Namco Consumer Software Sound Team
Ridge Racer Type 4 - Direct Audio
 
 

    In 1999 Namco released what many still say is the greatest game in their flagship Ridge Racer series, R4 Ridge Racer Type 4, on the Sony PlayStation.  Graphically it pulled out all the stops and squeezed every last bit of polygon pushing power the PlayStation could dish out, even surpassing the visuals of the PlayStation Gran Turismo games.  The control was perfect, (supporting both the neGcon and the new Jogcon controllers) the gameplay was perfect, the Grand Prix story mode was rich and well designed, over all the game was just perfect in every aspect of design and production.  Additionally the music is still some of the best originally composed audio ever heard in any driving game.

    Ridge Racer and Ridge Race Revolution had poppy arcade anthems that worked well for the very straight-forward "drive proficiently around the circuits while not hitting the sides or other cars" formula.  They were mostly composed of upbeat techno music with a vocal here or there.  When Rage Racer was released most of the jumpy techno was replaced with J-rock and light metal sounding tunes.  However when Ridge Racer Type 4 came out toward the end of the PlayStation life cycle they went a completely different direction, incorporating mostly upswing jazz with a touch of blues music.  The result was an excellent balance perfect for the type of technical arcade racing that Ridge Racer Type 4 was comprised of.  Ridge Racer Type 4 Direct Audio gives you every last bit of music from the game.  It is an Ever Anime release so it was Japan only and just as with the SonMay anime soundtracks, probably not totally legally produced.  However the quality is excellent and the case art well done, with that, here's the track breakdown.

Track 1:  Urban Fragments
This is what plays during the opening CG sequence, still among one of my favorite pieces of well directed animation on the original PlayStation.  Basically this is the theme for R4 and it plays exactly as it does in the opening sequence except for the sound effects (cars accelerating, tires spinning, Reiko walking, etc.) have all been removed so you get a clean version of the title theme.

Track 2:  Turn the Page
During the explanation of how the Real Racing Roots '99 Grand Prix races break down this is the song the plays in the background.  It's really just filler while the qualification system for each section of the Grand Prix mode is explained, nothing that would overpower the voice over.  Still a nicely composed theme.

Track 3:  On Your Way
After the Grand Prix explanation you have to select your team, have a small introduction with the team manager, and then select your car manufacturer.  While all that is going on this song plays in the background, just a little jumpy jazz song that loops in the background.

Track 4:  Garage Talk
Whenever you have an after or before race discussion with your team manager this is the music that plays in the background.  It's similar to On Your Way however is different enough to provide distinction between the two.

Track 5:  Spiral Ahead
This is the excellent theme reprisal that plays during the Course Data screen, just before a race.  The music fits perfectly with the design of the visuals here as a map of the circuit is gone over showing each turn.

Track 6:  Pearl Blue Soul
The following tracks play during races, however you can select which song you'd like to play in the background for each.  In other words any song can be played at any circuit but I'm listing them as the default music for each circuit in Grand Prix mode.  Continuing with that, this is the background music for "Helter Skelter," a relaxing synth heavy jazz theme.

Track 7:  Naked Glow
"Wonderhill" features this smooth song, my favorite of the entire soundtrack.  The circuit winds through mountains and bridges so the smooth upbeat jazz complements the course well.  As with most of the music in the game, it continues to be well developed smooth jazz with a synth background.

Track 8:  Your Vibe
Played at "Edge of the Earth" this drum heavy sonic anthem fits in perfect with streaking around a closed circuit that goes through and beneath an airport.  If you were to take most of the music from Rage Racer and tone it down to be more jazz fusion sounding, this is what you'd end up with.

Track 9:  Lucid Rhythms
Probably the best matching song to the surroundings, this is played at "Out of Blue."  It just seems to blend well with the coastal circuit that winds through a harbor, brushes around coastal mountains, and back into the city.  A dreamy piano based work of video game music art that, as most of the music on this CD, would stand well on its own.

Track 10:  Thru
Not used for a specific circuit, Thru is a dreamy synth track with a blues baseline.  As with the rest of the soundtrack, it's just really good relaxing driving music.  When compared to the other music in the game this one is a bit different in that it's a much slower paced song.

Track 11:  Silhouette Dance
Not used for a specific circuit, I can't really get into this song, it just seems too underdeveloped - which is probably why it's not used as a default theme.  Too much baseline with not enough over it for me, although there is some decent jazz piano later in the track but it's too little too late.

Track 12:  Bunin' Rubber
This song is used quite a bit in the replay modes and sounds an awful lot like the music from the first two Ridge Racer games - upbeat arcade synth pop.  While not as jazzy as the rest of the soundtrack, it was nice to see a more traditional Ridge Racer song make it into the game.

Track 13:  Revlimit Funk
The only guitar heavy R4 song, Revlimit Funk sounds a lot like the music from Rage Racer but it is not used for a specific circuit.  It's not a bad composition, it just sounds out of place here.

