Bionic Commando Rearmed -The Soundtrack-
Bionic Commando Rearmed -The Soundtrack-
May 27, 2008
Buy at Sumthing Digital
2008’s Bionic Commando Rearmed is an enhanced remake of the 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System action game Bionic Commando. Developed by Stockholm-based company GRIN, its audio director Simon Viklund (Ballistics, Bandits: Phoenix Rising) both inspired the remake and handled the sound production. Junko Tamiya’s score for the original had militaristic intent but was principally a melodic chiptune score due to the limitations of its hardware. Viklund decided to leave reimagining the orchestral ambitions of the series for the upcoming next-generation sequel and instead focused on providing a remixed score in tribute to the original. The result focuses on the melodies of the original and adds electronic beats and atmospheric sounds to them. Its score was released digitally for $10 some months prior to the game’s release and also offered a few surprises in addition to the remixes. Let’s take a closer look…
A remix of Bionic Commando‘s iconic first area theme serves as the main theme for the soundtrack. The initial electronic interpretation of the theme asserts a strong groove with pulsing synth motifs and drum beats. However, it is also very atmospheric given the emphasis on slow descending melodies and chord progressions as well as the use of distortion and reverb. It’s as catchy as the original, but as much for rhythmical reasons as for melodic ones. The “BCR Menu Theme” is even more atmospheric; it’s slowed right down, features boundless futuristic synth work, and uses percussion excellently to provide a resolute drive. The only other theme that doesn’t directly correspond with a theme from the original is “Killt’s Hidden Treasures”, but it uses a similar style while presenting a killer new melody.
Delving into the other area themes, the hard punctuation of “Heat Wave” creates just the attitude and personality that the jazz-tinged original aspired to. “Power Plant” exhibits a great sense of rhythm and demonstrates Viklund’s electro-funk and Daft Punk influences more than other area themes. Even though it’s still quite enjoyable, “Leap of Faith” is probably the weakest of the area themes. This plodding low tempo remix simply lacks the crispness and intensity of the original. “Rise of the Albatross” begins as a another slow reflective mix that makes the very most of the distinctive motifs of the original. However, it soon speeds up and becomes a compelling hardcore mix ideal prior to the final boss. It’s possibly DJ Viklund’s single greatest achievement on this score.
“Prologue & Epilogue” combines several themes from the original into a coherent three minute remix. Viklund asserts a stronger militaristic here than most other pieces with use of fanfare-like melodies and resolute rhythms. The use of the distinctive snare imitations of the original and a chiptune melody in the latter half also gives a nostalgic yet comical sound that fits perfectly with the approach of the remake. Moving to the subsidiary themes, “OK, We’ll Move” is much more suitable in context than the original and the gradual layering is excellently executed here. “Meet the Enemy and Descend” and “Intruder Alert” take a hard techno and trance approach respectively to reflect the heat of the battle. Viklund rounds off his tour of electronic genres with warm synth pads and downtempo beats in “Amongst Allies”.
“Suzuki’s Heroes” is arranged by talented Capcom newcomer Marika Suzuki (Sengoku Basara, Dead Rising). It’s a cinematic orchestral interpretation of the main theme that, while somewhat lacking percussively, makes up for it with bold brass and strings use. Definitely one of the biggest highlights. “One Man, One Bionic Man” is an audio recording of the trailer featuring orchestral music, voice-overs, and sound effects. It’s an unconventional addition, but a very funny one with a highlight being the deliberately cheesy lines from the clichéd low-pitched narrator. The final piece, “Go Go Bionic”, is not the hilarious vocal theme composed by Kohei Tanaka and sung by Ichiro Mizuki. It’s a man shouting ‘Go Go Bionic’ again and again over a brief rendition of the original version of the main theme. Very disappointing.
The Bionic Commando Rearmed soundtrack is a very pleasant new interpretation of a classic score. It’s very impressive how Viklund was able to offer something as catchy as the original while also more atmospheric and powerful too. His love for the original music and creative vision for remake are very clear here. The absence of the vocal theme is disappointing and the untagged 320-encoded MP3s aren’t particularly well-presented. Furthermore, the electronically-oriented approach adopted won’t suit everyone, though there are widely available trailers and music videos for those wanting to sample the score. For just $10, this is still a very worthwhile purchase for most.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on January 22, 2016.