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Space Odyssey Gradius II Gofer no Yabou :: Review by Chris

Space Odyssey Gradius II Gofer no Yabou Album Title: Space Odyssey Gradius II Gofer no Yabou
Record Label: Apollon
Catalog No.: BY30-5202 (CD), KSF-1524 (Tape), AY25-0021 (Vinyl)
Release Date: July 21, 1988
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Konami rock fusion artist Motoaki Furukawa made his Arcade debut with the score for the official sequel Gradius II Gofer no Yabou. Having previously scored the MSX-only spinoff Gradius 2, he was joined by Shinji Tasaka, Kenichi Matsubara, and Seiichi Fukami this time. He intended to produce a more expansive and enjoyable score than its predecessor Gradius by mixing strong melodies with his own light rock touches. The album opens with a so-called rock arrange version before compiling the original music in the rest of the disc. Is it worth its steep pricetag?


The triumphant select scene "Equipment" features mordents from a well-synthesized flute against a thick accompaniment of percussion and synth. It makes clear that the soundtrack is far more technologically advanced than its predecessor and also well-supported down below. The "Title Demo" theme feels very cinematic during its 34 second playtime while the unforgettable dogfight themes "Tabidachi" and "A Shooting Star" provide the first touches of light rock to the series; both delight thanks to their warmly characterised and extraordinarily lyrical melodies. Nevertheless, themes like "Game Over" and "Ranking" exemplify the naive Gradius style is still fondly remembered. "Take Care!" is quite an effective and catchy theme for transient boss encounters, though is too brief for stand-alone listening.

Moving to other stage themes, the first "Burning Heat" provides another upbeat rock anthem immortalised by its frequent arrangements across Gradius albums. "Synthetic Life" offers more intensity and dynamism despite its adherence to the verse-chorus form of the other pieces. It's impressive how, in both this theme and "A Way Out of the Difficulty", relatively simple scalar and arpeggio figures collectively assemble into expansive and elegant melodies. "Crystal World" does not focus on conveying mystical imagery of the crystals in favour of reflecting the Vic Viper's destruction of them with hard rhythms and punctuation. "The Old Stone Age" is a two-tiered piece to represent the Moai level — the first half is accompanied by slow and formidable orchestral forces and the second half is a demanding rock theme. The sixth stage's "Maximum Speed" is another definitive Konami classic thanks to its killer rhythms and melodies.

For the boss rush stages, Gradius's repetitive normal boss theme and Salamander's more effective counterpart are reprised in technologically enhanced form in conjunction with "Fire Dragon". The final stage trio take the album to a fulfilling climax. "Into Hostile Ship" initially seems to be another naive melodious theme but takes some unexpected dark turns during the development. "Shoot and Shoot" is a frenzied piece with irregular rhythms inspired by Gradius' lesser stage themes while "The Final Enemy" is a slow series of chord progressions that presents a hostile image of the final boss. The original version is rounded off with the enchanting ending theme "Farewell", which beautifully synchronises high-pitched synth melodies with light rock accompaniment. There is also an extensive sound effects collection at the end of the soundtrack.

The first six tracks on the album are arrangements by popular Japanese musician Ikuro Fujiwara. While labelled a 'rock arrange version', all the pieces are very light in texture and focus on soothing listeners with melodies from the original. Though an electric guitarist and keyboardist were involved, the majority of the section was implemented with synthesizers, creating a sound that was retro even for the 1980s. Following an introduction inspired by Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Opening Theme" provides a gentle take on the "Title Demo" theme before transitioning into the "Equipment" theme. "Fighting Around" conveys the awe-inspiring feeling of entering the spacey battlefields with a catchy take on "Burning Heat". "Living on the Hard Days" feels even more laid-back and dated than the other themes but nevertheless offers an impressive electric guitar of "Synthetic Life" in conjunction with elements of "Tabidachi".

Moving to the remaining arrangements, "Off Them All" is a nice retrospective medley of several of the late stage and boss themes. However, the contrasting quality of the orch hits from "Take Care!" and more exuberant electric guitar work is another damaging indication of low production values. "The Final" is a rhythmically focused presentation of the final stage themes with dabs of both hard rock and funk. Good grooves are established, but the overall tone is too tacky to really impress. If there is any track that Fujiwara's dated synths and reflective guitar melodies fit, it's in the interpretation of the ending theme in "Eternal Planets". Though the intrinsic elements are superficial and cheesy, it inspires all the right nostalgic emotions. The arranged section is overall a nice bonus for retrospection, but not a particularly deep or refined production otherwise.


Overall, Gradius II Gofer no Yabou's score fleshes out the style of the original and exposes the rock-based style that made Konami's early scores so popular. There are plenty of great melodies and light rock tracks to be found in the continually enjoyable original section. The arranged section will only be a small bonus for most fans and has been superseded by various other Gradius arranged productions. Space Odyssey Gradius II Gofer no Yabou is now out-of-print and quite a collector's album so will be expensive to buy. The Gradius Arcade Soundtrack, which compiles all the original music and three other classic scores from the series, is recommended if you're only a casual fan.

Overall Score: 8/10