Metal Slug Complete Sound Box
|Composed by||Captain Beroou / Hiya! / Hori_Hori / JIM / maitaro / Манабу Намики / Мицухиро Канэда / Q_JIROU / Тосикадзу Танака|
|Arranged by||Мицухиро Канэда|
|Release type||Game Soundtrack - Official Release|
|Format||8 CD - 171 tracks|
|Release date||September 06, 2006|
Metal Slug is one of the rare instances in gaming history where everything was done right. Its soundtrack by Takushi Hiyamuta is one of the best aspects of the gaming experience. He offers a varied, fun, and colorful soundtrack full of personality and style, mixing heavy metal, jazz, and militaristic orchestral music. It could be less exceptional were it not for the cool and unique arcade synth that it uses, which only adds to the charm. Though the soundtrack wasn't initially released on CD, it formed the basis of the first disc of the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box, released to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the series. Let's get down to the mission, shall we?
The militaristic motifs are first recognizable in the briefing and ranking music, titled "March". This military march is certainly very clichéd, but fits the context appropriately and is somewhat charming on a stand-alone basis. It soon is followed by the heart and soul of the soundtrack, the "Metal Slug Main Theme", which is used as background music for the first stage. Opening with bombastic heroic motif and instrumentation that emulates military bands, as the track develops, the theme impresses further with a jazz interlude that adds more depth and personality to the composition. It is further reprised in numerous other themes of the soundtrack, notably in "Final Attack" where it gets an "epic" makeover, fitting for the last stage of the game. This over-the-top theme is the core of the entire franchise.
The jazz elements of the franchise are instantly noticeable in "Inner Station", "Ridge 256" and "Gerhard Station". They all feature incredibly catchy melodies and grooves, sometimes accompanied even by a jazzy piano and a very prominent use of electric guitars. Even though all the instruments are synthetic, there's a unique and great quality to the audio, which, despite not being realistic or authentic, gives to the overall sound a certain "retro" feel that simply makes all these compositions stand out even more.
While most tracks are catchy and fun to listen to, there are a bunch of them that are more serious and dramatic in tone. For instance, "Assault Theme" is a terrific, hard-edged and merciless war anthem that mirrors the game's difficulty, while "Steel Beast" takes a more heavy metal approach, giving a sense of tension and danger, fitting the game's boss battles. The previously mentioned "Final Attack" is a blast of heroic and climatic motifs that bring chills to the listener and create anticipation for the final mission.
Definitely, the most dramatic and epic track is the ending theme, which features reprises of the game's core compositions. In just two and a half minutes, it shifts from a triumphant victory fanfare, to a tragic war anthem, and then back again to the badass main theme, signaling the end of the terrific battles while marking the beginning of a new dawn, and just plain making you feel like a badass at the end of the game! Although it would have benefited from a longer arrangement and play time, its still a blast to listen to. Also notable is the "Stage Clear" music that ranks on top, along with Contra's version, as one of the most memorable jingles in video games.
The Metal Slug soundtrack is truly of the best and most unique soundtracks in the video game soundtrack world (try to say that 10 times). The flawless fusion of jazz, metal and orchestral music combine to create a memorable, groovy, and intense experience. The soundtrack has a hard time loosing charm at any given period, being a classic that has stood the test of time very well and that it offers an enjoyable and addictive aural journey. Also, the arcade synth is phenomenal, almost adding and not detracting to the overall listening experience. While it falls on the short side, what is featured here remains exceptionally good. Do yourself a favor and go listen to this, you won't regret it. Although, I can't be held responsible if your head explodes from the sheer amount of awesomeness within.
Metal Slug 4 was, in the words of many fans, a disaster. It was developed by the Korean Mega Enterprise after the decline of the old SNK. Technically, it wasn't an awful game, but the lack of originality and the recycled material made for a less than stellar title. Metal Slug 3 didn't make matters easier, since living up to its success was almost impossible, since the bar was raised so high. The only redeeming quality of this installment was the music. Toshikazu Tanaka, a veteran video game composer from SNK's assembly of musicians, composed the soundtrack for Metal Slug 4. He offered vastly superior audio quality, due to the new and improved hardware and samplers, with instruments sounding full and authentic (a far cry from the synthy sound of the previous entries). He also shited the musical style shifted towards rock and synth orchestral hybrids. The tone of the music is slightly more serious, without the over the top nature of the typical Metal Slug soundtrack, but still proves fairly charming and memorable. The soundtrack was packaged exclusively in the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box in 2006.
