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The Sound Card
  Watch Video Like our last issue of The Sound Card, which focused on music to sleep to, this has also been on my back burner for some time. I have over 300 tracks on my exercise playlist in iTunes, and a lot of that is game music. I thoug...   read
[Gallery] Swipe or use arrow keys
 
 
 
 
CD Japan
Artist(s): Various Artists

An official Square Enix arrange album featuring a quartet of recorders? Sometimes a ukulele? But mostly recorders? I never thought I’d find myself being excited about such an album, but here I am. Despite the album’s short length (around 33 minutes), the quirky song and instrument selection for a lot of fun.

You have a beautiful rendition of “Opening” from Romancing SaGa, an impressive “Clash on the Big Bridge” from Final Fantasy V, a delightful “Gogo’s Theme ~ Slam Shuffle” from Final Fantasy VI (my favorite track!), a perfectly-matched “Wind Scene” from Chrono Trigger, and a gorgeous “Gau’s Theme ~ Relm’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VI.

So good! Get this now!



LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Release Date: November 21, 2013
Price: 3,990 Yen ($40)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Various Artists

[Sound Samples]

Ready for another surprise? While Final Fantasy XIII-2 was laden with pop and ballad vocal tracks, Lightning Returns takes yet another direction, instead relying on exotic instrumentation, lots of choral elements, and a dark ambient vibe. There are a few cutting electronic tracks that caught my attention, some great jazz and Dragon Quest-esque orchestral themes, an ending suite that will move you to tears, and even a few references to past Final Fantasy XIII songs that fans should appreciate.

My favorites of the bunch are: “The Devout,” a dark and droning ambient tracks that’s over eight minutes in length, “Salvation’s Fanfare,” a funky electronic victory theme, “Eternal Midnight,” a free-form jazz piece, “The Savior’s Song,” a vocal lullaby by Mitsuto Suzuki that sounds like a classic from ages ago, “Desert Lullaby,” an ‘80s-flavored easy listening track with bongos and a seductive male vocal performance, “Evening Returns” with its super soothing woodwinds and acoustic guitars, and “Angel’s Tears,” the contrasting beautiful-yet-unsettling piece that relies on chopped up strings and a synthesized choir. I love a lot of tracks here, but three discs is a lot to cover.

Those who pick this up at CD Japan can still get the first press bonus: a fancy textured box that houses the album. Fans of the game or those who are curious beforehand will want to look into this.



Nintendo FAMICOM MUSIC
Release Date: December 4, 2013
Price: 2,400 Yen ($24)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Various Artists

Nintendo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Famicom in style, bringing several classic soundtracks to Blu-spec CD. Soundtracks include everything from Super Mario Bros. and Zelda to Metroid, Famicom Wars, Kid Icarus, Mach Rider and their sports lineup (see a full list here).

Collections like this have come along a few times over the years, but they’ve quickly sold out and have gone out of print. This is a great opportunity to pick them up now if you haven’t already. I was particularly surprised by the Shin Onigashima soundtracks. My only complaint about the collection would be the absence of Doki Doki Panic (Super Mario Bros. 2 outside of Japan) and the fact that each title is presented as an individual track as opposed to breaking out each individual song into its own track for easy picking out of your favorite moments.

At the price point of $24, which is cheap by Japanese standards, I think it’d make a fun stocking stuffer. If I hadn’t already bought it, it would be the coolest stocking stuffer I’d ever hope to receive!

[embed]267541:51851:0[/embed]

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: In-game only
Artist(s): Ryo Nagamatsu

After writing some of my favorites tracks for Super Mario Galaxy 2, I was surprised to see that Ryo Nagamatsu was not involved with Super Mario 3D World. This is why. He was writing over two hours of music for this game! I’d heard great things about the score, and for those who loved the soundtrack to A Link to the Past, the nostalgia is laid on thick with tons of references to past tunes.

Nagamatsu is no slouch when it comes to original works, however. What I’m most impressed by is his knack for a classical orchestral sound, as heard in his castle stealth theme and the castle theme you’ve heard in the trailer (that plays the Hyrule Castle theme in reverse). That theme in particular is featured in several different layers of intensity, which is a real treat to hear. Aside from that, Nagamatsu adds emotional themes, a grandiose overworld theme, an icy dungeon theme, and a mysterious witch’s hut track that really impressed me. Then there are the milk bar tracks that provide acoustic versions of many of the game’s themes… there’s a lot to hear in this game.

With that, it’s a shame there probably won’t be a soundtrack release. I feel that maybe they did rely too heavily on A Link to the Past, but as a fan of that score, I can’t complain. Nagamatsu has done an amazing job.

