the fellow in the video above finally reach I.Q. Nirvana. And although "I.Q." was one of the many games that I finally sold back to a resale store in Akihabara when I decided to return to Canada for good, I still had some good memories of the game with that epic soundtrack.

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