Before moving on with the actual music, there is a notable problem with the official track list that cannot be ignored. Certain audio tracks are incorrectly ordered, like track 10 is actually track 4, and so on. The actual track list is OK, but the audio tracks themselves are not correct. I am mentioning this because I will use the "incorrect" titles for each composition when reviewing the soundtrack. So, let's keep moving...
While older Metal Slug scores were generally over-the-top and hellishly fun, almost appropriate for the nature of shoot 'em ups, this time the compositions are slightly more edgy, mainly because the instruments sound more realistic and give to the music a more serious tone. This is very noticeable in "Go Ahead!", which is a dramatic militaristic anthem, and even more in "Show Spirit" that has heroic melodies, despite an almost upbeat rhythm. The latter is particularly fantastic and memorable. "Cadaverous" on the other hand creepily dwells into ambient territory, featuring terrifying sound effects, muddy rhythms, and eerie piano notes. The track instills fear and a sense of hidden danger, while still managing to be catchy in its minimalistic bliss.
The only rocking compositions of the soundtrack are "The Scene of a Hard Battle", "Let's Run Through!" and "Furiously", and all of them are highlights of the album. The first is a dangerously addictive theme, featuring a catchy percussion, heroic melodies, and sweet guitar samples that have a "James Bond" influence. Truly appropriate for a fun infiltration scene! The second is identical in style: thumping bass, catchy rhythm guitars, and various synth sounds, and it still maintains the intensity and energy of the previous track. The third, serving as the last stage theme, is slightly more epic, with dissonant piano melodies, rhythmic electric guitars, and various electronic sounds and percussions. All three compositions are extravagant, memorable, and tons of fun to listen to. Clearly, Tanaka shines in this cases and it's a shame that the Metal Slug 4 soundtrack doesn't have much more of this signature work from him.
"Snowy Road" and "Secret Place" (which are actually "The scene of a hard battle" and "Furiously" respectively) serve as music to accompany the boss battles, and unfortunately are mostly generic "urgent action" themes, with fast strings and rhythms. They are light-years from terrible, but they feel slightly underdeveloped. Still, Tanaka makes them enjoyable to listen to them at least once or twice, and possibly more. Fortunately, the final boss battle "Final Madness" manages to be pretty good, being an energetic and unforgiving theme full of frantic and dramatic strings along with a heavy bass. Lastly, "End to the war" gloriously concludes the game, being a triumphal orchestral theme with some really memorable moments.
Also, in true series' fashion, Metal Slug 4 re-uses the main jingles from the older games, completely intact in all their arcade synth glory. There's the minimalistic "The Military System", the tragic "Gravestone", and, more importantly "Carry Out", the most baddass victory anthem since Contra's.
At the end of the day, one is left satisfied after listening to the soundtrack of Metal Slug 4. It's not as good as the previous entries, despite having better sound quality, but it still manages to be unique in its own, due to the edgy but charming themes and overall enjoyable aural experience. The score is very decent but kind of inappropriate in context, and certain tracks will stick with the listener for a long time even outside of the game. On top of it all, you can't go wrong with Toshikazu Tanaka's work, as he manages to make even the simplest of ideas stand out. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is slightly short, and while nothing can be considered bad, only a handful of compositions are truly memorable, while some tracks tend to be slightly generic despite Tanaka trying his best. It feels like the soundtrack could have been much more. Still, it's definitely worth a listen for game music or Tanaka fans, because of some really cool and memorable highlights. It's a fine exclusive on the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box.
If the soundtracks of Radiant Silvergun and any Cave shooter had a child together, the Metal Slug 6 soundtrack would be that child... A strange and hyperactive child that doesn't fit anywhere with everyone else, but can still make friends easily. This is what happens when Manabu Namiki scores a Metal Slug game, or at the very least, this was my impression upon listening to it for the first time. Metal Slug 6 was fortunately a very good comeback for the franchise, being developed by the classic SNK members. Strangely, the soundtrack was mostly composed by Basiscape's Manabu Namiki with a few tracks by Mitsuhiro Kaneda. The score features familiar tunes along with fresh new ones, along with a strange and inconsistent mix of musical styles. Of course, this is not a negative, but the Metal Slug 6 soundtrack is truly a big departure from what one would expect — even more than Metal Slug 4. To put it briefly, the score is a mix of electronica and orchestral music, along with many unique elements here and there. The over the top nature that has characterized the series is gone, but the soundtrack as a whole is still very extravagant, energetic, and, most importantly, very fun to listen.
The soundtrack blasts off with "Last Resort", one of the best electronica themes that I have ever heard. Featuring catchy melodies, fantastic electronic beats and sounds, the track refuses to leave your head. It's used for the character select screen, and it does a terrible job in that context, since the players are not capable of starting the game because they can't stop listening to the background music. Simply put, an awesome way to start the album...
