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Bionic Commando - The Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Bionic Commando - The Soundtrack Album Title: Bionic Commando - The Soundtrack
Record Label: Sumthing Digital
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: June 23, 2008
Purchase: Buy at Sumthing Digital


Bionic Commando is a 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System action game featuring a bionic armed protagonist saving the world from the resurrection of Adolf Hitler or, as he was known in the hilariously censored overseas version, Master-D. Its soundtrack by Junko Tamiya was widely enjoyed for its strong melodies and militaristic influences. However, it was never released in soundtrack or compilation form unlike most other Commando series soundtracks. Fast forward to 2008. The enhanced remake of the game Bionic Commando Rearmed was commemorated with several digital albums, including the classic score for the original. Sold for just $3, it is worth purchasing?


The release begins with the first area theme, dubbed the "Bionic Commando Theme". The piece has clear militaristic intent as shown by its grand melodies and the percussive accompaniment. However, the severe limitations of the console means that the melodies come across more superficial than intended and the snare drums sound almost like electronic noise. Nevertheless, the bright presentation of the phenomenal melody and dynamic secondary features makes the theme highly nostalgic and endearing.

The track listings do not follow the exact order of the game with the Area 5 and Area 8 themes "Heat Wave" and "Power Plant" being subsequently presented. Both supported by hard rhythmical accompaniment, the former offers an expressive jazz-tinged melody, while the latter is bliss thanks to its lyrical use of sequences during the development. Following the subtly motivating Area 2 theme "Leap of Faith", the final stage music "Rise of the Albatross" makes a suitably intimidating appearance.

"Prologue & Epilogue" is a medley of the introduction and ending themes from the game. However, several of the shorter themes were actually missed off given they weren't used in the remake. The area select theme "OK, We'll Move" is a solid theme with a mixture of short rhythmic and melodic sections. The two battle themes "Meet the Enemy and Descend" and "Intruder Alert" really demonstrate the jazzy influences and rhythmic thrust of Junko Tamiya's music.

The album ends in a fantastic way with the trailer music for Bionic Commando Rearmed. It starts off with the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the "Bionic Commando Theme" but soon undergoes a spectacular metamorphosis into the groovy electronic arrangement for the remake. What a great way to link the original and remake together.


The music for Bionic Commando is definitely among the upper echelon of Nintendo Entertainment System soundtracks so it's fantastic that it is finally being given an official release. However, Sumthing Else Music Works' digital releases aren't exactly satisfying in their presentation. After downloading the album, you'll simply receive a zip folder containing 320-encoded MP3s that lack tags or copyright protection. While this 16 minute release contains most of the pieces from the original, several short themes were trimmed off so that it is more like Bionic Commando Rearmed. Those wanting a more complete and better encoded release would be best off sticking with NSF set conversions. Nevertheless, this release is a nice tribute to the original and $3 well spent.

Overall Score: 7/10