Dragon Ball Z Gaiden -Plan to Eliminate the Saiyans-
Dragon Ball Z Gaiden -Plan to Eliminate the Saiyans-
Forte Music Entertainment
October 21, 1993
Buy Used Copy
If there is a franchise with the most overused license in existence, Dragon Ball is quite close at achieving that title. Despite numerous video game adaptions that range from fighting to RPG-hybrids, almost all DB games stay pretty faithful to manga and television show. One unique element constant among these entries is certainly the music. The anime shows had quite unconventional scores that, despite sounding weird sometimes, were memorable and entertaining. The various game scores stay faithful to the style and nature of the anime scores, but manage to add enough to stand on their own. Such is the case of Dragon Ball Z Gaiden. Released for the NES in 1993, this game featured a RPG-style gameplay and DB-stylized musical motifs which were limited in their chiptune form. The commercial release of the soundtrack featured arranged tunes done in a style more reminiscent of the music heard in the anime. This marks quite an original and unique entry in the franchise, since most other DB games came out after the 8-bit consoles and were less technologically limited.
The style of this album can be best described as late 80’s synth-pop along with the aforementioned Dragon Ball feel. Despite my skepticism towards old game soundtracks featuring this kind of musical style (and as a result sounding cheesy or bland), the opening track surprised me and became more enjoyable with each consecutive listen. Featuring fast and upbeat synth-pad riffs and various electronic sounds, the track might sound pretty typical at first given its anime/manga inspirational roots, but the further developments with beautiful female chants and exquisite electric guitar solos make this track very memorable. It’s a strong opener that sticks in your head for a while and manages to be a decent introductory track that pumps things up.
Most other tracks retain the upbeat nature of the opening main theme. “Search for Destron Gas” is a fun and quirky track that, despite it’s cheesiness is quite enjoyable and memorable. In the same veins, “Pacify a Storm” is also quite entertaining with its fast, funky, and exotic percussion, but the various synth melodies and techno sound effects can easily get in your nerves sometimes. Still, there’s a catchy and exotic piano that makes up for all that. In the end, despite their flaws, these tracks are pretty fun to listen.
Despite its name, “Grand Battle” sounds like the instrumental to a cheesy hip-pop song. Think Snap’s hit single “I Gotta Power” but in an irritating form. To its credit it does have a catchy piano line and tasty guitar solos, but the overall repetitiveness and blandness of the whole track can’t be ignored. “The Earth Field” has a very voyeuristic feel to it, inspiring visions of adventuring and traveling in the vast and colorful landscapes of Dragon Ball’s world. Despite starting ominously and managing to build tension, it soon blasts with upbeat rythms and some really catchy melodies. But in my opinion, the icing on the cake comes when the tasty guitar licks kick in, offering quite a punch full of blazing solos. Quite frankly, these solos make the rest of the track almost forgettable despite it being good.
Speaking of the electric guitars, it’s when they are introduced that the music truly becomes energetic and alive. I guess that the synthetic and dated sound is no match for the authentic guitars that, despite their 80’s feel, are capable of standing the test of time rather well. Rest assured that, the synth used in this album is still quite good and the music is fast-paced and energetic despite its slight cheesiness and overly-upbeat vibe. All this stands true for “A Skirmish”, which is full of blazing guitar solos and catchy synth-pads, making it without a doubt one of the most badass and entertaining tracks on the album.
“Four Emperors” is quite eerie, taking a slower approach with its ominous chants and later, terrifying organ melodies. It really stands out since until you hear it, everything else on the album is pretty upbeat, while this is… something else entirely. It manages to sound like the theme of the harbinger of chaos, but unfortunately the synth really shows its flaws in later parts and lower the track’s impact. On the other hand, “Polluted Town” sounds like the opposite with its calm opening, full of female chants and synth that inspire hope and as well give a very futuristic, sci-fi vibe to the track. And when you least expect it, the track actually shifts into futuristic, sci-fi synth-pop theme, and while it has an interesting start, the rest I relatively generic, but not necessarily bad.
While many common elements are shared throughout the album, almost all of the tracks have something cool to offer on the table. Most of them feature a heavy use of synth, keyboards and other electronic sounds in conjunction with some terrific electric guitar work. The latter, despite being used sparsely, is very effective and well-executed, giving to some tracks a much cooler attitude and a very youthful vibe. Also, it’s clearly obvious from where the music of this album came from, since you can almost feel that certain NES vibe in the melodies, something that further makes this album somewhat rich. Still, despite all the positives, not everyone will be able to stand this album, since some sounds can get easily on your nerves, and most tracks still feel quite cheesy and are too much repetitive. Also, for a modern audience, the dated audio technology is still very noticeable and hardly ignorable, making this album enjoyable mostly to those who have a appreciation for old synth in video game soundtracks.
Ultimately, this album surprised me, since I had quite low expectations in the beginning. The melodies are catchy and the Dragon Ball feel isn’t lost throughout the album. Nevertheless, it still manages to sound unique, managing to please both the fans of the anime scores and also those who appreciate good game music. Also, the 80’s arena rock-inspired guitar work is terrific, and the album might have been worth it only for this element if it wasn’t for its random implementation. Overall, if you enjoy this kind of music and can ignore some of its flaws, this is a pretty entertaining album, whether you consider it Dragon Ball music or just a plain good old game soundtrack.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by George Capi. Last modified on August 1, 2012.