I Won't Lose! Gunleon ~ Koji Hayama Super Robot Wars Original Sound Collection
If there's one composer in game music that I really enjoy learning more about, it's Koji Hayama. His quirky themes, his ridiculous soundfonts, and bizarre games which he seems to contribute to (i.e. Cho Aniki) seem to highlight what I see as a happy-go-lucky persona. When I saw that he had a compilation album for the series with the most awesome name in the game business — Super Robot Taisen (aka. Super Robot Wars) — I was all over it like butter on toast. I'll be straight up honest with you here, though: Hayama's music generally has an acquired taste (which fortunately I have), and so although I do love this album, and have given it mostly a good review here, you might want to ask yourself a few questions first before purchasing it. Such questions should include: 'do I enjoy random synth vocals in game music?', 'do I know how to turn down the bass on my sound system?', or 'do I have any flat mates?' Read my review to see what Hayama has in store for you — they're not all weird tracks!
The first section of the album features music from Super Robot Taisen Z, and provides us with some of Hayama's most enjoyable themes. In classic Hayama style, "I Won't Lose! Gunleon" and "Land Crasher" each feature hilarious vocals, pumping synth, and epic power chords, resulting in severe 'cheese' and catchiness — something you'd almost expect Bonnie Tyler to sing over the top of. "Pain" is slightly less in your face; featuring a prominent melody, some intriguing bass development, and typical Hayama drum hits and slams, it certainly brings a different feel to the album.
The next two tracks from 3rd Super Robot Taisen Alpha also take upon a similar style. The bizarre vocals reappear in "On My Own Baran Doban + Alpha" and the quirky bass and melodic excellence is certainly a highlight of "The Soul of Alpha + Alpha". There does seem to be a wildcard with the game's third featured track though, since "Gate to Target Shots + Alpha" actually takes upon the style of a darker, militaristic theme. Hayama uses completely different musical devices in the creation of this track, and makes sure that its most striking parts lie in its rhythm and bass parts, rather than the melody.
The last three tracks from Super Robot Taisen Alpha take upon unexpected forms too, especially when we consider the album's first couple of themes. Though "Enraged Spirits (Opening)" does feature his signature synth vocals, it also features orchestral synth, an electronic background, and a rather amusing sword clash to end the track. The two versions of "Oh Spirit to the Sky" are also quite a pleasant addition to this compilation, with each featuring great developed sections and an epic melody. The unexpected thing about the "Oh Spirit to the Sky" tracks is that Hayama doesn't do anything especially weird, and almost seems to follow the code of a normal composer!
Hayama's strengths have always been in his melodies, and truly this small collection is filled with some memorable ones. Moreover, many will enjoy his cheesier tracks, with their power chords and ridiculous pathways to musical development. This is certainly a unique album to add to your collection, but I wouldn't necessarily advise its purchase for anything else other than that it's fun to listen to... or if you just want to have that one track on your iTunes which makes you laugh whenever it comes on in your playlist shuffle! Although I loved it, I won't be giving this album an amazing score due to accessibility reasons (not everybody has crazy musical tastes like me), alongside the fact that it's also just a compilation album.
Super Robot Wars Alpha 3: To the End of the Galaxy: 4-6
Super Robot Wars Alpha: 7-9
THE SOUL OF ALPHA +α