Psyvariar Original Soundtrack
Psyvariar Original Soundtrack
January 29, 2001
Buy Used Copy
Psyvariar is an acclaimed space shooter developed by Success for the Arcade and PlayStation 2. A team of four composers crafted an electronic score for the title, namely Tetsuro Sato (aka WASi303), Misako Tago (aka Misako ADJUMY Sekiguchi), Kazumine Tsushima (aka MR2151), and Takashi Egawano (aka ORE808). The resultant score seemed to complement the beautiful visuals of the game while reflecting the intensity of the action. The Psyvariar Original Soundtrack mainly commemorates the revised version of the score for the second version of the game, but a medley of the first version of the score and a few other bonuses are present at the end. Let’s take a closer inspection…
Tetsuro Sato instantly establishes the tone of the game with the brief opening theme. Blending soft piano melodies with warm trance beats, it is a good if derivative way to reflect the more uplifting and ethereal imagery of the series compared to other shooters. It isn’t until the “Weakboson” theme 19 tracks in that the opening theme is elaborated upon, but it’s worth the wait and certainly provides an emotional anthem for the game. Nevertheless, there are other melodically captivating additions to the soundtrack, such as the first stage theme “Forest”. This track is a little more reminiscent of the tracks in the Cotton and Mushihimesama series with its peppy vibes, though the intense development sections still reflects that danger lies ahead.
Indeed, it’s with the stage themes that the team really shine on the soundtrack and each is a little different. “Forest” and “Desert” both create exotic vibes by blending traditional instruments, irregular beats, and ethereal piano use. However, Misako Tago also carefully individualises them so they’re fitting for the visuals. Meanwhile “Valley”, “Volcano”, and “Factory” create a more intimidating feel with their industrial influences and uncompassionate chord progressions. These tracks complement the visuals wonderfully, yet also ensure that the game intensifies with each successive stage, as all shooters should. That said, there is still plenty of room for more soothing compositions. Later in the soundtrack, “Asteroid”, “Cloudbank”, and “Zero” recount the ‘piano + beats’ concept of the image tracks as gamers journey into space. Although the piano work is a little amateur, the combined effect is just delightful.
The team reserve the most hard-edged contributions to the soundtrack for specific circumstances. For example, the select theme captures the pressure ahead with its psychadelic trance focus, while the first boss theme has an aggressive and thrashing feel with its blend of hard beats and rock influences. More surprising is the second boss theme, which sounds almost soft and introspective, yet is almost psychologically affecting with its repeating beats and epic melodies. As the soundtrack moves to the climax, the team incoporates increasing dissonance and crisis motifs into “Graviton” and “Gluon”, testifying the uncertain fate of the player. Takashi Egawano’s “Last Boss” theme is almost anticlimactic after some of these themes, yet it still reflects what’s at stake and nicely brings together the beat-focused and melody-focused elements of the soundtrack. After the ending theme seems to resolve the drama effectively, the name entry theme provides something even more subdued and reminiscent of the minimalist electronica of Mitsuto Suzuki.
Fortunately, that’s not all as the soundtrack also offers three bonus tracks. “Psyvariar Classix From Medium Unit” is actually the original score for the first version of the game presented as a simple 14 minute melody. It’s not as extensive or elaborate as the score for the revision mode, but still quite enjoyable and atmospheric. It’s good that those who played both versions of the game are able to hear the slightly different scores. “Weakboson (4AM bootleg mix)” is, of course, a remix of the main theme for the game. It retains the piano-based melody of the original, but includes more decorative piano arpeggiations, elating beats, and even dabs of orchestration. While some parts are a little naive and superficial, the various introspective interludes and nostalgic conclusion ensure it is satisfying overall. The ending theme is also given an extended arrangement. It’s gorgeously arranged for piano and strings to emphasise the heartfelt melodies and intended nuances of the relatively incidental original.
Overall, the Psyvariar Original Soundtrack is a well-produced shooter score. The distinct blend of piano and electronic beats is effective in capturing the imagery of the overall game, but each piece is also individualised so that they vividly complement their specific in-game context and achieve the appropriate level of pace and drama. That said, a lot of the score is built around a somewhat generic formula and some pieces do sound quite amateurish, so this album doesn’t quite rank alongside the Psyvariar 2 Original Soundtrack Plus or Psyvariar The Mix in terms of creativity. However, this soundtrack still offers lots of great melodies, emotional moments, and bonuses, so is worth seriously considering.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.