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Final Fantasy X-2 OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: AVCD-17254/5 (limited edition zAVCD-17254/5)
Released On: March 31, 2003
Composed By: Noriko Matsueda, Takahito Eguchi, Kazuhiro Hara
Arranged By: Noriko Matsueda, Takahito Eguchi, h-wonder
Published By: Avex
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 2 CDs
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - Eternity ~Memory of Lightwaves~
02 - Real Emotion ~FFX-2 Mix~
03 - YuRiPa Battle 1
04 - Yuna's Theme
05 - YuRiPa Battle 2
06 - Mission Complete
07 - Sphere Hunter ~Seagull Group~
08 - Mission Start
09 - Gagazet Mountain
10 - YuRiPa Battle 3
11 - Game Over
12 - Sir Rupuran Has Everything!
13 - I'll Give You Something Hot!
14 - Shuin's Theme
15 - Besaid
16 - Kilika
17 - Luca
18 - Mi'ihen Highway
19 - Mushroom Rock Road
20 - Young Alliance
21 - Machine Faction
22 - Guadosalam
23 - Thunder Plains
24 - Macalania Forest
25 - Bikanel Desert
26 - New Yevon Party
27 - Calm Lands
28 - Zanarkand Ruins
29 - Sphere Hunter
30 - Temple
31 - Tension
Total Time:
66'30"

Disc Two
01 - Seagull Group March
02 - Great Existence
03 - Good Night
04 - Anxiety
05 - Infiltration!
06 - Rikku's Theme
07 - Chocobo
08 - Paine's Theme
09 - Bevelle's Secret
10 - Under Bevelle
11 - Yuna's Ballad
12 - Help Store ~Seagull Group~
13 - It's Our Turn Now!
14 - Labyrinth
15 - Confusion
16 - Summoned Beast
17 - Abyss of the Farplane
18 - Eternity ~Memory of Lightwave~
19 - 1000 Words (Original Mix)
20 - Nightmare of a Cave
21 - Party
22 - Vegnagun Starting
23 - Clash
24 - Struggle to the Death
25 - Destruction
26 - Demise
27 - 1000 Words (Piano Version)
28 - Ending - ~Until the Day we Meet Again~
29 - 1000 Words (Orchestra Version)
30 - Epilogue ~Reunion~
Total Time:
72'06"

The limited edition comes in a plastic case that carries the Rikku keychain and strap.

The debate over the Final Fantasy X-2 soundtrack has stopped, for the most part. At its release, there was an instant outcry, praising and decrying the oddity. It's not hard to see which group was louder; the music was definitely unlike any of Uematsu's efforts. In fact, it is very far removed from his style. My opinion is, and always has been, that it is often light, mostly inconsequential, and occasionally a tad bland. The debate stopped, I believe, mostly because people just decided that it wasn't really worth arguing about to begin with. Some people liked the style employed by Matsueda and Eguchi, and some didn't. I was indifferent to this soundtrack for a long time, even to the point of considering selling my copy.

I don't claim to be an expert in Matsueda's music up to this point. I have heard a little of Bahamut Lagoon's music, and a little of Front Mission's. Other than that, I am even now unfamiliar with the body of her work at large. From the little I have heard, however, I can say this: while she is definitely most comfortable doing music with a jazz tinge to it, she is competent in a variety of styles.

One of the things that was rarely mentioned about this soundtrack, and one that I consider to be very important to at least initial perceptions, is the sound quality. The sound quality on this sound track is some of the better synth I have heard in a long time. Some of the instruments might be sampled, I don't know.

(As a side note, the CD is "Copy Controlled". In theory, this means that trying to burn a copy is made impossible by clever programming on the part of the publishing company. In reality, this does nothing except bring up Avex's own media player when the disc is put in a CD-ROM drive. This would be a nice thing, except for the fact that the player plays the CD at a 48 kbps sample rate, which sounds like it was recorded in a cave. Ugh.)

Jazz is territory rarely explored in an RPG OST, and even when it is, it's not often of very high quality. Here, however, there are some tracks with nice, jazz-like rhythms. "Yuna's Theme," for example, uses an eletric piano and electric organ together in an upbeat melody that works unexpectedly well. "Sphere Hunter -Seagull Group-" is one of three different tracks that are used as themes for the group's airship, and it's the best of the three. Fast-paced, energetic, with some nice background percussion elements and a tinge of techno. The other two character themes are notable as well, "Rikku's Theme" being the most upbeat of them all. "Paine's Theme" is more of a subdued jazz melody, having a similar instrumentation to "Yuna's Theme," but a slower pace.

There are also beautiful, slow pieces on this soundtrack. The most notable of these, and the one that everyone likely remembers, is "Eternity - Memory of Lightwaves," from the game's intro. It was one of the tracks in the game that convinced me to buy the soundtrack. The other version of the track, on the second disc, isn't bad either. The melody is actually left identical, but the pacing and instrumentation are completely changed. This version has a more electronic sound to it. "Besaid" has a calm melody and a soothing percussion line: a nice, tranquil piece. "Abyss of the Other World" has slow background strings and some echoing percussion; it's hard to describe, but the result is slightly melancholy.