Other Releases

[embed]267541:51849:0[/embed]


Blur Bomber
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Price: $7 (digital) / $30 (physical)
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Mega Ran and Mister Wilson

Mega Ran and Mister Wilson team up to tell a tale of the merging of the worlds of Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man through their unique blend of chiptunes and hip hop. The story is just as big a part of the experience as the music, and fortunately, both are quite interesting. On a whole, the album is rather mellow, with lots of slow jams, my favorites of which are the spooky “Skull Egg Zone,” the heavier 8-bit infused “20XX,” the super chill “Unite! (feat. Tha Kure)” (my favorite track on the album), and the jubilant “Ending.”

Want to find out how Robotnik and Wily plan to turn Mega Man and Sonic against one another? Fans of either franchise should buy this and find out.

[embed]267541:51848:0[/embed]

MeowMeow & BowWow
Release Date: September 1, 2013
Price: $10
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Dj CUTMAN, Spamtron

I’ll admit I never played more than a few minutes of Link’s Awakening, but I have been playing the Gameboy Color titles recently, and fortunately they use a lot of the same music! This album stays true to the original soundscapes of the Gameboy with some retro synth work with added bass grooves and percussive elements, all of which are tastefully done. I love the jubilant “Mabe Village,” the bumping “Awakening (Overworld), the funky “The Woods,” the deep and bassy “Dungeons,” the head-boppin’ Mega Man-esque “Mountain Range (Tal Tal Heights),” and a sweet, dreamy version of “Ballad of the Wind Fish.”

Very good stuff.

[embed]267541:51852:0[/embed]

SONIC LOST WORLD ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK WITHOUT BOUNDARIES
Release Date: November 27, 2013
Price: 4,200 Yen ($42)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Tomoya Ohtani and Takahito Eguchi

Tomoya Ohtani continues to lead the Sonic team's musical efforts, keeping the quality high while exploring an eclectic mix of styles. There’s the amazingly catchy “Wonder World - Title Theme -,” which gets the big orchestral treatment, but there’s also a fun electronic version to be had later on the album. It then launches into pop rock sans lyrics with “Windy Hill Zone 1,” followed by everything from ska and big band jazz to Latin and Japanese-flavored tracks. I particularly enjoy the desert-y “Desert Ruins Zone 4,” the chilled out “Sky Road,” and the rockin’ showdown with the final boss.

While Ohtani works his magic yet again and impresses with the sheer number of genres he’s seemingly mastered, I could have gone for an entire soundtrack in the style of “Wonder World” and “Windy Hill Zone 1,” which were my favorite tracks from the beginning of the album. Still, it’s a fun musical journey that Sonic fans will appreciate.

[embed]267541:51847:0[/embed]

Ultionus: A Soundtrack of Petty Revenge
Release Date: December 12, 2013
Price: Name Your Price
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Jake Kaufman and A_Rival

This is a perfect project for Jake Kaufman: a retro synth shmup with a silly premise (read about it on the Bandcamp page). While Kaufman generally goes all out with his synth work, adding all sorts of flair with impressive solos and such, Ultionus is a rather subdued affair, and I have to say that I really dig it. It feels like a lost Japanese soundtrack from the early ‘90s. I particularly enjoy the energetic “Orbital Bombardment,” funky “Snow Peaks,” and the sleek “Inner Sanctum.” A_Rival’s contribution is “Wandering” from his TRUTHCANNON album, which was easily the best track on that album, so I love it here.

Hey, name your price and get this now!



World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Soundtrack Volume II
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Price: $12
Availability: BlizzCon Exclusive
Artist(s): Blizzard Entertainment

In addition to the StarCraft II CD that we covered last month, Blizzard also released a second volume of music from Mists of Pandaria. While the original Pandaria CD sported an ethnic sound that seemed to fit quite nicely with the expansion’s visuals, this album, compiling music from the content updates, is a bit more sinister.

It begins with the tumultuous “Thunder King” and the powerful and ominous choir in “Heal the Land,” and rarely lets up in intensity over the course of an hour of listening. I did appreciate the soothing Chinese zither work in “Worth Fighting For,” but for the most part, even if the tracks aren’t loud, they’re dark and terrifying, which should bring World of Warcraft soundtrack fans back to some of the earliest expansions in terms of soundscape.

Unfortunately the album was meant to be a BlizzCon exclusive, so chances are slim that it will turn up again.

