The crimson-haired swordsman Adol Christin is driven by insatiable wanderlust. According to official Ys series lore, his escapades number well into the three-digit range, though we (as players) have only experienced seven of those tales thus far. Actually, in America, we’re still missing Ys IV and V. I weep for their absence, but I’m still holding out hope for a localization of Falcom’s latest Ys title: a Playstation Vita remake of Adol’s fourth expedition, now dubbed Ys: Foliage Ocean in Celceta. Luckily for our ears, the soundtrack received a makeover at the same time, and while I don’t think this is Falcom JDK Band’s very best effort, it’s still a solid collection of rockin’ tunes that has me enthusiastic about playing the game.
To get it out of the way, I’ll start by saying that the non-battle music is the weakest stuff on the album. I was a bit put off by the overly-peppy trumpets and xylophone of “Casnan, The Frontier Town.” It doesn’t quite have the warm familiarity of “Trading Town of Redmont” from Ys: Oath in Felghana. Once I stopped with the superlative judgment, however, I came to appreciate its kitschy sound. “Young Swordsman’s Tear,” “Eldeel,” and “Theme of Adol 2012” are quite similar to one another; that is, they’re all music box-esque tunes that try to elicit some kind of emotional reaction from the listener, but without any context, I found them unmemorable. The relatively uncreative tribal sound of “The Sage” tells me that this is a song used in expositional cutscenes and not much else. Thankfully, these songs are scarce and quickly give way to the real focus of the album: upbeat guitar tracks.
The opening theme, “The Foliage Ocean In Celceta,” is wonderfully catchy and captures the Ys feeling perfectly with a combination of chorus, guitar, and all-too-familiar violin. “The Sea Of Trees In Celceta,” though close in name to the title theme, is a dungeon track with its own identity. Its galloping synth hook grabs my attention and keeps the excitement going with a steady guitar/drum rhythm. “Battle #58” has howling guitar riffs with a nostalgic quality, and I love the mysterious bells and driving synth of “Harlequin’s Temptation.” “Blast of Wind” hearkens back to 90’s-style game music with its prominent synth and guitar riffs that sound like a long-lost Mega Man X track. “Underground Ruin” is surprisingly excellent, with a solid guitar harmony and a fast-paced violin melody that gives me goosebumps. It’s an uncharacteristically lively tune for a dank cavern, but my ears sure aren’t complaining. I think guitar and violin are the chocolate and peanut butter of my musical palate; they combine together so perfectly and always leave me satisfied.
The action tracks get even better. “In The Morning Of After Rain” mixes dramatic guitar with what sounds like electric harpsichord in a way that speaks to my inner Castlevania fan. The plaintive violin and trancelike synth of “Ancient Lore” give a sense that Adol’s journey is drawing to a close — that is, until “Seeking A Lost Mask” busts down the door with more amped-up guitar. The excitement continues with “Black Wing,” a heavy rock track that surely accompanies a high-stakes boss battle. Guitar finally takes a break in “The False God of Causality,” which has a furious drum harmony, angelic chorus, and stringlike synth, all of which unite for an epic track that could easily be mistaken for a Nobuo Uematsu composition. But wait, there’s more! One more battle track awaits, fittingly titled “Last Decisive Battle.” Guitar returns to the forefront in this sinister rock tour de force that carries a very “gamey” sensibility. It’s all in your hands at this point, player. Will Adol save the world (again) or fall before the might of [SPOILER]?
This is a quality album that should appeal to both longtime Falcom fans and Ys newbies. However, I wouldn’t recommend it over some of the company’s stronger offerings — Ys I & II Chronicles and Ys: The Oath in Felghana come to mind. I have a feeling we’re going to see the game in English sometime this year, and, if I’m right, I’ll be jamming out to this music again before long. Falcom Sound Team JDK proves once again that the spirit of adventure is alive and well with the soundtrack to Ys: Foliage Ocean in Celceta.