I’ve always found the juxtaposition between Mr Driller, an innocuously simple up, down, left, right, dig arcade action puzzle game and its grand, intricate soundtrack quite thrilling.
All of the eclectic and complex music from Namco Bandai’s 15 year-old series is (as far as I know) the work of prodigiously talented and imaginative composer Masaru ‘Go’ Shiina.
For some reason – possibly I posit because his work is so distinctive, Namco keep Go on their books but use him quite sparingly. Other credits include Tales of Legendia, God Eater, Ace Combat and at least a couple of unmistakable pieces for Tekken.
Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about his CV is that he hasn’t composed a single piece for a Katamari Damacy game.
The piece I’ve decided to feature is Speed of Light, a Latin groove that I’ve been enjoying recently while playing the DSiWare release, Mr Driller: Drill Till You Drop (though I suspect it also appears in at least one or two other Driller titles), and features Shiina’s signature complex, jazzy weave of violin, flute, piano, Spanish guitar and trumpet.
Shiina-san is also known for freely deploying vocals, including those of children, which immediately imbue the desperate digging action with a joyful, fun-filled air.
However, expect any lengthy session of Dig-Dug’s descendant to feature inspired fusions of multiple musical genres from pop, rock, jazz and disco to Western classical and traditional Eastern sounds.