[embed]267541:51846:0" data-vidtitle="

So much great game music was released this past month You know the drill: another month, ten more game soundtracks to review. We usually have a pick of the month, but there was so much great music released this time around, I decided to recognize four separate releases as our to...  
Full story

" data-purl="so-much-great-game-music-was-released-this-past-month-267541.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">Game Music
CD Japan
Artist(s): Various Artists

An official Square Enix arrange album featuring a quartet of recorders? Sometimes a ukulele? But mostly recorders? I never thought I’d find myself being excited about such an album, but here I am. Despite the album’s short length (around 33 minutes), the quirky song and instrument selection for a lot of fun.

You have a beautiful rendition of “Opening” from Romancing SaGa, an impressive “Clash on the Big Bridge” from Final Fantasy V, a delightful “Gogo’s Theme ~ Slam Shuffle” from Final Fantasy VI (my favorite track!), a perfectly-matched “Wind Scene” from Chrono Trigger, and a gorgeous “Gau’s Theme ~ Relm’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VI.

So good! Get this now!



LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Release Date: November 21, 2013
Price: 3,990 Yen ($40)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Various Artists

[Sound Samples]

Ready for another surprise? While Final Fantasy XIII-2 was laden with pop and ballad vocal tracks, Lightning Returns takes yet another direction, instead relying on exotic instrumentation, lots of choral elements, and a dark ambient vibe. There are a few cutting electronic tracks that caught my attention, some great jazz and Dragon Quest-esque orchestral themes, an ending suite that will move you to tears, and even a few references to past Final Fantasy XIII songs that fans should appreciate.

My favorites of the bunch are: “The Devout,” a dark and droning ambient tracks that’s over eight minutes in length, “Salvation’s Fanfare,” a funky electronic victory theme, “Eternal Midnight,” a free-form jazz piece, “The Savior’s Song,” a vocal lullaby by Mitsuto Suzuki that sounds like a classic from ages ago, “Desert Lullaby,” an ‘80s-flavored easy listening track with bongos and a seductive male vocal performance, “Evening Returns” with its super soothing woodwinds and acoustic guitars, and “Angel’s Tears,” the contrasting beautiful-yet-unsettling piece that relies on chopped up strings and a synthesized choir. I love a lot of tracks here, but three discs is a lot to cover.

Those who pick this up at CD Japan can still get the first press bonus: a fancy textured box that houses the album. Fans of the game or those who are curious beforehand will want to look into this.



Nintendo FAMICOM MUSIC
Release Date: December 4, 2013
Price: 2,400 Yen ($24)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Various Artists

Nintendo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Famicom in style, bringing several classic soundtracks to Blu-spec CD. Soundtracks include everything from Super Mario Bros. and Zelda to Metroid, Famicom Wars, Kid Icarus, Mach Rider and their sports lineup (see a full list here).

Collections like this have come along a few times over the years, but they’ve quickly sold out and have gone out of print. This is a great opportunity to pick them up now if you haven’t already. I was particularly surprised by the Shin Onigashima soundtracks. My only complaint about the collection would be the absence of Doki Doki Panic (Super Mario Bros. 2 outside of Japan) and the fact that each title is presented as an individual track as opposed to breaking out each individual song into its own track for easy picking out of your favorite moments.

At the price point of $24, which is cheap by Japanese standards, I think it’d make a fun stocking stuffer. If I hadn’t already bought it, it would be the coolest stocking stuffer I’d ever hope to receive!

[embed]267541:51851:0[/embed]

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: In-game only
Artist(s): Ryo Nagamatsu

After writing some of my favorites tracks for Super Mario Galaxy 2, I was surprised to see that Ryo Nagamatsu was not involved with Super Mario 3D World. This is why. He was writing over two hours of music for this game! I’d heard great things about the score, and for those who loved the soundtrack to A Link to the Past, the nostalgia is laid on thick with tons of references to past tunes.

Nagamatsu is no slouch when it comes to original works, however. What I’m most impressed by is his knack for a classical orchestral sound, as heard in his castle stealth theme and the castle theme you’ve heard in the trailer (that plays the Hyrule Castle theme in reverse). That theme in particular is featured in several different layers of intensity, which is a real treat to hear. Aside from that, Nagamatsu adds emotional themes, a grandiose overworld theme, an icy dungeon theme, and a mysterious witch’s hut track that really impressed me. Then there are the milk bar tracks that provide acoustic versions of many of the game’s themes… there’s a lot to hear in this game.

With that, it’s a shame there probably won’t be a soundtrack release. I feel that maybe they did rely too heavily on A Link to the Past, but as a fan of that score, I can’t complain. Nagamatsu has done an amazing job.

