Tag Archives: Arcade

Review: Gunslinger Stratos 1&2 Original Soundtrack

While I haven’t played or even seen Square Enix’s Gunslinger Stratos series, gameplay videos look pretty awesome. It’s an anime-style third-person shooter with some amazingly well produced pop rock and metal. There’s everything from heavy metal and J-rock to pop ballads and vocaloid. This compilation album includes the soundtracks to the first two games in the series (there’s a third now), featuring a wide variety of talent from within Square Enix and without.

It all begins with the catchy and upbeat metal track, “Choose Your Way,” which sets the stage for the vocaloid-heavy “DAYS,” the explosive metal-meets-dubstep “Isolated Clash,” the Gothic rock “Boquet de Fleurs Neige,” the Japanese-infused “Golden Dolphins” with rapid-fire koto, the spacey pop-rock “Beyond the Azure,” and the infectious Genki Rockets-flavored “Kimi no Ita Ano Hi ni.” Gunslinger Stratos 2 gets arrangements of several of the tracks from the first game, but also a number of originals including the desperate and spacey rock track “Inferiority Complex” (my personal favorite), the dreamy “Soul Evolution,” the bumping dubstep “9Elements (Nine Elements,” and a beautiful “unplugged” version of “Ending” with piano, strings, and layered vocals.

Fans of J-rock will get a kick out of this soundtrack. There’s some wonderful tracks and great production values throughout. Unfortunately it’s sold out on CD Japan , but keep an eye out on the used market if you’re interested.

Review: Hiro 30th Anniversary Album Thank you for listening!

Hiro may not be a household name, but you’ve likely heard his music. He’s the legend behind many of the earliest SEGA soundtracks, including those for Hang-On, Fantasy Zone, After Burner, and more. Catchy, technically impressive, and incredibly prolific, this album demonstrates all of these and more with one disc of “best of” material from his 30 years in the business, and a second disc of arrangements by Hiro and others many of which are entirely new to this collection.

So much of this music is amazing, from the chugging 1985 rock synths from Hang-On, the infectious catchiness of Space Harrier, the swanky swing in Enduro Racer, the playful and iconic Fantasy Zone, and the realistic jazz, pop, and exotic flavors from Out Run. There was fantastic ’90s rock with After Burner, sticky-sweet pop with Dynamite Dux, epic fantasy and explosive ’80s synth rock with Sword of Vermilion (one of my personal favorites), the comedy of Rent-a-Hero, and more modern dance, grunge, J-pop, and J-rock with his Sega Saturn era contributions.

The remix disc features all of the same songs, but arranged. There’s a lot of jazz to be had with SEGA’s [H.] band, a classy jazz ensemble called Akai Ryu-sei, and arrangements from Hiro himself from across the ages. Some are simple synth upgrades to the originals, while others are full-fledged jazz renditions, but all are tastefully done. There’s also a funky and wild dance/chiptune take on Sword of Vermilion by none other than Hip Tanaka, a retro synth/chiptune spin on Dynamite Dux by Omodaka, a big anime-style vocal opening from Rent-a-Hero, and a dreamy funk fest by Taito composer Shohei Tsuchiya with Crackin’ DJPART2.

So, let’s get on to the bad news. Unfortunately this album is not being sold through any regular soundtrack import sites. Your best bet is to hit Amazon or eBay if you’re looking for this one. There will be mark ups, but it’s a fantastic bit of history chronicling an unsung hero in game music.

Tekken Revolution Soundtrack (SRIN-1135)

More Tekken! SuperSweep is at it again, with both Tekken 7 and Tekken Revolution having recently been released. Expect more dubstep and electronic action from the Bandai Namco team and friends, including tracks from SuperSweep’s own Shinji Hosoe and Ayako Saso in addition to Yuu Miyake, Nobuyoshi Sano, and the rest of the gang. Taku Inoue handles the bulk of the music this time around, and as such, there’s a little pop mixed in with this dubstep.

