Neon Drive Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the video game score Neon Drive by Pengus.
At a glance:
Geek Score: 92.5
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 24.8
Album Excellence: 59%
Neon Drive is a 2016 racing game developed and published by Fraoula and released on Steam May 12, 2016. Neon Drive is a slick retro-futuristic, ’80s inspired arcade game that will make your brain melt. You’ve been warned. From beautiful cityscapes and ocean roads to exploding enemy spaceships, Neon Drive has it all. The score is composed by Pengus.
Despite the funny name, you better get serious about Pengus because the score will bring back some memories if like me you grew up in the 80s. There’s a very popular genre these days called Synthwave where a lot of artists are emulating the glorious sound of the 80s and Pengus is one of them. So sit back and enjoy the ride back to a time where neon was king. The score itself, if you’re being pragmatic, is only consisting of 7 cues. You have one for each level of the game, then you have a few trailer cues and menu loop, then you have variations on the level cues based on your chosen difficulty level. I will be listening to it all though and hopefully you will too. The score opens with the first level ‘Level 1 City’. So imagine you are in front of your computer or TV screen. Your joystick is ready and you start the car and drives off into an insane city level while listening to the music. And the music, it has such a wow factor, specially if you’re new to the synthwave genre. I’ve been listening to it for a while, but this is seriously great music. The theme is perfect and it reminds me of what I dreamed the music could be when I played my 8-bit games and listened to the music chips of the time. This is more film quality synth music you could hear in a Harold Faltermeyer or a Jan Hammer movie.
Now Miami is a dream city for us 80s fans. Miami Vice. Come on! One of the greatest cop shows and also the coolest cities on earth in mid-eighties. In ‘Level 2 Miami’ we’re going to Miami and those wonderful speed boats and palm trees. The music might not be up there with Hammer’s best, but it’s great, specially the guitar music later in the cue. ‘Level 3 Science Fiction’ sounds inspired by Vangelis End Titles theme for Vangelis and there’s nothing wrong with that. I feel that this may be a little more video game and 80s synth, but it’s a healthy mix of both. ‘Level 4 Stardust’ is a great one. I love the synths they use here, quite a bit more mellow than usually. If there was one gripe about this score is that it’s not going 100% in to make a true synthwave score (by my definition anyway). You could argue that the video game noises are part of the whole synthwave genre. Maybe, but I’m enjoying pure 80s music more. My favourite level is ‘Level 6 Valkyrie’ who dares to use a very cool metal guitar. The theme works well too and could probably have been used for a pop/rock tune of the 80s. Now this is awesome! There are 3 “special” cues as I mentioned, quite short, but still very important. The first one is ‘Neon Drive Menu Loop’ which is the music played on the main menu. It’s a very fun action-filled 80s synth piece. There are two trailer cues called ‘Neon Drive Trailer 1’ and ‘Neon Drive Trailer 2’ which is equally fun. I love the percussion here, particularly in ‘Neon Drive Trailer 1’. Superb.
The rest of the score are variations of all the main level cues, two variations for each one. You have hard difficulty and insane difficulty and they are basically the same cues, but faster. So if you enjoyed the level cues, you will enjoy these as well. This is a great little game score, one that I will surely revisit and brag about to my soundtrack friends. Check it out.
1. Level 1 City
2. Level 2 Miami
4. Level 4 Stardust
6. Level 6 Valkyrie *
8. Neon Drive Menu Loop
9. Neon Drive Trailer 1
10. Neon Drive Trailer 2
11. Level 1 City (Hard Difficulty)
12. Level 2 Miami (Hard Difficulty)
14. Level 4 Stardust (Hard Difficulty)
16. Level 6 Valkyrie (Hard Difficulty) *
18. Level 1 City (Insane Difficulty)
19. Level 2 Miami (Insane Difficulty)
21. Level 4 Stardust (Insane Difficulty)
23. Level 6 Valkyrie (Insane Difficulty)