One thing about the Lunar series is that each piece of music, no matter how slow or fast, has the same feel to it. Noriyuki Iwadare is to Lunar what Yasonuri Mitsuda is to Chrono Trigger/Cross. Even if a new game from either series were to come out tomorrow, the music could be matched up perfectly with its respected game because of the original style. This can be good or bad because it could lead to repetition or instrumental excellence.
Like the previous Lunatic Parade, Volume 2 combines vocal, instrumental and drama tracks to create one complete story on a CD. What this achieves is a soundtrack that could be liked by a variety of people. Some people enjoy the drama tracks to relive the game from their CD player whereas the instrumental tracks allow listeners to recreate the game as they see fit.
I will critique the soundtrack as follows: drama tracks, vocal tracks, instrumental tracks, and the overall music as a whole. To provide a more in depth review, I analyzed and critiqued each track as an independent piece; I then compared each to its other tracks to find similarities and differences.
One of the best examples of national preference to video game soundtracks has to do with the drama tracks. The majority of North American listeners love nothing more than to press the skip button on their CD player or purposely forget to upload it to their iPod simply because these tracks to do not appeal to them. The idea of listening to characters speak (especially in Japanese) for a prolonged period of time literally fries their brains. Not to mention, even if the drama tracks were in English, most people would still not listen to them. It is not necessarily the language that is the issue, just the fact that they want music on a soundtrack, not a bunch of voices.
However, for the Japanese audience and many other countries, these drama tracks are the very height of the album. To sit down a listen to these drama tracks over and over until the entire script is memorized, as well as the actions, couldn’t make the listener any happier. This is not to say they enjoy the drama tracks over the instrumental tracks, they just enjoy them as well.
Needless to say, the drama tracks on the album were at some point interesting in the sense they were included in the first place, but nevertheless, they might have caused a slight amount of permanent damage to my ears. Even after reading the translation of each track, my appreciation of the tracks had not increased one bit. Note that these tracks seemed to be “side stories” from the game, and not part of the game’s main plot (these main plot drama tracks are found on Eternal Blue “Prelude”).
One of the biggest differences between this Lunar soundtrack and the others is the lack of vocal tracks. The average Lunar soundtrack has roughly two or three vocal tracks whereas this compilation includes only one vocal track. This track is not overly impressive, but is a fitting character theme for this sort of album.
Rating the instrumental tracks was extremely easy because most of them shared the same common flaws: weak ending, confusing melody and repetition. With the exception of two songs, there was nothing overly amazing about the music. For the most part, it was either boring or confusing. The constant repetition of a few notes in the melody made the songs monotonous; that is to say, you could figure out what exactly the melody was. In other cases, no definite melody could be made out or enjoyed. This made the tracks seem unnecessarily confusing.
The biggest disappointment of the soundtrack was the song choice. Not only could the songs choice be a lot better (considering the standard game has anywhere from 30-70 unique songs), but more could have been added. Only sixty-three minutes were used on the soundtrack when eighty minutes easily could have been occupied.
Lunar, for the most part, has a good reputation when it comes to music: especially for the vocal tracks. This game series was one of the first to use vocals in a video game and it still sets the bar for competing games/series. However, every powerful empire has a tragic flaw, a kink in its strength. That kink could be best described as this soundtrack. As a whole, the Lunar series offers a very extensive library of songs and unforgettable themes. However with the exception of two songs on this soundtrack, this was definitely not Noriyuki Iwadare’s best work. Nobody’s perfect, right?