Even though it wasn’t the most popular of the handful of RPGs us Westerners were fortunate enough to receive during the 16-bit years, Breath of Fire II has developed a small, yet loyal following on both sides of the world. The game was a wondrous example of a classic marred by a shoddy, if not horrid, translation which was ultimately devoid of most of its original appeal. Nevertheless, many people saw through these imperfections and eventually found a place in hearts for this quirky, almost stunningly original title. The music, however, could really go either way.
On one hand, the album does a good job of giving us music that fits nearly every situation in the game. The best way to describe them would be “dark and moody, yet epic”. The synth used (and yes, this album is pure synth) is quite good with emphasis on drums and strings particularly. Others, like the harpsichord (“Fly Pudding”) and flute (“Our Journey,” “Breath of Fire”), are put to good use as well. The field themes are wonderfully done, too, and many towns have their own songs to add a bit of flavor to the mix. One of my favorite tracks, “God of Decadence” is a great organ piece which does an incredible job of giving us the impression of evil at work. Others, like “Thank You, Everyone” (the staff role theme) combine numerous themes into an impressive Grande Finale.
On the other hand, the game’s music is very repetitive, with some tracks coming in at just over a minute looped (the total time of this CD is testament enough to that). Although it works very well as ambience, many tracks aren’t very listenable on their own, yet those who played the game first may find them a bit more enjoyable. Some songs are pretty stale as well (“Something’s Frozen” in particular), and consist of only a few chords being played in succession numerous times.
However, not every tune is present on the album, and about 5 or so tracks that were available on the game’s sound test were not included. This doesn’t pose too much of a problem, but I really wish they would have included the “Decisive Battle Theme” instead of a few of the more monotonous ones. As long as I’m complaining, they should have taken the time to have given us some arranged stuff. They could really have used some filler material of some kind, and Capcom does some particularly good arrangements.
Only the very obsessed Breath of Fire fan should seek this album, as it is extremely difficult to get your hands on. GameMusic.com even has it listed as “Obsolete”, and it very rarely shows up on eBay or Yahoo. You might have better luck on some of the Japanese online markets or auctions, but you better cross all of your fingers and toes just to be sure.