He opens with the grungy rock/electronic “New World Order” with anthemic male vocals, and moves into industrial with “Blood, Sweat, and Fists.” There are laser-like synths in “Everlasting Heaven” and a distorted and searing soundscape present in “Self Destruct.” Yuu Miyake delivers “El Condor,” a trippy electronic track with an ethereal atmosphere and lots of reverb. There’s the dancey “Lunar fringe theory,” the pumping “Chopper” with its crazy slap bass, and even some flamenco flavor in “Bassamenco” and “Françoise’s Bassline.” Vocoder vocals are found in “Brasil evolution,” clean acoustic guitar in “lost in a station,” and Inoue’s uplifting rock in “Night rises” and “Kodama Starship,” the latter of which almost sounds like something out of Katamari Damacy with its vocal work.

Tekken Revolution is published by SuperSweep Records and is available for import from CD Japan if you’re interested.

Tekken 7 Soundtrack (SRIN-1136)

While I’m pretty terrible at fighting games, Tekken is the only franchise I attempt to play. I’ve been with it since the first game, a launch title for the original PlayStation, and while I’ve been out of the game for a while, I’ve kept up with the music. SuperSweep has published a number of recent Tekken albums, and Tekken 7 is no different, bringing a selection of well-produced electronic music from Bandai Namco’s usual cast of composers.

This time around, each stage gets two variations. There’s lots of dubstep to be heard throughout, and the second variation of each stage tends be be heavier. Fans can look forward to the searing opening theme, “Heat Haze Shadow” with its hard-hitting electronics and robotic vocals. For stage themes, the Japanese flavored “Dojo” should be an immediate hit, along with the dancey “Equator Line,” the chilly “Arctic Snowfall,” the mysterious and melodic “The day before the glass matrix,” the epic choir and electric guitar of “Volcano,” and the grungy electronic-rock hybrid of “Devil Kazumi.” The album ends with a lovely vocal duet that combines acoustic guitar and glitchy dubstep in “The Long Goodbye.”

Tekken fans will want to give this album a spin. It’s available on CD Japan, and in typical SuperSweep fashion, buying directly from SuperSweep Records snags you a bonus DJ mix disc full of music from Tekken 7 and other Tekken titles, and CD Japan also has you covered there for an additional cost.

Review: DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY -Arcade- ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

I remember when Dissidia was first announced. This was the fighting game Final Fantasy fans wanted (not Ergheiz!). The scores for the first two Dissidia games were fantastic, incorporating some lovely arrangements and original themes, so I was excited to get my hands on the soundtrack album accompanying the franchise’s first foray into arcades.

What you’ll find are pretty familiar sounds. Big, bombastic orchestral originals, and orchestral-rock hybrid arrangements of your favorite Final Fantasy battle themes. The opening theme takes a more melancholy approach with the series theme, but the glitchy “Prelude” will get the nostalgia and energy flowing pretty quickly. From there, the heavy metal flows, including a thunderous version of “The Rebel Army” from Final Fantasy II, which came as a surprise, a bombastic orchestral and synth version of the Final Fantasy IV final battle theme, the latter portion of “Dancing Mad” from Final Fantasy VI, and really cool spins on the main battle theme and “Fight With Seymour” from Final Fantasy X. “Flash of Steel” from Final Fantasy XII incorporates Hitoshi Sakimoto’s signature orchestral elements and adds in chugging bass and rock percussion on top, while *Eden Under Siege” from Final Fantasy XIII comes as a welcome addition, full of grit, wailing distorted guitars, rock percussion, and strings. “Antipyretic” from Final Fantasy Tactics also gets a slow and desperate arrangement with piano and sorrowful strings. The last track offers a remix of the Dissidia main theme, “Massive Explosion,” by SQ album series arranger Novoiski, bringing in synth sweeps, chiptune, and dub step elements.

There isn’t really anything groundbreaking here in terms of arrangements, but the rock-oriented takes on classic Final Fantasy tunes should please arcade-goers. Pick the album up at CD Japan if you’re interested.

DRUAGA ONLINE -THE STORY OF AON- SOUNDTRACK (SRIN-1121)

While Druaga Online -The Story of Aon- was never released outside of Japan, I think a lot of RPG fans can get behind an arcade-based RPG with online four player co-op. What drew my attention to the soundtrack was the eclectic combination of composers, which includes SuperSweep’s Ayako Sasao, StudioMINSTREL’s Hiroto Saito, and Bandai Namco composers Junko Ozawa and Hiroyuki Kawada. True to the eclectic nature of the team, the soundtrack offers upbeat orchestral, electronic, and rock in adventurous fantasy fashion.

