The vast majority of soundtracks from the “Atlus spoils” campaign (that is, the bonus stuff Atlus USA gives away with many of their games) are little more than a selection of “best-of” tracks that they rip from an import soundtrack. Sometimes they’ll give you the entire soundtrack, but usually it’s a one disc collection of what fights across two (or more) discs. But no, not with this one, my friends!
Japan’s one and only Yggdra Union soundtrack was released in 2006, in association with the original Game Boy Advance release. The two disc set was the same OST twice over. The first disc featured the OST proper, as it sounded on the Game Boy Advance. Disc two featured upgraded synth. Last year, when the PSP version of Yggdra Union was announced, I assumed that the second disc of the Yggdra Union soundtrack would be used as the score for the PSP version.
I made a bad assumption.
I’m going to use food/restaurant analogies to make my present argument. Let’s say the GBA version of the soundtrack is fast food: Wendy’s, Burger King, et. al.; the “arranged” music on disc two of the Japanese import soundtrack is like a national or regional chain restaurant, like Outback Steakhouse or Chili’s. The PSP version’s music? Well, now we’re talking about something wholly different. Whether it’s a local restaurant with fantastic ethnic cuisine, or some sort of super-fancy restaurant that only exists in one major city, you know it’s something special when you go to the restaurant. The jump in quality from the Outback-type restaurants to your favorite Thai restaurant in Philadelphia… that’s the jump in quality from what I thought would be the Yggdra Union PSP OST, and what it actually was.
The guitar synth (or is that a real guitar performance on the opening tracks?) is so far improved over the GBA. The music sounds clearer, less tinny, and less “we’re not hiding the fact that his is MIDI” synthesized. In other words, it’s a whole bundle of awesome that I wasn’t expecting. And, since Minako Adachi is there to balance out Shigeki Hayashi’s work, there’s a great balance of music here, even if most of it is of a faster tempo.
Also, there are new songs written specifically for the PSP version, since some additional scenario work (and additional characters) were added to the PSP version. So you get some entirely new compositions thrown atop the already awesome, upgraded soundtrack.
The real treat here is that the Japanese didn’t get this soundtrack! It’s a North America exclusive! How nutty is that? Can you imagine, hardcore soundtrack collectors and fans of the game having to import the Atlus USA bonus soundtrack? The thought just makes me giggle with delight. So here’s to Atlus for putting out what is, without question, their most unique and generous musical offering to date. I loved the import GBA soundtrack, but this one is, quite frankly, two whole steps in a better, brighter direction. Do what you can to get it.