The DoDonPachi Sai Dai-Ou-Jou & DoDonPachi Maximum Original Soundtrack is the last release from the now closed Cave Shop. It features the soundtrack for the arcade game, DoDonPachi Sai Dai-Ou-JouM, composed by Manabu Namiki, on the first disc. It also includes the soundtrack for the Windows Phone game, DoDonPachi Maximum featuring remixes from the DoDonPachi series and Ketsui by WASi303 and bonus remixes of the original DoDonPachi soundtrack. How does the overall package turn out?
Starting with the soundtrack for DoDonPachi Sai Dai-Ou-Jou, the album opens up with "Kizashi," the select music. It's a very calming sound with some vocoder inclusion that features motifs heard in previous DoDonPachi games. The first stage theme, "Ran," is an extremely catchy theme with a pop flavor that really manages to capture the essence of the game's art style. It sports an extremely strong melody and has the essence of "East Asia" and "Tokyo 2008 AD" in its introduction. The third and fifth stage themes also follow this style of music. "Ai," the third stage theme, follows this style with a heavy dance beat and some beautiful ethereal synthesizer tones. It has a great energy and a very flowing atmosphere.
"Niji" is also an excellent stage theme. While it still retains the dance flavor of the other themes, by the time it reaches the B section, it turns into this extremely catchy, funk electro pop tune. On first listen, it may seem disjointed, but in the end, it works due to its strong melody. The other theme, "Hibi," also sports a nice dance beat. Once again, the melody is where the track truly shines, offering moments of tranquility as well as some more sinister tones. The main attraction, though, is the B section, which features a really funky melody, intricate rhythms, and wobbled synthesizer in the accompaniment. The last stage, "Michi," it definitely is influenced by previous final stages by Namiki. It features another pop flavored melody with melodic motifs from Dai-Fukkatsu's stage five theme. While not as strong as that theme, it still manages to craft an effective melody and tone.
The boss theme, "Taiji," is one of my favorite boss themes in the series. It features intense beats that capture the essence of the battle ahead, similar to the previous entries in the series. At the same time, it adds some modern influences, like a short dubstep section and some wobbled synthesizer in the accompaniment. What's interesting though is the interesting contrast in the intense A section and the more calming B section. The final boss theme "Chikara" borrows the motif from the Dai-Ou-Jou final boss theme. It is another interesting track, featuring dance beats and some more sinister and industrial tones. While it doesn't stand up to themes like "Longhena Cantata," it is still quite an effective theme that really does a great job at creating an ominous atmosphere. The true last boss theme, "Tenshi," is just as crazy as the other true final boss themes in the series. It features heavy rock riffs, intense hardcore beats, and very little focus on melody. It truly fits the chaotic nature of the last battle, even if it isn't for most people on a standalone listen.
Rounding things off, "Kachi" retains the spirit of most of the DoDonPachi clear themes while incorporating a pretty funky rhythm. "Heiwa," the name entry theme, is a fairly calm track with some light industrial tones. Lastly, the ending theme, "Saidaioujou" is a very beautiful theme that has a pop atmosphere focusing on strings and ethereal synthesizer that incorporates some melodic motifs from the Dai-Ou-Jou ending theme. The first disc also includes the image song for the game, "Blissful Death -> Resurrection -> Saidaioujou", composed by Akari Sengoku. When it comes to image songs for this series, I think this is probably the most successful. It has a very catchy tune, some 8-bit influence in the accompaniment, as well as some melodic moments that remind me of the image songs for the previous two games in the series. In addition, the vocalist does a great job at capturing the spirit of the music. There is also an instrumental version of this song for those who can't tolerate Japanese female vocals, although this one is pretty tolerable.
When it comes to the DoDonPachi Maximum Original Soundtrack, much oesn't stand out in my opinion. While it isn't necessarily bad, it just doesn't do anything as creative as some of the other arrangements for in-game use, such as Virt's take on Ketsui or Basiscape's renditions. Most of the original tunes gain a more upbeat dance sound, but aside from that, there isn't much that stands out. Nevertheless, there are a few themes that really stood out amongst my favorites. The first "East Asia" combines that dance vibe with more extensive development than other themes. Before the track loops, WASi303 adds a slower tempo and adds some hard rock riffs that make the track a bit more menacing. When it comes to the two Dai-Fukkatsu boss themes, "Somebody. Stop Me" and "Element Daughter," I like how WASi303 makes them inverses of the originals. The added rock component in the former is a nice addition, while the entirely synthesized take on the latter makes for an interesting listen, especially when he manipulates the melody line a bit. The other boss themes, "Darkened," "Longhena Cantata," and "]-[|/34<#!" also are given the hard rock treatment, although "Longhena Cantata" isn't nearly as strong as the original. Lastly, "Who Decided About "Dying Peacefully"?" takes the beautiful original and turns it into a very enjoyable dance tune.
Created by Ryu Takumi, Makoto Asada, and the late Ryu Umemoto, the remixed soundtrack for DoDonPachi is a nice addition to the final disc. However, I find the remixes don't really add anything to the originals, for the most part. While the originals were very rock oriented, the remixes keep with the rock atmosphere, particularly in the accompaniment. However, I find that replacing the lead guitar melody with synthesizer makes for a less powerful track, especially in "Stages 1 & 4 BGM." "Stages 2 & 5 BGM" and "Stages 3 & 6 BGM" are a bit better at creating a more compelling listen, as the original atmosphere is somewhat retained. Of all the substantial themes, I think that "Boss" is actually the strongest of the remixes. It really adds power to the original with grittier rock riffs and the updated synthesizer really accentuates the ominous nature of the track.
In the end, I think that the overall soundtrack release is a mixed bag. I find the DoDonPachi Sai Dai-Ou-Jou disc to be very enjoyable, despite the issue that the tracks don't fade, for reasons unknown. The second disc features effective, but tame, takes on the series' musical history. In addition, the added bonus of the first game's remixed soundtrack is just that and is nothing groundbreaking either. The only way to get this album now is through a second hand shop so if you are a fan of Namiki, I think it's worth looking into.