Game Music, Reviews

Margaret is Greek You Geek: No More Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle (Review)

January 10, 2011 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Margaret is Greek You Geek: No More Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle (Review)on Twitter

‘Tis the season, I suppose. This holiday season brought both the Opoona soundtrack and the No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle soundtrack, both of which I thought would never see a release. We covered No More Heroes 2 pretty extensively with both a game review and an interview with composer Jun Fukuda and sound coordinator Nobuhiko Sagara which I highly recommend reading before digging into our review, as it covers a lot of the artists that are featured.

So, does the No More Heroes 2 soundtrack live up to the quality of its predecessor? Find out in our review after the jump!

So, this is a 3-disc set, with the first two discs covering the in-game action in chronological order, and the third featuring music from No More Hereos 2‘s many mini-games.

The two opening tracks from THE RIOT -TEENS OF ANGER- scream revenge with their irreverent grunge metal sound. In case you’ve forgotten, the game follows Travis Touchdown as he attempts to avenge his best friend’s death.  The slowly building “Sonic Smooth” conveys this sense of smoldering rage perfectly. Jun Fukuda and FIBER JELLY (Keiichi Sugiyama) follow suit with “Charging Katana” and “Bates,” respectively, each with twangy electric guitars that sound like something out of a gritty Western flick. The latter plays in Travis’s hotel room, and is one of the highlights of the album.

Another key piece is Neutrino’s “Surf Santa Destroy,” a poppy alternative rock track that acts as the map theme, and is also very catchy. FIBER JELLY also handles the beam katana shop theme, titled “The Upside,” which is a futuristic and funkadelic synth rock tune with belltones and electric guitar. “Burning Daylight” is his last contribution, coming as a fast-paced and glitchy assault of sound that pushes Travis on towards his showdown with one of the early bosses. Masahiko Hagio’s “Play With Me, Dance With Me” appears in the gym, and comes as a weird funky disco tune that I think goes perfectly with the fat, hairy, and pink-clad trainer.

One of the tracks I was most looking forward to hearing on this album is “Phillistine” by Hondalady feat. Nadia Gifford. It accompanies a battle with a Gothic lolita assassin Margaret. Not only was this a great battle, but the track is amazing, with lyrics that tease Travis Touchdown about his perverted otaku tendencies. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

“Reaper, Reaper, that’s what people call me
Why? Cause they all die
When I sing I end their lives
You act as though payback makes you a noble man is that a fact
Well you’re a goddamn philistine

[…]

Margaret is Greek you geek it means pearl
I’m a pure girl
Boys cannot crack this oyster shell
so go on whip around that sword like you’re the best it’s such a bore
another hero, oh please”

Unfortunately the version here contains highly filtered lyrics, sounding like autotune, hence the “[JP Version]” on the track title. The North America version removed the filter in favor of a more powerful and straightforward delivery, which I thought was much more effective.

Everyone knows that Akira Yamaoka was involved with the game’s soundtrack, but he was with Konami at the time, and therefore composed under an alias. Everyone suspects that this is MACHINE HEAD given that the two tracks composed by this artist feature his characteristic sound. “Subuta.1” is more jazzy in nature with electric piano while “Subuta.2” is a heavier rock piece that brings in his signature electric guitar work. They’re both great tracks.

There’s everything here from hip hop with “Nathan is Our Boss” by Taku Yoshioka feat. IGARASHI to some excellent psychadelic rock tracks from Convex Rebel, and even a crazy death metal track complete with incessant screaming titled “Masked de Shopping” by Fukuda. There are really more tracks that I can mention, but it’s all quality material performed live by a variety of bands.  And yet it still manages to be a cohesive experience despite the variety of performers involved.

You’ll also remember that No More Heroes 2 reuses many tracks from the DARK SIDE arrange album from the original No More Heroes. “It’s Kill or be Killed Mix” by Yoshioka Taku Squad acts as the primary reference to the original NMH theme composed by Masafumi Takada while “N.M.H. The Outer Rim Mix” by The Outer Rim also reworks the memorable theme. Both work wondefully in the game, so no complaints there, but it is odd that Grasshopper Manufacture included them on this disc, essentially making DARK SIDE redundant. “We Are Finally Cowboys [Golden Brown Mix],” “No More Riot,” and “Pure-White Giant Tiny Glastonbury” all also appear.

THE RIOT -TEENS OF ANGER- close us out with some contemplative pieces now that Travis has attained his revenge. “No More No” is a duet between Rui Sato and Kokoro, working in emotional guitar notes with the melancholy vocals. It’s then on to the third disc, starting with the ridiculously sticky sweet Japanese anime theme from Bizarre Jelly 5.  The 79 tracks on the disc cover everything from short jingles to fleshed out pieces from the mini-games. The swanky swing styled “Reptiles Insectos” from Bug Out and the fast-paced “Layin’ Pipe” with its fantastic melody are a couple of hte highlights.  All of the tracks from the Man The Meat mini-game bring a smile to my face given how hilarious that one was, and I love the classy “Touchdown-tris” waltz and the sneaky “Metro Station Destroy.” Finally, “Hurry Home” accompanies the Jeanne weight-loss mini-game, and is a light rock track (not 8-bit) that really highlights the love between Travis Touchdown and his beloved kitty cat. It’s a great way to close out the album.

In terms of packaging, I actually recorded an unboxing video but decided against posting it as it’s rather simple. You see the cover artwork above. The discs themselves are all identical with a metallic red print, the back has a laundry list format track listing that’s difficult to read. The booklet contains credits, lyrics (a nice touch) and another, more stylized track listing. Again, it’s simple, but it gets the job done. I’m just glad to have this soundtrack release at all.

When I played through the game, I felt that the No More Heroes 2 soundtrack was much weaker than the original No More Heroes due to the reused material and lack of a unifying composer to bring everything together. However, now that I have all the music laid out before me, I do see the quality here, and I can appreciate the fact that they gathered so much talent to contribute to the score. Jun Fukuda performs admirably not only with his 8-bit contributions, but also his gritty rock themes, and the addition of FIBER JELLY and Akira Yamaoka are icing on the cake. I recommend picking this one up (they’re shipping internationally through their Facebook store) if you’re interested, as they’ve only printed 1,000 copies and I’m sure they’ll go fast.

What did you think of No More Heroes 2’s soundtrack compared to the original? Are you surprised that they finally got the album released?

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