Composed By: Michael John Mollo
Distributed by: Capcom
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Strider, a side-scrolling fighter game was first introduced in 1989. Set in a dystopian future, the game centered around Hiryu, the youngest high ranking member of a high-tech ninja group known as the Striders. Hiryu's mission was to assassinate the mysterious dictator known only as Grandmaster. In 2014, Capcom and Double Helix Games released a reboot of Strider. Considered a retelling of the original story, players once again control Hiryu, the Strider organization's best assassin in his efforts to hunt down and take out the evil Grandmaster Meio.
A brand new rebooted version of an 80s classic deserves a new score. Enter Michael John Mollo, an American composer born into a musical family. Learning the gift of song from his grandmother and the guitar from his father, Mollo honed his musical skills by listening to popular singers and songwriters like The Beatles, The Grateful Dead and Paul Simon. Receiving multiple degrees in various aspects of music, Mollo spent time at Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Productions before joining forces with composer John Powell. Since then, he has contributed music to a number of blockbuster hits, including How to Train Your Dragon, Rio, and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Mollo has gone solo on a number of musical scores, including Alaska: The Last Frontier: The Series, Identical, Tunnel Vision, We Are the Parents and more.
As soon as I started listening to the Strider Soundtrack I found myself smiling. Here was a video game soundtrack that gave a nod toward the original game, offering up grand orchestral themes suited for a feature film's musical score, but also supplying us with synth-based tracks that harked back to the age of the 16-bit gaming period of our youth. As it turns out, that is just what Michael John Mollo had in mind when creating the score of Strider: "The approach to the music for Strider was to take the style and intensity of the original games from the late 80s, and breathe new life into the arrangements. I chose to feature old school synths and textures juxtaposed against modern sounds to both pay homage to the past but also move the sound of Strider into the 21st century...We decided early on that it would be a good idea to re-arrange some of the classic Strider tunes for the game. Of course we had to use Raid. That was the first one we all agreed on. We also decided to include Coup, Mass Cloud, Armed Fortress, Egypt, Siberian Tunnel, and the original Kazakh Theme. We thought those tunes were the most iconic and best suited to accompany Strider as he enters the modern day. The remainder of the material consists of original tracks that I composed for the game"
The resulting score offers us a bit of nostalgia mixed with the modern sound we have come to expect from today's video game scores. There is a unique quality to this score thanks to the clever mixing of new and old that you won't find on gaming soundtracks of late. I loved it and would recommend it to any video game music fan. As a stand alone album, it will appeal to fans of both old and new games, though some of it's uniqueness may be lost on folks who are more interested in modern day scoring than the evolution of video game scoring. As background music during game play, I have no doubt that the Strider Soundtrack enhances the gamer's playing experience, heightening the senses and bringing a sense of action and danger-riddled adventure to the forefront.
Strider is an excellent example of what a reboot score is all about - remixing music of old with new and advance scoring and technology to bring an old score into the future. A great job by Michael John Mollo!