For me, the biggest surprise of this soundtrack was the arrangement of the "Main Theme from Metal Slug". Not since the first game it has made an individual appearance, but it has been frequently reprised in many compositions from the series. Manabu Namiki does a great job in arranging this classic theme, while adding a lot of personality and uniqueness to it. Starting familiarly enough, it turns out of nowhere into a fantastic exotic theme, full of tribal percussion, African chanting, and it's mixed all the way with beautiful and heroic orchestral motifs. It truly is an outstanding and unique arrangement to one of the best video game themes ever. The next track "Cliff and Cave" follows the same style, but it focuses more on the new motifs presented on the previous track. Both themes feature catchy melodies, addictive tribal percussion, and some atmospheric and textural woodwind work. It certainly inspires a great sense of adventure.
The arrangements of classic Metal Slug themes don't stop here though. The classic boss battle anthem "Steel Beast" receives a respectful arrangement, maintaining most of the original elements of the original, like the frantic electronic beats, complex irregular rhythms, and overall aggressive motifs. Still, Namiki doesn't stop there, and he adds some of his personal flavor with some improvised and cool keyboard solos. Even more respectful is the arrangement of "Inner Station" called "Inner Goldfield". Keeping the same jazzy groove and catchy synthetic guitars from the original, Namiki makes the track stand out even more by adding his signature airy synths and catchy as hell melodies and solos. Perhaps, more faithful than ever is the arrangement of "The Military System". It's essentially identical to the original, but with improved sound and army yells on top of it all, making it sound more epic and giving to it a march feel. Of course, we can't forget the now-legendary victory jingle "Carry Out" which receives a full orchestral update, but falls slightly short due to the synth used.
Manabu Namiki delivers also with his fresh new compositions then don't fail to impress. "Asian Impact" and "Aim High, Chase Fast" are probably the best examples. The former is an exciting electronica composition, full of funky Asian motifs and trippy percussion; this bubbly fusion is actually highly reminiscent of his work on Mushihimesama Futari, but still befits the Metal Slug universe. The latter is Manabu Namiki doing what he does best. Creating catchy, complex, and rhythmic electronic music full of detailed sound layers. "Aim High, Chase Fast" is a good example for this statement as it captures the imagination and interest of the listener with a heroic orchestral intro reprising Metal Slug's main theme, and then blasts off with a catchy electronic percussion, airy guitar synths and extravagant trumpets, all merging to create and addictive and very melodic theme.
Relative newcomer Mitsuhiro Kaneda's contributions stand out less than Namiki's, but are highly enjoyable nevertheless. The second boss theme "Biotoxic" is an electronic/orchestral hybrid track, featuring slow groovy breakbeats and epic string motifs. "Unavoidable Duel" is a fast-paced alternative to "Biotoxic" featuring the same style, but with more a frantic and upbeat rhythm, along with some incredible and complex string sections. Even more surprisingly, Kaneda composes a track incredibly similar to Hitoshi Sakimoto's style, and he fares rather well in my opinion. Featuring complex and harmonic string progressions, "Bridge 256" truly captivates the listener with its bright and adventurous orchestral motifs. This one really grows on you with each repeated listen. In spite of the orchestral and electronica fusion of this soundtrack, Kaneda delivers more on the orchestral aspect.
The arrangement of "Final Attack", on the other hand, is something else completely. Starting with the sampled intro of the original and fooling anyone that it would be identical, it completely surprises the listener by shifting into an atmospheric, slow-paced, electronica track full with alien synthy sounds. Later it shifts into a more fast-paced tempo, upping the ante with frantic electronic beats and finally reprising a motif from the original composition using a energetic synths. It's complex, extravagant, and very fun to listen all at the same time. Lastly, Namiki's delivery for the final battle, "Discharge" is yet another complex and extravagant mix of various electronica layers, eerie piano notes, and urgent string motifs. More impressively, the composition goes ballistic with crazy, frantic and uncontrolled techno sounds, that increase in intensity until the loop point reaches. Truly an incredible listen, that personally, I would have titled "Scary Psychedelic Mushroom Monster Battle".
