Developed by Gravity and published in Japan by Falcom, Arcturus is a strange title. Its artwork and title are deceiving: the game looks like it’s going to be dark and gothic. This, in my opinion, couldn’t be further from the truth. In-game screenshots reveal its light, cartoony nature, as does this three-disc soundtrack, composed by SoundTeMP (the same folks who did Ragnarok Online).
I would consider this soundtrack a longer and more mundane version of what we all had heard on the Ragnarok Online OST. Spanning these three discs is a compilation of mostly mediocre dance/groove-pop songs that tend to annoy the listener after a short amount of time. At least, that’s the effect this album had on me. And why would that be the case for a game entitled “Arcturus -The Curse and Loss of Divinity-“? Hmmm? Yeah, I don’t know either.
There are songs that feature more than just dance beats. Ultra-grunge-rock guitar is featured on a number of battle themes. Listen to “Everlasting Nightmare,” “Encounter Battle,” or “Final Assault” if you want to hear such songs. Again, they aren’t my style, and they aren’t very musical (well, “Encounter Battle” at least has a melody on that 80s wailing guitar). You know, “musical” and “grunge” don’t have to be mutually exclusive, as so many battle themes from other RPGs have proved (some of the harder SMT songs and Legend of Mana come to mind). I wasn’t impressed with these tracks, personally.
Rising above the slew of mediocre dance pop songs are the occasional catchy and creative pieces of music. I’ve tried to sample the best songs I could find. “Elhaive Fort” makes use of what I like to call the “Eifel65 – Blue” voice effect, and the result is pretty spectacular. In “Castle Walkenswaard”, a sound byte is added of a girl making a rather suggestive comment. It works nicely.
Among the three discs, I found that disc 2 was the most consistently decent. Discs 1 and 3 were definitely “hit-or-miss” from track to track. But I did find a few gems on disc 1, such as “Port City Taini”, which blends SoundTeMP’s trademark dance beats with some really funky Latin sounds (big brass, a melodic guitar, and steel drums lead the way!). And how could I forget about the opening theme song, “Open Your Eyes”, which has a total of four versions on this soundtrack? Oh yes, I remember how I could forget: the song is only 90 seconds long! There is no extended version! That is a real problem if you ask me. However, after the first 40 seconds of a soft verse, the chorus kicks in hard, and I think it sounds pretty decent: it’s another song I wish was on DDR.
Despite its occasional bits and pieces of genius, Arcturus is a soundtrack I could do without. Though it was published by Falcom, it isn’t the sort of music one would expect since it’s actually composed by SoundTeMP. Maybe this is just a matter of personal taste, but I doubt it, because I did like the work SoundTeMP did on Ragnarok Online. My personal recommendation is to avoid this one, which shouldn’t be too hard as it is an obscure release anyway.