Dragon Ball Z -The Great Dragon Ball Legend- Game Music
Dragon Ball Z -The Great Dragon Ball Legend- Game Music
Nippon Columbia (1st Edition); Columbia R-Ban (2nd Edition)
August 21, 1996; October 21, 2001
Buy at CDJapan
Dragon Ball Z: The Great Dragon Ball Legend was a unique fighting game released for the PlayStation and the Saturn. It utilized a more open-ended fighting gameplay while focusing on multiple-character battles. Due to the nature of the game, the soundtrack of Legend focused more on event-based themes rather than character-specific ones. The score was composed yet again by Kenji Yamamoto, whose contributions to the Dragon Ball games are numerous and varied. Throughout the years, Yamamoto defined his own style for representing the franchise, combining the unique ethnic and futuristic elements from the anime scores with his own touch of mostly rock and classical music. Arguably, the best depiction of the world of Dragon Ball comes from Yamamoto, completely surpassing the anime in this respect. His compositions are well-constructed, expressive and feature a unique sound. On Legend, he focused on a more atmospheric and ambient approach while still keeping the emphasize on melody. Despite creating some strong pieces, the soundtrack tends to be very repetitive due to the contextual nature of the music. The official release features extended and remastered tracks, even featuring vocal performances by Hironobu Kageyama. Overall, the album focuses on the good points that make Yamamoto’s style unique, but also lacks a lot in substance and development.
Starting the album is the opening theme “Prologue”. The track is a blast of punchy synthpads and various orchestral elements, albeit synthetic. It’s catchy and melodic, inspiring a sense of heroism and adventure, but it’s kinda predictable and doesn’t offer anything special with its one minute playtime. On the other hand, the next track “Sign ~ Omen (Vocal Version)” is quite excellent with its atmospheric synth melodies, chorus, and interesting percussive elements that mix acoustic and electronic sounds together. On top of it, there’s an interesting vocal performance from Kageyama. In my opinion, the nature of the theme made for a better instrumental track (as heard in the game), but still this vocal arrangement is quite good and interesting to listen.
A good portion of the album is dominated by “medley” tracks. That term is slightly underestimated here, since these tracks are just a mix of specific themes of the same category into one track, offering no real interesting flow or seemly integration. They are just a bunch of tracks that might as well have been individually assigned to the track list. Nevertheless, some of these are actually pretty good. “Theme of Assault” is full of distorted synth guitars, tribal-like percussion, synth melodies, and, at parts, even some cool organ motifs. All of the imbedded themes are short, but serve their purpose well in context, and some are actually pretty cool and unique. Unfortunately, being presented in this way, they are quite chaotic to listen and might turn many people off. Similarly, “Fear” offers a medley of various themes from the game that were used to build tension or anticipation before and after the many battles. Most of the themes presented in this track aren’t terribly interesting, and don’t offer much to the listener outside of the game, unfortunately.
“Theme of Mortification” is a much more deviant version of “Theme of Assault” and shares many common elements, but is much more repetitive and dull. The last medley track “Restoration” is much more interesting than the other variants, since there are only two themes mixed this time. The distorted synthetic guitars are heavily used, and the rhythmic elements are what drive most of the music. This stands true for both themes. They are pretty repetitive and serve mostly to drive the action in-game, but don’t offer much outside of it.
Without a doubt, the two “Powerful Arrange” tracks are some of the best in this album. They are much more developed, and unlike the medley tracks that offer only minor synth boost and remastering from the original game versions, these two tracks offer quite a punch with their substantial improvement and inclusion of real electric guitars. “Crisis” is a fantastic action theme that builds a lot of tension with its synth melodies, but features a cool rhythmic drive of guitars along with the unique percussive elements of Yamamoto. “Exhilarating” shares many common elements, but it builds anticipation for the final battle, and the guitars are much more prominent, focusing on melody rather than rhythm. Both tracks feature some cool and intricate solos, but they seem to add more to the fun factor and aren’t terribly necessary, particularly in “Crisis”.
Perhaps, the weirdest track of all is “Black Fire (Vocal Version)”. The theme is totally focused in percussive elements, with some pretty catchy but thin synth sounds. Quiet and muffled male vocals are mixed in, offering a strangely addictive and enjoyable song, which is pretty surprising since the individual elements are very average. Quite an interesting listen, but it’s definitely very experimental and not for all. The last vocal track closes the album, and Hironobu Kageyama once again offers a great performance. The song is lively and catchy, and it’s typical Dragon Ball fare in style and execution, so fans are really going to enjoy it.
Dragon Ball Z: The Great Dragon Ball Legend Game Music is a pretty cool album. Kenji Yamamoto creates his unique “Wall of Sound” that characterizes all his Dragon Ball game scores prior to the Budokai series. His style is pretty defined in this album, but unfortunately it lacks melody and strong structure. Most tracks rely too much on percussion, and while they are good in-game, they fall flat on a stand-alone listen. The length of the album also leaves a lot to be desired since it features only ten tracks with only a small number great themes. Still, nothing is truly spectacular here, even the best parts. It’s not a bad game music album, and there is still cool stuff to be found here, but it’s not a very recommended purchase due to its lack of content. In the end, if you enjoyed the music when playing the game, then there is no reason not to recommend this album. Otherwise, most other game music enthusiasts aren’t missing that much.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by George Capi. Last modified on August 1, 2012.