Ultimately, the Metal Slug 6 soundtrack was a truly a pleasant surprise for me. It's very different from the general MS scores, but that's not the only thing that sets it apart. The soundtrack doesn't feel like it belongs to a Metal Slug game, due to the orchestral/electronica hybrid approach, but it's still highly enjoyable. Manabu Namiki did an amazing job with the arrangements of the classic Metal Slug themes, and added some awesome and memorable new compositions to make the package complete. Mitsuhiro Kaneda also surprises with his delivery, satisfying more with each repeated listen. To be frank, I am not sure to whom I should recommend this, since it's not what Metal Slug fans are used to. This soundtrack remains an exclusive to the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box, which makes matters even more problematic, though many audiences will be able to appreciate all the series' approaches. Despite all this though, the Metal Slug 6 score is very memorable, and it is highly enjoyable and accessible despite it's unconventional nature.
Metal Slug 3D was the first (and possibly last) venture of the Metal Slug franchise in the over-crowded "modern" three-dimensional video game realm. It was not a terrible game, but subpar in many aspects, primarily because of the year it was released. Fortunately, the game sticks to the typical Metal Slug fashion of having an amazing soundtrack, regardless of gameplay quality. Toshikazu Tanaka once again returns to score the music, and biblically improves over his stylistic orchestral approach from Metal Slug 4. This soundtrack was featured on the final disc of the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box, together with a bonus arrangement and an unused track.
I must address some of the issues before I start. First of all, there are 38 original tracks featured on the disc and, due to the cinematic approach to the score, it's predictable that there is going to be a lot of skippable material, or possibly filler, due to the in-context focus of most of the compositions. While none of the tracks I listened were bad or boring, they simply end up sounding slightly generic, and are easily overshadowed by the fantastic stage themes, clearly the most important bulk of the score... Which leads to the second problem: The tracks are often too short to be worthwhile stand-alone listening. There are some truly amazing composition here that would have benefited from a chance to develop and captivate even further the listener, but apparently contextual limitations prevent this. Still, despite these minor shortcomings, the soundtrack is a blast, no doubt about that. Now, on to the real deal...
"Start from Mountain Village" is the most jaw-breaking and awesome example of how Tanaka is versatile and capable of creating adrenaline-inducing, bombastic and energetic compositions regardless of musical genre or style. The man has showed in numerous occasions his capability to score with an orchestral palette, and fans should remember his good contribution to Metal Slug 4, but with this particular track, he manages to kick all amounts of ass. Simply put, the track is comprised of intense electronic percussion, electric guitars used for rhythm, and incredibly catchy and heroic orchestral motifs. The composition strikes from the go, and leaves a big impact since from the first listen. The track is also used as the first stage music, something that guarantees to ban the game for hazardous reasons, due to players' heads exploding from the sheer awesomeness of it all.
Speaking of awesome orchestral themes, "Desert Town" should ring familiar bells to Falcom fans. It starts with an intense blast of strings and electric guitars, and then it turns into a beautiful Spaghetti Western orchestral anthem that later surprises even more with a beautiful Jindo-esque (circa The Oath in Felghana) violin solo that gives to the theme a more melodramatic feel. Ultimately the track is very memorable, inspiring adventure and heroism while emotionally moving the listener. "Atmospheric Discharge" is stylistically similar, borrowing even the same anthemic Spaghetti Western motifs, but falls slightly short due to a generic and slightly predictable formula. It's still a great orchestral theme, nevertheless. Both tracks could have very well stood out in a Wild Arms score, and if you are not familiar with that series, that's definitely a compliment. Also, one of the most impressive compositions is without a doubt "Coal Mine Mark" with its fast and radiant string melodies and the fantastic adventure-inspiring trumpet melodies. Clearly, Tanaka can pull off some great orchestral action themes.
Still, the soundtrack features its fare share of rocking tunes too. "The South Pole" could have been very well used in Metal Slug 5, because of its focus on heavy guitars and stylistic similarities of Tanaka's own work for that game. The track is energetic and fast paced, featuring Tanaka's trademark guitar work but with a repetitive melodic pattern. "Out of Control" is much more intense due to its frantic guitar riffs and dramatic orchestral motifs. The composition is further developed with burning guitar solos and some cool synth leads, making the track really stand out despite its minimalistic approach. Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the score. Even more interesting is "Be Headquartered in the City" that continues where Tanaka left with Metal Slug 4's best rock compositions. Keeping the militaristic orchestral motifs, rhythmic guitar riffs and electric percussion is a surefire key to enjoyment at least for once, but Tanaka makes the composition intricate enough to satisfy on each consecutive listen due to the fantastic and catchy melodies.
