Super Robot Wars OG 2nd Original Sound Track
Super Robot Wars OG 2nd Original Soundtrack
June 26, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
The long running Super Robot Wars series is not talked about often in America. We love Mobile Suit Gundam games, but Robot Wars is not typically on our radar because the games simply are not localized. However, there are those hardcore importers who ignore language and cultural boundaries. This is certainly a series and soundtrack that the JRPG audience will not want to miss out on. One of the more recent additions to the series is 2nd Super Robot Wars Original Generations, a tactical role playing game released in Japan for the Playstation 3 on November 29, 2012 with the original soundtrack released in the summer of 2013.
The group of composers Wataru Yumura, Takeshi Nanbara, Mikoto Rinoh, and Aki Yoshimura, along with Salamander Factory’s Naofumi Tsuruyama, Takuya Hanaoka, and Kayoko Matsushima, put together a dynamic soundtrack that follows the game’s sequences very closely. JAM Project also returns to the series to perform the opening and closing of the soundtrack and game, which is a real treat for Super Robot Wars fans. But how well does the 2nd Super Robot Wars OG Original Soundtrack translate to non-Japanese speaking countries? Sure! Gamers are always up for new adventures, so why not take a chance and enjoy music without knowing much about the culture it comes from or the language the musicians speaks.
The opening theme, “Wings of the Legend (Game version)” as well as the ending theme “Babylon (OST version)” are performed by JAM Project. These energetic themes are filled with edgy riffs to get any J-RPG fan to raise a triumphant fist and prepare for mobile suit combat. “Babylon (OST Ver.)” is very close to the American ‘metal-core’ I grew up with in high school. The intro consists of an aggressive breakdown that is played in unison by the rhythm section. The reprise of that unison rhythm in the verse mixed under the vocals is intense, but controlled at the same time. The JAM Project is incredibly tight and makes the quick-tempo licks and technical guitar solos sound easy. This track goes well with the more intense battle scenes that are quick and crisp looking. However, this game has quite a sense of humor as it turns out, because the bonus track “[Skillful WAVE] of Love and Miracle” performed by UMA Project, is plain silly!
The pop-punk style is quite a turn of emotion from the serious sounding “Babylon”. My understanding of the Japanese language is very limited, but I did catch the quirky vibe the game tends to have after listening to “WAVE”. This track fits well with the rest of the soundtrack as it includes impactful guitar solos, a key change during the last couple of verses, and an incredibly hooky melody lines. The upbeat, positive atmosphere will grow on you if you let it, but not every one will enjoy the over the top attitude of “Wave”. Regardless, it sounds to me like the performers had a ton of fun recording this one.
“Wings of the Legend” is a lot of what you will hear throughout the soundtrack: crunchy guitar riffs, energetic marches, embellished string licks and rhythmic percussion. Because the game consists of mostly battles, the soundtrack naturally will consist of a good amount of battle music. There is a laundry list of battle tracks to choose from, each offering some pretty technical music. That is not to say that the tracks become repetitive or contrived. There are many musical influences to balance the music and instrumentation to provide a diverse and exciting experience. The modern sounding march pieces such as “Because You’re There” and “Power and Skill” certainly characterize the story and league of heroes.
I really welcomed the classic ‘anime’ vibe because it reminds me of some of the J-RPGs I grew up with. “Because You’re There” for example, reminds me of the triumphant melodies and pulsing drum beats of Soul Blazer for the SNES. ‘The Universe” has influences of 80’s synth sounds and traditional Japanese folk music, personified by a pentatonic sounding riff and wooden flute. The classic synth sounds suit the unique story and retro looking setting. I wouldn’t have guessed that this soundtrack came out in 2013, as the music sounds a little dated and thin at times, for better or worse. Tracks like “Desire” and “The Watchdog of Hell” have plenty of action and energy and battle ready riffs. However the guitar and synth sounds are thin sounding. While this gives the soundtrack and game a retro kind of sound, I expected there to be a little more bottom end.
Regardless of the thin timbre of some of the recordings, the music during battles is constantly changing and never becomes repetitive. Each disc has the hard-hitting bass lines and quick-tempo guitar licks to keep the energy going. “Drumfire” might be the fastest track on this OST. This is a must listen if speed is your game. This music is incredibly difficult to play, let alone keep up with as a stand-alone listening experience. “Burning Red” is another heavy track that is on the groovy side of video game metal music. “Dancing Blue” is even groovier, if you’re feeling in the mood after listening to “Drumfire”. The use of horns and keyboards in “Dancing Blue” breaks up the guitar sound with the use of trumpets and clean synths, but still offers a tough attitude and driving atmosphere.
