Tommy Tallarico is a little known American video game musician that, somehow or another, got selected to compose the music for Capcom's highly anticipated Playstation 2 action/adventure romp and spin-off of the original NES 'Ghosts and Goblins' game. Coming from an American composer, the soundtrack carries a somewhat movie score feel with its grandiose instrumentation, while still retaining a certain light-heartedness that only a video game soundtrack could convey. Tallarico has composed a soundtrack that sounds like Warcraft II in parts, Klonoa in others, and a bombastic adventure movie score throughout; all three of these traits combine to form one of the most fun listens of the year.
The soundtrack catches you right off the bat in a sinsterly silly opening main theme with some rather quirky instrumentation. The following track (Cemetary Area Music 1) introduces us to the heroic theme of Maximo that is used constantly throughout the rest of the soundtrack. The Cemetary Area Music tracks are very thickly orchestrated and filled with many loud orchestral blasts. The Swamp Area tracks contain an element of synth effects used in the Klonoa soundtracks as well as some tribal sounding percussion, yet still maintains a heroic temper. The first of the two Shipyard Area tracks sounds a lot like something you might hear in a Warcraft game: lots of thick horn orchestrations, rolling strings, and roaring percussion. The Underworld Area tracks are the most sinister sounding of the bunch; the first of the two area musics is a loud mish-mash of orchestral and sound effects clanging and banging, while the second focuses more on a dark orchestral motif with some choral elements added in to add to the ambience.
Finally, the area musics are finished off with the excellent Castle Maximo motifs, both of which show off some extraordinary arranging of instrumentation. The first exhibits some low, haunting string flurries and slow horn themes; the second is probably the best track on the entire soundtrack, featuring some incredibly heroic, bombastic, and extravagant instrumentation and a driving underlying percussive rhythm. The boss music throughout the soundtrack is mostly good; the Cemetary and Shipyard boss themes are very fun listens! However, I did find the Underworld and Castle Maximo boss themes somewhat tedious and not as good as they needed to be.
The CG Movie music by Tamayo Kawamoto is a mixed bag. The CG Movie Music Opening, Music 3, and Music 4 are all solid compositions, but the other two are short and mostly not worth listening to as they're just boring filler music for their specific scenes in the game. And, of course, there is the typical Capcom 'Voice Collection' track at the very end of the disc. This track is definitely worth skipping, unless you like listening to some of the characters talking in Japanese and hearing the hero of the game groan, take hits, grunt, and scream with glee, all within a period of three and a half minutes.
So, overall, this is quite a solid soundtrack, composed by a little-known American composer who certainly has some fine talent. One person I spoke with found the soundtrack to be tedious, repetitive, and boring, saying, "Every song is the same song over and over again." This is true in two senses: the orchestration throughout is consistent and Maximo's theme is used consistently. Both of the two reasons I have mentioned are two very admirable uses of compositional skills; repeat usage of orchestration holds the tone of the music cohesively and repeating the main theme drives home the main motif of the game. Both of these skills are used in movie scoring frequently, and I've rarely heard them classified as "Every song sounding exactly the same." Maximo delivers some solid action/adventure music and is just a fun listen when you feel in the mood for something heroic, bombastic, and fantastical.