Final Fantasy X-2 Original Soundtrack (2013)


Review by · December 1, 2014

When Square Enix published Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for PS3, they reissued their respective soundtracks. FFX, which had a full aural upgrade, was released as the FFX HD Remaster OST, on a single Blu-Ray disc. The reissued FFX-2 soundtrack did not get any upgrades, but it did undergo some significant changes from its original print.

First, this new print has no copy control on it. There was a very brief movement in the music industry wherein some publishers were printing CDs with copy control. These CDs were harder to rip audio onto PC (though it’s easy to bypass these days). They also were mixed at a lower sample rate for reasons that elude me, and that reduced the audio quality significantly. Finally, it was later discovered that these “copy controlled” CDs would frequently wear out after as few as 100 playthroughs. Skips would commonly occur just through regular use, and sometimes whole tracks would become unavailable for play because the area on the disc denoting “this is a new track” would get corrupted. In other words, these discs were a disaster.

The FFX-2 OST was originally printed by Avex, but Square Enix has now taken control and freed us from the stupidity and tyranny of the old OST. Not only that, but Square Enix combined the two separate releases of the old OST and the International / Last Mission OST into one release. They pulled the additional versions of real Emotion and 1000 Words (Sen no Kotoba) from Int’l/LM, so it’s not exactly the entire release, but for all intents and purposes, we’re getting the full package.

Now, with those notes about how this reprint came about aside, I want to talk about the content of the music here in general. To say that this soundtrack is underrated is downplaying the problem. Most people openly malign this soundtrack as the worst thing to happen to FF music, a black mark on the series’ musical prowess. I couldn’t disagree more.

Sure, it isn’t Uematsu. It’s nothing like Uematsu, or Sakimoto, or Hamauzu. This is the altogether “other” work of duo Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi, both masters of jazz and electronica. Square had been using them for years for just this purpose (see Racing Lagoon and The Bouncer as past examples). Square Enix was making an artistic decision by recruiting this duo, and I support it. Considering the look and feel of X-2 as a more lighthearted game, it made sense then, and it makes sense now.

As an aside, I’d like to note that this OST was and is Noriko Matsueda’s final VGM composition, for Square Enix or anyone else. This definitive biography of Matsueda from VGM Online tells us that in working on FFX-2, Matsueda-san experienced burnout “to the extent that her sleep, appetite, and skin declined.” Matsueda and Eguchi stopped working for S-E after this. Eguchi continued in the industry, but Matsueda was done. The two of them were wed in 2009, so happy endings abound (much like in X-2). But it took a toll on her.

To me, this speaks to the extreme effort this duo put into the music. It was crafted with care. The question I pose to you, dear reader: do we have the ears to hear it?

At first, I didn’t. I accepted the derision my friends put against this OST as gospel. Then I played the game for myself and found it worked well in context. One year later, the FFX-2 Piano Collection was released, and it opened my eyes more than anything else. The jazz piano lit up my imagination. I suddenly realized how good the melodies were. They were sometimes bogged down by that awful sampling rate on the old OST, or the synths weren’t up to snuff, but it allowed me to hear the whole OST in a whole new way (not just the 12 songs arranged on the piano album).

Looking at the tracklist here, I have to say that the balance of “yes!” tracks to “ugh” tracks is roughly on par with other decent RPG soundtracks, including FFX-2’s predecessor, FFX. I’d say it’s about a 60/40 ratio. In the tracks I’ve sampled here, you’re getting what I think are mostly “yes!” tracks. I think it’s important not to overlook the new area themes. For example, I’d say that “Mushroom Rock Road” is an improvement over its FFX counterpart. And “Zanarkand Ruins,” while somewhat off-putting with the strange synth carrying the melody, is nonetheless a stellar composition.

Please give this one another chance. It’s a great set of music from an overlooked duo of very talented composers. It’s also a great musical stroll down memory lane for those of us who actually enjoyed playing FFX-2.

For information on our scoring systems, see our scoring systems overview. Learn more about our general policies on our ethics & policies page.
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.