There are also some more ambient tracks featured in the score. "Coal Underground Ruins" is comprised of lyrical chorus chants, exotic percussion and various orchestral layers that are fantastic in-context and totally adequate for exploring underground marvels. Needless to say, it's less melodic in its approach, but still captivating due to the great instrumentation and atmosphere it creates. "Sink Under the Waves" falls into the same orchestral/ambience category, but it's much more slower, and features echoing piano notes and various synths to create an appropriate atmosphere for underwater exploration. Both tracks are fantastic in-game, but are less effective as stand-alone listens. Lastly, I feel the need to mention "Shout of Sadness" which is an hyper-epic final dungeon theme, full of chaotic choruses, swinging strings, heavy bass, organ melodies, and even some operatic female vocals in later sections. While it's not the best-executed of it's kind, it's still a unique and great contribution by our dear "Dencyu".
In the end, despite a slow and redundant start, the Metal Slug 3D soundtrack surprisingly "attacks" the listeners and heavily "damages" them when they least expect it. Fooling everyone that it would be just another generic orchestral video game score, the soundtrack manages to be very good in-context, and awesome out-of-context. Simply put, the stage themes are a real delight. While I would have preferred that most of the "demo" tracks were put at the bottom of the tracklist to guarantee a more satisfying listening experience, I can't complain much because of Tanaka's effective and enjoyable execution. In the end, the Metal Slug 3D soundtrack deserves to be enjoyed by every VGM lover. It's energetic, colorful, catchy, and even emotionally moving at times. A worthy end to the series' sound box.
Despite being an accomplished game, Metal Slug 2 suffered from some technical problems, most notably slowdowns. Even the developers had issues and, suffering from low self-esteem, they weren't satisfied enough with their final product, feeling that the game could be even more than it was. As a result, Metal Slug X was created, making the world a much better place to live in. In addition to the levels being redesigned and improved, the quality of the soundtrack was enhanced. Basically, this means that both games have identical music besides some really minor additions and most notably the sound quality. The soundtrack was packaged together with the Metal Slug 2 soundtrack on the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box, making its predecessor essentially redundant. Nevertheless, the resultant musical experience is really something to behold...
What's the point of naming your game "Metal Slug" and not having some Metal in it? It seems that the composers understood this universal and untouchable fact, and decided to start the first stage with an insane metal composition, "Judgment". Its crazy guitar riffs and solos are no doubt contagious to those playing the game, making them go on killing sprees. The Middle-Eastern motifs just add to the overall charm and make the track even more memorable. I am telling you, if this beast was redone with a real live band, most musicians would die from heart attacks trying to play it! The X version is even better and more fleshed out. It also adds a badass guitar solo in the beginning that sounds like the ignition of a rocket engine, pumping you up for some crazy action.
And since we are into Metal territory, "Kiss in the Dark" not only has a dangerously erotic name, but it rocks hard and it burns like hell! This one is pure, fast, crazy and adrenaline-pumping Heavy Metal at its best, full with out-of-this-world riffs and solos. The only drawback is its synth, something that can turn some people off (then again, most game music fanatics will appreciate old-school audio hardware). This is significantly improved in the X version, though I still dream of a live band interpretation of this (and, for that matter, "The Darkness Nova" from Legend of Mana).
Fortunately, the rest of the soundtrack is not just electric guitars, and it features quite some nice variety of styles and musical elements. This happens because the game itself takes place in various locations around the world, adding some cultural influences from each one of them. For instance, "Back to the China" is one of the most amusing and memorable Asian-influenced themes that I have ever heard. It's super cheesy and very over the top, but so much fun to listen to because of its catchy ethnic instrumentation. Also, there are two other Middle-Eastern tracks that accompany the second stage of the game: "Prehistoric Site" and "The Cenotaph". The former is very remarkable, taking a pseudo-orchestral approach that mimics grand film scores with Middle-Eastern motifs. The latter is much more laid-back in nature, but still highly effective and instantly likable because of its catchy percussion and melody.
Another notable track is the terrifying and horror genre-influenced "Metamorphosis" which manages to create some really tense atmosphere with various layers of electronic sounds. Following the roots of its predecessor, and also a trend of SNK games in general, the soundtrack doesn't forget jazz music, and as a result it features an absurdly catchy jazz composition, "Livin' on the Deck". The track is crazy and fun, and it also sounds very video gamey, reeking with charm from start to finish. Thankfully, these old-school qualities are still preserved in the X version despite the enhanced synth use.
There are also many re-used themes from the first game which of course are aurally enhanced. Weather it is the unforgiving "Assault Theme", the triumphant ending theme, the epic "Final Attack", or even the unforgettable victory jingle "Carry Out", you just can't go wrong with the first Metal Slug. They're very similar to the originals, though once again the X versions are superior in sound quality. The only theme that has been slightly arranged is "Steel Beast" which has a different beat. Also, the main theme of Metal Slug is subtly reprised in the new composition "New Godokin Street" and not-so-subtly reprised in the other new entry "First Contact", but it's nowhere to be seen individually, which is a real shame. Finally, a new ending theme was created for Metal Slug X, which is much more elaborate and emotional than its counterpart.
