R-Type II -G.S.M. IREM 2- “R-Type II Arrange Version” (Kei Takanishi)January 24, 2010
I was always a fan of the R-Type series. I can’t really say where my love for it began, but it may have been from images of the Dobkeratops I had seen. The first version of the game I ever played was Super R-Type (1991), which is arguably the worst and most difficult game in the series. I was able to beat this after much hardship, but never managed to get anywhere on a difficulty higher than ‘easy’. These games are pretty brutal, but they have absolutely fantastic artistic design and – for most of the series – excellent music. This track is an arranged medley of several tracks from R-Type II (1990) and goes well with the whole CD’s recent release on Slightly Dark. That’s right: R-TYPE II -G.S.M. IREM 2- came out 20 years ago this week.
“R-Type II (Arrange Version)” opens with a nice sense of outer space through atmospheric instruments, static bursts (or perhaps the moving of insect legs), and an SOS signal. Because it begins so quietly, be sure to turn your speakers up a little! Before transitioning into the medley, it then plays some notes from the space organ, which when coupled with the SOS signal sets the game’s dark atmosphere.
The main body of the track is a medley of several tracks from the game, including “R-9TO The Front (Stage 1)” (1:20), “Water Splash (Stage 2)” (2:20), “Dead End” (3:55) and “Boss Theme” (4:25).
“R-9TO The Front” has the unique and hip ‘R-Type’ guitar that plays at the starting level of most of the games. The careful placement of the notes and the timing is what really defines this sound, which can also be heard in the menu theme from R-Types. It loosely follows the feel of the main theme from the original R-Type, evoking the well-greased, well-maintained R-9 fighter craft and the crack pilot charged with flying this multi-billion-dollar piece of technology to save mankind from the Bydo bio-menace. R-9 blasts off to destroy the Bydo Empire with this great 80s synth-rock.
The song then transitions into “Water Splash” which takes place in the watery jungle cave replete with difficult-to-maneuver-through waterfalls. The sax here is excellent, very mellow and with a strong, deep timbre that when coupled with strings and slower pacing, gives this track a nice atmosphere. Next we move into “Dead End”, which has a nice ominous feel that provides a good, short build into the “Boss Theme”.
The “Boss Theme” has some nice use of the guitar and strings, the discordant notes evoking the giant biomechanical monstrosity that lies at the end of each stage. I actually think it feels a lot like a boss theme from the Mega Man X series, with those guitar pulls feeling certainly ugly and infectious to biology and machine alike.
In the end, the ship is destroyed, unable to defeat the Bydo. It seems logical that this is referencing the difficulty of the game and the player’s all-too-common demise, though with the SOS it could also be referring to the R-9 fighters trapped by the last boss. The death of the pilot along with the SOS and organ gives a sense of finality and despair to the piece that I think really matches the game’s artistic design. The creations of man ultimately come back to destroy them, and we are powerless to stop the inevitable march to oblivion. At the same time, the organ kind of evokes “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” from 2001, giving a sense of hope and rebirth.
Overall, it’s an excellent arrangement that goes quite well with the arranged tracks from R-TYPE SPECIAL (1993). Kei Takanishi was not an arranger on that album, but he is also responsible for arranging Game Boy and Fire Emblem music, which makes me think he is a freelance pop electronica artist. He seems to be composing music for dating sim games these days.
Interesting to note thatSuper R-Type is part port, part re-make of R-Type II as it has original music and a couple original stages, but several levels were copied almost exactly. Aside from the drop in graphical capacities, I’d say Super R-Type is in some ways better.