With perhaps the most unique game in Square’s ever so famous Final Fantasy series, comes what might as well be the most unique soundtrack of the same. Final Fantasy X-2, the first ever sequel in the series, is accompanied by the first FF soundtrack with no contributions whatsoever by Square’s key composer, Nobou Uematsu (FFXI not counting). Even before hearing the soundtrack, fans have leapt to conclusions as to whether this benefits the score or hurts it. In his place are Noriko Matsueda (of Bahamut Lagoon and Front Mission fame) and arranger Takahito Eguchi. Naturally, without Uematsu, this particular soundtrack is expected to be rather different from your usual Final Fantasy music.
While the soundtrack opens with a pretty yet melancholy piano piece (Eternity ~Memory of Lightwaves~), it’s immediately followed by the vocal track, realEmotion, which is quite loud, upbeat and energetic in sharp contrast to Eternity. Sung by Kouda Kumi, also Yuna’s voice actress, realEmotion delivers a heavy dose of J-Pop, moreso than even that of Kingdom Hearts’ Hikari by Hikaru Utada. What follows is a mostly upbeat and lighthearted soundtrack that at times employs the occasional jazzy beats, or energetic (electric) guitar, the latter of which works better in a battle theme (YuRiPa Battle 3). The mixture can be, at times, a bit of a refresher, though during others, rather grating. One can only imagine though, that a few of these more upbeat songs are more fitting to some of the game’s out of the ordinary minigames – which include massaging and dancing, to name two.
No, the soundtrack doesn’t completely step away from familiar styles of FF music. A few fitting mellow area themes here and there, and a couple of more melancholy piano pieces round out this score. Like the Xenosaga OST, great use is made of vocals (the choral kind) as shown in the hopeful sounding tone of ‘Party’ – a rather misleading song title, I know. A little into the second disc is when the score starts to sound more traditionally RPG-esque, in the dark, serious kind of way. From here, the music builds up to what seems like the final battle theme (Struggle to the Death), which, while not a standout as far as final battle tracks go, contains a rather peculiar looped sampling. Said sampling is indescribable other than to say it sounds more out of place than the Japanese voice in Final Fantasy VIII’s Succession of Witches from the Fithos Lusec arranged album.
For those repulsed by realEmotion and prefer something along the lines of Final Fantasy X’s Suteki Da Ne, Kouda Kumi also lends her vocals to the slower-paced Sen no Kotoba (1000 Words), which also plays a role in the story in the game itself. Like so many other games’ vocal tracks though, you can expect to hear the melody in other parts of the game. Naturally, there’s a piano version, and an orchestrated version with vocals at the end. Speaking of ending tuneage, the ending theme seems to take on a little bit of a Disney style, giving the impression that this game’s ending is happier than that of its predecessor.
One final note here is to not expect any remixes, remakes, arrangements or such of any Final Fantasy X songs to appear here – if there were any, Uematsu’s name would be coming up in the credits somehow. Again, while the stranger parts of the soundtrack may be at times refreshing to some, it may sound a bit too odd, lighthearted and/or simple for others. In the end though, the soundtrack is still a worthy purchase, but not if the price tag is high. A strong word of advice for starters: At the very least, avoid seeking this one out on eBay, even legitimate copies.