Game Music, Reviews

Shake Your Belly And Rub One Out! Shantae: Risky’s Revenge OST (Review)

October 13, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Shake Your Belly And Rub One Out! Shantae: Risky’s Revenge OST (Review)on Twitter

Jayson was going on about how long he’s had to wait for the Granado Espada Original Soundtrack Volume 3 all last week, so it seemed appropriate to turn OSV’s attention towards the sequel that we’ve only been waiting eight patient, bloody years for: Shantae: Risky’s Revenge.

Jake “virt” Kaufman, the same man/myth behind the original Game Boy Color game’s soundtrack, returns. As if this wasn’t enough, you may recall last week that we posted that the soundtrack is now available digitally for free with the option of donating whatever you see fit. So, is the soundtrack worth your valuable bandwidth and money?

Make the jump to find out!

The 2D platformer is a genre that, like the USSR, died in the early nineties and has yet to have a ground-breaking, multi-platinum game to make companies want to bring it back en’masse. Since then, lesser companies have seen it fit to ruin good memories of proud games (Rocket Knight Adventures and Sonic 4) and also totally forget what the music is supposed to sound like in these things.  Until Shantae: Risky’s Revenge.

I never had the luxury of playing the original game (and this seems to be a common thing), so upon seeing the above video, I had my own preconceived idea of what the album sounded like, and it involved Disney and genies. As the “Main Title” begins I immediately think “Aladdin, Aladdin, Aladdin!” but by the time “File Select” has finished, it’s obvious that there’s a little more to it than that.

The album shifts its sound from “A Whole New World” to Super Mario World easily, sometimes mid-way through a song and it never feels forced. This is very much a good thing, as tracks like “She’s Got Moves” are fit to burst with the appropriately fast beats, sandy overtones and the happiness that made early 90s platformers so much fun in the first place.

Obviously there are some songs which simply breathe more life into the sand/pyramid level genre, which you’ll have likely heard at least once if you’ve played a game, ever.  For example, “Sand in My Potion” and “Scary Things” use all the essential elements of this genre of err, platform (santurs, darbukas etc.), but you’d get neither song mixed up. The first is a slow, R&B flavored groove and the second goes for a slower, more minimal and atmospheric sound.  Like different flavored chocolates in a Quality Street box, you know the songs are part of a whole but none of them are the same.

The rest of the songs in this cutesy platformer that do not accompany desert-themed stages (like the horribly named “ORLY YARLY”)  sit comfortably alongside the rest of the album, being upbeat and uptempo, forcing you to jump and down along with them.  The best comparison I can make is to the Mario & Luigi series which also combines sand elements with cute elements, and also accomplished a lot with a comparatively less-efficient soundchip.  Even when Kaufman loses it and turns “The Final Challenge” into an IDM love-fest (complete with techno beats!), it still feels like it belongs here.

Outside of the the images of the desert, cuteness, and jingles, there’s also “End Credits,” which could have easily been a stage theme, “Adventure” with it’s curious string choices that recall Pandemonium! If had been composed by a non-European, and “The Final Challenge” which somehow manages to be both dramatic and techno at the same time. Also of worthy mention is the song featured in the video above, “Burning Town,” which struts along effortlessly, synchronizing an Indian sound with funky breakdowns and deliberately retro noises.  It’s also a nice touch for people who bought the original game, as the DSi hardware blends together with the original Game Boy’s sound. There’s also a ravishing new remix of said song, “Burning Town Forever,” which emphasizes the best parts of the original song and makes everything LOUDER which is how new songs are made.

Any negatives? Personally, I think the tinny soundchip is perfectly fine for the bouncy tracks, but shows all of its deficiencies and negatives when trying for full-blown ambiance. “Through the Trees” is not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination, being best compared to “Stickerbush Symphony” from Donkey Kong Country. It features pianos, electro beats and distant-sounding strings… but can’t reach full immersion due to the sheer limitations of the hardware. It’s not a poor song, it’s just played on the wrong system. Your mileage may easily vary, however.

In closing, is Shantae: Risky’s Revenge worth 60 minutes and 52 seconds of your valuable time? Given that you are free to donate as much as you want (or nothing) for the pleasure of listening, I’d say “yes” on principle alone. It’s full of upbeat chiptune tracks that offer a lot of fun and recollections of memories of old. So in other words, for God’s sake download it and prove that this type of thing still has fans! Get the soundtrack, then buy the game on DSiWare.

Download at: Big Lion Music

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