I had high expectations for this album. The original music is composed by the UserJoy team (in China), but these Super Arrange albums are the work of the in-house Falcom team. And, unlike the first game's SAV, which was entirely too short, this album was advertised as "full length." There was a lot to be excited about.
Does it pass my rigorous standards? Is it as excellent as I wanted it to be? No, not quite. But since it only misses the mark by a bit, I wouldn't say I'm "disappointed." There's still enough good stuff in this album to say "yeah, Falcom's still got it."
The vocal tracks, now in Japanese instead of Chinese, are definitely my favorite tracks on the album. The new instrumental backup for each song makes them different enough from their original counterparts to make you say, "wow, I'm glad I heard this version." The opening is no longer a simple ballad, but instead a guitar-heavy J-Pop theme. The original melody composed works so nicely with this arrangement that I can't help but prefer it over the original, especially if I'm in a bouncy mood.
The ending vocal retains the ballad-like softness of the original, but is even more ethereal in its attempt at simple sounds and, dare I say, minimalist arrangement. The vocal harmonies work well, but more could have been done with it. I prefer the opening vocal, but the song is still well-performed.
The rest of the album is little more than superior-sounding versions of songs from the OST. Based on track selection, it's unfortunate, but you're going to be hearing the same melodic strains over and over if you listen to this album straight through. Melodies from the opening and ending vocal appear prominently in songs such as "Continental Highway" and "Memories are Beyond the Eternity."
Some of the songs have an original slant: track 3 makes nice use of a choir/voice effect; it catches the ear almost off-guard when it appears, and the song builds on this primary sound nicely.
Expect a lot of traditional Asian instruments being used in non-traditional ways (that is, in a pop format) throughout the album. It works, but it isn't as impressive as some of the other things we've seen from Falcom, even in recent years.
Like the OST, this album came as a sort of promotional bonus with the game, and was available exclusively through Falcom themselves. Any chance of a Western collector grabbing this album will be through used shops and auctions. There are many other albums I'd prioritize over this one for Falcom fans, but it's definitely not a bad arrangement.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann