The Dragon Ball Z phenomenon has spawned plenty of games. As an action-packed anime, one expections the usual 2D fighters, 3D fighers, and action-oriented adventures. But a turn-based RPG? Yeah, there have actually been quite a few of them, particularly during the NES and SNES years.
This particular soundtrack is for Dragon Ball Z Gaiden ~ The Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans (Saiyajin Zetsumetsu Keikaku). It was an RPG for the Famicom (NES), but the soundtrack took the songs composed for the game and added some really unexpectedly-good arrangement. It's like the difference between an Ys OST and an Ys "Perfect Collection" arrangement.
Most of the arrangement is synth keyboard-based work with added drum loops, but a number of songs have live guitar tracks added over the regular mix for some extra spice. The quality of the arrangements don't vary much, but I found particular compositions to stand out above the crowd of your average VGM BGM.
One of my favorites was track 9, "Planet Darkness." The synth horn part was great; it reminded me of some of Yoko Shimomura's earlier works (in LiveALive and, to some extent, Legend of Mana). "Grand Battle" was another good track, especially if you're into power-pop techno stuff. There's also some great guitar work on the third minute of this track.
As I am not incredibly interested in the anime series, I can't say for sure how much of this music was originally in the anime and then put in the game; but if I had to guess, I'd say that 90% of these compositions are original and unique to the game. That's one more reason why it's worth looking into.
This isn't just an album for OMGDBZ fanboys; it's a legitimately good VGM arranged album. I definitely had my doubts, but they have since been removed by the quality of Ishikawa-san's compositions/arrangements. The album's age lends to its obscurity, but finding it in a used store, I bet you wouldn't have to dip into your savings account to afford it.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann