Keita Egusa joins up with Hiroyuki Nakayama and Masato Kouda to form "The Pia-Coms." In doing so, they've created a sequel to Pia-Com I. And instead of being an EP, this is a full-length (>40 minute), 10 track piano solo arranged album of classic NES music.
RPG-specific, we have three tracks to talk about. First is the opening music for the original Wizardry. Well, the original Japanese Wizardry at any rate. This original melody from the late Kentaro Haneda remains one of my favorite pieces of Famicom musical history, and the Pia-coms did justice to the legacy. It makes me want a full Wizardry piano collection.
(More on that "piano collection" talk at the end.)
Pia-com I had a track from FFII, so naturally Pia-com II goes to FFIII (wait, what about the first game?). They made the obvious choice of arranging "Elia," the most-often-arranged piece of music from that game. In seeing this track selection, I was dismayed. There are about 15 songs from that overlooked soundtrack just begging for a competent piano arrangement. In any case, the good news is that the Pia-coms did a great job with this one. The arrangement is somewhat grandiose, but not in a way that disrespects the source material or feels over the top.
The final RPG represented on this disc is a Falcom title! Dragon Slayer IV, a game that never got a piano arranged CD from Falcom, is now piano'd up, and the Pia-coms do it up right. A number of great tunes appear here, many of which are unfamiliar even to long-time Falcom nuts. It's a great ending track for a great arranged album.
The rest? Well, it's not RPG-ish. But that doesn't mean I don't care. I love the Spelunker track, and a piano solo version of "Vampire Killer" is a great idea. Dan Brown beware, the Pia-coms got skills too!
Dog Ear Records' distribution outside Japan is slim, but if you want something unique in your collection, pick up Pia-com II.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann