Revolter

Revolter - PC-8801 (1988)


Taken on its own terms, there is little of interest about Revolter, a vertically scrolling PC88 shooter released in 1988. A doujin title developed by A.S.C. Group, it’s one of the many similar types of games on a platform which wasn’t remotely capable enough to handle the action. Both the screen scrolling and the sprite movement is jerky, the backgrounds are repetitive, and each of the four stages goes on for entirely too long.

The bosses are largely ripoffs/homages to Gradius. Your ship, the Silver Erazer, has an astoundingly large (for a shooter) shield meter, which can be quickly replenished by any of the numerous energy capsules dropped by enemies. Giving the overall sloppy nature of the animation, this is practically a necessity to balance all of the largely unavoidable hits you’ll be taking. There are seven weapons to find, of course, with the rapid fire one at least ensuring that you won’t be destroying your keyboard by hammering the fire key. Like many games of the 80s, it stars requisite anime chicks, which mostly just show up in the intro complete with their three sizes and a little biography. Only one really appears during the game, who announces the action via a small text window.

So why is this game even remotely significant? Well, it’s the second game compsed by Masaharu Iwata, and the first game composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto. (In the intro, one of the girls claims to be a music composer, loves FM synth, and worships YMO.H.S., Hitoshi Sakimoto’s pseudonym.) The duo together can be noted as some of the finest video game music composers in history, and the soundtrack to Revolter is quite excellent. There are even a few arrangements from various other shooters, including Legendary WingsSalamander and Dragon Spirit, although they’re buried in the sound test. After working for the likes of Square-Enix for many numerous, they branched off and formed Basiscape, which has provided soundtracks for numerous games even today. Although the Sakimoto/Iwata sound is largely typified by orchestral-type music, as noted in their most popular games – Ogre BattleFinal Fantasy TacticsTactics OgreRadiant SilvergunFinal Fantasy XIIOdin Sphere – Sakimoto actually began his career as a sound programmer, being largely influenced by electronic music. For Revolter, he created a FM synthesizer driver called Terpsichorean, which was used in several succeeding games, including Genesis titles like Captain America and the AvengersGauntlet IVDevilishKing SalmonMaster of MonstersMidnight ResistanceTwo Crude Dudes, and the obscure Japanese-only shooter Verytex. It can even be heard used as recently as 1994, in the Raizing shooter Shippu Mahou Daisakusen (Kingdom Grand Prix). It has a very distinct, rich sound, and it’s easy to see why its usage continued for several years. All of these games have absolutely outstanding soundtracks (yes, even the fishing game).

Other Terpsichorean Songs
Gauntlet IV – Sortie
Captain America and the Avengers – The Avengers
Shippu Mahou Daisakusen – Flag Race