Talk about a change. While I enjoyed the Rogue Galaxy Original Soundtrack, the Premium Arrange adds so much to an already fantastic aural setup, I'm not sure where to begin.
Let's start with the contribution by Yasunori Mitsuda, an arrange of the "Theme of Rogue Galaxy". Where the original was a choral piece that inspired a sense of depth and awe, this arrange has a far faster pace that grants the listener a sense of high adventure. For myself, I prefer this version as it fits better with how I think of Rogue Galaxy: fast-paced and exciting. The original felt more suited to a deep space adventure (which Rogue Galaxy is), but this almost feels more in keeping with the game's actual gameplay.
The second track on the disc, "Planet Zelard" is one I actually don't prefer. I hate to criticize anything Shinji Hosoe does, but this remix is too peppy compared to the original. It loses some of its atmosphere. Standing by itself, it's a fine piece of work, but given that it's an arrange, I'll stick with the original.
"Castle in the Air" is something different too, but in a very good way. The original track often feels a little too flat to convey a sense of height and majesty, and this remedies it. Kenji Ito is the arranger here and does the track a good service by adding a flowing backdrop to the entire piece that it was so sorely lacking.
Takayuki Aihara is probably the least familiar name on the list, but if you've played Drag-On Dragoon or Soul Edge/Soul Blade before, you've heard Aihara's work before. Here, "The Labyrinth" is yet another track that brings a lot more atmosphere in its arrange than its original form. Definitely a worthy contribution and inspiring of both place and adventure.
Three more tracks I'm not sure about come up next. "The Crisis" by Yoko Shimomura is excellent, but I'm not sure which version I prefer. The arrange has more body: as is to be expected, but the original had a lot of punch in its own way. "The Ghost Ship" arranged by Norihiko Hibino on the other hand is a definite improvement. Much more intimidating than its game counterpart. Then there's "Varkogu's Theme", which is an utter travesty. I haven't liked Motoi Sakuraba's work in a very long while, and it doesn't do the arrange any favours. It's a lot of hard synth, erasing the majesty and power of the original track. It's the one song I could fullheartedly chuck off the disc if it were up to me.
"Brave Heart" is probably the hardest track for me to consider. It's essentially a trance remix of what was a pounding, heroic theme. It's so wildly different that it's hard to make a value judgement here. The sound is definitely something I'd expect from Nobuyoshi Sano, seeing as his previous work has included Tekken and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, both of which make heavy use of trance and heavy bass sounds. It's definitely a good track, but I'm lost as to making a comparison.
Yoshitaka Hirota brings another interesting remix to the table with "Enormous Threat." It's not nearly as wildly different as Sano's work, but still gives the track a very unique sound. Vocals have been added to enhance the acoustics and it works quite nicely. A very atmospheric piece, with a lot of body and intensity.
Finally, the venerable Noriyuki Iwadare gives us a remix of the ending theme for Rogue Galaxy: "Dreaming My Way Home." Iwadare is best known for his work on the Lunar series of games, and this arrange shows he hasn't lost his touch for crafting heart-warming melodies. Using the original track's gentle, uplifting melody as a basis, he's removed the vocals and made it a fully instrumental piece. It works beautifully, and any Lunar fan might recall tracks like those of Meribia village and so forth. One of the best piece on the album.
Overall, the Rogue Galaxy Premium Arrange is a definite gem and brings a whole new level of quality to the game's already engrossing sounds. An excellent purchase for any music lover, gaming or otherwise.
Reviewed by: Mark P. Tjan