Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Music Review: Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan OST

This is going to be a weird review of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, because I am not reviewing the game (10/10 BTW) but the soundtrack. It is even weirder because there are no official soundtrack for this game.

Because of the way the game is played, the only way you would be able to listen to the music is by playing through them EACH time. It is a rewarding experience though and each time you will be presented with catchy J-pop hit songs.

The songs are apparently well known J-pop hits. I have no idea since the only bands I have slight knowledge of is Asian Kung-fu Generation, Morning Musume (this weird stereotyped girly group) and L'Arc~en~Ciel (best known in the West for their Fullmetal Alchemist themes). But it doesn't matter. These songs were chosen by iNiS for the game for a reason - because it suits the gameplay and because they are good (well most of them anyway).

According Eurogamer the music on Ouendan are covers (ie. not having to pay royalties to the original artists) but having listened to the original versions I tip my hat to the soundalikes. The covers are extremely accurate and just as enjoyable as the originals.

The following are the track list with the original artist(s), the title of the track and in bracket the game level:

Asian Kung-fu Generation - Loop & Loop (Exam Crisis!)

- Asian Kung-fu Generation is one of those bands that people who has the slightest interest in punk would know about. Loop & Loop is one of the better known singles and is pretty accessible (ie. radio friendly). This is the first 'track' of Ouendan and a great 'opening theme'.

175R - Melody (Matsuri Competition)

- According to some, Melody as featured in Ouendan is an original 175R recording. No idea really. I can't refer to the manual to verify otherwise since I lack Japanese linguistic skills. A nice and catchy 'anime-like' J-rock track.

Morning Musume - Koi no Dance Site (Secretary's Busy day)

- A secretary, as the title implies is having an extremely busy day. All those hard work and the fact that she is has an eye for the boss meant loads of stress. What better situation to call male cheerleaders for? And Morning Musume's well known and outrageous Koi no Dance Site, an ultra melodic J-pop tune, is perfect for this, no?

Ulfuls - Guts da ze!! (Bandit-nabbing Horserace)

- Ah, if only this is the soundtrack to this year's Ascot, I wouldn't be laughing at the weird looking people on BBC News. A typical melodic J-rock number, this has enough rhythm that totally suits the style of the game.

The Blue Hearts - Linda Linda (The Ramen Stall)

- The track here is a punk number and contains a pretty enjoyable drumming piece. Nice one.

Tomoyasu Hotei - Thrill (Dodgeball Crush)

- The track begins with like ten 'Baby baby' etc. before settling into a pretty pace J-rock. Tomoyasu Hotei is one of Japan's best known rocker and if I were you I will check out his past catalogues.

nobodyknows+ - Kokoro Odoru (Pottery Master)

- A fast paced J-pop number. A perfect track for a rhythm game like Ouendan. Kokoro Odoru is a mixture of pop, dance and hip-hop. It is pretty weird listening to Japanese hip-hop, but it was easier to listen that the other crap hip-hop artists currently populating British charts.

B'z - Atsuki Kodō no Hate (Teacher's Dilemma)

- The intro to this is wonderful. The track is slow paced and the game reflects that but halfway through it increases in speed which could ruined my game a few times.

Linda Yamamoto - Neraiuchi (Cleopatra's Pyramid)

- Wow, I just love this track. The soundalike's (and the original artist) voice is great. A couple of beats here and there that flows with Ouendan.

Kishidan - One Night Carnival (Violinist)

- One of the weaker tracks chosen for the game. It isn't bad per se, but it is a pretty generic inclusion - that doesn't seem to fit the game. It is great for rock fans like me, but somehow this seems to defeat the purpose. Fortunately the music is good as a standalone track.

Road of Major - Taisetsu na Mono (Election for Mayor!)

- This is more like it. A track that seems to be built around the game, I am glad that iNiS included this J-rock piece. Plus I like the riffing.

Hitomi Yaida - Over The Distance (Ghost Love Story)

- I love this track. I really do. A fitting song for the scene (Ghost Love Story). Hitomi Yaida shows how powerballads/rock is supposed to be done. Dido, get out of your rut and learn to sing like her.

Orange Range - Shanghai Honey (Policemen Vs Robots)

- A feel good J-rock track, this has a mixture of rock and hip-hop in it, and a lovely set of backing vocals.

The Yellow Monkey - Taiyō ga Moete iru (Mutant Rat Attack!)

- Another weak track. It is good enough for an Ouendan style rhythm game but somehow the track was boring and bland.

L'Arc~en~Ciel - Ready Steady Go (End of the World?)

The failed casting for the Final Fantasy VII Advent Children film

- This was one of Fullmetal Alchemist opening theme and is the perfect closure to the game. I can't think an equivalent Western band that performs in a similar style but you can say that the track blends cues from Swedish metal, Glam metal (post Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson), alternative rock (Foo Fighters) and the melodies of typical J-pop/J-rock.

I hope that iNiS would find a publisher and release an official Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan soundtrack featuring both soundalikes and originals. Sometimes I wish to listen to some of the music but having to whip the DS out just to play through the game in order to listen to the music can be wearisome.

iNiS has also announced the western remake of the game (some call it a sequel, I call it a remake just like Hollywood calls Naomi Watt's The Ring as a remake of Ringu) which will feature a complete 'Westernised' soundtrack. One just wonder whether it would work. I hope they do find music that fits the style of Ouendan.

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