Super Robot Wars OG Saga -Masou Kishin- Complete Soundtrack
Super Robot Wars OG Saga -Masou Kishin- Complete Soundtrack
Bandai Namco Games
August 28, 2014
Buy Used Copy
The triumphant music of Japanese Role Playing games never ceases to inspire and entertain fans. The soaring violin melodies layered on top of brilliant trumpet fan fares fill many people’s hearts with joy around the world. The Super Robot Taisen: Masou Kishin Complete Soundtrack is an intense collection of video game music that was released alongside the Collector’s Edition of Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Masoukishin F-Coffin of the End in Japan last year. The five-disc set features all the music from the trilogy of Masou Kishin spinoffs of the main Super Robot Taisen series. Fans of the series will recognize a few pieces from earlier Robot Wars soundtracks and be surprised with the edgy new sounds of the final title in the trilogy Coffin of the End. But will the long list of hard rock and metal style battle tracks turn into white noise? Will listeners feel fatigued by the amount of content, or will the pulsing rhythms keep the party going all night?
Composers Daichi Uematsu, Koji Yamada, Takeshi Miura, Satoru Okada, and Mikoto Rinoh create an intense atmosphere with their pulsing percussion cadences, upbeat tempos, bombastic wind parts and hooky synth riffs. The complete soundtrack never seems to let up with intensity, although there are a few somber sounds in the mix. The adrenaline fueled action of the game calls for a large collection of ‘Mahler’ sounding orchestra ensembles. The epic sounding ensembles add energy and depth to the complex battle systems while groovier tracks help to maintain the serious and sometimes comical atmosphere. The music during cut-scenes is fun to listen to in the game and as a stand-alone experience.
Above all, this album is fun to listen to, especially the first time through. Listeners can take this soundtrack by chunks, listening to one disc at a time. Hardcore listeners can try to devour the whole thing and go from disc 1 to 5 for a SRW marathon. Whatever way you listen, there are plenty of tracks to appease musicians and game music fans alike. I found “License to Kill” to be quite entertaining and a good starting point for those who aren’t looking to necessarily jump straight into the wall of distorted guitars and bright synths. The music takes influences from swing and big band music, which is a favorite genre of mine. The vibraphone solo cuts right through the music and the saxophone solos shred. The electric bass adds an edge that an upright double bass simply would not do. The progressive nature, Latin and swing influences make this song pop!
“Hero” is another track that will kick your mind into gear if you find yourself craving an uplifting piece of music with some crunch to it. The synth sound mixed with guitar, violin and glockenspiel gives the music a Mike Oldfield sound. “Hero” definitely makes me feel like a hero and accentuates the triumphant vibe of the game. I enjoy coming back to “Hero” mainly because it gets stuck in my head, and listening with my speakers on full blast is the only way for it to escape. The next track “Seething Fighting Spirit” has just as much energy to offer as “Hero”, even if the metal influences take it in a slightly different direction. These tracks are a blast to listen to and will help lift your spirits to prepare you for battle with offending enemy creatures. “Black Flame Hunter” keeps the metal sound going through the end of disc two. This song is fun to listen to, but the loud synth instruments in “Seething Fighting Spirit” seem to wash into “Black Flame Hunter”. I couldn’t find a riff or melody to hang on to like I did after listening to “Hero” and I quickly lost interest in the two songs after a few listens. While these tracks, as well as the rest of the soundtrack, are arranged well and sound incredible, not all of the tracks will have you whistling a memorable tune.
There is plenty of metal style music on this album and some of these tracks stick out more than others. One of the most memorable tracks on the soundtrack is returning fan favourite “Lord of the Elemental”. The introduction is particularly catchy, consisting of only snare drum and auxiliary percussion. When the melody comes rushing in you can feel the energy pouring off the music. The soaring melodies layered on top of the driving rhythms about 1:42 seconds is bright and brilliant sounding. This version of the piece is just as energetic as the previous piece, even staying close to the tempo. I was expecting to hear an optional arrangement or recording of this piece but that is not to say I do not enjoy listening to the piece in the context of each soundtrack, as they change characteristics based on the music surrounding it. “Lord of the Elemental” is grandiose, providing a real treat for classical music fans and Super Robot Wars fans alike. This track was once called “Prologue” back in 1996 when it was a part of the Super Robot Wars Gaiden: Masoukishin, The Lord of the Elemental Sound Storm. Even on a Super Nintendo console this music has quite an impact.
I really enjoy“Winds of La Gias”, another track from Lord of the Elemental Sound Storm remade here. The remake contains the same instrumentation and stays very close to the SNES’s classic sound. The synths have jagged wavelengths which are blended with the guitar’s distorted sound. Drums and a quick pop n’ slap bass riff make for an awesome double timed beat. Some fans may not be able to get their fill of this piece, and other fans may find the reappearance of this and other classic SRW tracks tiring or monotonous. I will agree that the integrity of the series is held up by new installments of music without much change besides an upgrade in bit rate.
