Oh great, another Sakuraba compilation.
Alright, I don’t mean to sound bitter and jaded, but you should know that I am exactly that. I like Sakuraba: I am especially fond of the work he put into The Second Story. The Valkyrie Profile stuff isn’t bad either. It’s just that, well…this album doesn’t have much new going for it.
The “Plus” in the soundtrack’s title refers to the two bonus tracks: I believe they are unreleased arrangements of the two songs in question, and they seem to be arranged on some sort of weird synthesizer. These two tracks were good, but not worth hunting down the album over.
What this album does manage to do is live up to the title “The Best.” Too many times, a VGM “best of” album manages to miss many of the better tracks. In the case of this album, which is a best of arranged tracks, Team Entertainment couldn’t have done a better job in picking the songs they did. They kept an even spread of songs from the different games, including some good tracks from Blue Sphere (though, where are the Star Ocean: Perfect Collection tracks? I guess that’s why that game’s logo didn’t make the front cover).
Also, the songs chosen from these different arrange albums are top-notch. I love when they merge a slower song with a battle theme, going back and forth between them (this is present in track 3 especially). The balance of rockin’ battle themes, enigmatic techno-trippy environment themes and emotionally sorrowful ballads is superb. I didn’t even grow tired of any particular “Sakuraba” style until about 40 minutes through this 75 minute album. For me, that’s a pretty good run of Sakuraba enjoyment.
The Valkyrie Profile songs were also really good choices (I am a huge fan of tracks 5 and 9…be sure to listen to the samples!). If only tri-Ace would make a sequel to this fine game…
All in all, if you already have these arranged albums, don’t pick up this release. Those just recently introduced to Sakuraba’s style, however, would benefit from picking up this album, and would probably enjoy it more than the double-disc “Best of” featuring OST tracks.