Other Releases

[embed]267541:51849:0[/embed]


Blur Bomber
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Price: $7 (digital) / $30 (physical)
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Mega Ran and Mister Wilson

Mega Ran and Mister Wilson team up to tell a tale of the merging of the worlds of Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man through their unique blend of chiptunes and hip hop. The story is just as big a part of the experience as the music, and fortunately, both are quite interesting. On a whole, the album is rather mellow, with lots of slow jams, my favorites of which are the spooky “Skull Egg Zone,” the heavier 8-bit infused “20XX,” the super chill “Unite! (feat. Tha Kure)” (my favorite track on the album), and the jubilant “Ending.”

Want to find out how Robotnik and Wily plan to turn Mega Man and Sonic against one another? Fans of either franchise should buy this and find out.

[embed]267541:51848:0[/embed]

MeowMeow & BowWow
Release Date: September 1, 2013
Price: $10
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Dj CUTMAN, Spamtron

I’ll admit I never played more than a few minutes of Link’s Awakening, but I have been playing the Gameboy Color titles recently, and fortunately they use a lot of the same music! This album stays true to the original soundscapes of the Gameboy with some retro synth work with added bass grooves and percussive elements, all of which are tastefully done. I love the jubilant “Mabe Village,” the bumping “Awakening (Overworld), the funky “The Woods,” the deep and bassy “Dungeons,” the head-boppin’ Mega Man-esque “Mountain Range (Tal Tal Heights),” and a sweet, dreamy version of “Ballad of the Wind Fish.”

Very good stuff.

[embed]267541:51852:0[/embed]

SONIC LOST WORLD ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK WITHOUT BOUNDARIES
Release Date: November 27, 2013
Price: 4,200 Yen ($42)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Tomoya Ohtani and Takahito Eguchi

Tomoya Ohtani continues to lead the Sonic team's musical efforts, keeping the quality high while exploring an eclectic mix of styles. There’s the amazingly catchy “Wonder World - Title Theme -,” which gets the big orchestral treatment, but there’s also a fun electronic version to be had later on the album. It then launches into pop rock sans lyrics with “Windy Hill Zone 1,” followed by everything from ska and big band jazz to Latin and Japanese-flavored tracks. I particularly enjoy the desert-y “Desert Ruins Zone 4,” the chilled out “Sky Road,” and the rockin’ showdown with the final boss.

While Ohtani works his magic yet again and impresses with the sheer number of genres he’s seemingly mastered, I could have gone for an entire soundtrack in the style of “Wonder World” and “Windy Hill Zone 1,” which were my favorite tracks from the beginning of the album. Still, it’s a fun musical journey that Sonic fans will appreciate.

[embed]267541:51847:0[/embed]

Ultionus: A Soundtrack of Petty Revenge
Release Date: December 12, 2013
Price: Name Your Price
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Jake Kaufman and A_Rival

This is a perfect project for Jake Kaufman: a retro synth shmup with a silly premise (read about it on the Bandcamp page). While Kaufman generally goes all out with his synth work, adding all sorts of flair with impressive solos and such, Ultionus is a rather subdued affair, and I have to say that I really dig it. It feels like a lost Japanese soundtrack from the early ‘90s. I particularly enjoy the energetic “Orbital Bombardment,” funky “Snow Peaks,” and the sleek “Inner Sanctum.” A_Rival’s contribution is “Wandering” from his TRUTHCANNON album, which was easily the best track on that album, so I love it here.

Hey, name your price and get this now!



World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Soundtrack Volume II
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Price: $12
Availability: BlizzCon Exclusive
Artist(s): Blizzard Entertainment

In addition to the StarCraft II CD that we covered last month, Blizzard also released a second volume of music from Mists of Pandaria. While the original Pandaria CD sported an ethnic sound that seemed to fit quite nicely with the expansion’s visuals, this album, compiling music from the content updates, is a bit more sinister.

It begins with the tumultuous “Thunder King” and the powerful and ominous choir in “Heal the Land,” and rarely lets up in intensity over the course of an hour of listening. I did appreciate the soothing Chinese zither work in “Worth Fighting For,” but for the most part, even if the tracks aren’t loud, they’re dark and terrifying, which should bring World of Warcraft soundtrack fans back to some of the earliest expansions in terms of soundscape.

Unfortunately the album was meant to be a BlizzCon exclusive, so chances are slim that it will turn up again.

