Metal Max 2 -ReLoaded- Original Soundtrack
Metal Max 2 -ReLoaded- Original Soundtrack-
December 28, 2011
Buy at Ebten
In 2011, developer Crea-Tech remade the classic SNES Metal Max 2 for the Nintendo DS. Satoshi Kadokura returned to create its soundtrack, combining adaptations of the original game’s score with several new compositions. The Metal Max 2 -ReLoaded- Original Soundtrack features the soundtrack for the remake as well as a bonus disc featuring arrangements of series’ favourites. The album was commercially released through Ebten at the end of 2011. How does it stack up?
The soundtrack for Metal Max 2: ReLoaded is more of a resynthing than a rearrangement of Metal Max 2‘s score. From “Battle” all the way to “Bias Vlad”, most tracks follow the scores of the original game note-for-note. This will be little surprise for long-term followers of the series familiar with Satoshi Kadokura’s tendencies to reuse his old scores whenever possible. But whereas Metal Max Returns largely benefited from its conservative remake soundtrack, the converse applies for Metal Max 2: ReLoaded. The Nintendo DS is a notorious console to work with due to its limited specifications and challenging programming. But while numerous experts have overcome this over the years to create spectacular soundtracks, unfortunately Crea-Tech ended up putting inexperienced people on the job who weren’t up for the challenge. As a result, few tracks are significant improvements on the originals and the majority sound significantly worse…
The astonishing technical problems of the remake’s soundtrack first become evident with “Endless Rain”. The original track provided a spectacular introduction to the game’s scenario with its brooding tone, this one fails to leave impression. The three elements from the original, namely the lead melody, string arpeggiations, and bass line, were perfectly integrated and synthesized on the SNES to create a big sound with very little. In contrast, they are cheaply sampled and mixed on the DS version, resulting in a thin, dull sound. What’s more, due to the bizarre choice of lead instrument, the entire track has a buzzing sound throughout as if it came from the Game Boy Advance. Similar problems continue throughout the soundtrack. Emotional tracks from the original such as “Scrap Town” or “Unforgotten People” now sound like muddy contrived messes here. The harder-edged battle and setting themes are also less impacting than their originals. Due to some especially poor bass synthesis, the once spectacular final dungeon and battle themes “Bias City” and “Bias Vlad” lose a great deal of edge.
The only saving grace for Metal Max 2: ReLoaded‘s soundtrack is that Kadokura did make the effort to produce a few actual arrangements and new compositions. For example, he adds a much-needed melody to the once-monotone “Call” and channels the atmospheric synth work of Metal Max 3 for the dungeon theme. He also provides brings some variety to the gameplay with standard and music box arrangements of “Theme of Love”. Kadokura also places a stronger emphasis on the rock aspect of the series with new compositions “Fierce Battle”, “Freeway to Hell”, and “Red Zone More”. While they bring little new to the franchise as a whole, they do bring Metal Max 2: ReLoaded in line with the latest entries in the series. Kadokura also composed a new theme song for the title featured on the second disc, “Crying Sun”. With ethereal stylings, excellent development, and an performance from Tomoko, it’s not just an improvement on Metal Max 3‘s theme songs but also a solid track in its own right.
The second disc features eleven arranged tracks in addition to the theme song. They feature renditions of highlights from Metal Max 2: ReLoaded and other titles from the series performed by Kadokura’s band. The majority of the tracks focus on rock renditions of the series similar to those featured on the series’ live concert. New compositions such as “Fierce Battle” and “Freeway to Hell” are fully developed here with powerful performances and elaborate solos from the band members. “Red Zone More” will especially appeal to those looking for old-school 80s-styled instrumental rock performances. Whereas the soundtrack arrangement of “Bias Vlad” greatly disappointed, the arrangement here largely enhances the original with thick bass guitars and abstract improvised solos. “Battle with Noah” from the original Metal Max also receives a surprise rendition here.
There’s quite a bit of variety in the other arrangements featured on the second disc. “Unforgotten People” and “7mm Cannon of Tears” shift away from the dramatic sounds of the originals in favour of a gentle classically-inspired arrangements. Both tracks feature some excellent piano performances. “Caterpillar Village”, on the other hand, takes a smooth jazz approach; while pretty generic, the arrangement and performances are both fairly polished. Also effective are the interpretations of the series’ main theme, fan favourite “WANTED!”, and Metal Max 3‘s “Hell is Full”, though the arrangements don’t offer enough to separate themselves from those featured on the Metal Max 3 Original Soundtrack and Metal Max Sound Collections -LxR-. The second disc is completed by the aforementioned theme song as well as a bonus remix of the song. While it is likely to prove divisive, but at least does interesting things with the original material.
It is difficult to recommend this package. A few decent original compositions aside, the Metal Max 2: ReLoaded soundtrack is a stepdown from the SNES soundtrack due to conservative arrangements and poor synthesis. While the arranged tracks and theme songs featured on the second disc are much better, most of them can be heard on the 73-minute live concert recording on the Metal Max Sound Collections instead. Skip this soundtrack in favour of that album and Metal Music Maniax.
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Posted on December 5, 2015 by Chris Greening. Last modified on December 5, 2015.