If you read my review for the Parodius Da! soundtrack, you'd know I am a big fan of the series. Every installment of the series has fantastic music, and in some ways, the soundtrack to this game is the best ?Enot the only the music to the game itself, but the way the CD is built.
Like the other games in the series, the music in this game comes from three categories: original, classical, and other Konami shooters. Gokujyo Parodius was released in the arcades in 1994 and later released as a Super Famicom game. Since this is the soundtrack to the arcade game, the themes for the three extra characters in the S-Fam game are not present. The themes that are here, however, are great. This time around there are eight themes, and like Parodius Da! before it, they are broken up into sets of two similar themes each. The four character themes from Da! return, along with four new themes. The old ones are all remixed fabulously, and the new ones are great. My favorite is track 16, Hikaru and Akane's theme. The other original music in the game is fabulous too, from the opening screen (track 3) to the little ditty played at the end of game (track 36), it's all fabulous and catchy. Also included is the hilarious dancing girl music that was first heard in Da! (track 28).
As with all Parodius games, there are some great remixes of Gradius music. The main Gradius boss theme is back (track 29), Gradius 3's (arcade) intro music is also the intro music to this game, and the ending music is a beautiful remix of the ending music from Gradius 2. There's also a wonderful medley of music corresponding to the bonus stage (track 32), which includes Gradius 2's first stage as well as Gradius 3's second and third stage. Also included is Salamander's (Life Force) first stage and something from Ajax.
What makes this soundtrack stand above the rest of the series is the selection of classical music they chose to remix. Some of the most well loved pieces of music are included here. And this time around, the remixes are done in a variety of styles. The character selection music (track 4) is the "Sleeping Beauty Waltz" by Tchaikovsky done in a very light and fluffy way. Bizet's "Carmen Overture" (track 7) has all sorts of great funny instruments and sounds, as does Sousa's march classic, "Stars and Stripes Forever". Rossini's "William Tell Overture" remix (track 15) keeps with the original's spirit, as does Glen Miller's Big Band classic, "In the Mood" (track 6). Among the others are Johann Strauss Jr.'s "Trick Track Polka" (track 12), Wagner's "Ride of the Vakyries" (track 20), Mozart's "Turkish Rondo" (track 18) and music from "Abduction to the Seraglio" (track 21), and the Japanese folk song "Sakura". There's even a very well done medley of kids' songs (track 17), which uses such favorites as "Yankee Doodle", "London Bridge", and "Marry Had a Little Lamb". All of these are great, but perhaps the ultimate example of the mastery of classical favorites is the disco-esque remix of Dvor'ak's "New World Symphony, 4th movement" (track 27). I would almost say that this track alone makes the CD worthwhile.
The bonus materials on this CD are excellent. Track 1 is a medley of much of the music in the game, remixed almost to perfection. It's much less fragmented than the medley from the Da! soundtrack, and it flows very nicely. The final six tracks on the CD are very unique. There are three drama tracks and three songs. The drama tracks are voiced by Hikaru and Akane from the game (interesting tidbit: both the voice actresses were Snow Dancers in the Sailor Moon S movie). What makes the drama tracks good is that the two of them relay emotion very well, and there is always music accompanying them. This makes them much less boring than most drama tracks I've heard. The songs are sung by the two of them, each one gets a song, and then they sing the final track together. The music of the songs is very good, though not related musically to the game.
Since the game was released four years after the original in the series, the sound quality is vastly improved. The instruments are clear, and there's a lot of variety. Every piece has a lot of depth, and it's a very enjoyable listening experience.
Overall, I can't recommend this CD enough. While it's hard to locate, it's an excellent find and is definitely the best CD of all Parodius soundtracks.