[embed]267541:51846:0" data-vidtitle="

So much great game music was released this past month You know the drill: another month, ten more game soundtracks to review. We usually have a pick of the month, but there was so much great music released this time around, I decided to recognize four separate releases as our to...  
Full story

" data-purl="so-much-great-game-music-was-released-this-past-month-267541.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">  Watch Video You know the drill: another month, ten more game soundtracks to review. We usually have a pick of the month, but there was so much great music released this time around, I decided to recognize four separate releases as our to...   read
[Gallery] Swipe or use arrow keys
 
 
 
 
 
here) had a lot to live up to after their work on Super Mario Galaxy. Fortunately, they've brought together the best of both worlds, both in terms of a big orchestral sound and the traditional Mario big band jazz that's been missing for so long.

Every bit of this soundtrack is a love note to fans, from the arrangement of the character select screen from Super Mario Bros. 2, to the Super Mario Bros. 3 death jingle (I almost wanted to die just to hear it), to tons of references to past Mario titles that I won't spoil here.

In terms of the new, there's the infectious theme that everyone has heard in trailers, tons of catchy overworld tracks (disco meets brass for one of the final stages? Yes please!), epic orchestral for the castle stages, a great Christmas-esque snow theme, a beautiful yet spooky ghost house theme, some smooth jazz (very good!) for the beach, some fun woodwind-meets-funk bass, more disco, more funk, cool synths, traditional Japanese sounds... it goes on and on. It's all amazingly well produced, and the cheesy game-y synth sounds that Nintendo is apt to use are used tastefully in this game.

This soundtrack looks to be a Club Nintendo exclusive in Japan. That means I'll pay $50+ to gouging importers because it's that good. Get ready for a beautiful aural experience (I didn't even mention the sound design... underwater effects are awesome!), and watch for our review in the coming days!

[embed]265455:51303:0[/embed]

Castlevania ~Lords of Shadow~ Exclusive Director's Cut Soundtrack
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Price: $9.99 (digital only)
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Oscar Araujo

I admit the Lords of Shadow soundtrack isn’t as sexy as the gothic rock scores of Castlevania’s past (interesting article on the contrast here). However, it’s found favor for fans with its highly emotional orchestral score that still emphasizes melody and atmosphere. Back when the game was released, the limited edition contained a soundtrack disc with about 20 tracks, but to celebrate Halloween last month, Sumthing Else Music Works released the Director’s Cut version with a whopping 42 tracks.

My favorites from the original, including the foreboding “Dead Bog,” the beautiful “Waterfalls of Agharta,” and the defiant “Belmont’s Theme,” still stand out, but in terms of new material, the powerful “Underground Cave” is a track I was always hoping to see released, as well as short but sweet “Forest Dream” and melancholy “Into Darkness.”

I loved the Lords of Shadow soundtrack, and this is the definitive version. Check it out.

[embed]265455:51297:0[/embed]

Club Needlemouse
Release Date: October 31, 2013
Price: $10 (physical) / $7 (digital)
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): RobKTA

This electronic remix album spans the entire Sonic universe and is damn smooth. Italian artist RobKTA hits a homerun with his funkalicious take on “Spring Yard Zone” from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, the feel-good “Disco Absolution” from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), the sexy “Sambapolis” from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and even a bumpin’ remix from Sonic Lost World (the bass on this one is killer!). Our favorite electronic remixer, bLiNd, even makes an appearance in “Neddlemau5,” which covers the ending theme from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and does wonders with its minimalistic approach.

If you ever loved Sonic music (not the cheesy rock stuff), download this now!

[embed]265455:51298:0[/embed]

MM25: Mega Man Rocks
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Price: $9.99 (digital only)
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Various Artists

This is one half of the officially sanctioned Mega Man 25th anniversary fan arrangement albums (the other is here). Mega Man Rocks focuses on game music cover bands/artists, and it’s a vocal-heavy affair. That actually had me a bit worried at first, but the vocal work here is quite tastefully done.

Acts include ARMCANNON, Mega Ran, The Megas, The Protomen, X-Hunters, and Bit Brigade (yes, it looks like a MAGFest lineup). Everyone does a fantastic job, and I have to say that after hearing many of these acts live and not being overly impressed, their studio efforts are a whole lot more enjoyable. Your favorite tracks are probably going to depend on your musical preferences and the source tracks, but ARMCANNON and Mega Ran do a lot in the way of interpretation and The Protomen are incredibly… dreamy? I wouldn’t think twice if I heard them on the radio.

Check it out if you’re a Mega Man fan.

Other Releases

[embed]265455:51294:0[/embed]

Castlevania -Lords of Shadow- MIRROR OF FATE Original Game Soundtrack
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Price: $9.99
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Oscar Araujo

I am super happy that Konami has finally decided to release this soundtrack. Oscar Araujo had a daunting task reimaging the musical soundscape of Castlevania with Lords of Shadow, and after doing a fantastic job, I was looking forward to hearing the score for Mirror of Fate.

