Battle Garegga Complete Soundtrack
Battle Garegga Complete Soundtrack
December 30, 2016
Buy at CD Japan
Battle Garegga sits among the many shmups composed by Namiki, with this soundtrack, in particular, putting him on the map for arcade shmups from other developers such as CAVE. Originally released in 1996, its original soundtrack also debuted. Following that, in 1998, it was re-released for the Sega Saturn, with arranged music made for the port, featuring arrangements by Namiki himself as well as other prominent composers, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Hayato Matsuo, members of Supersweep, Shinji Hosoe and Ayako Saso, among others. Fast forward to the end of 2016, and the classic game was ported to the Playstation 4, however, with it came a remastered rendition of the original soundtrack (bundled with the game) and remixes created for use in the PS4 game, which is featured in the Battle Garegga Complete Soundtrack alongside the original arcade soundtrack and the Sega Saturn arrange tracks. These remixes come from various Supersweep composers, Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, and Takahiro Eguchi, as well as others they have collaborated with on original albums in the past, such as BUBBLE-B, JAKAZiD, quad, and m1dy, to name a few. How do these in-game renditions turn out compared to the originals?
Battle Garegga Original Arcade Version
Although there are minor tunes throughout the soundtrack, such as the character select theme, ending theme, etc. the majority of the substantial music comes in the form of stage and boss themes. Perhaps the most iconic of Namiki’s shmup compositions is the first stage theme, “Fly to the Leaden Sky,” featuring jazzy piano tones, flighty synths, and an extremely memorable melody that still holds up extremely well today and can still be considered one of Namiki’s best. It’s this tune alone that I think that set a trend for shmup themes to have an extremely memorable or engaging first stage theme, even if the rest of the soundtrack doesn’t hold up as strongly. “Underwater Rampart” has a very 90s dance feel in its rhythm. Combined with its bright synths, it gives the tune a really interesting musical contrast. “Tunnel Vision” features darker tones, is less melodically focused, and has a much more atmospheric and moody sound to it. There is a lack of variety in the accompaniment which does make for a somewhat tedious listen.
“Degeneracy” brings the brightness back with its upbeat funk tones, catchy rhythms, and excellent melody. The tune is pure fun and really stands out among the stage themes. “Subversive Awareness” is another tune that features bright synths, an airy sound, and pulsing beats. Intricate rhythms blend with a wonderful melody to create a piece that has a somewhat hypnotic atmosphere. “Megalomaniac” is a very industrial sounding tune, but unfortunately is one of the less appealing stage themes. A sense of chaos is created in the melody line, but that beats are rather simplistic and don’t really do much to help lift up the piece. The final stage theme, “Marginal Consciousness” certainly has that sense of finality to it. An airy synth melody builds as it goes on to create an invigorating tone, but the piece does suffer a bit in the accompaniment, making the tune sound a bit repetitive.
The three boss themes are also of mixed quality. “Stab and Stomp!” features heavy beats, frenetic tempos, and a true sense of danger. It certainly fits the bill when I think of tense boss fights for shmups with its industrial and engaging mix. Unfortunately “Thrust and Thrash!” suffers the most out of the three. At times intense and at other more lighthearted, it comes across as disjointed and not as engaging. The final boss theme, “Erupter,” is a frenetic industrial tune featuring vocal samples. There is certainly a ton of intensity as the listener is berated with harsh tones. It might not be the most engaging on a standalone listen, but it certainly fits the pace of the final battle while playing the game.
Battle Garegga Sega Saturn Arrange Version
Namiki returns to arrange his first stage theme, “Fly to the Leaden Sky,” transforming the original into a guitar driven tune with a funk influence that really manages to impress and stand on equal footing, if not surpassing, the iconic classic overall. Likewise, Ayako Saso’s remix of “Underwater Rampart” is an improvement, featuring much more interesting rhythms, brighter synths, and a bit of a jazz influence on the whole. “Tunnel Vision,” by Hitoshi Sakimoto, is also a veritable improvement, with its industrial tones mixed with ethereal, almost heavenly synth. There is definitely an underground techno sound to the piece and I love the distortion effects that are incorporated.
Takayuki Aihara’s “Degeneracy” has a very Streets of Rage-like sound to it with its techno flavor, with jazz/piano tones heard in the piece, and the subtle use of the melody in the intro before incorporating it in full is quite nice. Shinji Hosoe’s “Subversive Awareness” isn’t as successful, with some of the intricate nature of the original being a bit muddled in this rendition. That being said, the synths are more edgy at times, however, still incorporating bright moments. The bass guitar is a great addition and the keyboard solos help bring something new to the mix. Kenichi Koyano, responsible for “Megalomaniac” and “Marginal Consciousness,” does his best to improve upon the originals. For the former, it feels less chaotic due to the choice of synths, but still features an industrial tone. However, it still isn’t as appealing a piece due to the nature of the original. For the latter, the usage of bright synths lifts up the melody quite nicely while the subtle accompaniment also serves the tune better than the original.
