September 27, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
Void Gear is a horizontal shooter developed by indie developer Salmon Soft for Windows. The soundtrack for the game is composed by Yasuhisa Watanabe, known for his work on the Senko no Ronde series and Metal Black, among many others. How does this soundtrack turn out and is it worth adding to your collection?
The album opens up with “Parhelion -opening-” which features violin and tribal percussion and is a very soothing tune with a beautiful melody. The electronic components featured towards the end of the track are heard again in “Nebensonne ‘Norn.’” There are also two ending themes on the soundtrack. “Ymir’s Haunt -badend-” is a very ethereal tune. It features very ominous percussion sporadically, but the majority of the tune focuses on a very melancholy synthesizer tone that is almost angelic in nature. “Small tributes -goodend-” is a short, but beautiful, tune focusing on piano, ethereal synthesizer, and bell-like tones. It really gives off a feeling of finality and really ties together some aspects of the soundtrack.
The stage themes, however, are the heart of the soundtrack. The first stage theme, “Herz des ‘Void Gear’” is an exhilarating stage theme that features an extremely beautiful synth melody line with an electronic accompaniment that helps give it a sense of adventure. There are also some mellow moments featuring piano that really add a nice contrast to the space vibe of the rest of the tune. Unlike the exhilarating first stage theme, the second stage theme, “Luna rescue,” takes on a very calm sound, although it does have some tension to it, thanks to the bass and keyboard that gives it a bit of a stealth-like atmosphere. The acoustic guitar and piano is a beautiful touch, as is the ambient synthesizer in the accompaniment making for a very interesting blend of atmospheres. The third stage theme, “Orbital flight,” is another exhilarating tune that features a very memorable synthesizer melody that, in conjunction with the accompanying beat definitely helps give off this airy feeling. As the tune progresses, the synth takes on a more lighthearted sound, giving the tune a bit of playfulness. “Sanctuary for runaway women” is also quite a departure from the other stage themes, as it is predominantly orchestral in nature. It has a very uplifting and, at times, exotic soundscape accompanied by tribal percussion, with a focus on violin later on, that helps give it a melancholy sound.
The fifth stage theme, “Asteroid avenue,” is definitely one of my favorites and also a tune that is quite varied throughout its duration. It opens up with a very ethereal tone before moving into a steady electronic beat. As the theme progresses, the ambient nature of the piece is retained in the melody line, although there are flourishes here and there to help keep it from becoming stale. Towards the middle of the tune, the tone definitely shifts to a much harder beat with an industrial influence that really helps give it a nice contrast to the earlier portion of the tune, before returning to a more ambient soundscape in the melody line and a slightly softer beat. This theme, in some ways, reminds me of his work on the Senko no Ronde series. The final stage theme, “Nebensonne ‘Norn,’” is another strong stage theme and one of the highlights of the album. The opening has a very uplifting soundscape with an equally beautiful melody accompanied by strings. There are also some slow tempo sections that really help bring the energy down, whether it is with a very poignant violin line or with soft synths and piano.
However, each stage also gets its own individual boss themes and all have quite a different sound. “Red Seal” gives a nice sense of urgency and features a nice mix of industrial tones and grunge rock in addition to the electronic soundscape the beat incorporates. There are also some eerie moments as well, such as a haunting choral line, that helps give it a nice creepiness reminiscent of retro shooter boss themes. The second boss theme, “Breaker,” definitely features a grungy rock focus, particularly in the beginning, that helps give this boss tune quite an edge. In addition, the synthesizer tones help really create an ominous atmosphere that really match well with the guitar and percussion in the background. This is definitely one of the highlights of the boss themes on the soundtrack. The third boss theme, “Spate Angel,” is a departure from many of the boss themes on the album. Rather than focus on heavy hitting beats, rock, or other elements normally associated with shooter boss themes, this theme is quite peaceful, featuring stunning choral notes, some beautiful synthesizer work, and some really nice percussion work. The end result is a very unsettling piece, despite its beauty. “Exiled Rider” is a fantastic boss theme that gives off a very sinister soundscape thanks to the creepy synth tones and organ in the melody line and the excellent electronic and industrial accompaniment. However, I also really enjoy how he incorporates some of the orchestral sound of the stage theme as a way to tie them together.
“Return of the Breaker” features elements of “Breaker,” given they are related. However, this tune focuses more on electronic sounds as opposed to the rock component heard in the second boss theme. That isn’t to say that rock isn’t featured in some regard as it does show up on occasion, but the overall soundscape is a tense one due mostly to the variety of synthesizer tones featured on the soundtrack as well as the accompaniment. Lastly, the final boss themes are broken into two. “Paraselene #1” is a very atmospheric piece that has a very calm sound with just a hint of suspense. It’s a very interesting choice for part one of a final boss theme, but it is a bit unsettling with the eerie tones heard throughout. “Paraselene #2” is an orchestral theme that gives off an adventurous vibe. In addition, there are some choral tones incorporated to the track that help accentuate the atmosphere heard in “Paraselene #1.”
Void Gear is an excellent soundtrack by former Taito member Yasuhisa Watanabe. It is a highly creative shmup soundtrack and features elements of his former works as well as some things I would not necessarily associate with modern day Yack. There is definitely something here for any fan of Yack, so this album comes highly recommended and even if you aren’t familiar with the composer, you might find something you enjoy on this soundtrack as well.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on March 30, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on September 28, 2014.