The Metal Slug X soundtrack renders the Metal Slug 2 soundtrack virtually useless. It absolutely improves on the original in every way with its sound quality boost and the extremely minor but effective additions, including the likeable ending theme. Unlike its predecessor, the Metal Slug X soundtrack itself its not sold separately, and it's only included in the box set, listed as the third disc after the second which is for Metal Slug 2. As a result, listeners will have to purchase an expensive package and experience some redundancy in order to behold its greatness.
Back when I was in elementary school, I used to go to the arcade as soon as I finished my class hours. Fortunately, the arcade was pretty close to my home, so my parents allowed me the privilege of wasting my time there. I must admit, even though I used to play a lot, I sucked badly at most games (especially fighting games!). But there was a game that was way too hardcore even for the greatest players. That game was called Metal Slug. Despite my lack of skills in arcade games, ironically, I was the only guy in the arcade with the reputation of beating Metal Slug with only one coin. No wonder I could do that. The game has wasted so many hours of my life that I ended up memorizing all the little details and secrets, and could play it with eyes closed (probably not true).
I sometimes found myself leaning towards the screen, so I could listen better to the sound coming from the machine. The cabinet was put in a corner, so the sound was much more audible. During all that chaos of gunshots, explosions, and comical screams, I could actually hear music, and holy excrements, it was a blast to listen to! Whenever I used to start the first mission, the main theme played and infected me. It always used to make me ready for action, pumping me up with adrenaline. And when the credits rolled, I used to stay and enjoy it till the end, giving me a big sense of accomplishment.
This excellent game laid the foundations for the development of a major series featuring arcade, console, and portable instalments. The series' games didn't always maintain the quality of the original, particularly after the fall of the original SNK, though one featured stayed excellent throughout: the music. The series' successive composers, Takushi Hiyamuta, Toshikazu Tanaka, and Manabu Namiki, did an excellent job of ensuring each soundtrack was more commanding and breathtaking than those that preceded it. The Metal Slug Complete Sound Box features eight of the series' soundtracks packaged into a well-presented box, five of them for the first time ever. The resultant box set is easily the most definitive commemoration of the series' music to date, but isn't without its problems from a financial perspective....
The box set opens with the soundtrack to 1996's Metal Slug, featured on CD for the first time. It's a varied, fun, and colorful soundtrack full of personality and style, mixing heavy metal, jazz, and militaristic orchestral music. Takushi Hiyamuta's "Metal Slug Main Theme" used during the first stage forms the heart and soul of the soundtrack, and indeed the soundtrack as a whole. Dominated by a heroic melody and military instrumentation, it perfectly fits the over-the-top scenario, yet is also coloured by deeper jazzy interludes. Among other highlights, "Assault Theme" is a terrific yet merciless war anthem that mirrors the game's difficulty, while "Steel Beast" takes a more heavy metal approach, giving a sense of tension and danger during the boss battles. Furthermore, the arcade synth used was phenomenal for its time and almost benefits the overall listening experience. While an excellent soundtrack, the subsequent instalments of the series only build on these incredible foundations in terms of both length and quality...
The second disc of the soundtrack is dedicated to Metal Slug 2. This disc is essentially identical to the game's separate album release, but omits sa sound effects collection. The soundtrack excellently builds on the foundations of the original game with some memorable reprises, including a flashback to the series' main theme on "Final Attack". In addition, there are a number of smashing new tracks as well. The first stage theme "Judgment" blends middle Eastern instrumentation with dangerously contagious heavy guitar riffs to capture the feel of battling in the desert. Its crazy guitar riffs and solos are no doubt contagious to those playing the game, making them go on killing sprees. Another notable track is the terrifying "Metamorphosis" which manages to create some really tense atmosphere with various layers of electronic sounds. That said, the soundtrack is made redundant by the similar yet superior contents of the subsequent disc...
Despite the entire package being good, Metal Slug 2 suffered from some technical problems, most notably slowdowns. As a result, Metal Slug X was created, making the world a much better place to live in. Not only the levels were re-designed and improved, but the quality of the soundtrack was enhanced. The game features identical compositions to Metal Slug 2, though the sound quality is considerably enhanced to the benefit of the listening experience, particularly on "Judgment". The only exception is the new ending theme created for Metal Slug X, which is much more elaborate and emotional than its counterpart. That said, the soundtracks to Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X are presented in succession as Disc Two and Disc Three of the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box. As they are so similar, it's only worth listening to the X version and this reduces the box's value significantly. Thankfully, the rest of the box set is jam-packed with highlights.