As with the original, the boss battles are a mixed bag. Aihara’s “Stab and Stomp” is grittier and more industrial, but does come off sounding a bit muddy at times, with many elements competing with one another. Ayako Saso’s “Thrust and Thrash” makes the tune a bit darker overall, while the change in synth makes it more mysterious, but still ends up feeling disjointed. Lastly, “Erupter,” by Shinji Hosoe, is much more intense compared to the original. Additional bass beats add to the frenetic energy that is retained from the original. There are also some gabber elements thrown into the mix, although I wouldn’t classify it as a gabber tune on the whole.
Battle Garegga Remix 2016 Version
With the release of the Playstation 4 port of Battle Garegga came a new set of remixes. Unlike the Sega Saturn renditions, many of the tunes, in my opinion, sound more appropriate for a shmup, although this opinion may differ from person to person. Ayako Saso leads off with “Fly to the Leaden Sky,” featuring a touch more jazz influence, punchier beats thanks to its heavier synth tones. The melody itself features a fresh coat of paint with its synths, although the choice for synths I’m still questionable about. However, the breakdown featuring keyboard solos, jazzy piano, and an overall mellowness really rounds off the piece well. “Underwater Rampart,” by BUBBLE-B, also features punchier electronic hits while also incorporating some dancier drum and bass elements mixed with some retro flair that helps tie it to the original. Hiroshi Watanabe’s “Tunnel Vision” is certainly an interesting one. Featuring a bit of a 90s Detroit techno style, it manages to impress with its tense atmospheric approach with industrial leanings. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider it the best rendition of the tune for an in-game usage, it does manage to stand out on a standalone listen.
Yamajet’s “Degeneracy” takes the upbeat original and doubles down on it, with its bubbly, jazzy nature with a bit of a disco flair. The blend of synths, piano and guitar make for a fantastic combination, considering the original, and the solo sections add some nice moments as well. “Subversive Awareness,” by DJ Sharpnel, is an invigorating electronic tune featuring great synth choice, a trance influence that helps keep the hypnotic nature of the original, and has a wonderful progression through its duration. It’s certainly a highlight for sure. JAKAZiD manages to take “Megalomaniac” and make it somewhat more enticing than the Sega Saturn rendition. Featuring a very J-Techno style with vocal samples, similar to the style heard on the Speedking albums, of which many of the artists on these remixes have contributed, it is threatening with its heavy beats and ominous synth melody line, while also maintaining and energetic and invigorating sound. Out of all renditions on this soundtrack release, it is certainly the best, in my opinion. Lastly, Hosoe’s “Marginal Consciousness” features updated synths, some mellow breakdown sections that gradually increase the tempo of the subtle melody, while also incorporating some nice electronic beats. While it doesn’t drastically change the formula up, it is still an enjoyable listen nonetheless.
Of all the releases, I feel as though the boss tunes on this one are fairly solid all around. Takahiro Eguchi’s take on “Stab and Stomp!” features hardcore beats, while also incorporating moments of calm before the storm, some lighter sections that contrast nicely with the industrial tone of the beats. At times, it can also be a bit cacophonic and intense. It is a remix that definitely changes up the original in many ways, but manages to succeed. Likewise, quad’s “Thrust and Thrash” modernizes the original while also featuring classic techno styling of the original. Unlike the other tunes that felt disjointed, this one doesn’t feel nearly as much, even with the incorporation of dubstep elements, due to the seamless transition to and from the core sound of the remix. Lastly, m1dy’s “Erupter” is perhaps the most intense rendition of all. Having a very noisecore type sound, the wall of sound is constantly in your face and the heavy industrial beats really are reminiscent of Namiki’s CAVE final boss themes. As a bonus, there is a “Battle Garegga Stage Medley” done by hally, that goes through the various stage themes in a chiptune style which closes the release on a high note.
The Battle Garegga Complete Soundtrack is going to be the release where you will find all things Battle Garegga. There is certainly a collector’s edition feel to this soundtrack, given the various renditions of the soundtrack featured on it. Whether you enjoy the original sound source, the Sega Saturn arrangements, or the newly crafted remixes for the PS4 version of the game, there is a variety of sounds that take Namiki’s original compositions and transform them in many ways. While not every remix on the album is a hit, neither was every original piece wildly successful either. I do feel, however, that the newest renditions work quite well in the game and are a worthy addition. Recommended for fans of Namiki, both those familiar and unfamiliar with his work on this particular game.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on January 30, 2017 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 30, 2017.