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LONG BLOG

Boxcollector's Neverending Playlist: The Wonderful 101

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Video game music doesn't really get the complete recognition it deserves. Around here it does, but in other circles it's not exactly seen as respectable. It may just be because it's seemingly secondary to every other aspect of a game, or that it's supposed to loop around it, which somehow makes it not a song(?). But forget about that. This is a blog for music that developers lovingly inflict upon our eardrums and provide whatever appropriate reaction there is to what's happening. 

Name: The Wonderful 101 Official Soundtrack, Vol 1. and Vol. 2
Label: Sumthing Else/Polaris Tone
Composer(s): Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Rei Kondoh, Akira Takazawa, Norihiko Hibino, Masato Kouda, Hitomi Kurokawa, feat. FORESTA, Jimmy Wilcox, Rob McElroy, and Bruce Blanchard

To start this off we have The Wonderful 101, whose soundtrack you can get digitally right now in two $10 volumes. If you're familiar with the developer, they've been quite the character when it comes to crafting a great score. From the electro-jazz of Bayonetta, the underground hip-hip that characterized MadWorld/Anarchy Reigns to the comical nu-metal guilty pleasure that is the Metal Gear Rising soundtrack, their soundtrack catalog is pretty eclectic for a developer whose game count only made it to ten recently. And before all of that, Okami was one of my favorite soundtracks ever. But what about this?

Well, The Wonderful 101 is a rather evocative soundtrack. It all at once evokes the Sci-fi Supermarionation shows of Gerry Anderson, the cheesier Tokusatsu shows of the 60s and 70s, and the tunes that mainly dominated anime back the days of creator Hideki Kamiya's childhood. It's appropriately bombastic, emotional and sometimes hilariously over-the-top. Considering how the game constantly yet lovingly lampoons these genres, it's appropriate that the soundtrack would be a total pastiche of it.

This of course wouldn't be possible without some really talented composers. The most famous of these composers is one Norihiko Hibino, of Metal Gear Solid and Bayonetta fame, but nearly everyone involved does a fantastic job of creating some fist-pumping orchestral anthems. Most of these people have been in games that you've seen before (Okami, Fire Emblem Awakening), so some of it may feel familiar. Since the soundtrack consists of 127 tracks, I really can't go through them all without making this blog prohibitively long in the tooth, so I'll just list some of my favorites.

 The Won-Stoppable Wonderful 100
Composer: Hiroshi Yamaguchi
Singers: FORESTA(Japanese); Jimmy Wilcox, Rob McElroy and Bruce Blanchard(English)


Just to let you all know, the soundtrack version of this is slightly different. It has an outro for starters, but also sounds cleaner. But I'm too lazy to learn Sony Vegas, so here's the game version, with lyrics!

Anyhow, considering what I compared the game to, it needs a little theme tune to go along with it. Thankfully, Kamiya and friends knew better and gave us a very appropriate theme song. The composition is purposefully bombastic, similar to Barry Gray's theme for Thunderbirds, and the utterly ridiculous lyrics("Go, go, team!/Demolish those fiends!/Toss them in the garbage can!/Wipe the floor/with aliens galore/'Til the world is spic 'n' span!" is one lyrical highlight) set the tone perfectly. It always shows up when you defeat a boss, which makes fighting the various alien beasties that you come across in your travels even more satisfying.

 Tables Turn
Composer: Hiroshi Yamaguchi

Speaking of bosses, this game has plenty of them. Spread out across the game's 27 levels are boss missions that put you at odds with some of the ugliest mofos that GEATHJERK has to offer. I really don't want to spoil it all, but they could routinely be good final bosses if this were any other game, let's say that. After a long and harsh battle, the odds are now in your favor, with this to go along with it. The marching percussion, determined horns and roaring tempo accurately create the undeniable feeling that yes, you will win, no matter how hard it gets.

Vorkken's Theme
Composer: Hitomi Kurokawa

Prince Vorkken isn't really a run-of-the-mill evil counterpart. Well, he's got the same powers, but he's a rather refined, if all-around immoral, man of wealth and taste to boot, which this bit of music accurately communicates to the listener. It's appropriately regal and whimsical, with prominent strings, and feels like a Danny Elfman piece. Will you not fight against this fella for the fate of Dearth? Also, I forgot to mention that his English voice actor played Raiden in Metal Gear Rising.

Intertwined
Composer: Rei Kondoh

Heroic. Tension-filled. Dramatique! This wouldn't feel out of place with the same composer's work in Fire Emblem Awakening, feeling like a good battle theme for Chrom and friends, but even without that in mind, this is the perfect tune for a pivotal battle. Its first appearance is pretty spoiler-y, so I won't make it the point of this description. 

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

It's frankly a crime that this game was so overlooked over a year back, and people still like to overlook it in favor of its gorier, easier and still Wii U exclusive bigger sister Bayonetta 2. And while Bayonetta is undeniably more intuitive, people missed out on a true original, a bold reinvention of the beat-em-up genre that was also a nostalgic tribute to the superhero genre. The music, too, is quite honestly one of my favorite Nintendo soundtracks, on par with Mario Galaxy at least. It's heroic, it's routinely preposterous and bombastic, and hugely exciting. I'd prefer it if you got both the game and the soundtrack, but you can just get the soundtrack by itself and have yourself both a massive deal(keep in mind that it would normally take up 5 CDs and it would probably be more expensive) and a beautiful soundtrack. Unite Up, Dtoid!

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About boxcollectorone of us since 4:06 PM on 02.07.2013

An aspiring artist from bumfuck nowhere, Pennsylvania. I lurked on this site prior to joining, and I hope to do something with my time on this earth until I shed my mortal coil. but for now, let's waste some time.

I've been doing artwork on the side for a while, but I have only recently started sharing it around outside of family and friends(and also obscure forums). Hopefully I'll turn out to be a valued member of the site.