Some of the music also falls into an odd and not often seen category of orchestral semi-dissonance. Most of this material is on the second disc. "Great Existence," "Anxiety," "Confusion," "Summoned Beast," and "Clash" fall into this category. Some composers can do this well (FFXI's "Tough Battle" by Naoshi Mizuta) and some can't. The pieces listed above are good, but not great. They work within the context of the game, but not really well outside.

I have always disliked the vocals "Real Emotion" and "1000 Words," but I suppose that's mostly my anti-pop bias coming through. Kumi Kouda doesn't really seem to do that well in trying to add style to her performance. Her voice doesn't have the energy needed to carry "1000 Words," in particular, the orchestral version of the song. "1000 Words - Orchestral Version" is an excellent arrangement, by the way...except for the vocal. It's not that I dislike J-pop in general. In fact, I have liked a number of anime themes over the years. Once again, just my personal taste.

What's left? Quite a bit, unfortunately. All too much of the soundtrack is filled with tracks that are either bland, or unfulfilled. Many of the tracks seem to loop way too quickly, as if Matsueda didn't know what she could do to continue the piece. Many of the others just seem like they're missing something in the melody or background that would make the piece complete. "Thunder Plains," which ends up going nowhere, "Struggle to the Death," which does nothing, and "Chocobo," which started with nothing, are prime examples of this.

In the end, what is Final Fantasy X-2's soundtrack? It is ultimately forgettable, for the most part, but it is also enjoyable. Among my entire 35+ soundtrack collection, it definitely stands alone as unique. I do not really recommend it to anyone who is not familiar with the music already, especially because at $42 (Animenation), it's overpriced for the material here.

Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer

With perhaps the most unique game in Square's ever so famous Final Fantasy series, comes what might as well be the most unique soundtrack of the same. Final Fantasy X-2, the first ever sequel in the series, is accompanied by the first FF soundtrack with no contributions whatsoever by Square's key composer, Nobou Uematsu (FFXI not counting). Even before hearing the soundtrack, fans have leapt to conclusions as to whether this benefits the score or hurts it. In his place are Noriko Matsueda (of Bahamut Lagoon and Front Mission fame) and arranger Takahito Eguchi. Naturally, without Uematsu, this particular soundtrack is expected to be rather different from your usual Final Fantasy music.

While the soundtrack opens with a pretty yet melancholy piano piece (Eternity ~Memory of Lightwaves~), it's immediately followed by the vocal track, realEmotion, which is quite loud, upbeat and energetic in sharp contrast to Eternity. Sung by Kouda Kumi, also Yuna's voice actress, realEmotion delivers a heavy dose of J-Pop, moreso than even that of Kingdom Hearts' Hikari by Hikaru Utada. What follows is a mostly upbeat and lighthearted soundtrack that at times employs the occasional jazzy beats, or energetic (electric) guitar, the latter of which works better in a battle theme (YuRiPa Battle 3). The mixture can be, at times, a bit of a refresher, though during others, rather grating. One can only imagine though, that a few of these more upbeat songs are more fitting to some of the game's out of the ordinary minigames - which include massaging and dancing, to name two.

No, the soundtrack doesn't completely step away from familiar styles of FF music. A few fitting mellow area themes here and there, and a couple of more melancholy piano pieces round out this score. Like the Xenosaga OST, great use is made of vocals (the choral kind) as shown in the hopeful sounding tone of 'Party' - a rather misleading song title, I know. A little into the second disc is when the score starts to sound more traditionally RPG-esque, in the dark, serious kind of way. From here, the music builds up to what seems like the final battle theme (Struggle to the Death), which, while not a standout as far as final battle tracks go, contains a rather peculiar looped sampling. Said sampling is indescribable other than to say it sounds more out of place than the Japanese voice in Final Fantasy VIII's Succession of Witches from the Fithos Lusec arranged album.

For those repulsed by realEmotion and prefer something along the lines of Final Fantasy X's Suteki Da Ne, Kouda Kumi also lends her vocals to the slower-paced Sen no Kotoba (1000 Words), which also plays a role in the story in the game itself. Like so many other games' vocal tracks though, you can expect to hear the melody in other parts of the game. Naturally, there's a piano version, and an orchestrated version with vocals at the end. Speaking of ending tuneage, the ending theme seems to take on a little bit of a Disney style, giving the impression that this game's ending is happier than that of its predecessor.

One final note here is to not expect any remixes, remakes, arrangements or such of any Final Fantasy X songs to appear here - if there were any, Uematsu's name would be coming up in the credits somehow. Again, while the stranger parts of the soundtrack may be at times refreshing to some, it may sound a bit too odd, lighthearted and/or simple for others. In the end though, the soundtrack is still a worthy purchase, but not if the price tag is high. A strong word of advice for starters: At the very least, avoid seeking this one out on eBay, even legitimate copies.

Reviewed by: Liz Maas



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