Dragon Ball Z -Super Butouden 2-
Dragon Ball Z -Super Butouden 2-
Forte Music Entertainment
December 21, 1993
Buy Used Copy
Dragon Ball Z: Super Butouden 2 is the sequel to the Dragon Ball fighting game released for the SNES. Much like its predecessor, the music in-game sounds very poor due to the limited hardware that makes the compositions harder to stand. Even though there might be good music in here, it’s difficult to truly appreciate due to the limitations. Following the trend of the pre 64-bit console era DB games, Super Butouden 2 received a commercial album release that featured arrangements of music from the game. While the first Super Butouden album was inconsistent and lacked depth, it nevertheless introduced some interesting ideas, making for quite an entertaining (if difficult to approach) experimental pop album that featured elements of rock, jazz and techno. Super Butouden 2 considerably improves over the first album’s strengths, re-introducing many of the neat ideas previously found, polishing them, and adding even more variety to the mix. In fact, this is were Kenji Yamamoto started to implement more elements from the music of the anime due to his work with DB prior to Super Butouden 2. Not only Yamamoto was able to keep a lot of that DB feel that the anime had, but it also created a musical identity of its own, laying the foundation for future Dragon Ball game soundtracks.
While Super Butouden was mostly about groove, Super Butouden 2 has a much bigger melodic emphasize, whether it’s on rhythmic tracks or moving orchestral themes. In fact, the orchestral elements are the dominant force of the album this time around, and are found in abundance throughout the playtime. For example, “Suite 1” is an impressive cinematic theme that combines militaristic elements, soothing classical piano elements, and dramatic string sections. What’s so beautiful about this track is that it keeps at parts the DB sound but at the same time stands out totally on its own with its beautiful Asian motifs mixed with militaristic, cinematic elements. Even more impressively, the second suite closing the album is a grand orchestral anthem that sounds like it’s from an epic action movie. Clocking at around nine minutes, it starts with horns and strings playing heroic action motifs, some of which were very awe-inspiring. It later shifts into a quieter theme that slowly turns from soothing to emotionally moving, and then gradually builds to its climaxing ending. Simply put, it’s an incredible track that deserves to be listened, especially by film score buffs.
“Zangya’s Theme” emulates orchestral scores, but this time the music sounds more quirky and relaxing, appropriate for a typical anime scene before “the storm”. There is enough development in the arrangement to offer enjoyment through each consecutive listen despite its mostly predictable formula. Similarly, “Bojack’s Theme” also focuses on orchestral music, but it draws a lot of inspiration from various forms of classical music. Certain parts sound like a romantic waltz, while others are much more dramatic. Despite the slightly awkward sound quality, these tracks are good, but not groundbreaking.
Even more impressively, “Gohan’s Theme” might be one of the best piano pieces in game music that you might have never heard of. It’s a tragic underdog of game music — among the best of the many unknown and underappreciated compositions from countless games,. Yamamoto approached Gohan’s theme in a different perspective unlike the other character themes of the game. He composed a piano sonata to complement the dramatic and tragic moment of Gohan’s transformation in the series. Simply put, the composition is very memorable and emotionally involving and the arrangement follows more of an Avant-Garde style. The theme is complex but not overwhelming, offering quite a lot to experience in its eight minute playtime. While I feel that certain parts could have been better, ensuring that the track is far from perfect, the arrangement is still very beautiful, emotionally moving, and also relaxing despite its dramatic undertones. Further incarnations of this piece would improve in certain aspects, but this one still remains a delight to listen nevertheless.
The remaining arrangements follow a completely different and much more experimental approach. The “Opening Theme” is a cool mix of synth-pad melodies, surf rock guitars, and some improvised orchestral elements later on. The track is pretty catchy and has a very DB-ish feel to it. “Trunks’ Theme” is quite a mixed bag. It has a very aristocratic intro with some Baroque-inspired chords, later blasting with the main melodies and turning into a synth-pop track. The synth here is not particularly good and the generic nature of the theme leaves to be desired. On the other had, “Vegeta’s Theme” offers an amazing and unique mix of styles. Fusing funky percussion and keyboard layers in conjunction with grungy guitars, the theme has an addictive groove and a memorable but bittersweet melody played with the guitars. The main motifs are fitting for an anti-hero like Vegeta, but all the other fun and catchy elements make for quite a contrasting yet enjoyable track.
“Cell’s Theme” might be the best of the bunch, as it masterfully combines unconventional styles and instruments to create something truly unique. It starts with ominous string motifs and a repetitive techno beat, followed by some interesting synth melodies. The various synth and keyboard elements create an addictive wall of sound that is abrasive but very enjoyable. Perhaps, the best touch to this atmospheric arrangement, are the jazzy sax solos that are implemented during the progress of the theme. Truly a delight! The track can be best described as an experimental pop/jazz hybrid and I absolutely recommend listening to it if you crave for unique fusions in music.
Overall, Dragon Ball Z: Super Butouden 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor. While SP1 lacked depth, SP2 has more than enough to offer with its abundance of melodic flair and interesting mixes of styles and instruments. Despite its slightly unconventional approach and the lack of coherency of the album as a whole, since there is a mix of cinematic orchestral themes and various experimental synth tracks, it nevertheless ends up being quite an enjoyable ride. It doesn’t hurt that the Dragon Ball feel is present in the music, but Kenji Yamamoto manages to create something really unique that has an identity of its own and lays the foundation for some of his best contributions in the future. Ultimately, Dragon Ball Z: Super Butouden 2 is a very enjoyable game music album that most fans of the genres should digest without a problem.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by George Capi. Last modified on August 1, 2012.