Originally posted on 20 January 2016
Source: page 68-69

Destiny of a Dragon

Particulars of the sound and voices that give the game world its life

Learn the secrets of Ryu ga Gotoku's sound, which fulfils an important role in portraying the game's unique world. Also explained is the reason why prescoring, completely different from the general method of recording afterwards, was used to record the voices.

Rock with a "Japanese" element gives the setting its vibrancy

The red light district in which Ryu ga Gotoku is set gives off somewhat of a Showa-era feel. In order to better show off the world's charm, Nagoshi came up with the idea to express the "Showa energy" he wanted through music. However, being overly conscious of "Showa" and "yakuza" is likely to set a heavy, dark melody. He instructed the sound staff to fuse rock with techno influences and create digital rock, then add a Japanese feel to it.

At the centre of creation was sound creator Hidenori Shoji, a man who, starting with SpikeOut, has been in charge of sound work for games Nagoshi has previously worked on. Putting in Japanese instruments such as Japanese drums, Shoji created a unique rock sound.

For example, in battle scenes he often uses a heavily warped electric guitar sound to create distortion. While producing a dark atmosphere, the rhythm also has a pulsating beat. Tense scenes include sounds such as sirens, creating a sense of urgency.

Kenzan!, set in Gion, contains tracks using instruments such as shamisen and shakuhachi to create a huge difference in feeling between towns. This kind of power the sound has is important to enjoy the battle or cutscenes whilst preserving the atmosphere of the town.

Recording using the prescore method gives the words some weight

Close attention was also paid to the recording of the characters' voices. When voices are recorded for films, in Japan it is standard to record the footage first and then record the voices separately afterwards. However, in the case of Ryu ga Gotoku, voices are recorded first and the video is created to match up with it in a process called "prescoring". With prescoring, they are not limited by the need to match their speaking speed up with what is on the screen, so it allows more freedom for the voice actors to perform. By using this method, weight is given to each of the individual characters' words, making it feel more natural and closer to a live action film.

However, since when prescoring is performed the CG has to be created to match up with the voices, it is troublesome for the CG staff. Also, whereas with voices that are recorded later where the voice actors can watch movies of the characters and imagine their feelings as they perform, prescoring has no video available and as such this is impossible. In order for them to be able to perform with no visual indicator, the staff must give them directions as to what to do.

This is mainly done by the head of scenario, Yokoyama. For example, in a scene where a character speaks as they get into a car, he will calculate the timing by picturing it in his head alone and give directions based on this. At first, it was failure after failure. They ended up re-recording over and over again, but gradually Yokoyama began to get a sense of the timing. As the series progressed, he polished his prescored recording techniques until people began to say that no one but him could do the job.

"Maybe someone other than me could have written Ryu ga Gotoku's scenario. But out of everyone in the company, I think I'm the only one who can do prescored voice recording with the video in my head." (Yokoyama)

Label: Sega
Price: 1500 yen (150y/track)
Ryu ga Gotoku 4: Successors of the Legend Original Soundtrack
Several impressive pieces of BGM from Ryu ga Gotoku 4, such as from individual scenes or battle scenes, appear on its soundtrack. It is voluminous, containing even the karaoke songs with Kiryu and the cabaret girls singing together in high spirits. Combining vol 1 and 2, there are a total of 73 songs. They can be downloaded from digital music shops such as the iTunes Store.
※"Rebellions" and "For Faith (Instruments)" from vol 1 and "Get to the Top! (Haruka)" and "Kamuro Junrenka (Kiryu & Maya)" are only available via album purchase through iTunes.
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