I have been meaning to tell you folks for the better part of a year about a personal favorite from 2011 that I somehow failed to get pushed into our “Best of 2011″ OSVOSTOTY awards.
This is an album from Chris Geehan and the others at HyperDuck. It was their feature release for 2011, and while the game isn’t exactly the strongest platformer I’ve ever played (five stages, sorta Metroid meets Mega Man), the soundtrack is the sort of thing that will make you sit up and pay attention.
After the jump, my review of the OST for A.R.E.S Extinction Agenda.
See, you were expecting the bandcamp embed to appear at this line, right? HA! FOOLED YA! It’s one line down…
Alright, now rock on while we talk shop.
You don’t rock any harder or any faster than this. Geehan and crew manage to package and encapsulate the styles of Falcom’s *early* JDK Band spirit and mix it with some of the most interesting key-centric rock I’ve heard in my life. All in one soundtrack. This whole soundtrack is like, a blueprint for how Capcom could, if they wanted to, revive Mega Man in a decidedly non-retro format. Like, a solid HD Mega Man on PS3 would be so lucky as to have a soundtrack like this.
Check out that first stage theme, “Junkyard.” Now, I know there are a lot of layers on this track. That’s a lot of audio to keep up with. But I wouldn’t call it mixed-up or confused. It is, at times, sonically overpowering. But there is some great structure here. The song is written in such a way that I could imagine a live rock performance of this track, though I imagine it’d take at least two guitars and two keyboards among everything else.
The second stage, “Remake,” is an entirely fresh and unexpected track after the boss themes and jingles, all of which are driven by powerful synth rock. “Remake” has this jazzy, warbly thing going for it, and it takes awhile for any guitars to even show up. When they do, they’re all crunchy and distorted, and they’re often accompanied with synth orchestra hits. Melodically, this is one of my favorite tracks. That breakdown melodic line at the 90 second mark? I love it. I love it every time.
Of all the boss battle tracks (there are four of them), my favorite is surprisingly the mini-boss theme, “Snappin’ Necks & Cashin’ Cheques.” This tune is packed with catchy melodic riffs and incredible drum&synth backgrounds.
I love all of the cut scene tracks on this album. “Julia Carson” and “Zytron” are short tracks, but they bring some great diversity to the soundscape.
But, the best track of all is the final stage theme, “UE.” This is when the HyperDuck goes super-saiyin-4-hyper, cranks up the amps to 11, and the power-rock just becomes entirely electrified. Nothing is left unaffected by it, and I am left powerless in its wake. This track, on its own, can sell the whole album. If I were a game dev, and I had some kind of futuristic action game, I would be begging for a track like “UE” as my trailer music.
The A.R.E.S Extinction Agenda soundtrack was featured in one of the Indie Game Music Bundles. So, you might have already picked it up and not gotten around to listening to it yet. Be sure to check for yourself! If you didn’t get it, though, it’s only $5 on bandcamp. Get to it.Tags: A.R.E.S, A.R.E.S Extinction Agenda, ARES, Bandcamp, Chris Geehan, Extend Studio, HyperDuck SoundWorks, Indie, Reviews