Mixed emotions. That’s really the term I’d use to describe the Etrian Odyssey 2 Super Arrange Version. On the one hand the main stratum themes are absolutely gorgeous. On the other hand… there’s some real musical butchery going on here. And that butchery is named Jeff Curry. I don’t know who he is, I don’t know where he came from. All I know is that he took two very good songs and slaughtered them with vocals the likes of which not even Falcom has subjected me to. And Falcom fans get subjected to some really awful crap.
Let’s focus on the positive first. The main aspect of Etrian Odyssey I think most would agree on is the dungeon itself and its six strata. Four strata received the primo treatment and I do not exaggerate when I say “primo.” Violin freak that I am, the job that was done on “Woodland Ruins” appealed to me in all the right ways. Not at all mysterious like with what was done with the first stratum theme on the EO1 SAV, but in many ways just as good if not better in its execution. The instruments are really sparse here, but there are a lot of layers to peel back and overall you get a really pretty, sometimes jazzy result.
Blessedly, the best stratum theme from EO2 got chosen to be on the SAV, “Cherry Tree Bridge.” Rebecca Evans, who sang on the original’s SAV, lent her vocal talents again to make an already beautiful song into a haunting melody. The lyrics are also completely inoffensive, making it a pleasure to listen to. There are some aural oddities going on, too, with the occasional electronica tones and breakbeats keeping you listening closely to a song that would otherwise be brilliant for putting children to sleep. I mean that in the good way, mind you, I’m not calling it boring.
The real change here comes with the fifth stratum theme. I really, really did not like the original. The arrangement, however, brings the original to life in ways it never could before. I think primarily this is because I didn’t get the point of the original, which was to intentionally overwhelm you with the scale of what you’ve gotten into. Some of that shows up here still, about halfway through, where the song takes a turn for the darker and slightly isolationist. The sixth stratum theme didn’t turn out as well, unfortunately, and ended up being lounge music. It’s still the primo treatment and it’s really nice, but my personal opinion is that they decided to do the same thing as they did to the first stratum theme and ended up going too far.
The rest of the album, sadly, isn’t as stellar. The remixed battle theme for the first three strata is decent, but overall ends up being really tired. Both of the town themes aren’t my cup of tea, the main boss battle theme suffers from being taken in a really awful direction, and both the final boss and secret boss remixes bore me. The FOE theme got a nice fresh coat of paint which is nice, but pretty much always gets a skip from me. The ending theme is even more ’70s cheese than it was on the OST, which is saying something dramatic. Fun, but it doesn’t stand up much to repeated listenings.
And of course then there’s the truly ridiculously awful in the second battle theme and poor, poor “Shiver.” I loved “Shiver,” I really did. And when I saw that it was on this OST, I prayed I’d get something awesome. I got something awesomely bad. The worst part is that if either of Jeff Curry’s songs had their lyrics removed, they would be really good remixes. But with those vocals, you get subjected to ludicrous amounts of yuck. Really, really disappointing.
Final judgment here is that the EO2 SAV is really only for people who badly want remixes of the stratum themes that were placed here. The rest is a complete pass on all accounts. Poor “Shiver.”