Custom Robo Music Theater
Custom Robo Music Theater
March 17, 2001
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Shortly after graduating from Street Fighter EX developer Arika, Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, and Yasuhisa Watanabe were soon selected to compose the music for another fighting game series — Custom Robo. They complemented the action-packed battles and endearing scenario of the original Nintendo 64 game with poppy music, rather dissimilar to their earlier efforts. Joined by Yosuke Yasui, they also returned for the more elaborate second instalment, Custom Robo V2. Both soundtracks were packaged together into a two disc set in 2001 for consumers to behold. Let’s take a closer look…
The first 29 tracks on the album are dedicated to the music of Custom Robo. Right from the outset, it’s clear that Custom Robo is a much more light-hearted score from Shinji Hosoe and co. The name entry theme retains the electronic emphasis of so many of Shinji Hosoe’s works, but it’s not serious or experimental; instead it’s just a simple and repetitive series of bouncy beats. Subsequent themes such as “Good Morning”, “Today Too, Let’s Go and See!”, and “Yurie Love” have more in common with one would expect from a generic RPG or dating simulator with their light-hearted melodies and simple poppy backings; nevertheless, they work surprisingly well to introduce a fighting game with quite an elaborate backstory and become rather likeable with repeated listens. And where necessary, the team don’t hesitate to create highly thematic tracks too, such as “Fukashi’s Theme” or “Shippu Robo Kichi”, that wouldn’t sound out-of-place as anime theme tunes.
With an impressive 97 tracks, this album still displays considerably diversity despite its light-hearted emphasis. Co-composer Ayako Saso, especially, does a good job of adding some much-needed grit and darkness to the soundtrack in tracks such as “Secret Meeting” and “Main Battle Start”. Thankfully, she still maintains suitably light-hearted instrumentation and undertones throughout, which is ideal for the scenario. The team’s lyricism also comes out in plenty of other surprising places too, such as “Pursuit” and “Dark Battle”, demonstrating there is always some enjoyable melody to listen to in the game. The final dungeon theme “Infiltration” is one of the few genuinely deep tracks on the soundtrack, developing from its beautifully synthesised violin into a motivating yet bittersweet anthem. Yasuhisa Watanabe also makes a big impact at the conclusion of the soundtrack with the “Decisive Battle” and “Grand Finale” themes, leading things off on a bold yet elating note.
Much of the rest of the album is dedicated to the music of Custom Robo V2. While the team preserve a similar style to Custom Robo, they seem more confident with the poppy style required and are better equipped with the technology available too. This results in tracks such as “My Name?”, “Robo Station”, and “V Commander Aim”, that are both more memorable and developed than their counterparts. The soundtrack also features several very obvious highlights, aside the closing tracks. Yosuke Yasui’s “Takuma Coaching School Travelling” seems to capture all the poppy anime-styled flair of the series during its extended playtime. Yasuhisa Watanabe’s “Long Long Time Ago” and Shinji Hosoe’s “Infiltration into the Five-Storied Pagoda” introduce some more impressive ambient soundscaping to the experience. Finally, “Ghost Robo Seumu” and “Yurie, with Abominable Thoughts” meanwhile add some genuine emotion to the soundtrack, despite remaining faithful to the electronic emphasis.
The album concludes with the various battle tracks for the games. Those expecting these tracks to be the main highlights will be very disappointed; they’re nowhere near as expansive or experimental as the team’s Street Fighter EX stage themes, but rather just as superficial as the rest of the Custom Robo soundtracks. The majority of the tracks are candypop, such as “Custom Battle” and “Ichigo Cream Great Battles”, whereas others are a little darker like “A Formidable Enemy”. Most have decent melodies and compelling rhythms, though they’re not particularly elaborate or catchy. Only a few tracks such as “Dark Lord” and “Goliath Stage” have that special factor to really stand out and be worth repeated listeners outside the game and even these could be better. Indeed, the battle tracks are surprisingly not the primary highlight of the album and rather the scenario themes preceding them are.
The Custom Robo Music Theater will be a fairly unremarkable experience for most consumers. While most of the music is effective at complementing the light-hearted game, only a few tracks among the 97 stand out as especially memorable or special. Nevertheless, those who have played the game may find it quite an enjoyable experience to revisit the music. In addition, fans of Shinji Hosoe and friends may find this soundtrack intriguing, if only because it reflects a totally different side to the team’s musicality with its light and poppy focus.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.