Overall, music of previous SRW titles has a direct influence on the more recently composed music. The modern sounding instruments are clearly heard which adds a level of quality to the expertly composed music. The frantic piano riffs in “Decisive Battle” harken back to the technical riffs composed 10-15 years ago. The rhythmic, quick tempo snare drum part makes this music drive forward from just after the introduction through the rest of the piece. The music truly feels like a tense battle is raging when the bass drum and crash cymbals add accents to the ensemble hits. The woodwinds and strings add tension and flourishes that help make this piece exciting and fun to listen to over and over again. You can even hear a triangle ding that makes me think of the ‘ding’ sound you here when enemy characters attack each other during combat phases..
Disc 4 contains many larger sounding orchestral pieces. These tracks will fill your room with sound and shake your speakers at louder volumes. The use of minor intervals, heavy percussion and a big low brass sound in “Sorrow Swallowed by the Darkness” might give the listener an idea of how massive and deadly these robots are. While “Sorrow Swallowed by the Darkness” demonstrated the robots immense power, “Resurrection” exemplified how majestic and graceful these giant mechs can be. This music is mysterious and passionate and helps to bridge the spiritual connection between the pilot and mech. I love how “Resurrection” is a reprise of ”Again in Ra-Geas”, found on the beginning of disc 1. “Resurrection” opens with some scary sound effects which sets a serious mood when ”Again in Ra-Geas” demands your ear. The reprise is much slower but sounds just as aggressive. Complete with harp flourishes, powerfully voiced choir and strong horn parts, “Resurrection” is a heart pounding, memorable experience.
“Cultivation” really slows things down and gives the listener an idea of how epic sounding the series is. The choir is ominous sounding, giving the music a gothic kind of feeling. The legato string phrases are grandiose, giving the listener the feeling of being surrounded on all sides by the music. “Pincer Attack Space” is a track that has a similar large feeling, but with a less menacing tone. The pentatonic sounding runs in the piano and upper woodwinds give the music an Eastern twist which is countered with a very Western, punk rock style orchestral ballad. The double time drum set beat works well with the soaring violin melody. The two styles of music blend extremely well together and offer a little something for a diverse tastes.
I still enjoy listening to”Pincer Attack Space” and appreciate the remixed version from 2nd Super Robot Wars OG version entitled ”Hey, Let’s Make a Battle Strategy”. The Coffin of the End version has more bottom end, but the pop n’ slap style electric bass part is mixed well with the bass drum. The bass drum and bass guitar are also turned up in the mix while strings and choir are there to add harmony and fill space. These bass lines are certainly influenced by the earlier SRW game music. The retro sound still holds up today and offers a break from a large library of cinematic sounding game music.
I really enjoyed the more sultry sounds of this album but they seemed to be clumped together at the end of disc 5. When the ballads are played in succession they tend to lose the impact and start to sound misdirected. But, a story such as this wouldn’t be complete without those tear-jerker moments. “Ending(Ⅱ)” offers a tenderness that some listeners will find comforting, and others may want to skip. If you are like me and need a mix of a melodic melody, pulsing drums and busy bass lines to fuel your emotions, give “Ending” a try. A power-rock style ballad such as this has just enough energy while still being expressive and dynamic.
Not all of the music is as composed and orchestrated as the next. For example, “Cyphis” is a fantastic drone track that truly makes me feel like I am floating. The mysterious sounding layers are thick like fog. The bell sounds and distorted percussive tones sound like something dramatic is happening in slow motion. This is a one of a kind track on this album that is pleasant to listen to, but more relaxed and serene than the rest of the soundtrack. The listener is bought back to reality when tracks like “Sinking Feeling” lay down a serious groove. Even the sound of “Intermission” is laid back but still heavy and intense. Quite the opposite from the droning sounds of “Cyphis”.
The occasional experimental sounds mixed with the carefully orchestrated Western instruments make for a mostly balanced soundtrack with plenty of entertainment value. This is a unique and one of a kind series with some incredible music to support every action in the game. Super Robot Wars -Masou Kishin- Complete Soundtrack is a brilliant collection of music that does not skip out on content or passion. Fans of the series will feel a rush of nostalgia upon listening to tracks used in previous titles. The Complete Soundtrack helps to wrap the ‘Masou Kishin’ series up by adding new and improved sounds to classic Super Robot Wars music. Whether you are in the mood to raise a triumphant fist to some hardcore JRPG music or get your fill of electro-orchestral style compositions, you are in luck. Unfortunately, if you want a breath of air, you might have to wait until the latter half of disc 5. Regardless of any language and cultural barriers, I can say for sure that this collector’s edition is a damn good time!
Japanese character translations by Gerardo Iuliani
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Posted on March 16, 2015 by Marc Chait. Last modified on January 19, 2016.