Game Music, Reviews

DJMAX Portable 3 Soundtrack: The Usual Suspects With Unusual Results (Review)

November 3, 2010 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook DJMAX Portable 3 Soundtrack: The Usual Suspects With Unusual Results (Review)on Twitter

From Patrick’s positive review of DJMAX Portable 3, we already know that Korean game music maestros ESTi and Nauts are not involved with this title, but that doesn’t mean that other familiar names don’t surface. Time and time again we’ve been impressed by what Pentavision and PM Studios have been able to accomplish this series not only through their games, but through the amazing production values associated with their soundtracks.

It wasn’t too long ago that we checked out DJMAX Technika 2, and it should come as no surprise that a number of tracks from that game are found here, but there’s also an entire disc of new material from artists including NieN, Makou, Planetboom, XeoN, Mr. Funky, and my personal favorite, 3rd Coast. Most interesting of all, however, is the fact that these artists jump into genres that they’re not necessarily known for from their past work on the series.

Find out what I mean in our review after the jump.

Let’s take it from the top. We actually get started with two pop-oriented club tunes titled “Funky People” by Vespers Vs Miyagi and “Beautiful Girl” by DJ Keri. These come off as almost too commercial at first, as they sound like something you’d hear on the radio or in a club (in fact, there are 7-minute long extended mixes of both of these tracks found on the second disc), but there’s some Korean and instrumental trance to be had here too.

That gets me to one of my favorite tracks, “Mellow D Fantasy” by NieN. Now, this is what I was alluding to before the jump. NieN is known mainly for rock tracks, but “Mellow D Fantasy” is instead an 80s-style pop track with beautiful Korean vocals provided by Sanch (who you may recognize from PangYa Portable). It’s a lovely synth pop tune. Paul Bazooka pulls a similar trick with “Raise me up,” swapping out his typical rock and electronic stylings for a poppy Korean vocal sound that comes off as more of a light rock track with a great melody.

And how about 3rd Coast? They’ve become somewhat of a tradition on the DJMAX artist roster, and they never fail to impress. They offer two new ones starting with “Everything,” which is easily one of their best tracks to date. We get the standard smooth beats with some jazzy piano chords and of course sweet female vocals that contrast with tasteful male rapping. Even more, it’s a full 4-minute long track. “Luv is True” takes a similar approach, bringing in more of a tropical sound with bongos and swaying strings.

There is also some great instrumental trance here as well. Paul Bazooka gets back into his groove with the powerful “The Rain Maker,” while Myagi takes us to “Drum Town,” which also enjoys an extended club mix on the second disc. Makou’s “Astray” adds wailing electric guitar and even a haunting female choral presence to the standard electronic beat, while XeoN’s aptly titled “Dream of Winds” provides a majestic journey into another world. If you are looking for vocals, however, Mind Cube’s “Waiting for the Sun” is quite lovely with its heavily reverberating female vocals that call out from the distance.

The second disc is dedicated to the extended mixes I mentioned earlier as well as tracks from previous DJMAX titles. They pick some great ones with NieN’s “Trip,” Shinji Hosoe’s “Xlasher,” and DINY’s “Cosmic Fantastic Lovesong,” all from DJMAX Technika 2. Also on this disc is the menu music from DJMAX Portable 3, composed by Mr. Funky. He goes disco with “Flash Finger,” the musical accompaniment to the game’s opening sequence, while the title screen music, “A significant change” is a glitchy electro tune that will have you tapping your foot along with the beat. I also dig the laid back “Midnight Express” which accompanies the game’s ending. It’s very subdued, coming off as “cool” instead of joyous.

So, that’s all I have to say about the music. This is a great addition to the DJMAX series, and I admit I have been a bit disappointed by many of the releases after the original DJMAX Technika. The album’s packaging, however, is one of its strongest features. The DJMAX soundtracks generally have great packaging, and DJMAX Portable 3 is no exception.  The soundtrack comes in a DVD-sized case which houses a lengthy booklet with complete artist, arranger, and vocalist credits as well as lyrics and comments from some of the artists (although the comments are in Korean). The discs themselves are printed to look like records, which is a nice touch.

I recommend picking up the DJMAX Portable 3 Special Bundle Edition to get your hands on this soundtrack, although it’s also available in limited quantities from Bemanistyle (pretty strange given that this game competes with Bemani products). In any case, you should support the fact that PM Studios is making this soundtrack readily available to fans in the West for the first time.

What do you think of the DJMAX series? Has the music surpassed that of Bemani? Would you like to see more Korean music included in these releases?

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