Iridion II Soundtrack, Manfred Linzner, 2003
As the new millennium dawned, shoot’em ups were arguably nowhere near as popular as during their heyday of the 1980s and 90s. However, more than enough developers still had a fondness for the genre and kept the flame burning. One such studio was Shin’en Multimedia, founded in 1999 by former members of Amiga demoscene group Abyss. Focusing on Nintendo’s handheld consoles in the early years of their existence, Shin’en turned what had been conceived as a Game Boy shoot’em up into a Game Boy Advance launch title – Iridion 3D. Despite the game’s much-lauded pseudo-3D graphics, reviews were tepid due to frustrating gameplay. Two years later, Iridion II was received much more positively. Its gameplay broke little new ground, but critics agreed that it was a pleasant reminder of the more straightforward shooters of yore – and no review failed to mention Iridion II’s stellar presentation.
Part of this was one of the best-sounding scores ever to grace the Game Boy Advance. For some, this might be damning the Iridion II soundtrack with faint praise, given how difficult the GBA hardware made it to produce music that didn’t sound like a muddy, substandard SNES score. But keeping these hardware limitations in mind elucidates just how much of an accomplishment this soundtrack is. And if you are not familiar with all this technological background, the music’s strengths will quickly help you look past the still somewhat grainy sound of the samples used.