Ridge Racer 20th Anniversary Remix
Ridge Racer 20th Anniversary Remix
May 23, 2014
Buy at CD Japan
Namco’s Ridge Racer series as had quite a history. Debuting in 1993 for the arcade, it was the start of an era that spans seven main titles and a plethora of spin-offs for a variety of gaming consoles and handheld devices over the years. For the 20th anniversary of the series, Supersweep has released the Ridge Racer 20th Anniversary Remix, featuring remixed music throughout the series’ musical history by the artists who contributed to the bulk of the series themselves, such as the original composers, Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, and Nobuyoshi Sano, for the series as well as newcomers, such as Taku Inoue, alike. Does the album do the series’ rich musical history justice?
The album opens up with “Tsui Tsui The 20TH Anniv. Mix [2014Mix~Straight Mix],” a tune from Ridge Racer V, remixed by the original composer Yuu Miyake and it is a great starting point for the album. The opening features strings and vocal samples that really help build a great introduction. From there, it takes on a dubstep influenced approach with its slower tempo and wobbles before transforming into a piece that is more reminiscent of the original, albeit with modernized synthesizer tones. In addition, he also includes some of his dissonant sounds that were featured on “Future Driven” from the Ridge Racer Vita game. Hiroshi Okubo’s “Disco Ball [RR 20th Anniv. Mix],” from the Playstation Portable title, Ridge Racer, retains the disco flavor of the original; however, he also adds a hardcore beat to it that gives it bit more of an edge and the updated synth really helps give it a modern sound and a bit more of a dance vibe as well.
AJURIKA (Akitaka Tohyama), rather than remixing one of his own contributions to the series, interprets Ayako Saso’s classic “Drive U2 Dancing” from Ridge Racer 2 into a driving psytrance tune with extreme intensity. However, he still keeps that classic rave sound heard in the original, showcasing how the music of Ridge Racer has evolved over the years. The first half of the tune is definitely adheres close to the original; however, I feel that that track truly shines in the second half, when AJURIKA takes on a more interpretative approach where the classic rave style, although present, is definitely subdued due to the heavy psytrance atmosphere. Speaking of Ayako Saso, she tackles her own “Euphoria” from the arcade title Rave Racer. She keeps the same rave style of the original with modernized synthesizer and heavier beats. In addition, she also adds vocal samples, both robotic as well as sung, into the mix that really fit quite well with the source material and give it more of a 90’s dance vibe to it. For those who follow her Nanosweep contributions, it is reminiscent of some of her more recent contributions to that series, such as “Now I Just Wait” and “Patchwork,” in how she incorporates the vocals.
Kohta Takahashi’s “Move Me [RR 20th Anniv. Mix]” updates his original composition from Ridge Racer Type 4 for a more modernized approach. The drum n’ bass element, which was present in the original, definitely is a stronger focus this time around. There is also a strong focus on a more subtle soundscape in the melody; however, there are times where the original flavor of the piece is showcased. Nobuyoshi Sano’s remix of “Grip,” seems to be based on the Playstation Portable title, Ridge Racer, although it was originally featured in Ridge Racers 2. The remix takes on a drum n’ bass approach that complements the original melody quite nicely; however, the true surprise comes during the middle of the track with a serene choir interpretation of the melody. As the remix progresses, this element is still featured but with the additional accompaniment heard previously in the remix.
Takayuki Aihara’s “Quiet Curves [J99 Remix]” is his interpretation of the Asuka Sakai and Hiroshi Okubo classic from Ridge Racer Type 4 and for the most part, it keeps the flavor of the original intact. The jazzy electronic atmosphere is still a prominent aspect of the remix; however, Aihara slowed the tempo down compared to the original and also incorporates a nice piano solo into the mix as well. In my opinion, I think this brings out the jazz elements a bit more making for a stronger piece. Tetsukazu Nakanishi’s interpretation of “Volcano Vehicle” from Rage Racer doesn’t really deviate too much from the original, with some added melody towards the end of the remix. The sound is definitely crisper and the synthesizer has been upgraded. It’s an enjoyable listen, for sure, but one of the weaker efforts on the album, I feel.
Ryo Watanabe’s “Sliding Beat [RR 20th Anniv. Mix],” is a far cry from the original Ridge Racer Vita version. Rather than continue with the fast tempo, Watanabe reduces the tempo and gives it a bit more of disco flair, akin to many of his Nanosweep contributions. There are some really slick sections, particularly in the keyboard sections, that really stand out. He doesn’t reinvent his style, but I think he definitely transformed the original into something that is, to me, more varied and enjoyable. It’s only fitting that Shinji Hosoe returns to the one song that he is probably most known for in the Ridge Racer series, “Rotterdam Nation,” from the original game in the series. Whereas the original was definitely an intense listen, both in terms of style and tempo, his remix retains all the elements of the original, from the gabber style vocals to the hardcore beats. What I like is that he incorporates both the heavier sections with slower sections to give the song an interesting dichotomy. The chaos of the piece definitely increases as the track progresses culminating into an ever increasing speed until it stops.
Taku Inoue’s remix of “Planet,” one of his newer pieces for the series, is based off the original trailer music which featured Aimee Blackschleger on vocals. The remix definitely retains the flavor of the original, but the end result is something that is much more complex, with plenty of layers that really help build a strong remix. It certainly sounds like a busy piece, but at the same time, it isn’t overly so. It is definitely one of the stronger remixes on the album. The last track on the first disc is a bonus track that was featured as a downloadable content track for Ridge Racer Vita titled “Ridge Racer (Ridge Racer USA Mix). Composed by Hiroshi Okubo and featuring vocals from Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, known for his work on the Daytona racing series, it’s a rock track with a lot of energy and definitely has that racing flair.
The second disc on the album is a non-stop audio mix by Hiroshi Okubo, Ayako Saso, and Shinji Hosoe. Whereas some of the entries in the series aren’t present in the remix portion of the release, such as Ridge Racer 3D, Ridge Racer 6, and Ridge Racer 7, they are given their spotlight in this audio mix. The overall vibe of the mix starts off as more chill, featuring tracks like “Night Stream” and “Floodlight” from Ridge Racers (Playstation Portable version) and Ridge Racer 6, respectively, during Okubo’s portion, more energy based tracks, like “Nitro Mantra” and “Purple Sky,” from Ridge Racer 6 and Ridge Racer Vita, respectively, for Saso’s portion, and ends with a bang featuring tracks like “Dr. Mad’s Gone,” from Ridge Racer 3D, and “Rotterdam Nation Remix,” from the Playstation Portable version of Ridge Racer.
In the end, I think that the Ridge Racer 20th Anniversary Remix definitely pays a fitting tribute to the racing series’ long history. However, I would have preferred to see some of the tunes from the other games in the series, especially the main series games, Ridge Racer 6 and Ridge Racer 7, and to a smaller extent, Ridge Racer 3D,remixed rather than included in a DJ mix. Also noticeably absent is Asuka Sakai, whose Ridge Racer Type 4 contributions really helped define that era of the series. In the end, I think that most of the remixes do a great job at retaining the atmosphere of the original or interpret them for the better. For fans of the series’ rich musical history, this album is for you.
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Posted on June 26, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on June 28, 2014.