Listeners will enjoy the infectious synth pop castle theme as well as the main character themes, which include playfully epic rock (“Gilgamesh”), bubbly electonics (“Ki”), and even industrial (“Xeovalga”). The map themes will also stand out with the exotic woodwinds of “Windy Prairie,” the grand orchestral stylings of “Hanging Gardens,” and the funky Castlevania-esque “Floating Island,” which even sports bagpipes at one point. Rounding out the two-disc collection are the gloriously defaint “Heavenly Palace,” the explosive final battle theme, and the triumphant and rustic ending theme complete with harpsichord.

Check out SuperSweep’s soundtrack sampler on YouTube and pick out the soundtrack on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: LORD of VERMILION III Original Soundtrack

While I’ve never had the pleasure of playing Lord of Vermilion, I have been on top of their multiple soundtrack releases. The series itself is interesting in that it’s an arcade card-based title with some beautiful artwork from a number of contributing artists, and likewise, the music has been handled by a number of composers, with Nobuo Uematsu on the first game, Hitoshi Sakimoto and Basiscape on the second, and now electronic artist Tachytelic on the third.

I can’t say I know a whole lot about Tachytelic, but if you’re a fan of electronic music, dubstep, and electronic-orchestral hybrids, this album may be for you. The opening theme is the original by Uematsu redone with a trip-hop drum beat, exotic vocals, and dubstep stylings. A few of my favorites include “Elder Tower” which combines dubstep elements and epic fantasy orchestral with a cool ascending brass and string melody, “Red String Break,” which sports ominous pads and break beats on top of some lovely string work, and the trailer-esque “Over the Pride,” with its slow build and intense climax. “ANGER Z E N N O” is a heavy drum ‘n’ bass track with angry flaring synth lines that almost sound like guttural speech, “Tentacle Dread Hot Beat” (probably my favorite track) with its epic descending string line, and the cinematic tracks that include the emotional “Tear,” the spooky “Another Space,” and “Worry.” There are two ending themes that combine electronic and orchestral elements. I love the choral elements in “Red Flamers” and the killer bass and piano work in “Wind to Wind.”

In all, the Lord of Vermilion III OST offers a new sound that makes a great addition to the eclectic franchise. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Tachytelic in the future. You can grab the album from CD Japan if you’re interested.

Shinji Hosoe Works Vol. 3 DRAGONSABER (SRIN-1115)

Fans of SuperSweep head and Scarlet Moon Artists composer Shinji Hosoe may consider looking into last year’s release of the Dragon Saber soundtrack from SuperSweep Records. Following in the style of his more widely known Dragon Spirit soundtrack, Dragon Saber is also one of his earlier works, containing a mix of fantasy and epic shmup soundscapes.

Those who know his work on Dragon Spirit will be right at home with the energetic and upbeat 80s synth work along with the dark and ominous atmospheres that dominate the later areas in the game. With a gritty rock-based final battle theme, a funky piece to accompany the continue screen, and pop to go with the name entry screen, the score is classic Hosoe. The second disc includes selections from the Dragon Spirit soundtrack recreated using the Dragon Saber sound chip. There are also guest arrangements by SuperSweep’s Yousuke Yasui with a bumping retro sound, and by Ancient Corp’s Yuzo Koshiro with powerful electronics and classy brass.

The album also includes artwork from the series and comments in the booklet. It’s currently available on CD Japan.

Review: Bubble Bobble and Bubble Memories Original Soundtracks

Here’s another taste of Taito after the review of Darius II earlier this week.

Bubble Bobble is easily one of my favorite games on the NES. An emphasis on food, secret levels, a drunken last boss, and of course, bubbles make it one of the most memorable NES games in my mind, so the music evokes a certain sense of nostalgia in me.

Taito has released the arcade soundtrack as well as that of Bubble Memories on iTunes Japan, so I thought it would be a good time to jump back into my youth and given them a listen. Continue reading Review: Bubble Bobble and Bubble Memories Original Soundtracks