A soundtrack frightening in its mediocrity.
Editor's review by Adam Corn
Given the enormous number of arcade fighters like Vampire Savior that Capcom has released, it would almost take a miracle for each one to have a striking, unique soundtrack. I'm not hearing any miracles here.
Much of the problem with Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire lies in the formatting of the CDs. It's too much an original soundtrack for its own good. Virtually every piece of music imaginable from the game is on the CD, including the character themes for most fighters, a winning theme, and at least two ending themes, not to mention character select screens, story demos, and other miscellaneous music bits. Do the math and you'll notice that with all these tracks, the musical selections can't be very lengthy. Winning themes only last for 30 or so seconds, while ending themes go for only twice that, including repetitions - hardly enough time to present a well-developed musical composition. Even the main character themes typically run for only two and a half minutes, and with one repetition at that.
Slap 40 of these tracks together on one disc and it becomes difficult to get a strong impression from each one; even the standouts can get lost in the shuffle if you're not listening closely. While it's understandable for Capcom to want to include as much music as possible for their fans, the CD would have been more enjoyable had they placed the character themes (the beef of the soundtrack) at the beginning and thrown the remaining tunes at the end where they could be tracked down by those who actually want to hear them.
So how is the music itself? Once you manage to separate the character themes from the barrage of music snippets surrounding them, you'll find that some are interesting. There isn't quite the spooky sound you would expect, given the theme of the game, although there are a few elements like choir and organ samples which achieve that mood to a limited extent. Actually the music for character themes usually falls into one of two categories - dance or jazz fusion.
The dance tracks feature common elements of the genre like fast tempo, moderately prominent bass, and sound sample staples (try saying that three times fast) like radio interference and morse-code style electronic pulsing. There's a thin line between good dance music and the boring, generic remainder, but Vampire Savior's tracks fortunately achieve the former, partially because each character theme does have a certain sound all its own. The definite highlight of the soundtrack for me is Lei Lei's character theme "Vanity Paradise". Beginning with the tranquil, peaceful sounds of flowing brooks, the exciting dance beat and electronic pulsing then kick in, led by a pleasant-sounding, well-composed flute melody. It's a shame the track only lasts for two and a half minutes. The same dance foundation sets up Morrigan's "Deserted Chateau", where a smooth piano melody takes the forefront instead.
As for the jazz fusion tracks, well, -yawn-. Few of them groove enough to get you bobbing your head to the beat. The melodies aren't striking, nor do these tracks do much to establish any kind of particular mood, aside from that perhaps of your local McDonald's restaurant (the one that plays boring anonymous synth-instrumental versions of Milli Vanilli songs from yesteryear over the speaker system). Unless easy-listening jazz fusion that can drone away inconspicuously in the background is one's cup of tea, a great number of these tracks are entirely skippable.
The instrumental sound quality doesn't help matters. This is arcade music synthesis, and by no means is it cutting edge. While none of the samples are horribly annoying or distractive, they're overly synthetic and aren't distinct enough, which adds to the difficulty of distinguishing one track from another.
Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire has too much going against it. Although some of the character themes are nice, with their short length, limited sound quality, and being surrounded by loads of filler tracks, they aren't enough to warrant recommending this CD to the general public or even the average game music fan. An arranged CD could be worth consideration, but only diehard Vampire Savior fans and Capcom arcade fanatics need apply for this OST.