Track 14:  Quiet Curves
Of all the songs on the Ridge Racer Type 4 soundtrack this one sounds like it was ripped out of a jazz club most.  While it's not used for a specific circuit in the game, it continues with the overall theme of upswing yet laid back jazz music.  Yet another song in the soundtrack that would hold up well on it's own, lots more piano work here than in any of the other songs.

Track 15:  Motor Species
From the extremely short and technical "Phantomile" circuit comes this techno inspired composition.  It's very repetitive but concentration on this twisty circuit is paramount so it's best that the music doesn't get in the way.  In case anyone is wondering, yes Namco took "Phantomile" from the first Klonoa game, in fact the PRC Real Racing Roots '99 trophy has Klonoa on the top.

Track 16:  The Objective
Truthfully the theme from the "Brightest Nite" circuit gets on my nerves so I usually change it.  Basically it's a lazy techno thump in the background with synth effects over it, sounds like sonic water droplets and so forth.  I know they were going for intense sounding music for this tricky circuit but this song is simply annoying in my opinion, especially when compared to the rest of the soundtrack.

Track 17:  Move Me
Similar to Lucid Rhythms, Move Me is a drifty sounding composition however it has a few more techno elements added to make it sound completely different.  It's not used for a specific circuit, but would sound fine when paired with any of the tracks in R4.  It's also used as a replay theme and works great there as well.

Track 18:  The Ride
Well it's back to the mountains for "Heaven and Hell" which features this jazz / techno mix.  This circuit can be quite a handful so the music is well tuned to fit the mood of gameplay.  It's almost like a synth pipe organ over a drum track.

Track 19:  Movin' in Circles
From the final race in Grand Prix mode, "Shooting Hoops," has an extremely repetitive techno theme - but that's the point.  I'll explain...  Shooting Hoops is a temporary looping circuit that you run six laps around at high speed.  The race takes place on Friday, December 31st, 1999, beginning at 11:45pm.  So while you fly around the circuit the year is counting down, toward the end of your final lap the year 2000 begins complete with fireworks in the sky and "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" being displayed on the monitor that hangs over the Start / Finish line.  The song is composed, quite ingeniously, so that the part where it becomes more intense plays during your final lap.

Track 20:  The Parade
After you win the final race at Shooting Hoops this is the victory theme that plays while the announcer talks about your race season and your team.  It's really just a quick little celebratory song.

Track 21:  Epilogue
After all is said and done, you will be presented with an epilogue about what becomes of what ever team you win the RRR '99 championship with.  A soft and dreamy music box sounding theme that fits in well with where it was used, but it sounds out of place unless you know where it fits into the game.

Track 22:  Ridge Racer - One More Win
The big reprisal of the theme song, performed by Kimara Lovelace.  There's actually some really good vocal jazz music here.  This plays during the closing credits sequence and has become known as the official theme of the Ridge Racer franchise.  Too bad that since this excellent game the Ridge Racer franchise has been a joke (Ridge Racer V wasn't bad but R: Racing Evolution was just full of way too many gameplay and control problems).

Track 23:  Ready to Roll!
Every time you earn an upgrade to your existing car or a new car all together this is the music that plays in the background.

Track 24:  Party's Over
The game over / retire music... didn't hear this one all that often.

Track 25:  Eat'em Up!
If you play the game into the ground you'll eventually unlock the Pac-Man bonus.  This is the theme music for this very special mode.  It's a remix of the classic Pac-Man intermission theme, a staple of Namco's glorious history.  Something to note here is that this song was reused in the background in the commercials of the US advertising campaign for Pac-Man World 2 years later on the PlayStation2.  Personally I can't get enough of Pac-Man theme remixes and this one is by far the best, much better than the one used in Ridge Racer V.
 

Final Verdict:  No Ridge Racer game, or any driving game for that matter, since R4 has had music of this quality.  It's the only single title game soundtrack I have ever purchased and it makes for a great listening experience any time.  Since it was a Japan only release back in 1999 it may be hard to find but occasionally I see a copy on eBay or at an import store.  Opened you can grab Ridge Racer Type 4 Direct Audio for about $10 - $15.  However a sealed copy with the spine card easily runs anywhere from three to six times more, I was more surprised than anyone.  At the time of the game's release the soundtrack was featured in many gaming magazines as a great soundtrack to import and the same goes to this day.  It's certainly worth checking your local import game or anime store to see if they have a copy collecting dust somewhere and pick it up.  It's far better than those overhyped Final Fantasy soundtracks people seem to buy non-stop.

It has since come to my attention that the CD pictured here is the "pirate" Asia Version EverAnime release, the "official" release has no back cover and different artwork but the same content.  There's quite a debate about the Asian CD market but this CD is still great and is well worth any money one would pay.  The review doesn't change.  If the "official" soundtracks would be made and distributed in greater numbers then the "pirate" soundtrack market wouldn't be such a more massive draw.  These aren't really "pirates" per say, just not the Japanese release.
 

Written on 12-23-04 by David, insanedavid@classicplastic.net
Last amended 04-13-06 by David, insanedavid@classicplastic.net


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