Music GunGun! Best Hit Tune! :: Review by Don
The Music GunGun! Best Hit Tune! album is a physical release containing a selection of music from the Taito arcade games. Unlike most rhythm games that rely on physically hitting buttons or tapping a screen, the premise behind this is to shoot at the screen to match the patterns on the screen. The first game in the series offered a mixture of original music, classical covers, and remixes of Taito favourites, courtesy of Hirokazu Koshio and Shohei Tsuchiya. An expansion was released, Music Gun Gun Kyoku Ippai Chouzoukaban!, featuring twice as much music and a range of difficulties. The full sequel expanded on the concept of the series with more arrangements and original music, including numerous vocal performances and guest contributions by names such as Takeharu Ishimoto, Shinji Hosoe, and Masashi Hamauzu. This album from SuperSweep, while incomplete, compiles 36 tracks from the series from a variety of sources.
The majority of the original compositions are composed by Hirokazu Koshio, under his COSIO alias. The album sets the tone for the rhythm game with "Shoot Your Mu-Gun" from the sequel. It's an electronic tune that gives off a lot of energy, but doesn't really come across as inspired. It works to attract your attention in the arcade though. "Extreme M.G.G." is very techno oriented, featuring an intense beat, an Asian-influenced melody, and some beautiful synthesizer accompaniments. Given the title, it changes up quite a bit during the listen, making for a bit of a disjointed listen, but one that still manages to coalesce in the end. "Astro Music Chase" is a little harder-edged and has some rock/electro influences, but is also somewhat uninspired. In fact, parts of it remind me of the final battle theme in Chrono Trigger, particularly the electronic accompaniment.
Moving to the vocal themes, "Pull the Trigger ~Theme of Magenta~" is the theme song for the female character in the game, featuring Asami Imai on vocals and lots more pumping electronics. It's a lot more engaging than most of the originals here and the pop sound really manages to work with the bubbly melody. "Beat the Sound ~Theme of Cyan~," the theme for the male character of the game, features Hiroshi Kamiya on vocals and is much more rock-oriented. I find this a bit less engaging than the female version of the theme as I don't find the melody nearly as catchy. "Muse Station TV Theme" is a more pop oriented vocal theme that features a fairly catchy melody, but the vocals may turn away some.
Taken from the original game, "Theme of Music GunGun!," featuring Azuma Sakamoto and Megumi Kojima, is a rock oriented theme. The kawaii vocals don't exactly overstay their welcome, but may be too cute for some. The melody itself is pretty engaging, offering an energetic listen, and helps diversify some of Koshio's compositions. The synthesizer and rock solos definitely add another dimension to the tune as well. There is also a vocaloid version of this featuring Miku Hatsune and Rin Kagamine. "M.G.G. Second Theme of Music GunGun!" is much different in style, featuring a funky jazz mixed with electronic accompaniment; however, I find that the addition of some rap diminishes the overall effect a bit.
Of course, there are a few additional contributors to the album, ranging from a number of sources. Shohei Tsuchiya, also of ZUNTATA, contributed "What are we running after?" to the original game. It is a pretty funky jazz theme that really manages to bring a solid composition to the table. The melody is quite engaging and the overall atmosphere is fantastic. The addition of a synthesizer solo and plenty of percussion make it fitting for a rhythm game.
Taken from the sequel, a single theme from Square Enix's Takeharu Ishimoto is featured on the album as well. For as much as I did not enjoy his modern pop styling for The World Ends With You, I must say that I did find myself enjoying his contribution "Dreamer" quite a bit. It has a very engaging rhythm that has quite a bit of edge and the vocalist's sultry voice really manages to carry the melody and makes the chorus even more so. Speaking of Square Enix, former member Masashi Hamauzu contributes a single theme titled "Shooting Star." Featuring Mina, his collaborative vocalist of choice, it sounds like it would fit right into the Final Fantasy XIII universe. For fans of his ethereal style, this is sure to please with its focus on heavy percussion, crystalline percussion, and masterful use of atmosphere.
Of course, Supersweep also joins in the mix with Shinji Hosoe, under his alias Sampling Masters MEGA, contributing a tune called "Crowded Space." As with most of his rhythm game contributions, it focuses a lot on complex rhythms, engaging melodies, and a nice pulsating energy. "Music Revolver" by Zeami is another of my favorites on the album. It is a great electronic-oriented tune, featuring heroic synth passages, crystalline synth, and trance-like moments. It is most reminiscent of something one might hear in a beatmania game.
kuracciP is another contributor to the album and features three unique songs for the album. "Landscape Setsugetsuka" is an awesome Asian rock tune that really manages to deliver with its catchy melody and accompaniment, not to mention its short, but powerful, rock solo. For fans of Miku Hatsune, the vocals will surely please, but for those who don't like the vocaloid's sound, this might not be your cup of tea. "MUSIC STAR," also featuring Miku Hatsune, is another pretty catchy tune featuring a heavy electronic beat and lots of beautiful synthesizer accompaniments. However, once again, the vocals will be hit or miss for most people. There is also a rock counterpart to this album featured later in the album. Lastly, "Silent MUSE" features Miku Hatsune and miko on vocals. The music itself is a bit more intense and at a slower tempo than kuracciP's other contributions and is electronic in nature. The vocals, once again, will be hit or miss, but this is a pretty catchy pop tune.
There are also plenty of arrangements on the album, which are sadly uncredited on the album, and due to the nature of the originals, their mileage will certainly vary. The tributes to the classic games, like "Top Landing MGG Special Remix," "Theme of Elevator Action MGG Ver.," and "Bubble Bobble Medley", will certainly please fans featuring that classic sound mixed with some electronic beats to match the style of the game. However, fans of Taito classics may want to wish to purchase the Music GunGun! Original Soundtrack instead, since such tributes are more numerous. The Touhou-related remixes, featured in the sequel's promotional album, are also absent here.
However, the classical music arrangements are where some people may find offense, particularly if they are classical music purists. Lots of popular classical tracks are given contemporary takes suitable for the rhythm game. Expect electronic takes on Romantic favourites such as "Swan Lake," "Revolutionary Etude" and the "William Tell Overture". There are also more rock-oriented arrangements of Baroque classics "Air on a String of G" and "Canon in D" that might divide listeners. There are also other styles present, like the Asian arrangement of "Jupiter" and the more conventional orchestration of "Russian Dance" from the Nutcracker Suite.
In the end, for the type of game it accompanies, the Music GunGun! Best Hit Tune! music certainly delivers in creating energetic tunes to match the rhythm shooting gameplay. However, many of the original tunes, primarily composed by COSIO, don't live up to some of his more popular works. The contributions by other well-known composers are generally much more successful. The arrangements featured on the album may also vary in enjoyment on a standalone listen due to the style of arrangements chosen to treat the classics. As for the compilation as a whole, it does a good job of compiling the original material from the games both instrumental and vocal. It doesn't feature all the remixes of the classical music and Taito classics from the main soundtrack, but still provides a taste of those. It's a well-selected 'best' selection overall. I'd cautiously recommend this album, particularly if you aren't a fan of vocal music as some of the vocals featured on the album do leave a bit to be desired.
Overall Score: 7/10