The fourth disc of the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box is a complete reprint of the Metal Slug 3. Unlike its predecessor, this soundtrack is not at all redundant and the amount of variety, style, and personality featured here makes this one of the best and most memorable arcade scores ever. The audio quality is superior to the previous soundtracks in the series and the music is more context-effective than earlier instalments. Whether it is on a island, the desert, underwater, underground, above the ground, and even into space, there is always a fitting theme to accompany each scenario and most of these are enjoyable out of context too. "Blue Water Fangs", in particular, is truly a memorable, if over-the-top, heroic anthem, made even more unique from the fun and quirky tribal percussion. That said, the mastering on the box set is somewhat worse than the stand-alone edition, meaning audiophiles may wish to go for the alternative version.
On Metal Slug 4, the series' musical reigns shifted from Takushi Hiyamuta to Toshikazu Tanaka, SNK's most successful graduate composer. Tanaka's style involves mostly electric guitars and synthesizers which he uses prominently to create compositions full of catchy melodies and lots of personality. In Metal Slug 4, he mixes these elements with orchestral textures to maintain the history of the series and fit the distinctive scenario. The military anthem "Show Spirit" is a good example of this and harkens back to the original Metal Slug. The final mission theme "Furiously" eventually reflects the superior technological capacity of the game with its rip-roaring fusion of dissonant orchestration and overdriven guitars. Unfortunately, some tracks such as "Snowy Road" and "Secret Place" tend to be slightly generic, despite Tanaka trying his best. In addition, the soundtrack is slightly short and, while there is nothing particularly bad, only a handful of compositions are truly memorable.
The soundtrack to Metal Slug 5 compensates for these disappointments and more. Most of the tracks on the soundtrack interlace heavy metal instrumentation with other elements in a complex and energetic fashion. "Heavy African" and "Ruins Excavation", for instance, are two hard rock tracks that mix ethnic elements, and both represent the first jungle-based mission. A few classic themes also receive minimalistic arrangements. "Fierce Battle" meanwhile is a raging beast on a full-on rampage to destroy everything. The intense guitar work and aggressive motifs make this one of the best boss tracks in any video game, while the skilfully integrated Arabian influences only add to the uniqueness. There are also a few nods to classic Metal Slug themes. However, once again, the box set version of the soundtrack features inferior mastering to the stand-alone edition and many fans will wish to simply stick to Noise Factory's edition.
The series' musical direction shifted once more with Metal Slug 6, another exclusive soundtrack on the box set. On this soundtrack, Manabu Namiki blends essences of shooters like Radiant Silvergun and Mushihimesama Futari, with themes and styles from early instalments of the series. The revival of the series' main theme for the first stage is particularly glorious, with its memorable brass motif, exotic percussion palette, and top-notch synthesis, while "Asian Impact" and "Aim High, Chase Fast" are two wondrous original fusions. Mitsuhiro Kaneda also contributes several compositions, including the groovy electro-orchestral boss themes and the Sakimoto-esque orchestration "Bridge 256", to considerable impact in context. While the soundtrack won't be what series' fans are used to, it's still an excellent production in its own right.
The box set concludes with Toshikazu Tanaka's exclusive soundtrack to the poorly received title Metal Slug 3D. This soundtrack begins in an uninspiring fashion with some orchestral demo tracks that are generally too short and generic to be worthy of stand-alone listening. Thankfully, the stage and boss themes of the soundtrack thereafter are all major highlights. "Start from Mountain Village" is the most jaw-breaking and awesome example of how Tanaka is versatile and capable of creating adrenaline-inducing, bombastic and energetic compositions regardless of musical genre or style. "The South Pole" could have been very well used in Metal Slug 5, because of its focus on heavy guitars, while "Out of Control" is much more intense due to its burning guitar solos and dramatic orchestral motifs. Despite its inconsistency, it's a worthy end to the series' sound box.
As the start of the final disc of the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box, there is also an exclusive arrangement called "Weapons Free Arrange" by Basiscape's Mitsuhiro Kaneda. It reprises "Inner Station", one of the most memorable themes from the first Metal Slug. The track is a jazzy and extravagant trip to the highly melodic soundscapes of the first game that absolutely deserve more attention and tributes. The arrangement itself is good, if a little overlong and repetitive, but still very fun to listen. One of my favorite parts is during the end, where a jazzy piano is used to reprise Metal Slug's main theme. Simply put, the track is really cool, but still not as cool as Tarma's sunglasses. The other bonuses on the box set include an elaborate booklet featuring character artwork and Japanese liner notes from the composers. There are also a few unused tracks.
