Gun Runner Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris
Recently released for free on Apple's App Store, Gun Runner is a run 'n gun game inspired by Contra. While it won praise for its presentation, its neverending level and repetitive gameplay ensured it had a limited lifespan. For the game's soundtrack, Man Up Time Studios selected Brendan Ratliff (aka syphus), long-term demoscene musician and Pineapple Smash Crew composer.
The Gun Runner soundtrack is certainly brief. There are just three tracks here the title theme, level music, and game over theme that amount to about ten minutes. Nothing more was required, given the repetitive nature of the game, though some sort of track cycling may have made the endless gameplay more interesting. Thankfully, the Bandcamp release acknowledges the brevity with a still-generous one dollar pricetag.
While there isn't much here, the featured tracks are all awesome. The "Sanguinary Headband Overture" is reminiscent of the composer's main theme for Pineapple Smash Crew. Primarily created using the custom-made Chipslapper and the Amiga's AHX Tracker, it is filled with vibrant chiptune noises. The pop-flavoured melodies are bound to draw listeners in, while the propulsive rhythms keep the energy high. But given this is a homage to Contra, there is also a strong focus on rock elements Ratcliff brings the most out of the riffs and solos on his Ibanez guitars. The final sound, just like the game itself, is a fun blend of old and new.
"Please Shoot Everything" is an intense accompaniment to the main gameplay. The funk-influenced melodies sound much more jagged than the title theme, while the chiptune beats and guitar riffs in the accompaniment add to the edgy, unpredictable feel. However, it's still incredibly enjoyable thanks to its uniquely hybridised sounds and various catchy elements. Surprisingly, it's the shortest of the compositions looping at the 90 second mark but undergoes enough development to bring a decent variety to the gameplay. If only there could have been a few more tracks like this one...
The release closes with the lengthily titled game over theme "For Those Who Stumbled On the Ichor Stained Path to Glory". Here, syphus shifts away from the action-packed chip-rock sound in favour of a slower mournful setup. The composition is dominated by semi-improvised performances on a vintage synthesizer and the aforementioned guitar, above a soft chippy accompaniment. Ironically, this composition is far deeper than anything else the game offers and is simply lovely.
The soundtrack to Gun Runner is short but sweet. Building on the sound he showed off in Pineapple Smash Crew, Ratliff offers three delightful compositions here that combine vintage and contemporary elements. Its only limitations are caused by the underdeveloped nature of the game itself. Hopefully, the developer will consider producing an expanded version of the promising game in the future and allow Ratliff to produce an expanded soundtrack. Listeners are advised to check out the soundtrack by free streaming on Bandcamp or even by playing the game itself. If you like the tracks, it's likely they'll merit a permanent place on the iPod.
Overall Score: 7/10