Star Ocean: The Second Story Fantasy Megamix really surprised me. After listening to the first arranged album, which was amazing, and hearing criticism that this wasn’t quite as good, I was expecting a haphazard attempt by the publisher to have these pieces arranged once again in order to bring a few extra bucks. Thankfully, this was not the case. This time around Yoshihiro Ike has done the duty instead of Motoi Sakuraba, which I found to be an interesting change. With a fresh approach to the music, I felt it to be intriguing as well as a lot of fun. Unlike the first arranged album, Ike breaks away from the more orchestral base of the original compositions, and adds a lot of variety, making this album a “true” arrangement.
This CD is good, really good, no matter what genre of music you like. As the title states, it really IS a fantasy megamix. It’s a little odd listening to so many styles mixed together on one album (rock, jazz, techno, orchestral, etc.), but I love it. What really hooked me on this CD were the guitars, though. Almost every track contains at least a few riffs, but “The Incarnation of Devil” absolutely rocks with its wailing guitars complementing the awesome techno bass melody.
I was really happy to see that some new pieces made their way onto the album. Even though “Silent the Universe” and “Resolution” get another arrangement, I was very pleased to hear “Field of Nede,” “At the Crack of Dawn,” and “A Feeling of Oppression.” “The Venerable Forest” gets a Celtic-style arrangement that is quite pretty, but not overly dramatic as the original song tends to be. I especially like the combination of piano and flute that conveys a sense gentleness within the already beautiful piece. My favorite track on the album would have to be “Star Ocean Forever,” arranged with a jazzy saxaphone noodling away at the core melody. Truthfully, I never thought these songs could sound this way. The only aspect I didn’t care for was the opera-like vocals in “The Ultimate Terror.” They just didn’t flow well with the music, and were more of an annoyance than anything else, but that’s about my only complaint.
The bottom line on Star Ocean: The Second Story Fantasy Megamix is…It’s a great album with lots of variety. If you like rock/techno fusion, I’m sure you’ll like this CD. True Sakuraba fans will want to pick this one up. You can find it at most online retailers for around $30.