Omega Five Original Soundtrack
Omega Five Original Soundtrack
March 19, 2008
Buy Used Copy
Omega Five was a unique side-scrolling shmup released via Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. Composed by Hiroyuki Iwatsuki, a veteran composer for Natsume who has worked on games such as Chaos World, it’s his first original title in many years. Originally, it wasn’t going to get a soundtrack release, but thanks to the help of Manabu Namiki and SuperSweep, eventually a soundtrack was released. Although the soundtrack is rather short, given it’s a short game, there are quite a few things to look forward to on the album. In addition to the original soundtrack, there is also a retro version of the soundtrack, one that emulates the arcade cabinets of old, and an arranged version of the soundtrack, by veteran members of Supersweep, Hiroto Saitoh, and Hiroyuki Iwatsuki. This review will only focus on the original and arranged versions.
The first stage, “The Glacial Fortress,” features one of my favorite rhythms and melodies on the entire soundtrack. It’s got a slightly industrial sound to it, that isn’t too grating (not that I’d care), but the melody gives it a nice adventurous sound. “The Escalated Invasion” meanwhile starts off much more subtly, with twinkling synth that continues throughout the intro. The piece itself is a nice mix of rock and futuristic synth. However, some of the surprises definitely include some jazz influences, mainly in the addition of some staccato piano chords. The next stage theme, “The Place to Rebirth,” is one of the more bubbly themes on the game. It features some interesting sound effects, such as something that sounds like water dripping, but the overall tone and pace of the melody is bouncy, engaging music. While the A section relies a lot on frenetic passages, the B section slows things down a bit, and seems to focus more on a more subtle melody. It’s never too slow though.
The last stage theme, “The Warrior Factory,” features a heroic, futuristic sound, reminding me of a lot of the older shmup soundtracks. It’s a fast paced ride, very reminiscent of the 80’s. There are some great passages, throughout this varied piece, and I think how each one uses a different synth turns it into a much more engaging sound. The title music, “Planet of Hope,” features a militaristic and spacey soundscape that caters to creating a bit of suspense. It’s not a very strong theme, but when are title themes really that strong? The credits theme, “Road to the Future,” is an upbeat theme featuring a strong futuristic melody; however, the best part of the track has to be the underlying beat. It’s energetic and really helps to set the pace. The game itself only features four stages and a single boss theme, but each one offers something totally different. The boss theme “Violent Guardian” is definitely fitting of the shmup genre. It features a nice pulsating rhythm and a fantastic melody that features a wide variety of synth sounds. However, the true strengths definitely lie in the stage themes.
The arrangements of said themes are also quite fantastic. SuperSweep’s Yosuke Yasui arranges “The Glacial Fortress” and really emphasizes the rhythm that made the original so great. It’s much more distinct this time around. In addition, the various synth solos thrown throughout really make it stand out above the original. It’s probably my favorite arrangement. Shinji Hosoe tackles “The Escalated Invasion” and really gives it a jazzier sound but still keeping the synth roots intact. The synth keyboard solo in this one is fantastic as well and overall, the atmosphere of the original just seems to be heightened. Ayako Saso’s arrangement of “The Place to Rebirth” is another wonderful addition. It definitely slows the pace down considerably from the original while throwing in some rock with some nice electric guitar passages, but the true gem of this arrangement is the addition of a beautiful jazz piano solo.
The last Supersweep member to arrange something is Takanori Sato and he arranges the boss theme “Violent Guardian”. This is a much more upbeat, industrial sound compared to the original. The pulsating rhythm really makes the arrangement more akin to frenetic boss themes, but there is some suspenseful synth and some brass accents thrown in to give it a bit of variety. It’s definitely a varied ride! Another favorite of mine, Hiroto Saitoh, arranges “The Warrior Factory”. While there isn’t much of a difference between this and the original in terms of variation, it does manage to accentuate the heroic nature of the original source. Hiroyuki Iwatsuki arranges “Road to the Future”; however, this is a bit misleading, as he does manage to incorporate “Planet of Hope” as well. Although Iwatsuki has expressed some disappointment with this arrangement in hindsight, saying that it could have used more variation. That said, I still think it’s a pretty good piece. It’s got a nice rhythm, manages to incorporate “Planet of Hope” without making it sound like a medley, and provides a fun time overall.
The Omega Five Original Soundtrack holds a lot, despite the brevity of the game. You’ll get the original soundtrack, a retro version of said soundtrack, and an arranged version of the soundtrack in one little package. Good thing it’s not too expensive either! It packs a punch, but electronica is definitely a select taste, so those put off by it should probably avoid it. That said, if you’re a fan of Natsume or SuperSweep, I think you’ll find this right up your alley.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.