When most people hear the name Falcom they think of hardcore, blazing synth that simply rocks! However, as the newest game from the company, and one of the few original, non-arranged albums to come out of Falcom for quite a few years, Zwei!! breaks this image, and does so with grace and a certain amount of style.
Although the overall sound of the music is said by many to have been influenced by Yasunori Mitsuda’s Celtic style compositions, I feel that Zwei!!’s composers definitely have a voice of their own. As is the norm with Falcom, the composing credits go to Sound Team JDK. However, this sounds nothing like what I’ve heard from the composing team before. Perhaps we’re seeing the evolution of game music in action here. Gone are the heart-pounding themes that are Falcom’s trademark. Replacing them is an overall softer, sometimes bouncier, tone. Soft pipes, acoustics, violins, piano, even harmonicas, are used much throughout giving it a less synthy sound, emphasizing the different emotions that are portrayed through the music.
Even though many pieces do have that “world music” feel to them, which has been equivocated with RPG soundtracks within the last few years, the music here isn’t derivative of any other soundtrack I’m familiar with.
It was actually quite hard to pick my favorite tracks for the album, but among the many excellent compositions is “The Ancient Labyrinth Spiri.” I just can’t get enough of this awesome field theme. And, I really do love the main theme, “The Floating Continent Arges,” that pops up here and there throughout the album. It’s really catchy and has that sweet, innocent, homey sound that is altogether heartwarming to listen to. “Hippolyta Hill” is another one with its simple, sweet melody that makes you imagine what the countryside must feel like in the spring, flowers blooming, birds singing, and being with someone you care for.
I admit that the battle theme, “Fight!! Destroy It, Pockel!” is one of my least favorite tracks. Its melody sounds a tad off. Yet, the final battle theme, “The Demon King Vespar” is quite breathtaking. However strange it may sound, the use of bagpipes as the main chorus melody works really well.
I was quite surprised to find a version of the “Theme of Adol” included on the album CD. This is a classic Ys song, and it was a treat to hear another rendition of it. I wonder if this is actually played in the game itself.
Altogether, I really enjoyed this soundtrack. For any lover of RPG music, you’re bound to enjoy this splendid two-CD set. As for hardcore Falcom fans, don’t expect the next Ys. Of course, if you’re the completist like I am, you’ll want this album anyhow, except you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. This is a newly released CD, and can be ordered through Falcom’s online catalogue at www.falcom.co.jp.