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Speed Racer: The Video Game
by Winifred Phillips

Speed Racer: The Video Game

Buy online

The Game: Wii
The Game: DS
The Game: PS2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speed Racer:  The Video Game (Soundtrack) by Winifred Phillips

Speed Racer: The Video Game
Composed by Winifred Phillips
Promo Release (2008)

Rating: 5/10

*This promo is not available for purchase

 

 

“WINIFRED PHILLIPS drops the pedal from the onset of track 1 and doesn't let up until the race finishes with track 12. No pit stops either.”

Music at the Sound of Speed
Review by Christopher Coleman

As Nintendo's new Wii gaming system was continuing to light up cash registers around the globe and bolstering up its fairly meager gaming library, Warner Brothers Interactive developed and then released it's tie-in game for the feature film SPEED RACER. Of course, much discussion was had regarding the look of the film being very "video game" like itself. The original trailers for the film also employed high-energy, electronic dance music, which seemed to seal the deal. We were going to get a high-octane, principally synthesized score to match the synthesized visuals. Rectifying that expectation with the hiring of MICHAEL GIACCHINO as the film's score composer remained quite the quandary, but in the end, GIACCHINO's penchance for jazz-influenced, orchestral music won out. The combination of the film's hyper-visuals but organic score, made for an odd pairing; however, from the stand point of pure musical-appreciation, Giacchino's choices were welcome ones.

When it comes to racing game scores, there aren't a ton of options; that is, if the producers care about optimizing this very specific gaming environment. In a word, both the visual and audio components are most likely going to have to convey one thing: speed! Little needs to be said about the visuals of the game...it's all about speed, and reckless abandon, and loop-de-loops,...and "Car-fu!" In truth, almost everything in SPEED RACER: THE VIDEO GAME is to the extreme. Employing the Wii's unique wireless control system (this title is one of the first to be compatible with the Wii's special steering-wheel controller) or using the standard Wii remote in the horizontal configuration, the gamer already set to experience a racing extreme like no other. You can choose to battle-race with 1 of some 19 cars and characters including: Speed Racer, Trixie, and (my all time favorite) Racer X. While some gamers found the lack of track variety to be sorely "unextreme," the game's musical score certainly helps to keep the driver extremely invigorated no matter how many times they run a particular track.

When it came to SPEED RACER: THE VIDEO GAME game's original score, veteran game composer WINIFRED PHILLIPS was brought on. Having already experienced the unique challenges that movie tie-in games present, especially in terms of schedules and deadlines, the choice of PHILLIPS would seem to be a natural. She has delivered noteworthy scores for other feature-film tie-in games like: THE DA VINCI CODE, SHREK THE THIRD, and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. This time out, it was likely a double-edged sword for PHILLIPS in that no licensing was obtained for the music used from the film or the original theme by NOBUYOSHI KOSHIBE from the late 1960s. On the one hand, this opened up the door for much more creative freedom.  But even that "perk" can have its share of challenges - the dreaded, blank, musical notation paper (or computer screen) casting its menacing glare, daring her to write the first notes of music. As thrilled as I was to hear GIACCHINO's employment of the classic SPEED RACER theme and other segments from the TV series, I have to say I was almost as disappointed in not hearing them in the game - simply because the musical brand of SPEED RACER is burned into my music-consciousness. If a film or game based on the series doesn't use the theme...aside from re-runs, when would I ever hear it again? Having said that, I would have no interest in hearing a techno-version of the famous theme either and I can certainly understand why (legalities aside) the producers and PHILLIPS chose the direction they did. In short, WINIFRED PHILLIPS' score is a perfect match for the game...and might have worked equally as well in the film...although I have doubts that my senses would have been able to handle the dual extremes on the big screen.

SPEED RACER: THE VIDEO GAME is an adrenaline-fest. If you are like me and don't find yourself attending the local rave scene, participating in the X-Games, or (insert extreme sport here), then you might find the perfect mood and opportunity to experience this score a bit hard to come by. This promotional release contains 42 minutes on 12 tracks of mindblowing, hair-raising, psychoaural, musical hallucinogen, which is none to kind to the more sensitive demographic of music lovers. WINIFRED PHILLIPS drops the pedal from the onset of track 1 and doesn't let up until the race finishes with track 12. No pit stops either.

