01 - Field Of View
02 - The Aegean
03 - The Four Felons
04 - Breeze Time
05 - Aqua Walking
06 - Solid Park
07 - Logical.Seq
08 - Lite Light
09 - Magmatic Magnetics
10 - Play With A Toy ~Lowee~
11 - $100
12 - Scamper
13 - Pirachu's Theme
14 - Minicar
15 - Dancing Girl
16 - Nepgear's Theme
17 - Green Earth
18 - System Halted
Editor's note: this soundtrack was printed as a LE bonus CD for the American version of the game. Compared to the Japanese bonus CD, the key difference is that five extra tracks were added to this disc. They are: The Four Felons (03), Play With A Toy ~Lowee~ (10), Scamper (12), Dancing Girl (15), and System Halted (18). The review that follows is a duplicate of what was written for the Japanese bonus album, but with minor changes to reflect the addition of these tracks.
Kenji Kaneko has held out for over a decade now as the chief composer over at Idea Factory. And, for the second game in the Neptune (Hyperdimension Neptunia) series, he's not holding anything back. Just from the sheer number of layers of audio found in each track, it's clear that time and attention was put into the main tracks for this score.
I say "main tracks" because, let's face it, 18 tracks is not a complete OST (though it's better than Japan's 13 tracks). These are the chief tunes -- the most noteworthy of the bunch, and the ones that are not at all recycled from the first game. And, honestly? I'm pretty impressed. I'm also kind of surprised that the soundtrack wasn't published on, say, Team Entertainment's record label, when games like Trinity Universe and Cross Edge did get their soundtracks published.
The disc opens with "Field of View," an in-your-face electro-rock track with lots of pitch-bending in the synth lead-guitar melody line. I like this one for its catchy beat as well; it also works the modal shifts quite well.
My favorite track on the album, however, comes in the number two spot. "The Aegean" is tranquil, yet also bright. The guitar work is great, and the melody is soothing. It reminds me of some of Yoko Kanno's tracks on the ridiculously awesome album "Uncharted Waters II: Special Edition." I never thought I'd be giving that kind of praise to Kaneko-san.
Next, there's "The Four Felons," a villainy theme exclusive to the US print of the soundtrack. It's decent, but not a personal favorite. Very fast-paced rock.
The two tracks that follow pack a "bright yet tranquil" vibe similar to what we heard in "The Aegean." "Breeze Time" is very electronic, but there is a sax performing the melody; it's sort of a straight-rhythm jazz track. The same might be said of "Aqua Walking." Just the track names, referring to the sky and the sea, resonate with all sorts of good and wonderful things. But then you get that gleefully retro sound of the synths, especially the occasional square wave (hearkening back to the days of the NES), and it's just a melting pot of joy and victory.
Then there's this super-catchy dance-rock track, similar to the style of Ryo Yonemitsu and Yuzo Koshiro in the early Falcom years. It's called "Solid Park," and it's a winner. The chord progression may be traditional, but the high level of audio production and the fantastic rhythms and arpeggiations decorating the piece are what sell it.
Unfortunately, after that grouping of amazingness, we do hit some weaker tracks. For me, tracks 7 through 10 are skippable. The Yonemitsu/Koshiro dance-rock goodness comes back on "$100," which I believe is a shopping theme. For those of you who remember "The Syonin" from Ys -- yeah, this is basically that same sort of thing. Good stuff!
The rest of the tracks, all the way to the end, fall somewhere between the awesomeness of the front-end and the weakness of the middle. Among the five tracks unique to the US version, only "Scamper" stands out as a really strong track (though "Dancing Girl" has good production value, it's just not my thing).
The bonus soundtrack isn't reason enough to hunt down the full LE package of the game (and I do mean "hunt down," since it's well out-of-print from NISA's official online store). That cost should really be saved for people who might enjoy the game itself. All I'm trying to say here is that, surprisingly enough, this music can easily be appreciated without having much prior experience with either Neptune title. Cheers to Kaneko for continuing to mature as a composer. I think I said that before, but I have to repeat myself, because he is only getting better with age.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann