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Ridge Laser - Ridge Racer LD Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Ridge Laser - Ridge Racer LD Soundtrack Album Title: Ridge Laser - Ridge Racer LD Soundtrack
Record Label: Victor Entertainment
Catalog No.: VICL-15038
Release Date: February 22, 1995
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Ridge Laser commemorates a laserdisc title produced between the second and third main entries of the Ridge Racer series. The main contributors to the early series, Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, and Nobuyoshi Sano, were asked to create the score. Rather than creating new compositions, they focused on remixing pieces from Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer 2. Though it could have been an interesting tribute to the series, the results unfortunately indicate they did not take the original score or album release particularly seriously...


The opener "Welcome RR2.5" is once again a mixture of ridiculous voice-overs from the series' announcer and simple funk backing. This time, it is certainly more annoying than humorous or embarrassing however, since it has absolutely nothing novel to offer. Though the composition becomes more substantial during its voice-free second half, the occasional new sample or downbeat piano chord doesn't really constitute creativity. Most of the rest of the soundtrack seems to focus on flogging a dead horse. After controversial appearances on the previous two soundtracks, Hosoe doesn't hesitate to bring the potentially infuriating voice samples from the Rotterdam theme back into the "Yzarc Ruoy" theme. The voice samples actually take a lesser role this time in favour of a varied range of new beats, but they're still sufficiently prominent to make the composition a must-avoid for many out there.

Tragically, most of Ayako Saso's remixes on the soundtrack are near-identical to remixes present on earlier soundtracks. After its absence in Ridge Racer 2, Hosoe revives the Ridge Racer's funky main theme on this soundtrack. Unfortunately, the so-called 'fine mix' is a duplicate if shortened version of the remix in the Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 11 - Ridge Racer. Most others use Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 14 - Ridge Racer 2 as their source material. Most significantly, "Ridge Racer (Slap Mix)" is a remastered version of "...Dat Dan Day... A", "Ridge Racer (Speedmix)" is a relooped version of "Over the Highway", and "Ridge Racer (Laugh Mix)" cuts the intro of "Feeling Over Remix". These tracks seem more like bonuses on their album, but the duplication is unacceptable given they compose over half of the soundtrack. There are no real improvements or variations to offer.

Despite an increase in creativity, the album doesn't fully redeem itself after these unacceptable contributions. Nobuyoshi Sano's "Ridge Racer (In the Jazz Groove)" is a relatively thoughtful remix of the "Winning Turn" theme. The jazzy keyboard use, dated recording effects, and audience sounds all give the sense of listening to a vinyl recording from the 1950s. It's still pretty flawed, but at least a worthy concept. Ayako Saso's final contribution "Bouncing Tail (Road of Techno)" is a surprising slow-building reggae interpretation of the "Lords of Techno" theme. While fairly memorable, the vocals are very transient and much of the piece focuses on infantile piano chords and random beats. Sano closes the album with "Had Gripped", a trippy and minimalistic contemplation based on the "Grip" theme. It features a slow-building blend of piano pasages and beats in conjunction with further post-production recording effects.


In summary, Ridge Laser is an album that adds very little to the series. Most tracks are rehashes of mixes or styles featured in previous Ridge Racer soundtracks so there is not much original content. Furthermore, even some of the rehashed content is potentially unpleasant and overbearing. Although Sano did a good job, Hosoe and Saso clearly didn't regard Ridge Laser as a major project yet it appears that Namco were nevertheless insistent about marketing an album release. The result is deceptive and limited. Ridge Racer collectors will be disappointed by the numerous duplicate entries and minimal new material on this soundtrack. Those unfamiliar with the series would be much better off purchasing the more creative and wholesome album Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 14 - Ridge Racer 2.

Overall Score: 3/10