Nobunaga’s Ambition: Bushou Fuuunroku Soundtrack (PC-88), Yoko Kanno, 1990
Developer KOEI didn’t rock the boat much with this fourth instalment of its Nobunaga’s Ambition franchise. The game continued its predecessors’ brand of menu-heavy strategising, set amongst feuding warlords in Japan during the 16th century. As before, it targeted those gamers who preferred intensely in-depth gameplay over graphical bells and whistles. Despite the geographically specific subject matter, KOEI felt that there was an overseas audience for Bushou Fuuunroko, bringing the SNES and Sega Genesis ports to the American market under the title of Lord of Darkness.
While the early Nobunaga’s Ambition games were never visual stunners, their music was an entirely different story. Since the franchise’s second title Zenkokuban, future film and TV score legend Yoko Kanno had been responsible for the games’ soundtracks. Their various PC and console chiptunes scores didn’t give a strong indication of Kanno’s burgeoning talents. However, KOEI had developed a fascinating concept dubbed “Soundware”. Soundware albums contained red book audio scores for a number of KOEI PC-88 games. These albums replaced the games’ chiptunes soundtracks with upgraded music in case the PC in question was equipped with a CD drive. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as arrange albums, these CDs were sold with special retail editions of various Nobunaga’s Ambition games. However, KOEI also sold them separately as simple music albums.