NOTE: Thanks to Namco USA making the single-most idiotic name-changing decision ever, you may be reading the wrong review. If you want a review for the American release of a game called “Tales of Destiny 2” for PlayStation, you’ll want to head over to the Tales of Eternia review. Tales of Eternia is the name of the game as it was released in Japan: It was given the name “Tales of Destiny 2” in America to tie the two together, but the “Tales of…” games are essentially cousins. This is the soundtrack for Tales of Destiny’s direct sequel, released for PlayStation 2, and never brought to America.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sakuraba has a whole different dynamic when working on music for a “Tales” game. I assume it has to do with the role Mr. Shinji Tamura plays in the music-making process…but anyone will tell you that Sakuraba’s work in Star Ocean or Valkyrie Profile sound incredibly different from Tales music. While most battle music still has that 80s power-synth feel to it, the rest of the game’s music has a lighter, more uplifting atmosphere about it.
And that being said about music for EVERY “Tales” game, I’m coming out and saying it — Tales of Destiny2 (as the cover art shows, an odd lack of spacing between the title and the number) has the best music in the overarching series to date. Mind you that as of the time this review was written, I have yet to hear Tales of Symphonia…but I really don’t think anything can beat an OST as remarkable as this. Let us now consider why:
First of all, this OST, while having approximately the same number of songs as previous Tales OSTs, has been broken up into four discs…allowing for each track to be looped. Compare this OST to the first Tales of Destiny OST or Tales of Eternia OST, and you’ll see that the tracks per disc are cut in half here to allow each track to play longer. Most people would consider this a good thing.
Second, the ToD2 OST has repeated tracks from ToD’s OST, now upped in quality for PS2. One of my favorite Tales songs, “Crooked Sight” (3-25), goes from the first game’s intro to a place much later in the second game. Other songs, including character themes, are re-done to make the nostalgic connection desired by most any Tales fan.
Third, the battle/action themes are even more “hard” and fun than previous battle themes, to my recollection. As an example, check out disc 2 track 7, “A Resolution”. Can anyone else say “wee-ha”? That’s some good stuff right there. Standard Sakuraba power-synth band work. I’m almost willing to say “who needs an arranged album?” (as we obviously won’t get one for a Tales game…a tradition I wish would change). Wowie-zowie, this is some exciting stuff.
Finally, while this may not mean much to many of you, the packaging to this OST is brilliant. Unlike previous Tales OSTs, all of the desired information is there, including a complete tracklist in English. The artwork is wonderful, and the paper sleeve was a nice added touch.
This soundtrack left me with two strong feelings: desire and indignation. I desire to play this game. I am indignant with Namco USA for not bringing this game to America. Of all the Tales games to NOT bring to America, so far they have not given us what I consider the two best in the series (Phantasia, Destiny2). I have to ask, what are they thinking? Until I learn Japanese, I suppose I’ll be stuck with memories of great music that has no game to go with it. Shame, shame, shame on you, Namco USA. At least I don’t need to know Japanese to enjoy this fine soundtrack.
If you’re unfamiliar with Sakuraba, this soundtrack might be a good place to start. But, chances are you’ve heard plenty of Sakuraba, and maybe you’re tired of him. Despite the “same old same old” reputation he has, this soundtrack contains a bit of freshness that might be right up your alley. Shinji Tamura, however he incorporates his talents into the game’s music, makes a significant difference in how the music turns out. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending that you add this one to your VGM collection, if you have the money to go for it.