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Metal Slug 4 Complete Box Soundtrack :: Review by George

Metal Slug 4 Complete Box Soundtrack Album Title: Metal Slug 4 Complete Box Soundtrack
Record Label: Scitron Digital Contents
Catalog No.: SCDC-00546
Release Date: September 6, 2006
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Metal Slug 4 was, in the words of many fans, a disaster. It was developed by the Korean Mega Enterprise after the decline of the old SNK. Technically, it wasn't an awful game, but the lack of originality and the recycled material made for a less than stellar title. Metal Slug 3 didn't make matters easier, since living up to its success was almost impossible, since the bar was raised so high. The only redeeming quality of this installment was the music. Toshikazu Tanaka, a veteran video game composer from SNK's assembly of musicians, composed the soundtrack for Metal Slug 4. He offered vastly superior audio quality, due to the new and improved hardware and samplers, with instruments sounding full and authentic (a far cry from the synthy sound of the previous entries). He also shited the musical style shifted towards rock and synth orchestral hybrids. The tone of the music is slightly more serious, without the over the top nature of the typical Metal Slug soundtrack, but still proves fairly charming and memorable. The soundtrack was packaged exclusively in the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box in 2006.


Before moving on with the actual music, there is a notable problem with the official track list that cannot be ignored. Certain audio tracks are incorrectly ordered, like track 10 is actually track 4, and so on. The actual track list is OK, but the audio tracks themselves are not correct. I am mentioning this because I will use the "incorrect" titles for each composition when reviewing the soundtrack. So, let's keep moving...

While older Metal Slug scores were generally over-the-top and hellishly fun, almost appropriate for the nature of shoot 'em ups, this time the compositions are slightly more edgy, mainly because the instruments sound more realistic and give to the music a more serious tone. This is very noticeable in "Go Ahead!", which is a dramatic militaristic anthem, and even more in "Show Spirit" that has heroic melodies, despite an almost upbeat rhythm. The latter is particularly fantastic and memorable. "Cadaverous" on the other hand creepily dwells into ambient territory, featuring terrifying sound effects, muddy rhythms, and eerie piano notes. The track instills fear and a sense of hidden danger, while still managing to be catchy in its minimalistic bliss.

The only rocking compositions of the soundtrack are "The Scene of a Hard Battle", "Let's Run Through!" and "Furiously", and all of them are highlights of the album. The first is a dangerously addictive theme, featuring a catchy percussion, heroic melodies, and sweet guitar samples that have a "James Bond" influence. Truly appropriate for a fun infiltration scene! The second is identical in style: thumping bass, catchy rhythm guitars, and various synth sounds, and it still maintains the intensity and energy of the previous track. The third, serving as the last stage theme, is slightly more epic, with dissonant piano melodies, rhythmic electric guitars, and various electronic sounds and percussions. All three compositions are extravagant, memorable, and tons of fun to listen to. Clearly, Tanaka shines in this cases and it's a shame that the Metal Slug 4 soundtrack doesn't have much more of this signature work from him.

"Snowy Road" and "Secret Place" (which are actually "The scene of a hard battle" and "Furiously" respectively) serve as music to accompany the boss battles, and unfortunately are mostly generic "urgent action" themes, with fast strings and rhythms. They are light-years from terrible, but they feel slightly underdeveloped. Still, Tanaka makes them enjoyable to listen to them at least once or twice, and possibly more. Fortunately, the final boss battle "Final Madness" manages to be pretty good, being an energetic and unforgiving theme full of frantic and dramatic strings along with a heavy bass. Lastly, "End to the war" gloriously concludes the game, being a triumphal orchestral theme with some really memorable moments.

Also, in true series' fashion, Metal Slug 4 re-uses the main jingles from the older games, completely intact in all their arcade synth glory. There's the minimalistic "The Military System", the tragic "Gravestone", and, more importantly "Carry Out", the most baddass victory anthem since Contra's.


At the end of the day, one is left satisfied after listening to the soundtrack of Metal Slug 4. It's not as good as the previous entries, despite having better sound quality, but it still manages to be unique in its own, due to the edgy but charming themes and overall enjoyable aural experience. The score is very decent but kind of inappropriate in context, and certain tracks will stick with the listener for a long time even outside of the game. On top of it all, you can't go wrong with Toshikazu Tanaka's work, as he manages to make even the simplest of ideas stand out. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is slightly short, and while nothing can be considered bad, only a handful of compositions are truly memorable, while some tracks tend to be slightly generic despite Tanaka trying his best. It feels like the soundtrack could have been much more. Still, it's definitely worth a listen for game music or Tanaka fans, because of some really cool and memorable highlights. It's a fine exclusive on the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box.

Overall Score: 7/10