The score is certainly subdued in a lot of ways. The theme is a bit unassuming, and the tail end of the album is packed with most of the heavier action cues, which are rather terrifying. I really love the emotional and rich “Gabriel’s Farewell,” which is probably my favorite track here, although the ethereal bell tone-laden “Library,” tumultuous “Succubus” (love the deep brass bass), and moving “Carousel” are also highlights.

While this album isn’t nearly as strong as Lords of Shadow, I still think it’s good, and worth checking out for fans of the Lords of Shadow saga.



Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter Original Soundtrack
Release Date: September 18, 2013
Price: 2,800 Yen ($28)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Naoki Sato

[Soundtrack Samples]

I’m with you in not really knowing what this is. Doing a little research on Wikipedia, the anime series is about elementary school kids and futuristic “A.I. cars,” and this album features music from the subsequent games on arcade and 3DS by Naoki Sato.

It’s a shame that the franchise this is attached to is so obscure, because the music is quite good. In typical anime fashion, you have high production values and some great composition covering rock, orchestral, ballads and more across two discs. There are a few moments that will make you look up and take note of what you’re listening to, but the fact that likely nobody reading this will have played the games, you probably won’t find yourself connecting with the album.



Sengoku BASARA Chronicle Heroes Original Soundtracks
Release Date: July 27, 2011
Price: 2,400 Yen ($24)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): T’s MUSIC

Here’s one that’s been on my desk for way too long. That’s probably because I’m not really a fan of the series and haven’t been impressed with past efforts in terms of music. However, I’m surprised that this is my favorite Sengoku BASARA soundtrack that I’ve heard, bringing together the usual rock, electronic, and orchestral fusion with some really catchy results.

The foreboding traditional Japanese and rock in “The End of the Beginning,” chugging “Burning Soul,” an awesome brass and piano-infused rock track, “Lamentation,” the contemplative “Contest the Differences” and “Full Throttle,” the gritty and funky “Now to the Fated Battle,” the classical-inspired “Ravaging Red” (probably my favorite), and the octave-jumping and energetic “CHRONICLE HEROES” are all fantastic.

Check this one out if you like traditional Japanese-flavored rock at its best!



StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Soundtrack Volume II
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Price: $12
Availability: BlizzCon 2013 exclusive
Artist(s): Blizzard Entertainment

We had an awesome feature on StarCraft II: Heart of the Swam’s OST, and I loved the soundtrack was it was released. I was therefore very excited that they decided to release more music from the game in the form of an exclusive CD at BlizzCon this year.

While Heart of the Swarm and therefore Volume I of the OST focused on the Zerg, featuring evolving soundscapes that were a lot of fun to listen to, this disc captures the Terran perspective, incorporating more orchestral and rock. There’s emotion in tracks like “Worlds Will Burn,” some rockin’ and funkin’ Terran in “Kaldir,” and the patriotic march, “The Old Directorate.” It’s nice to see the other side, but I was hoping for more textural Zerg themes.

Still, fans of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and its music should try to track this album down. It features amazing composition and production values, as always.

[embed]265455:51301:0[/embed]

Thanks a Million
Release Date: December 31, 2012
Price: Free
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Descendants of Erdrick

While Descendants of Erdrick have been one of my favorite acts at past MAGFest events, I failed to notice the release of Thanks a Million, a fan-funded album that was released for free online after physical copies were sold out. How cool is that?

Now, I’ve never been a fan of medleys because you don’t really get to savor that one track you’re looking to hear, but this band does them so well, I can’t help but love them. I think it’s the flute added to the rock ensemble that makes their sound so unique… plus any band that does Ninja Gaiden (the NES ones!) deserves major props. What you like will probably depend on what you’re nostalgic for, but the Sonic II, Double Dragon, and Zelda II medleys are all fantastic.

No reason not to pick this up. Watch for them at future MAGFests!

[embed]265455:51300:0" data-vidtitle="

Super Mario 3D World soundtrack is another masterpiece Coming to the end of the year, there's always a lot of great game music releases planned. Top honors go to Super Mario 3D World, and there are so many reasons why that you'll read about here in a second.We've got reviews...  
Full story

" data-purl="super-mario-3d-world-soundtrack-is-another-masterpiece-265455.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">Game Soundtracks
here) had a lot to live up to after their work on Super Mario Galaxy. Fortunately, they've brought together the best of both worlds, both in terms of a big orchestral sound and the traditional Mario big band jazz that's been missing for so long.

