Arcus II -Silent Symphony-


Review by · November 5, 2005

Though the title of the soundtrack is for “Arcus II”, the soundtrack spans music for all three Arcus titles, which were released separately on an older console, but then re-released as a compiled set of games on Sega’s Mega CD. These unique action RPGs had a lot going for them, but in my mind, the one thing that stands out most about the games to this day is the music.

Among these three composers, one went on to relative greatness and popularity: yes, Motoi Sakuraba. But during his older days, his work with these other two composers (I recognized Shiono’s name from Estpolis, a.k.a. Lufia) made for some excellent music. The three of them working together were sometimes referred to as “Sargent Wolf Band”, and they developed some pretty decent stuff during their time together.

The first three tracks are arranged, and they are pretty enjoyable. At this point I need to confess that I have been hard on Sakuraba, especially his more recent compositions. But man, back in the day, this guy made some really kickin’ synth rock. This album will help you understand how and why Sakuraba has such a decent following. Note that there really isn’t anything symphonic about this “Silent Symphony”, this is just straight up synth rock at its best, and seriously, this was 1989. Good times.

After the three arranged tracks, we get to the original music. Many of them are short, and many of them are boring filler songs. Furthermore, it is here that the 1989 release date shows strongest. Some of the more grating synth noises, such as that on track 37, “Will Power”, reminds me of the older Falcom FM oscillator music (old Sorcerian, or the arcade Ninja Ryukenden soundtrack for those familiar with it). That sort of thing is simply too difficult to appreciate.

Many of the OST tracks, however, are softer and very enjoyable. I found myself enjoying many of the area/environment themes, such as “Deserted Ruins” and “Western Kingdom.”

It’s disappointing that there were only three arranged tracks and that the OST tracks are short (unlooped) and are prone to using some very annoying synth sounds. What’s even more disappointing, however, is that this album has become all too rare. I’ve seen it for prices ranging from $70 to over $200. Yikes. This clearly shows the dedication of Sakuraba fans and VGM collectors, but I don’t think this album is worth that steep cost. Again, good arranged tracks, some solid compositions, but overall an album that is forgettable: this marks this album clearly as “for collectors only.”

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.