FZ Senki Axis
FZ Senki Axis
May 12, 1990
Buy Used Copy
FZ Senki Axis was an isometric crolling mecha shooter game developed in 1990 for Telenet by Wolf Team for the X68000. It mainly features Motoi Sakuraba in one of his earliest gaming works. It also included some collaborative contributions by the Sergeant Wolf Band, comprised of Motoi Sakuraba, Yasunori Shiono, and Masaaki Shiono. This album features both the original sound version as well as a few arranged pieces by Hidehiko Enomoto.
As can be expected, many of the pieces composed by Motoi Sakuraba retain a progressive rock element. Pieces like “Danger Zone,” “City Gate,” and “Caution” all feature a very similar drum pattern with only the melody that differentiates between then. They are quite catchy, though. Even then, if you listen to those three in succession as they appear on the soundtrack, you might have a hard time discerning them from one another. Fortunately, there are a few standout pieces from Sakuraba. For example, “Trouble Maker” focuses on interesting rhythms in both the percussion and melody that sound different from other pieces on the album. It’s quite the catchy piece and has a bit of chaos instilled within its composition. My favorite Sakuraba composition on the album is definitely “Next War”. It’s the longest piece on the original soundtrack and has an awesome progression. Very militaristic in nature, the piece has a much slower pace than most of Sakuraba’s other contributions to the soundtrack. There does seem to be a hint of heroism in the composition and, at times, it’s bright and chipper.
The other portion of the original soundtrack belongs to Sergeant Wolf Team. Sadly, nothing too much really stands out. “Army’s Song” sounds like it could be part of Sakuraba’s contributions, and even though he is part of Sergeant Wolf Team, I’m not sure how much of an influence he had in some of the pieces. “White Line” and “IPL” are extremely short ditties that really have no musical merit. However, “After the War” is an amazing ending theme. It has a sense of closure about it and is quite mellow. The percussion really adds a lot to the chiptune melody.
The first part of the album, however, belongs to arrangements by Hidehiko Enomoto. The arrangement of “Next War” is a great transformation that turns the militaristic piece into a prog-rock piece. An awesome percussion line with electric guitar and futuristic synth makes this one of my favorite arrangements on the entire album. The next arrangement, “Danger Zone,” manages to mix in some jazzy elements and some Spanish influence into the progressive rock feel. The saxophone is truly a treat in this arrangement. “City Gate ~ Trouble Maker” takes the original “City Gate” piece and turns it into another jazzy arrangement with focus on saxophone and acoustic guitar. In addition, the pace of the entire piece is slowed, in my opinion, for the better. The transition to the “Trouble Maker” portion of the arrangement isn’t very different. The jazz elements are retained; however, the addition of some electric guitar riffs and more of a focus on percussion makes the second half of the arrangement a much more enjoyable listen. “Caution” is another great arrangement. The opening organ gives it a sense of a religious atmosphere. However, the transition from that to the slow rock melody, while retaining the background, is amazing. I also think the contrast between the slow and faster sections makes for an arrangement that really keeps you entertained. Plus it has an awesome guitar solo and you can’t beat that!
Unfortunately, the next arrangement, “Army’s Song ~ Try Your Luck”, is the worst of the bunch. The first portion, “Army’s Song,” is a semi-jazzy arrangement that features strings, piano, and guitar. There are some awesome rhythms to start off the piece that help bring out the melody of the original. However, the transition is where it starts to slip. Unlike the other dual arrangement, the stylistic similarities are essentially abandoned resulting in a string-focused arrangement of “Try Your Luck” that bodes a very ominous tone. They work well separately, but as a whole, it’s a bad arrangement choice. The final arrangement, “After the War,” keeps the pacing of the original intact and transforms it from a peaceful piece into a saxophone-led jazz piece with some percussion and piano accompaniments. It’s a fairly straightforward arrangement, and might be too jazzy for some, but it does boast a pretty awesome saxophone solo.
FZ Senki Axis is a pretty decent album. Most of the arrangements by Hidehiko Enomoto are top notch and really help differentiate a lot of the pieces that sounded similar in their original forms. That brings me to the issue with most of the soundtrack. Many of Sakuraba’s contributions don’t really differentiate from one another and the Sergeant Wolf Team contributions are almost entirely forgettable. The few standout tracks by both are definitely the best of the mix, but the similar tracks aren’t entirely bad either. They definitely pump up the listener. In the end, this is an album that is a mixed bag. The originals are nice, but few are memorable. However, the arrangements for this album are amazing. It might be worth checking out just for those if you are a fan of prog-rock or jazz.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.