Game Music, Reviews

Kow Otani Rocks and Rolls Over: Sengoku Basara 3 Soundtrack (Review)

May 11, 2011 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Kow Otani Rocks and Rolls Over: Sengoku Basara 3 Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

Okay, not really. But when it was announced long ago that Kow Otani would be working on Sengoku Basara 3, I think a lot of fans, myself included were excited about the possibilities. As it turns out Kow Otani only provided a portion of the game’s soundtrack, and he composed music in his distinctive orchestral style, letting the other composers on board tackle the rock music.

I’d been a fan of Dynasty Warriors titles in the past, so why not Sengoku Basara? Different developers, yes, but similar styles.

Prepare to rock out in our review after the jump!

Yes, Kow Otani is featured on this album, but of all the tracks he contributed (the exact number is unknown), only 3 appear here. The album opens with one such track, “Bonds,” which is epic and powerful, sounding very similar to his work on Shadow of the Colossus for which is he is so well known. I was kind of surprised that he opted for his signature style instead of leaning more towards the catchy rock sounds featured elsewhere on the album. Otani also appears at the beginning of the second disc with “Will,” and towards the end in “Life,” which is a bit more contemplative, and equally impressive.

From there on out, a slew of composers handle the composition duties, including members of T’s Music and Capcom’s sound team. The music ranges from orchestral to rock, although most lean towards the latter. There are also other influences present in some of the character themes to lend them their own distinct personalities, which is a nice touch.

“Magoichi Sakai’s Theme,” for example, features flamenco guitar and clicking percussion, providing a Latin flair which is also featured later in “Yoshiaki Mogami’s Theme” while “Tsuruhime’s Theme” is a dancey pop track that is both upbeat and catchy, and one of my favorites on the album. “Keiji Maeda’s Theme” combines rock and jazz elements into a cool but heavy hybrid, and “Sorin Otomo’s Theme” brings in the unusual pairing of Gothic harpsichord progressions with a big brass band sound. There’s even a dramatic pop ballad with blues guitar with “Ujimasa Hojo’s Theme.” So as you can see, there’s a lot of variety here, and it’s all done quite well.

The final character theme I’ll mention comes at the end of the album, and is the theme for the notorious Nobunaga Oda, one of the first unifiers of early Japan. He gets the most badass theme of all, complete with shredding electric guitar, a full string backing, and deep, throaty Japanese-style vocal stylings, making it a memorable as one of the final tracks on the album.

This game is a “crowd battle” game, just like Dynasty Warriors, so you can safely bet there are a lot of great battle themes as well. There are really too many to mention, as all of them are great, but I really enjoy the paired “Winter Campaign of Osaka” and “Summer Campaign of Osaka.” The former combines orchestral and jazz elements with a funky bassline, epic strings that are reminiscent of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and of course some snazzy electric guitar work. The summer campaign instead opts for a more electronic sound, using synths and electronic percussion alongside traditional Japanese instruments.

“The Oshu Running Dragon Battle” features the shredding electric guitars that you’ve been waiting for, taking a progressive rock approach but working in Asian influences as well. “Dead Heat” almost sounds like a Black Mage’s track with its Western style and use of rock organ, while “Battle at Saika Manor” uses an accordion of all things and still manages to rock out. “The Gassantoda Castle Dunes Battle” works in some desert-like guitar melodies and ethnic woodwinds in a flamenco style, which is a nice touch, while “The Kanegasaki Dream Battle” is heavy on the electronic elements, working in dreamy synths along with the shamisen for a distinctly Japanese sound.

“Unification of the Land” is a general theme of sorts, and there are both solo piano and full orchestral versions here. It’s a memorable theme that effectively conveys the feeling of joining forces to achieve a common goal while bringing in many traditional Japanese instruments to set the stage for the events of the game.

The booklet contains commentary from the composers as well as liner notes for every track. There are character animations featured on each page, and I dig the gold and silver contrast on the two discs. The music here is great, and fans of Dynasty Warriors should find themselves right at home with what T’s Music, Capcom, and Kow Otani have created here. It would have been nice to get a composer breakdown for the tracks, and to have heard more of Otani’s contributions, but what’s here is great, and worth checking out. Although it was released back in August, it’s still available from CD Japan and Play Asia, although the 3,200 Yen price tag may be a little steep.

What do you think of the Sengoku Basara series and its music? Were you surprised to see Kow Otani on board, and did his contributions impress you much?

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