Let me say, right now, that I was misled regarding the origins of this album. I was given this album as an assignment from soundtracks head and crazy taskmaster Patrick Gann, and he had informed me that this album was from the Japanese version of a very terrible game called CIMA: The Enemy (known as “Frontier Stories” in Japan). THESE WERE FALSEHOODS AND LIES! He claims, in his defense, that he was confused by all the capital letters and sent me the wrong album. Whatever.
I’m much more pleased with this album than I would have been with anything related to CIMA, so he is forgiven. This album is actually for a graphic adventure for the Dreamcast that managed to make it to America under the name “Industrial Spy: Operation Espionage.” Note the pun in the original Japanese name. “Espion AGE nts” = Espionage Agents. Get it? Very good.
The whole basis of the themes on the album is a sort of low-grade synth techno with a thumping base beat. Take something along the lines of Snatcher, and make it bouncier and more light-hearted, and you get ESPION-AGE-NTS’s OST. The only downside is the somewhat low quality of the synths involved.
If you’re not a big fan of cheesy synth-pop-esque techno vibes, though, there are some other genres of music in there, such as the synth orchestra piece, “Mondstein,” the synth-techno/traditional Asian “Kowloon II” and synth-mambo “Adieu.” Here’s the strange thing, though; every track reminds me of a composition from another game. For example, Mondstein has an Iwadare/Lunar vibe to it, while Berlin Institute of Technology #1 has overtones of the original Persona, and Microware R&D has a sort of early Capcom Vs. feel to it (alph lyla anyone?).
What this all boils down to is that the ESPION-AGE-NTS soundtrack is a very effective chameleon, which is kind of fitting for a game marketed as a Spy RPG. But let’s just get one thing straight; if you’re looking for amazing composition, original orchestration, or excellent sound quality, go somewhere else. I’m sure that this album does a great job with creating the proper atmosphere for the game, but I’d be hard-pressed to recommend this as a stand-alone album. If you liked the game, I’d suppose this would be a decent purchase, but otherwise I’d look elsewhere… unless you really have a hankering for overly-synthed music.