Every bit of this soundtrack is a love note to fans, from the arrangement of the character select screen from Super Mario Bros. 2, to the Super Mario Bros. 3 death jingle (I almost wanted to die just to hear it), to tons of references to past Mario titles that I won't spoil here.

In terms of the new, there's the infectious theme that everyone has heard in trailers, tons of catchy overworld tracks (disco meets brass for one of the final stages? Yes please!), epic orchestral for the castle stages, a great Christmas-esque snow theme, a beautiful yet spooky ghost house theme, some smooth jazz (very good!) for the beach, some fun woodwind-meets-funk bass, more disco, more funk, cool synths, traditional Japanese sounds... it goes on and on. It's all amazingly well produced, and the cheesy game-y synth sounds that Nintendo is apt to use are used tastefully in this game.

This soundtrack looks to be a Club Nintendo exclusive in Japan. That means I'll pay $50+ to gouging importers because it's that good. Get ready for a beautiful aural experience (I didn't even mention the sound design... underwater effects are awesome!), and watch for our review in the coming days!

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Castlevania ~Lords of Shadow~ Exclusive Director's Cut Soundtrack
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Price: $9.99 (digital only)
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Oscar Araujo

I admit the Lords of Shadow soundtrack isn’t as sexy as the gothic rock scores of Castlevania’s past (interesting article on the contrast here). However, it’s found favor for fans with its highly emotional orchestral score that still emphasizes melody and atmosphere. Back when the game was released, the limited edition contained a soundtrack disc with about 20 tracks, but to celebrate Halloween last month, Sumthing Else Music Works released the Director’s Cut version with a whopping 42 tracks.

My favorites from the original, including the foreboding “Dead Bog,” the beautiful “Waterfalls of Agharta,” and the defiant “Belmont’s Theme,” still stand out, but in terms of new material, the powerful “Underground Cave” is a track I was always hoping to see released, as well as short but sweet “Forest Dream” and melancholy “Into Darkness.”

I loved the Lords of Shadow soundtrack, and this is the definitive version. Check it out.

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Club Needlemouse
Release Date: October 31, 2013
Price: $10 (physical) / $7 (digital)
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): RobKTA

This electronic remix album spans the entire Sonic universe and is damn smooth. Italian artist RobKTA hits a homerun with his funkalicious take on “Spring Yard Zone” from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, the feel-good “Disco Absolution” from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), the sexy “Sambapolis” from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and even a bumpin’ remix from Sonic Lost World (the bass on this one is killer!). Our favorite electronic remixer, bLiNd, even makes an appearance in “Neddlemau5,” which covers the ending theme from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and does wonders with its minimalistic approach.

If you ever loved Sonic music (not the cheesy rock stuff), download this now!

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MM25: Mega Man Rocks
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Price: $9.99 (digital only)
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Various Artists

This is one half of the officially sanctioned Mega Man 25th anniversary fan arrangement albums (the other is here). Mega Man Rocks focuses on game music cover bands/artists, and it’s a vocal-heavy affair. That actually had me a bit worried at first, but the vocal work here is quite tastefully done.

Acts include ARMCANNON, Mega Ran, The Megas, The Protomen, X-Hunters, and Bit Brigade (yes, it looks like a MAGFest lineup). Everyone does a fantastic job, and I have to say that after hearing many of these acts live and not being overly impressed, their studio efforts are a whole lot more enjoyable. Your favorite tracks are probably going to depend on your musical preferences and the source tracks, but ARMCANNON and Mega Ran do a lot in the way of interpretation and The Protomen are incredibly… dreamy? I wouldn’t think twice if I heard them on the radio.

Check it out if you’re a Mega Man fan.

Other Releases

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Castlevania -Lords of Shadow- MIRROR OF FATE Original Game Soundtrack
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Price: $9.99
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Oscar Araujo

I am super happy that Konami has finally decided to release this soundtrack. Oscar Araujo had a daunting task reimaging the musical soundscape of Castlevania with Lords of Shadow, and after doing a fantastic job, I was looking forward to hearing the score for Mirror of Fate.

The score is certainly subdued in a lot of ways. The theme is a bit unassuming, and the tail end of the album is packed with most of the heavier action cues, which are rather terrifying. I really love the emotional and rich “Gabriel’s Farewell,” which is probably my favorite track here, although the ethereal bell tone-laden “Library,” tumultuous “Succubus” (love the deep brass bass), and moving “Carousel” are also highlights.