The soundtrack offers many punk and metal style tracks but leaves me wanting more variation in instrumentation and genre influences, especially in the first disc. There are more breaks between the intense sounds on discs 2-4, but there are also plenty more pulsing battle tracks to enjoy. “Meteor, Tear Apart the Night! (Ver. H)” comes to the rescue on disc 2, offering passionate melodies and driving bass lines. This track is composed to sound like a dramatic rock-ballad. The synth sounds and wall of guitar riffs can become draining to some listeners. The edge may dull a bit, but not to worry as the rest of the soundtrack changes gears slightly.
I welcomed the soaring sounds of the opening tracks of disc three, “The First SRW” and “Lord Of The Elemental”. The orchestral arrangement and more relaxed atmosphere made me feel like I finally won one of those battle tracks. “Lord Of The Elemental” starts out with the percussion section, featuring the snare drum. This syncopated rhythms in this march is a perfect breath of fresh air for a victory tune. The passionate string melody towards the middle of the first phrase is countered by a forceful timpani pattern that creates a cool hemiola pattern. When the piece started to ‘deaccelerando’ I cheered out loud. At the end of the piece the music builds and speeds up before slamming on the brakes. This is a piece that I would have a lot of fun conducting for an upper level high school orchestra or college level ensemble. The music is wide and open sounding through each section and becomes grandiose, just before the percussion re-enters after a short tacet. The tempo kick at the end that builds up to the molto ritardando is incredibly exciting and displays expert musicianship. I don’t even mind when the track reprises!
Disc 4 contains tracks that seem to slow time and make you sit back in your chair. There are mysterious pieces to make you scratch your chin and smile, but be prepared for intense pulsing action placed throughout the final disc. “Crossroads of Life and Death” is an example of a heart-pounding, robot action style orchestral thrill ride. Disc 4 contains the track commonly heard during dialogue, “Hey, Are You Setting Up a Strategy?”. This funky, power rock style piece of music is triumphant and a little angry on the side. The bass line is the glue that holds the music together while the synth instruments and percussion provide a passionate melody. “The Fellowship” is a track that absolutely makes me think of camaraderie that cannot be broken. The track is on the serious side, yet still manages to groove and make you tap your foot. The horns have a march feel that is layered great on top of the modern sounding electronic drum set beat. “Forgotten Temple” is particularly filled with suspense and mystique. I enjoyed the atmosphere that this track created as it was much different from the barrage of battle music. The organ in particular adds a creepy layer to the mix that builds tension. I also enjoyed the variation in dynamics, as most of the soundtrack is played with the volume and gain cranked.
Disc 4 is also where you will find those more expressive ballads that are indicative of JRPGs. “For the Day in which We Meet Again” comes to mind when I think of music to close a long, grueling role-playing type adventure with an in-depth story. The delicate melodies doubled in strings and glockenspiel is perfect to give the listener a feeling of accomplishment and a carefree attitude. The music is beautiful and a warm welcome after long, hard fought battles. I feel that “For the Day in which We Meet Again” helps balance the soundtrack out by offering sweetly played melodies. This track can start to sound a little lost in the myriad of battle tracks as the drums don’t do as much as they did in previous tracks. Nonetheless, this sultry piano ballad helps make the soundtrack feel complete and well rounded.
If you are not familiar with the Robot Wars series, this is a great starting point. This installment to the series is just a drop in the bucket of the vast library of Robot Wars music. Not all fans of video game music will rush to get this soundtrack, but I am sure there is a niche audience hungry for more Robot Wars beyond this title. The energetic and in your face combat music is enough to keep me coming back to this album when I feel like I have had too much caffeine or just plain need to escape reality for a few minutes. The background music did sound small at times, especially compared to the performances by JAM Project and UMA Project. However, during gameplay the music was not distracting and was mixed well with sound effects and voice-overs. If you are like me and look for obscure, technical video game music, this album is an excellent addition to a collection.
Japanese character translations by Gerardo Iuliani
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Posted on March 16, 2015 by Marc Chait. Last modified on January 18, 2016.