As with other soundtrack box sets, consumers should think very carefully about value-for-money before purchashing this beast. At 14000 JPY, this box is certainly not cheap and several aspects of its presentation are disappointing, specifically the redundancy of the Metal Slug 2 soundtrack and the inferior mastering of the Metal Slug 3 and Metal Slug 5 soundtracks. That said, the soundtracks to Metal Slug, Metal Slug X, Metal Slug 4, Metal Slug 6, and Metal Slug 3D are completely exclusive to this box set and are entirely satisfying experiences. Furthermore, the various bonuses and packaging are well done if hardly major selling points. For major fans of the series, this box set is a fantastic way to commemorate a major musical legacy and well worth your precious money and time. Whether Takushi Hiyamuta's military anthems, Toshikazu Tanaka's rocking jams, or Manabu Namiki's exotic fusions, there should be plenty of memorable, impacting, and satisfying themes featured throughout the eight discs.
Disc 1: Metal Slug
Composed by HIYA!, JIM
Disc 2: Metal Slug 2
Composed by HIYA!
Disc 3: Metal Slug X
Composed by HIYA!, Captain Beroou
Disc 4: Metal Slug 3
Composed by HIYA!, Captain Beroou [17, 24, SE], Hori_Hori [07, 14 only], Q_JIROU , maitaro [15, sky, SE]
Disc 5: Metal Slug 4
Composed by Toshikazu Tanaka
Disc 6: Metal Slug 5
Composed by Toshikazu Tanaka
Disc 7: Metal Slug 6
Composed by Manabu Namiki (1~7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16), Mitsuhiro Kaneda (8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 18)
Disc 8: Metal Slug 3D
Composed by Toshikazu Tanaka
The tracklist for Metal Slug 1 ommits the traditional names used in sound tests:
3 MAIN THEME FROM METAL SLUG
4 STEEL BEAST
5 CARRY OUT
6 INNER STATION
7 ASSAULT THEME
8 RIDGE 256
9 GERHARDT CITY
10 FINAL ATTACK
11 END TITLE
12 Hold You Still!
Also is missing are two long and short vocal versions of "Hold You Still!" used in the PSX/Saturn ports.
The tracklist on the sleeve of disc 5 (Metal Slug 4) has several errors:
5.04 Let's run through! (Stage 1 "city") is stage 3's theme.
5.06 Snowy road (Stage 3 "snowy mountain") is boss theme #1.
5.09 Secret place (Stage 6 "final") is boss theme #2.
5.10 The scene of a hard battle (Boss 1) is stage 1's theme.
5.11 Furiously (Boss 2) is stage 6's theme.
Included is the complete compositions from all 7 Metal Slug titles, and previously unpublished music from the series that never made it into the games. The set also features brand new designs from the series illustrator TONKO and a very special 32 page booklet with many composer comments plus unpublished information! There is also an exclusive arranged track ("weapons free arrange" (Metal Slug Arrange Version)) by Basiscape's Mitsuhiro Kaneda.
TITLE (Opening) ~ Nazca Logo
Operation Explanation, Ranking
Final Scene 1P
Final Scene 2P
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- Booklet Front & Back
- Booklet pg. 01-02
- Booklet pg. 03-04
- Booklet pg. 05-06
- Booklet pg. 07-08
- Booklet pg. 09-10
- Booklet pg. 11-12
- Booklet pg. 13-14
- Booklet pg. 15-16
- Booklet pg. 17-18
- Booklet pg. 19-20
- Booklet pg. 21-22
- Booklet pg. 23-24
- Booklet pg. 25-26
- Booklet pg. 27-28
- Booklet pg. 29-30
- Box Back
- Box Bottom
- Box Front
- Box Right Side
- Box Top
- Disc 1
- Disc 1 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 1 Sleeve Interior
- Disc 2
- Disc 2 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 2 Sleeve Interior
- Disc 3
- Disc 3 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 3 Sleeve Interior
- Disc 4
- Disc 4 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 4 Sleeve Interior
- Disc 5
- Disc 5 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 5 Sleeve Interior
- Disc 6
- Disc 6 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 6 Sleeve Interior
- Disc 7
- Disc 7 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 7 Sleeve Interior
- Disc 8
- Disc 8 Sleeve Exterior
- Disc 8 Sleeve Interior