Last Hope Original Videogame Soundtrack
Last Hope Original Videogame Soundtrack
Red Spot Games
February 2, 2007
Buy Used Copy
Last Hope is a retro-influenced space shooter released by European developer NG:DEV.TEAM for the Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, and Dreamcast. Composed by Rafael Dyll, this was the score that paved the way for his entry into game music composition as a full time career. The soundtrack was originally released with the limited edition of the Dreamcast game, though an enhanced complete soundtrack has since been made available. This review focuses on the original soundtrack.
Before touching upon the new arrangements, let’s get a nice foundation planted for the originals. The original soundtrack itself is, by most standards, rather small. The original soundtrack opens with “Title,” an atmospheric theme featuring some ominous synth, industrial percussion, and a variety of vocal samples. The overall soundscape is definitely a futuristic one, with some wonderful trance hits in the melody line and some beautiful strings harmony. It really reminds me of Dyll’s work for the Sˆödner-X series, in terms of progression. “Game Over,” on the other hand, gives off an extreme feeling of desperation. While I associate most game over themes with sadness, Dyll’s theme really gives me a feeling of impending doom, yet at the same time, a sense of pushing forward to try to vanquish evil once again. The combination of piano, strings, and synthesizer works well to this effect.
One of the more substantial themes, “Dark Fear,” also carries over the ominous tone first observed in “Title”. Eerie synthesizer and futuristic electronic accompaniment with a sinister beat is featured early on in the mix; however, as the theme progresses in its eight minute length, it definitely becomes a bit more futuristic and heroic in soundscape, while retaining a hint of tension, particularly in the accompaniment. Most impressive, in my opinion, is how, despite its length, Dyll manages to keep the listener actively conscious of the music through its variety. At times, you’ll hear some upbeat electronic and jazzy piano sections that really contrast nicely with the established sound of the theme. It’s a stunning theme and easily one of the best things I’ve heard Dyll compose.
“Dark Seed,” another lengthy theme, is an impressive listen. Opening with some wind sound effects and some crystalline piano leads, it quickly establishes itself as a trance theme with an exquisite melody. The futuristic, slightly industrial, accompaniment goes extremely well with the inviting piano. At times, I feel that the accompaniment can become a bit avant-garde at times, which, mind you, isn’t a bad thing. It serves as a wonderful contrast to the more traditional accompaniments heard on the soundtrack. While it’s not as varied as “Dark Fear,” it does manage to keep the listener’s attention through its stunning development. However, the remastered version and arrangements featured on the complete soundtrack are superior.
“Bossfight” is an energetic ride that, compared to other boss themes for shmups, sounds more like a stage theme. However, it’s an extremely accomplished and well developed theme nevertheless. Vigorous, heroic tones are created throughout, particularly through the use of the piano, with its ethereal and crystalline nature, and the extremely well-crafted layering of electronica to serve as a fitting accompaniment. The synthesizer and piano, however, play a dual role in this composition for they are also used to simulate tension. Of course, there are some shorter themes as well that focus more on atmosphere than melody. “Creepy Waters, Melting Spirits” definitely brings the atmosphere, through its use of haunting choral accents, sinister electronic harmonies, and foreboding, deep piano notes alongside some more cheerful, lighter notes. However, those who don’t appreciate more atmospheric approaches may wane a bit of interest in this one. “Burning Sun,” on the other hand, is a powerful industrial theme that also utilizes haunting choral samples and sinister synthesizer work; however, it lacks a strong focused melody, which may put some listeners off.
“The End” is one of the more unique themes on the soundtrack. As with the other themes, it focuses more on atmosphere, which may turn some listeners away. At the same time, I find it to be very creative, particularly in the accompaniment. The deep piano notes and synthesizer work well together to accentuate a tense situation, although it’s not as tense as some other themes. The ending theme, “Freedom,” opens with the sound of heavy rain and some thunder, before moving into an extremely beautiful piano melody that has a very new age sound to it. It’s an intriguing piece that flows quite well. The cascading piano in the introduction combined with the intriguing rhythm in the industrial percussion set the stage for the more lush components of the theme, which include some orchestral and choral harmonies layered with a very modern sounding piano lead. As the theme progresses, a more electronic atmosphere is thrown in, with heavy industrial beats, summarizing the overall soundscape of the game. In the end, it’s a stunning way to end the soundtrack.
For fans of Rafael Dyll’s work on the Söldner-X series, I highly suggest listening to Last Hope. While not as refined as his later works, it does showcase Dyll’s innate talent as an electronic artist. Though the more atmospheric tracks definitely fit within the confines of the game, on a stand-alone listen, they may get lost among the more substantial and melodic themes. However, it is better to experience the Last Hope Complete Soundtrack instead of this release, since it is more readily available, features remastered sound, and a bunch of bonus arrangements.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 16, 2016.