Game Music, Reviews

DJMAX TECHNIKA 2 Signature Collection: Round Two… FIGHT! (Review)

June 25, 2010 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook DJMAX TECHNIKA 2 Signature Collection: Round Two… FIGHT! (Review)on Twitter

So much DJMAX lately! Let that be an indication to you that it’s good stuff. We recently posted the trailer for DJMAX Portable 3, which is due out later this year, and it was just two nights ago that we highlighted DJMAX contributor Nauts’s work on BAR OASIS. It’s a good time for game music from Korea.

You may recall us mentioning the DJMAX TECHNIKA 2 Signature Collection a couple months ago, and I’ve been looking forward to checking it out ever since I laid eyes on it. The original DJMAX TECHNIKA is not only an amazing game (I’m lucky enough to have machine at a local arcade here in San Diego), but the pop and electronic-oriented soundtrack was one of my favorites of 2008. However, after being slightly disappointed with the DJMAX Trilogy Soundtrack, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

So, does DJMAX TECHNIKA 2 do the franchise justice, or does it disappoint? Find out in our review after the jump.

The DJMAX TECHNIKA 2 Signature Collection not only includes this two disc soundtrack (with the second disc dedicated to bonus material), but it also contains a key chain, a sticker sheet, a platinum member’s card, and a card case. This is all tucked away inside of a fancy box with a nifty magnetic flap that keeps it closed. The package is awesome (just like the original DJMAX TECHNIKA collection), but let’s get on to the music.

The album opens with a relatively standard techno track titled “Dual Strikers.” It works well enough as a driving electronic piece, but it doesn’t do much to set itself apart from other tracks on the album. I immediately began to worry about how the rest of the album would unfold, but fortunately we do get some memorable electronic pieces from artists ReX and XeoN. ReX provides us with the simple but amazingly well produced “Airwave” while XeoN’s tasty “Dream of Winds” with its classy piano bridge section and “Eternal Fantasy” with its reverberating soundscapes and belltone melody that would be right at home in Chrono Trigger’s Kingdom of Zeal are two of my favorite tracks on the album.

Another favorite of mine is “XLASHER,” which comes courtesy of Shinji Hosoe and vocalist Mr. Yoshida. While the autotuned vocals are a bit silly (the lyrics were actually written by LILT Records’s Nima), they work will with the incredibly upbeat and retro electronic backing which goes from Rockman to schmup territory.

In terms of other styles, classical music makes an appearance on the album through FIRST AID’s trance arrangement of Camille Saint-Saens in “D2” and Cranky’s take on Franz Lizst’s “La Campanella” which really lets the original piece shine through by including choral and solo piano segments that somehow fit in alongside the driving rave-like elements. I have to highlight “Cosmic Fantastic Lovesong” by DINY, you who you may remember from his extensive work on the outstanding and free soundtrack to La Tale. This track is right in line with his past work, with singer chohee voicing this sticky-sweet pop tune. We get some vocal K-pop with “Sweet Dream” from a familiar name, Lin-G, and even NieN, whose name I usually associate with live guitar work from his work on PangYa Portable and DJMAX offers a sweet vocal ballad with “Trip.” Another PangYa Portable and DJMAX veteran, Electronic Boutique, contributes a number of tracks, starting with what the album’s booklet categorizes as “toy pop” with “Puzzler” and moving into a retro bit rock (I just made that up) tune titled “Love is Beautiful” with vocals by Kastle and live guitar by P’sycho-Remi.

“MonoXide” by Planetboom comes out swinging with grungified and distorted synths and electric guitar, creating a heavy and oppressive soundscape that is actually one of the longer tracks on the first disc. The change-up in the melody about midway through really caught me off guard, and I found myself really drawn to this track. Planetboom is also represented in a remix from a track featured in the first TECHNIKA, “SuperSonic (Mr.Funky Remix), which sports a new funky swagger. Mr. Funky strikes again with “Nova (Mr.Funky Remix),” which I swear I’ve heard before, but the playful synth elements and rap style are actually really catchy.

The collection’s second disc is dedicated to extended versions of tracks featured in the game as well as additional pieced used for the game’s menus, result screens, and ending. We get a remix from Paul Bazooka titled “NB Ranger: NonStop Remix” that works in bits of different songs, including some previously annoying angst rock tunes that are turned into catchy eletronic snippets here. There are extended versions of some of my favorite tracks from the first disc including “XLASHER” and “Trip,” and we even get some extended versions of tracks from the first DJMAX TECHNIKA, including the poppy “Y,” drum ‘n’ bass track “Thor,” and Shinji Hosoe’s contribution to the first game, “SON OF SUN,” which was an unexpected bonus.

It’s then on to the in-game tracks that were composed by a number of composers. XeoN takes us into familiar house territory with “Virtual Atmosphere (Technika 2 teaser)” while Planetboom handles bit-crunching bass in “The Radicals (Technika 2 title).” Electronic Boutique takes on a handful of tracks, my favorites of which is the incredibly dreamy “Color Beat (tutorial)” and “Smooth Escape (ranking).” True to his name, Mr.Funky gets down with “Spin Your Head (club disc select),” “Stand By (club music select),” and “Party People (result),” all of which are groovy and provide a fun listen. XeoN gets the honor of closing out the album and the game with “See U Next Time (ending),” a trippy house groove track with a robotic “See you next time!” inserted to put a smile on your face.

Well, I can’t say I’m as blown away with this collection as I was with the first game’s soundtrack. I do have to say I sorely missed ESTi and Nauts on this collection. That’s not to say it isn’t good, however, as it really does offer some amazing tracks in a variety of styles, all with excellent production values. Even if I don’t care for reggae or rap/rock hybrids in general I am impressed by the fact that they’re executed so well, and at this point, I’m looking forward to getting my hands–or more specifically, my fingers–on DJMAX TECHNIKA 2 if it ever comes to the United States. If you’re a fan of the DJMAX series or of the poppy synth music that’s been coming out of Korea, I recommend checking out this collection if you can find it (it’s sold out at every importer I’ve found).

Have you experienced DJMAX TECHNIKA yet? What do you think of these amazing box sets that Pentavision puts together for fans of the DJMAX franchise?

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