December 21, 1988
Buy Used Copy
Irem and Data East’s Vigilante is an old arcade game featuring beat ’em up gameplay set in New York City. Masato Ishizaki (aka SCLAP), the composer of the original R-Type, created a funk score to accompany the title. The resultant score was released as a stand-alone album, though is also available in the compilation Image Fight ~ G.S.M. Irem 1.
Right from the first stage theme “Bad Company”, listeners should have get a fair idea of the sound to expect from Vigilante. Driven throughout by a warped bass riff, the treble part features a succession of increasingly complex funk licks. The final track builds on Irem’s distinctive funk sound while effectively capturing the urban setting and cool character of the game. However, the synth is too dated and the development too incohesive for it to be a particularly enjoyable listen. The final track is hard and wild, but also rather ugly.
Some tracks elaborate on these stylistic foundations to more success. Most notably, the third stage theme has a hook running throughout that will be irresistibly catchy for many listeners. “Left Alone” and “Back Street” diversify the score with their moody and punchy sounds, though still aren’t great listens on a stand-alone level. “Last Mission” is also an effective final stage theme with its thrashing guitar riffs and shifting power chords, but ends way too prematurely before the one minute mark.
Unfortunately, this brief soundtrack doesn’t have much to offer beyond its five mediocre stage themes. There are no boss themes here, leaving just a few menu and storyline loops — all of which are dull and short — to pad out the final release. “Final Story” and “Enter Your Name” are a slightly more elaborate, but still superficial and underwhelming. Rounding off the experience is a game sound recording, featuring snippets of the game’s music set to arcade sound effects.
Overall, the score for Vigilante is simply too short, mundane, and at times unpleasant to be worth listening to. The score formed a suitable accompaniment to the old-school arcade game, but never deserved a stand-alone soundtrack release.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.