This type of game music is always fiendishly difficult to review. The dilemma lies in the fact that this music works perfectly within the game...matching the visual intensity on nearly every level. If high-speed, xenon lights had a sound, I think this might just be it. So while the player's envelopment into the SPEED RACER: VIDEO GAME is made absolutely complete by the vibrant score, and Phillip's primary responsibility met, evaluating the experience of this music outside of its gaming context is more challenging than playing the game itself in Championship mode. Listening to the twelve tracks straight through can be taxing experience. There is just so much coming at the ears and brain to process...without the blinding visuals and frantic motioning of a Wii remote to help distract, the music commands every bit of attention a body has to give it. Still, amidst the genre-blending layers of synths, samples, vocals, and percussion, it is possible to apprehend some musical ideas. In track 1, Speed Racer: Opening Cinema" we are introduced to a number of important elements. Firstly, the broad and deep musical palette employed for this score is immediately evident. We hear electric guitars - featured in one form or another, in just about every track. We perceive the break-neck tempo, orchestral accents, radical rhythm shifts, simulated sound effects, dramatic choral element, and retro synths. In the tracks first moments we hear a "vocodorized" statement "Speed Racer" which is reprised later and turns out to be an important motif, as it were. We also hear another element which becomes a reoccurring motif of sorts. Most will recognize it as vaguely reminiscent of the iconic rhythm from Queen's "We Will Rock You" rock anthem. Now way around it. That's quite a lot for one track to deliver, but its all in there and more.

Truth be told, elaborate break downs of every track presented here could be done, as each one is crafted to represent a specific track or environment of the game. Most of which are super-high-energy like: "Thunderhead" (3), "Rev it Up" (7), and Move It (9). Then there are those tracks that play as comparative breathers: "Onuris" (4), "Chick Chick Chick-Ah" (5), "Fuji Helexicon" (6). That "rock-anthem" sampling is one of the few easily identifiable through-lines of the score. After track 1, it can be found in subsequent tracks, "Thunderhead" (3), and "End Credits (12). Track 6 is the first time we can easily hear any musical connection to the existing SPEED RACER franchise whatsoever. The track begins in a very familiar fashion: quick, rising notes on strings. Things change rapidly though as we hear a brand new theme for Mr. Racer. Returning is the "Speed Racer" statement made in track 1, this time as choral element and then later vocodorized again. The lead vocals of the track (as well as all other vocals: choir, vocoder, etc.) are performed by WINIFRED PHILLIPS herself. As Phillips sings these new verses, the piece turns into a wonderful homage to classic Anime, rock themes of decades past. Tucked in the track are a number of previously used vocal samples: "Go!" "Let's Go!" and even the guitar hook from "Onuris" (played at nearly double time). This soundtrack is then begun and ended with the most this score's most iconic material.

Early on, I was less than ecstatic about this score, but as I continued to listen, I began to appreciate the effort that went into this and how it compliments the game-play so well. WINIFRED PHILLIPS' work here is not going to appeal to many of the "give me symphony or give me death" crowd, but for the younger generation who thrive in these days of "Rock Band", "Guitar Hero" and 24-hour-Cartoon stations, I can see much appeal. SPEED RACER: THE VIDEO GAME is a interesting musical experience, to say the least. Within the game itself, there could hardly be anything more fitting. As a stand alone listening experience; however, it would be wise to set any A.D.D. meds aside for about 42 minutes and prepare oneself to move at the sound of speed.  The rating for this promo release is a "Mach 5."

Rating: 5/10

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Speed Racer Opening Cinema 2:36  **
2 Zoom 4:31  **
3 Thunderhead 2:33  ***
4 Onuris 2:34  ***
5 Chick Chick Chick-Ah! 4:38  ***
6 Fuji Helexicon 2:35  ***
7 Rev It Up 4:34  **
8 Aurora Cryopticon 4:34  **
9 Move It 4:34  **
10 Cosmopolis Grand Prix 2:32  **
11 Under the Hood 4:36  ***
12 End Credits 3:39  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 42 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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