While this album isn’t nearly as strong as Lords of Shadow, I still think it’s good, and worth checking out for fans of the Lords of Shadow saga.



Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter Original Soundtrack
Release Date: September 18, 2013
Price: 2,800 Yen ($28)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Naoki Sato

[Soundtrack Samples]

I’m with you in not really knowing what this is. Doing a little research on Wikipedia, the anime series is about elementary school kids and futuristic “A.I. cars,” and this album features music from the subsequent games on arcade and 3DS by Naoki Sato.

It’s a shame that the franchise this is attached to is so obscure, because the music is quite good. In typical anime fashion, you have high production values and some great composition covering rock, orchestral, ballads and more across two discs. There are a few moments that will make you look up and take note of what you’re listening to, but the fact that likely nobody reading this will have played the games, you probably won’t find yourself connecting with the album.



Sengoku BASARA Chronicle Heroes Original Soundtracks
Release Date: July 27, 2011
Price: 2,400 Yen ($24)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): T’s MUSIC

Here’s one that’s been on my desk for way too long. That’s probably because I’m not really a fan of the series and haven’t been impressed with past efforts in terms of music. However, I’m surprised that this is my favorite Sengoku BASARA soundtrack that I’ve heard, bringing together the usual rock, electronic, and orchestral fusion with some really catchy results.

The foreboding traditional Japanese and rock in “The End of the Beginning,” chugging “Burning Soul,” an awesome brass and piano-infused rock track, “Lamentation,” the contemplative “Contest the Differences” and “Full Throttle,” the gritty and funky “Now to the Fated Battle,” the classical-inspired “Ravaging Red” (probably my favorite), and the octave-jumping and energetic “CHRONICLE HEROES” are all fantastic.

Check this one out if you like traditional Japanese-flavored rock at its best!



StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Soundtrack Volume II
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Price: $12
Availability: BlizzCon 2013 exclusive
Artist(s): Blizzard Entertainment

We had an awesome feature on StarCraft II: Heart of the Swam’s OST, and I loved the soundtrack was it was released. I was therefore very excited that they decided to release more music from the game in the form of an exclusive CD at BlizzCon this year.

While Heart of the Swarm and therefore Volume I of the OST focused on the Zerg, featuring evolving soundscapes that were a lot of fun to listen to, this disc captures the Terran perspective, incorporating more orchestral and rock. There’s emotion in tracks like “Worlds Will Burn,” some rockin’ and funkin’ Terran in “Kaldir,” and the patriotic march, “The Old Directorate.” It’s nice to see the other side, but I was hoping for more textural Zerg themes.

Still, fans of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and its music should try to track this album down. It features amazing composition and production values, as always.

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Thanks a Million
Release Date: December 31, 2012
Price: Free
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Descendants of Erdrick

While Descendants of Erdrick have been one of my favorite acts at past MAGFest events, I failed to notice the release of Thanks a Million, a fan-funded album that was released for free online after physical copies were sold out. How cool is that?

Now, I’ve never been a fan of medleys because you don’t really get to savor that one track you’re looking to hear, but this band does them so well, I can’t help but love them. I think it’s the flute added to the rock ensemble that makes their sound so unique… plus any band that does Ninja Gaiden (the NES ones!) deserves major props. What you like will probably depend on what you’re nostalgic for, but the Sonic II, Double Dragon, and Zelda II medleys are all fantastic.

No reason not to pick this up. Watch for them at future MAGFests!

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Super Mario 3D World soundtrack is another masterpiece Coming to the end of the year, there's always a lot of great game music releases planned. Top honors go to Super Mario 3D World, and there are so many reasons why that you'll read about here in a second.We've got reviews...  
Full story

" data-purl="super-mario-3d-world-soundtrack-is-another-masterpiece-265455.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">  Watch Video Coming to the end of the year, there's always a lot of great game music releases planned. Top honors go to Super Mario 3D World, and there are so many reasons why that you'll read about here in a second.We've got reviews...   read
[Gallery] Swipe or use arrow keys
 
 
Super Mario 3D World
We mentioned a few days back that we had an interview with Nintendo composers Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo regarding their work on Super Mario 3D World in the works. Well, here it is! The two take the time to share with us how cats influenced the game, their thoughts on the great cats vs. dogs debate, and some surprises that we'll hear when it comes to the game's soundtrack.   read
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Latest Game Soundtracks
  Watch Video Okay, so we've featured a lot of Final Fantasy in Note Worthy lately, in part thanks to the recent remaster soundtracks. Looking at Final Fantasy VI this month, however, finally brought me around to accepting that this is tru...   read
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