Music

Analyzing Gunslinger Stratos Original Soundtrack

DWFFhome_H1H4

Square Portal Radio is a new series highlighting and reviewing soundtracks from Square Enix games. We are planning to put new music in the spotlight once in two weeks. It’s a great way to be introduced with new games and soundtracks.

Many of us find it easy to judge games by simply looking at the latest trailers and screenshots and searching additional details from reports like ours. It’s something I like to do as well because these factors give a good idea of what the game is about, but it’s still lacking something – the soundtrack. Have you ever become interested in a game just by listening to its soundtrack? This has happened to me with the Final Fantasy games and titles like Einhänder, The World Ends With You and Mirror’s Edge. Music is such a huge part of the audio & visual experience: it sets the mood, manipulates our emotions, introduces worlds and characters – even establishes certain time periods and cultural heritage, which makes game music from last century so different to nowadays. It’s a way to communicate between artists and listeners who wouldn’t ever get together otherwise. Creating your own interpretations is naturally part of the progress. It shouldn’t be ignored.

On that Day – Yuyoyuppe feat. Meramipop

Recently, we wrote about Square Enix’s plans to publish Gunslinger Stratos Reloaded for Windows PC next year and due to your feedback we decided to discuss more about the series. And what else than introducing the soundtrack would be a better way to learn more about the soul of the Gunslinger Stratos series. For a 3rd person shooter, it has taken an extraordinary direction since Western shooters tend to feature more action focused and industrial soundtracks, which isn’t the case with Gunslinger Stratos. With songs like “DAYS” (featuring Hatsune Miku) and “On that Day” serving as examples, it’s not hard to realize the game is borrowing a lot from JPOP, dream pop, shoegazing and Post-Rock genres. On the other hand, some tracks such as “Golden Dolphins”, “Choose Your Way” and “Isolated Clash” have been influenced by electronic and hard rock music, making them the darkest tunes in the 14-track soundtrack. However, if you are looking for more lighthearted rock / pop tunes, “Panorama” and “Beyond the Azure” are worth listening.

Somehow the soundtrack feels very nostalgic in a strange way. This same mood has almost become a trademark in Japanese pop-rock music, at least for me. After finishing my listening session, I could easily imagine the final days of a summer vacation, where you are saying goodbye to family and friends while reminiscing everything you did this year. The sky is still blue, but the sun is starting to set in the horizon – it’s time to go home. After every great trip it’s hard to imagine yourself returning to normal routines, especially if you are full of passion and ready to take over the world. ~Wish everyday was like this~ Eventually, this feeling becomes very distressing and grows stronger as you try to get most out from the last days of your journey. Like, isn’t the ending of an amazing anime always a bit bittersweet? “On that Day”, which is the last song on the record, gave me this ultimate feeling.

Beyond the Azure -MuruyokuP Isolated Crash – fu_mou Golden Dolphins – Ryo Yamazaki

The Gunslinger Stratos world is set in 2115, a time when Japan has been split into two parallel worlds known as Frontier S and the 17th Far East Imperial City Management District. These two universes don’t get along well, but suddenly they start to fuse into one, which initiates the Operation Stratos – a huge operation wherein a group of warriors is sent to the past to eliminate a group of enemies who look exactly like them – after all it’s just you in the parallel universe. When the enemy is eliminated, their world will be destroyed and erased from history. Would you be ready to do this?

Killing yourself from a parallel universe sounds quite tragic, but the developers have decided to view it from a different angle. Gunslinger Stratos is very colorful in terms of art direction, gameplay and music – each part completing the entirety. In this context, the game feels very twisted: how can something so dark can be viewed in such a paradoxical way? Guess, this is the Japanese twist in the entertainment business: there’s always something positive in everything. This perspective can be sensed from certain tunes such as “Bouquet de Fleurs de neige” which feels very chaotic yet somehow happy in a wrong way.

When it comes to the gameplay, it feels very fantasy-like: you are flying around the map and looking for enemy team members. As you spot your nemesis, it’s time to start high speed shooting action while the soundtrack is rocking/popping in the background. The fight will quickly become absolutely nuts because the gameplay looks exactly like a battle sequence in epic animes: buildings collapse, big explosions and beams everywhere, mechas flying around, characters getting angry and using their superpowers. These emotions are conveyed by the soundtrack too. Isolated Clash is a good example of a “hard-tech-rock” song which captures the craziness and hecticness of the game.

Gunslinger Stratos Reloaded is scheduled for release in 2015. Square Enix hasn’t planned to release the game in the West, but its arrival to PC guarantees everyone will be able to experience the story in Japanese. Since it’s a shooter, it shouldn’t be so troublesome to play even without translation! If the PC version is a great success, I would be happy to see the series becoming one of Square Enix blockbuster titles. Based on the soundtrack, it has a great potential to appeal for a wider audience, if marketing is done right. Gunslinger Stratos is also something very different compared to the Western shooters. The developers wouldn’t even need to record the English voice acting since the story is set in Japan, and the Japanese audio tends to capture the emotion a bit differently in this kind of games. Animes popularity has been growing a lot recently too. Could the second coming of Japanese games and entertainment happen soon? I hope so!

Artists and composers in Gunslinger Stratos original soundtrack:  Yuyoyuppe, Meramipop, Hige Driver, Kakichoco, mikitoP, Hatsune Miku, fu_mou, MuryokuP, Machigerita, Yuzuhiko, baker, Ryo Yamasaki, Tsuyoshi Sekito, Nijihara Peperon, Saiya, Minus and Fukuwa.

DAYS – mikitoP feat. Hatsune Miku Choose Your Way – Yoyuyuppe Panorama – Yuzuhiko
Advertisements

4 replies »

      • I enjoyed with more articles on Square Portal, especially text about your talk with Hitoshi Sakimoto before last year. I like his music and style

        • Yeah, my discussion with Sakimoto-san was really cool, especially since it wasn’t formal at all. We were just having a dinner and a few drinks and discussing about game music and general things about life. I hope we will be able to do a full-fledged interview soon, but he is quite awfully busy with his own company and projects. :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s