Friday, June 7, 2013

Game Music Review "Burning Soldier"

I've never owned a 3DO. 

When I was growing up during the 16-bit wars, my attention hardly diverted to any of those CD-based consoles I never ended up giving the chance to collect dust. Whether it was the cramped section at the end of the aisle at Toys 'R' Us for Turbo Graphix-16 (and later CD add-on), or the ho-hum library for SEGA CD, the 3DO only had my attention for its close-to-perfect port of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which was exclusive to the home consoles in 1994. You could have it on the PC-CD, but my predated Windows '95 didn't run it all too well and wasn't as seamless. 

So I never played nor heard of Burning Soldier until recently. One of the perks of the CD era was the ability for sound designers to use high-quality synthesizers and real instruments beyond a standard of samples, soundboards and chiptunes (which gave way to the most memorable game soundtracks to this day). Though many discs could just be popped into a CD player, this one got a release in late 1994, with a few bonuses not found in the game.

Genki's Haruhiko Nishioka composed and performed most (if not all) of the game's music, which is mostly synth-programmed, electric guitar-driven riffs throughout the handful of space-blasting shlock sound effects and lousy voice acting. Sounds appropriate for this game, right? Well, Burning Soldier ends up doubling as more of a demo tape of imitated, iconic guitarists who must've inspired Nishioka's compositions. And there's a plethora of styles here some of which are just puzzling to hear in an action-shooter. 

Laser Shuffle mixes synthesizers against a jazz percussion-and-bass loop while he riffs and tears through it, but specifically Listening Sky is something of a Pat Metheny-meets-GRP mash-up, a jazz-fusion tune that almost sounds too relaxing for a shooting rampage. I swear I can hear Jeff Beck-inspired licks on Perfect Area and a little Eric Johnson with Joe Satriani on Hop Up. There's some synth-horn backing on Sprite Night and rich bluesy signature on Dark Hole, which really could have done without the cheesy "Hey!" and "Ogh!" samples. I mean, if you know your fusion-rock-jazz guitarists, there's enough to enjoy on here albeit uninspired shlock rock.

The soundtrack's real gem is the surprise waiting for you as the ending theme (though thrown as the disc's first track): a completely WTF soulful vocal from Robbie Danzie with Summer Leads The Way. This track was recorded for the game. For a space-shooting, guitar-riffin', extravaganza...

...What the...?

Though the 6-minute track is cheese to the max having absolutely nothing to do with the game, dubiously it plays in the credits at the end. It's well-performed easy-listener's pop at that; smooth and groovy (weeeearrow!). I guess this is how they did it in the '90s, kind of like that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm saxy ending, and later Rika Muranaka's Metal Gear Solid jazz ballads.

Oh, and the bonuses. The disc features two "arrange versions" of the opening and ending themes. Except, they're actually not arranged -- just barely retooled. Opener True Run has a re-recorded guitar solo in the middle while the ending theme Summer Leads The Way adds 100% more to the lady-gettin' soupiness with a smooth, alto saxophone by Euphoria's Mitsuru Kanekuni. It really punches the original out of the ring, don't know why it wasn't in the game's version. Still don't even know what this song is doing in this game in the first place.

The CD, released by Polydor, is known to be very rare these days, outpricing the game itself. Burning Solider ends up being an average soundtrack while fun at times is mostly forgettable except for the ending vocal; which aforementioned, could only be graced through this release.

SHUFFLER'S SCORE: 5.5  / 10.0

01 Summer Leads The Way (Ending)
02 True Run (Opening) 

03 Jungle Space 
04 Theme of Strike Fighter 
05 Laser Shuffle 
06 Winning Fire 
07 Listening Sky 
08 Perfect Area
09 Hop Up
10 Sprite Night 

11 Dark Hole
12 Dark Moon
13 Power Hold
14 Rising Soldier
15 Good Luck Fighter
16 True Run (
Arrange Version)
17 Summer Leads The Way (Arrange Version)  

Additional notes: Euphoria is a Japanese jazz-fusion group, which released three albums in the late 1980's, early 1990's. Album cover provided by Jodo Kast.

"Burning Soldier" (CD release) is long out-of-print. Please contact me

1 comment:

rock man said...

Hi, great to read this articule, i want this music please