3 out of 5
Label: Data Discs
Produced by: Shaun Crook (LP Mastering)
I don’t think I had one overly-nostalgic era of video game playing. I spent hours down in the trenches, for sure, sussing out Sonic the Hedgehog secrets and whatnot, but my brother and I never had a huge library of games, and I wouldn’t have ever described myself as a super active gamer. Some scores are more familiar than others, no doubt, and I did game consistently enough to be able to identify Radiant Silvergun’s score, from Hitoshi Sakimoto, as coming from the 32-bit generation of consoles – Saturn, Playstation. I started with the above, though, to qualify my next comment a bit: 16-bit soundtracks stand out to me. 8-bit is charming, and sometimes very surprising for what it achieved despite its limitations, and then 16-bit is where I felt like you had enough room for creatives to go wild, and burn some long-lasting tunes into our memories. 32-bit’s offerings were always rather bland to me, though, as though the ability to access CD-quality sounds encouraged orchestral scores that were perhaps beyond what was necessary at that point, like a band’s sophomore album that includes full arrangements just because they can afford them. As such, I have one long recollection of stately horns and strings (or distorted guitar, if it was an American game) dotting every single 32-bit game I played. So to circle around, despite gaming with the same intensity across a few generations of games, including many hours burned in to some Saturn classics, I have this general take on music from those eras.
…And that applies to Radiant Silvergun as well, which matches my shallow ‘horns and strings’ description to a shallow T. Hitoshi Sakimoto shows a lot of restraint throughout the score, which is a nice touch – the drums have a military parum-pum-pum to them, but they roll along with the music instead of overwhelming it, and this allows the themes to stand out a bit. It’s very hummable. There’s also a definite bit of storytelling – wonder, mystery – through the additions of harps and gongs and its minor note instrumentation; the kind of stuff I’d definitely miss while playing a game but that comes out when hearing the stuff on its own. The full orchestration aspect is rewarding in the depth that it allows in the way some tracks ebb and flow (presumably with the action of the game), though this doesn’t necessarily counter the generally indistinguishable “exciting action game” range I’m criticizing the score for falling in to; I don’t even really get much of a sense of stage vs. boss progression. Of course, as with my general bias, here, I’m also certainly limited in my appreciation by not having played Radiant Silvergun – but watching gameplay clips, the repetition of the music kinda syncs with the game’s limited corrider-esque shoot-’em-up style; that is, maybe Sakimoto was also hemmed in by a short range of inspiration from the source material.
Anyhow, it all sounds and looks beautiful thanks to Data Disc, and I complemented the hummable nature of the score, which is certainly something I found myself doing – humming along – after a few spins, so there’s undeniably merit here. And should your bias lean toward this era of music, or this game in particular, I imagine that quality is very much enhanced.