June 1, 2012
Download at Bandcamp
The MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre has recently seen a huge surge in popularity, an extraordinary feat considering its roots as a mod for Warcraft III (Defense of the Ancients). This is mainly thanks to League of Legends, the first game to be described as such, a game that has had a wide range of appeal from casual players to professional competitive players, with others following in its footsteps. Awesomenauts takes a very different approach to the typical blend of action, RPG and RTS gameplay. Opting instead for a 2D platformer style of gameplay and a presentation reminiscent of 80’s and 90’s ‘Saturday Morning Cartoons’. I really like this game, it’s got a great sense of humour (including some voice work from famous youtubers such as Simon from the Yogscast), fights can get intensely chaotic and it’s just great all round fun. The soundtrack was made by Dutch audio production company SonicPicnic, who created a musical vibe that’s a quirky blend of the sci-fi and the cartoony, to perfectly complement the rest of the presentation. I will try my best not to use the word ‘awesome’ to describe anything in this review, but I apologise in advance if I do.
The soundtrack opens with the obvious highlight of the soundtrack, the Awesomenauts Theme, and I think it’s brilliant. It’s a really catchy send up of classic 80’s and 90’s children’s TV shows such as Transformers, Thundercats and Power Rangers. You can tell that the SonicPicnic guys had great fun composing this, and it’s got all the elements of a cheesy 80’s cartoon theme: old school synth sounds – check; high pitched male singer – check; sound effects representing the characters – check; gnarly guitar solo – check; and finally cheesy lyrics – check. If that sounds like your worst nightmare, it probably will be. But it’s not meant to be taken seriously and it’s all in good fun. Singer Jeffrey Zuhdy hits some really high notes, while the combination of the lyrics and the upbeat excitement makes this war sound like great fun. A brilliant song both to remember the game by and to get the listener in the mood for the game. The in-game version of this song is a different mix and is much shorter (40 seconds), but demand for a full version of this song was so high the team made it happen. The soundtrack also contains an electronica remix by Totally Tuur, which makes creative use of the voice samples from the original, including very heavy vocoder usage. In terms of other vocal themes, “My Only Awesomenaut” is a cheesy smooth jazz parody that sounds like “The Girl from Ipanema”, which is a laugh to listen to.
The rest of the main soundtrack consists of instrumentals using spacey synth sounds, rock band sounds and some editing and mixing tricks to keep potential repetitiveness a bit more interesting. There’s a nice variety of soundscapes and textures here, and the team do their best to surprise the listener. When listening to “Juno’s Travels to Planet DX7”, I actually recognized some of the sounds used from some of Logic Pro’s synthesizer instruments, and it was intriguing to hear these sounds actually used in a composition. This particular composition feels like a warm up for what’s to come, appropriate for the main menu theme. “Clunk’s Machinery” has some interesting vocal editing and a cool bass riff and drum beat backing it up, While “Wormhole Surfing” has a cool swing beat backing up the heavy synth textures, and some semblance of a melody that isn’t the focus, but adds a nice touch and prevents things from getting too repetitive. In the last minute they do some very wacky things with the harmonies to close off the track. “Bagpipin’ Blastfest” has some cool melodic and harmonic lines, particularly in the middle ‘B’ section. “Gilarren sind AbFab!” is the first track that properly features an electric guitar riff, while keeping with the main spirit of the rest of the tracks before it. “No Blue Elephants, Please” does a great job of making futuristic sounding shopping centre music, or lift music if you will.
All of the tunes in the soundtrack can be heard in a big remix called “Awesomenauts Mega Mini Master Mix”. The way different bits of all the compositions are spliced together is clever and at many times surprising. Different patterns work really well in different keys to match the harmonies, and sometimes I would say the new harmonies in this mix are actually more interesting than the originals. Minor chords where there were originally major chords and vice versa, more musical movement and new sounds make for a very well put together remix, while the speed is fairly consistent throughout the track making it flow smoothly. This track is best experienced after familiarizing yourself with the game and the rest of the soundtrack to properly appreciate all the intricacies.
The rest of the soundtrack consists of the character themes and killing spree music for each character. Each character is represented by a different style of music, for example Voltar the Omniscient is represented by an orchestral theme, Froggy G’s is Hip Hop, Sherriff Lonestar’s is Western and Clunk’s is Rock. All of these themes fit well into the vibe of the game and none feel out of place (Voltar’s orchestral theme has plenty of Doctor Who inspired electronic sounds). The themes themselves are all under 30 seconds long, but can be heard extended and remixed in their Killing Spree forms. These combine the character themes with other tracks from the rest of the soundtrack, adapting their chord sequences accordingly. They are all well constructed, with different themes fitting together really well, though in some I think the character theme could have perhaps been more emphasised. I don’t have a favourite of these as they are all pretty good, and I even think that just listening to these themes would give the listener a good flavor of this soundtrack. “The Awesomenaut Tunes” is a simple mix of all the characters themes (except for the PC exclusive ones). Getting this soundtrack on Steam is probably the best plan because when the game gets updated with new characters and other things the soundtrack gets updated accordingly.
Overall I really enjoyed the Awesomenauts soundtrack. If anything it’s worth getting this soundtrack just for the theme song, but don’t worry, this soundtrack is not a one track wonder, there’s plenty to enjoy here. The sounds are interesting and creative, the mixes are full of surprises making sure that they don’t get repetitive, there are some catchy tunes and when these tracks are remixed and/or combined there done in a very clever way, offering something new while not being obtrusive. It’s also good value for money, especially if you get it on Steam. There’s something for many different listeners here, I recommended this awesome (sorry, I couldn’t resist) soundtrack.
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Posted on March 23, 2014 by Joe Hammond. Last modified on January 17, 2016.