Let’s start with the logistics, and then I’ll get witty. Shall we?
“Star Ocean & Valkyrife Profile The Best” is a “best of” album from five different games, four of which are part of the Star Ocean series. These games are STAR OCEAN, Star Ocean The Second Story, Star Ocean Till the End of Time, Star Ocean Blue Sphere, and Valkyrie Profile. The first game was released on Super Famicom (SNES); the second and fifth on Playstation; the third on PS2; the fourth on Gameboy Color. Thus, there are a range of sound qualities on these discs; though it isn’t too noticeable until reaching the last nine tracks (all Blue Sphere…much much lower sound quality, which is to be expected from a handheld system).
All of these games share a couple big commonalities: firstly, Motoi Sakuraba solely composed the scores for all five of these games (with exception to the first Star Ocean, though only Sakuraba’s tracks are featured on this compilation). Second, all of these games were released by Enix (now Square Enix, the company that published Till the End of Time). Finally, because of the composer being one man, the styles of these songs are so similar that only a true Sakuraba expert would be able to differentiate songs by their respective games through listening to the tracks.
This is because, generally, Sakuraba isn’t one for diversity…especially not in these particular games. Songs come in roughly three over-arching categories: town music (calm), dungeon/battle music (loud and fast), and sadness themes (they’re…umm…sad). With only the occasional exception, such as “Silent the Universe”, you can group any song into one of these three categories. And generally, you won’t notice the difference between each song…especially battle themes.
A Sakuraba battle theme goes like this: bass and drums…then a wailing guitar/keyboard melody. Fast-paced and furious, the song will continue for about a minute, then loop. This pattern never fails. And it is functional: when playing a game, it feels very good to have this music going for you.
But solely on a CD…it can get boring. Especially if you don’t know the games. I personally have only beaten Star Ocean The Second Story…thus, none of the other melodies are familiar to me. I frequently found myself skipping to the next SO2 song to re-capture the melodies. So perhaps the strength of this collection is its ability to bring fond memories of the game to the listener.
Needless to say, if you’re an avid Sakuraba fan, you have no need to purchase this collection: after all, there are no unreleased tracks, so you will be obtaining nothing new if you already have the full OSTs. Unless of course you’re just THAT big a fan…in which case, go ahead and waste your money.
I’d say the target audience here is the casual Sakuraba fan who is familiar with most of the games and doesn’t have all the money in the world to blow on each and every OST (oh wait…I suppose that’s how target audiences work with “best of”s don’t they? I’m so dumb sometimes…). With that said; if you like what you hear, and you like the games with the music, I would recommend this to you. Myself, I’m not too impressed with it, but it’s a nice addition to a collection, and every now and then I’m struck with a familiar melody I want to hear over and over. mmm…Sacred Song…Venerable Forest…Theme of RENA…