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Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Force Official Sound Data Ver. 7.5 :: Review by Chris

Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Force Official Sound Data Ver. 7.5 Album Title: Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Force Official Sound Data Ver. 7.5
Record Label: Marvelous Entertainment
Catalog No.: MJCG-80086
Release Date: December 21, 2001
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Aware of its appeal to cult audiences, Sega continued the Virtual-On series in 2001 with an Arcade exclusive, Cyber Troopers Virtual-On: Force. Returnee Kentaro Kobayashi and newcomer Yuko Iseki developed the series' music further on this instalment — determined to inject it with new life while still maintaining a familiar aura. The results of their efforts were released in two official albums — a one disc album called 'Ver. 7.5' and a two disc album called 'Marsinal'. While the former is reviewed here, the latter is probably the better release overall. Fans of the series should note that the game is being re-released for Xbox 360 and the limited edition version of the game will feature a six disc box set featuring all four soundtracks to the Virtual-On series.


Kentaro Kobayashi made a much more pronounced attempt to make the music for Cyber Troopers Virtual-On: Force more elaborate than its predecessors. This is immediate evident by the arrangement of the introduction theme "Transition '01 ~ Force"; once little more than a series of heavy drum beats, Kobayashi attempts to vary it with some jazzy interjections this time. Another familiar theme, "High On Hope" from Oratorio Tangram, is remixed and resynthed to achieve a much fuller sound topped off by some particularly fulfilling guitar work. There are also arrangements of "In the Blue Sky", "The Wind is Blowing", and "Soldier Blue", but these are exclusive to the full soundtrack, immediately reflecting a major deficiency of the one disc release.

In addition to arrangements of past titles, there are numerous original compositions, the most notable of which are used as stage background music. "Conquista Ciela" is an excellent start with its delightful light-hearted melodies and extensive development and decoration. That said, it is almost exactly like the opening stage themes for the past two Virtual-On titles with its verse-chorus structure, anthemic synth melodies, and array of electronic and drum beats. Some would argue that 'if it's not broken, why fix it?', though arguably the approach here sounds too familiar and needed to be shaken up. Other lighter themes range from "Happy Storm" with its bossa-nova vibes, to "Air Time" with its hyperactive anime styling, though a lot of the more extraordinary themes such as "Baby's On Fire" and "Kirisute Go-Men!" remain exclusive to the full two disc release.

As ever, there are some darker tracks on Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Force Official Sound Data Ver. 7.5. Kobayashi takes the rock influence of the series up a notch with "Black Minalouche"; this track has a more dangerous and gothic vibe than its predecessors, both due to the higher definition of the electric guitar and the integration of the pipe organ. Things take an even darker turn on "Crystal Ovary", a dense, uncompassionate track blending orchestral elements and more organ work, and "Destructive Happiness", with its blistering distorting synth work and pulsating beats. The album surprisingly ends with a jolly synthetic arrangement from Holst's The Planets. There is a fair amount of filler on the journey there, but fortunately quite a bit less than there is on the two disc release.


Evidently, the music for Cyber Troopers Virtual-On: Force is mostly a continuation of the style and mood of the earlier two soundtracks in the Virtual-On series. However, it still improves on its predecessors with more developed and elaborate tracks, greater stylistic diversity, and slightly superior synth. While this album features fewer filler tracks than previous Virtual-On soundtracks, it lacks some of the best tracks — whether classic arrangements, cultural experiments, or climactic entries — featured on the full two disc score 'Marsinal'. It is therefore best to skip the one disc release in favour of the full one.

Overall Score: 7/10