Uncharted Waters II Special Edition


Review by · April 1, 2001

This CD is a collection of music from two different soundtracks. The first five tracks are from the now impossible-to-find Uncharted Waters soundtrack. The soundtrack had other songs not present, all in arranged form (this CD is entirely arranged music, no OST stuff here). The second part is the twelve tracks of the original Uncharted Waters II soundtrack (while this original is also hard to find, no one wants it because all of the music on it is now found on this disc).

Something to note about this soundtrack: Technically, the name of this game (and thus the soundtrack) is Daikoukai Jidai, which translates roughly into “Era of Great Voyage”. However, due to its being known so commonly as Uncharted Waters that even the Japanese will usually recognize by this name, this is how we will list the soundtrack.

Yoko Kanno is a favorite among VGM fans for being so diverse while still being great at everything she writes. While many of Koei’s games (which are most of the games Kanno has composed for) are not RPGs, this series most definitely is. It’s a good thing for us too, because most people recognize this soundtrack as one of her greatest.

I do not think it is possible to describe this soundtracks’ greatness by talking generally over every track beyond what I have already said; at the same time, it would be too time-consuming to describe every track. So, to make up for this, I will show an example by describing in detail my favorite track (track 4): Southern Twilight~Dance on a Cape of Good Hope.

The first half of the song (Southern Twilight) is a slow dance track. The melody is played on saxophone, and there is some background from the guitar, with piano chiming in every now and then, and the bass and latin percussion doing a great job. The song is definitely catchy, with a melody that one could naturally write lyrics to. After a couple minutes, the song drops the percussion to have a solo piano part, which then leads into a faster part of Southern Twilight. The saxophone is now playing more outrageous notes rather than a set melody. After hearing some really nice jazzy stuff here, the instruments fade out to leave a good 40-second percussion-only solo, which will now transition to the next part of the song.

Dance on a Cape of Good Hope automatically kicks in when the percussion section is finished, featuring a nice-sized band, with a set-up similar to a standard jazz band (trumpets, trombones, saxophones, then the rhythm section described earlier in the first song). The percussion picks up as this song is much faster than the earlier song, and the piano has some amazing parts as well. There is also a flute soloing during most of this song. Along with flute, there is a guitar solo, near the end of the song (at this point the song is nearing 7 minutes!). A small string orchestra is now present, adding to the overall sound. Overall, this is one of the most well-composed dance songs in history. This song makes me want to take up professional ballroom dancing, get really good, and then go to some large celebration (such as a wedding) and dance the night away to this song.

Now that you have a good idea as to what kind of great music you’ll find on here (and very few of the tracks match this style, each song has its own). On this CD you’ll find a Japanese female vocal, an English male vocal, at least two tracks featuring amazing piano-playing, a middle-eastern-style track, a “renaissance-folk” track (similar to the stuff you’d hear on Orrizonte), a baroque harpsichord track, and MUCH MUCH more!

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.