Carrier Wing – “The Stratosphere Flight” (arr. Alf Lyra)August 4, 2010
Carrier Wing (known as US Navy in Japan) was a 1990 arcade shmup where players take on the fictional Middle Eastern country of Rabu after its surprise attack conquers most of the world. This is a little different than other shmups as your ship has health (fuel) which slowly drains throughout the mission – and drains much quicker once the plane is shot. In a nod to 1943, you can also upgrade your ship – this time, using money you earn on your missions. The game was released in October 1990, during the middle of the First Gulf War. It is doubly odd because the first battle is a retaking of Tokyo, which seems odd given the politics of the US having an air base in Japan. The soundtrack was composed by Manami Matsumae, who worked on such Capcom classics as Mega Man 2, Mercs, and Mega Man 10. She also composed the previous title, U.N. Squadron.
“The Stratosphere Flight” is a remix of the final stage theme, “Mission 10 Stratosphere” in which the player has to shoot down a giant rocket. What’s more, the rocket launches a space shuttle, and then the space shuttle launches a laser satellite. Beat the game with the bad ending and you ditch into the sea. Beat it with the good ending, and your plane lands, but it’s on fire! A little fire truck has to drive by and a little man pops out to put out your fire. That’s pretty awesome. However, it makes you wonder why the Arabs can build such a large, heavily-defended spaceship that can take a bazillion hits before it blows up.
Anyway, the guitar recording of this mix is some great shmup music, a little subdued, but very groovy. I admit it sounds a little like “Eye of the Tiger” (those riffs appear to be pretty popular), but it also uses synths for that ‘spacey’ sound. The guitars were performed by Isao Abe (Oyaji), Navy Tomioka, and Chopper Fujisawa (which are pretty cool pseudonyms). The keyboard synths were by Kimitaka Matsumae, Manami’s husband.
The soundtrack was released on Street Fighter II -G.S.M. CAPCOM 4- (1990), which also included the soundtrack to Magic Sword (which Matsumae-san also composed) and Chiki Chiki Boys. the GSM soundtracks are kind of interesting because while they often include SFX collections, they tended to place tracks together in medleys rather than as individual tunes. My favorite piece has to be “Mission 2 Capital Recovery Operation ~ Defeating the Occupying Enemy Force“, which is heavy on guitars and has a great beat.