Game Music, Reviews

Not the Soundtrack Your Green Army Men Need, but the One They Deserve: Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare OST (Review)

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Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare Original Soundtrack

Did you ever use to play with those little plastic army men when you were little? Maybe setting them up in all sorts of unexpected places around the house, ready to wage the next big battle against the opposing side? If you did, or even if you just like team-based shooter games, Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare might be right up your alley. It’s a new game that basically brings that old plastic army men war scenario to life with fun multiplayer gameplay and some beautiful graphics. To round it off, the game features a pretty fantastic soundtrack; read on to learn more!

Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare is basically a multiplayer shooter game, similar to Halo or Call of Duty, but reimagined in the more innocuous context of the ultimate battle between green and tan plastic army men. The game is available through Steam, and you can play online with other players to form teams and complete objectives across a wide variety of levels, including kitchen counters, a foosball table, and even a bathtub with a giant toy octopus. The graphics for all of these settings are beautiful, and they’re accompanied by a really fun and upbeat soundtrack, composed by Gareth Coker in collaboration with Zach Lemmon and Alexander Rudd.

You may be familiar with Gareth Coker from his work on the highly acclaimed game Ori and the Blind Forest from last year. His work on this soundtrack is quite a bit different from his work on Ori, but it shares a lot of characteristics that make it stand out in similar ways.

Listening through, one of the places that I hear consistency with Coker’s style is in the orchestrations. The orchestrations for all of the tracks are really excellent; it’s clear that he knows what he is doing here. The tracks feature primarily orchestral textures with some occasional synth mixed in, and they range across a pretty wide range of styles, from the smooth and slightly jazzy vibe of “The Waiting Room” to the big band flair of “Kitchen Run” and even some country western featured in “Barnyard Ball” (written by Zach Lemmon). The recordings sound very polished, and the orchestrations add a lot of color and character to each of the tracks that fits in well with the visual style of the game.

Another area where I hear Coker’s style come through is in use of themes. The soundtrack opens with the main theme of the game. The theme itself didn’t strike me as being particularly noteworthy, but it fits in with the game really well; think of blending military elements with Mission Impossible and packaged in a bright, upbeat orchestral setting and that is basically what the main theme of Mean Greens is. The theme is repeated throughout the soundtrack again and again, in lots of different ways. “The Waiting Room” features a quiet rendition of the theme on a synth organ, which “Operation Birthday” features a very interesting and upbeat vocal version performed by Aeralie Brighton. The theme itself is reasonably catchy, though perhaps a little bit repetitive, so I could definitely see getting a bit worn out by it if you played the same level multiple times. But it works well with the tone of the game, and the variety offered by the different arrangements is a lot of fun.

There are a number of noteworthy tracks worth discussing. One that takes a very different approach is “Off The Rails at Christmas” (written by Zach Lemmon). This one really nails the orchestration; as soon as it came on, it reminded me of “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker. I’m sure this is exactly what he was going for, as it turns out that the track is basically a medley of Christmas songs, mostly arranged in minor keys and goofy orchestral styles. It’s a lot of fun to hear how they all get blended together, and to hear which one is going to come up next. There’s a great interplay between the instruments here, as one group picks up where the other left off as the style of the track changes to something new.

“Kitchen Run” is one of my personal favorites. It features a really fun big band-style group, primarily with brass. Again, the orchestration stands out to me; the opening starts with mostly piano and shifts toward the bigger brass texture. Brass then takes over primarily, with some a little bit of doubling from the piano and some colorful touches with a vibraphone. The percussion in this track fits in perfectly with the big band style and really adds to the overall effect. Of course the main theme comes in later, though briefly, again starting with just piano and expanding into the thicker brass texture.

“Art Table Shuffle” is Alexander Rudd’s contribution to the album, and this time the style draws a lot from ragtime, with chromatic harmonies and syncopated rhythms. This track has one of the goofiest vibes to it, but it’s great fun if you like that sort of music. Again, anther point for well-executed orchestration; the track opens with a playful clarinet solo, and expands to include saxophone and piano and the rest of the orchestra. The track builds very nicely, gradually including more instruments and doublings until the end when the whole group plays together.

“Operation Birthday” does not comprise of a reimagined “Happy Birthday” song, despite what you might expect, but rather or the album’s sole vocal track featuring Aeralie Brighton. This one is interesting because it is probably the track that relies the least on orchestra. In fact, there’s really very little orchestra here; it’s mostly Aeralie’s voice, layered onto itself multiple times into different accompanying parts, with some support from percussion, piano, and other instruments. If you were familiar with her contribution to Ori, this is completely different. I thought the track was a bit odd at first, but on subsequent listens it’s grown on me. The use of layered voice into so many parts works surprisingly well, and it is quite a change from the rest of the album.

I won’t go through every track in detail, but suffice it to say that each one has its own style and stands out as different from the rest. “Barnyard Ball” features country western, “Waiting Room” has exactly the sort of smooth jazz you would expect, while “Fish Tank Frenzy” makes you feel like you’re about to go on a deep sea adventure. I have to say, I am not sure what it is like to play the game with this music, but listening to it on its own is very enjoyable. The huge range of styles along with the orchestrations full of color and character give the album variety and color that has kept my attention through several listens, and more to come I’m sure. The album has earned itself a place in my music library.

If you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, it’s available for a more than reasonable $4.99 on Gareth Coker’s webshop here. You can also check out the game itself on Steam here.

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