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Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack :: Review by Ashley Winchester

Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack Album Title: Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack
Record Label: SPE Visual Works
Catalog No.: SVWC-7041/2
Release Date: October 1, 1999
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


When it comes to the world of video games and video game music it goes without saying that with any kind of discovery comes disappointment. Not every apple is fresh or will be to your liking, but when you find the right one it makes all that searching worth while. Yet this is only one take on the disappointment that comes along with discovery, as one can be disappointed at the lack of success and acclaim something receives. This is a road that Wild Arms 2nd Ignition has come to know all too well, having had to complete with a much less forgiving market than it's predecessor, it's flaws and shortcomings documented for all to see. In regards to the soundtrack, there are many things that turn what is a light sprinkle into an unrelenting downpour, like SPE Visual Works' typical, half hearted presentation of the music (e.g. minimal looping) and the composer's ambitions and creations being at odds with one another, but is there sunshine beyond the horizon? Read on to find out.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Main Title

For a game that's one of my favorites, I honestly wish there was something more to say about the title theme — an important piece of music for any game. While the methodical nature of the acoustic guitar and the patented Wild Arms whistle undoubtedly convey the fact that Filgaia has never fully recovered from the crimson flames that scarred its surface long ago, it fails to embody the engaging adventure that is to follow. This isn't to say a title theme has to be an orthodox, by-the-numbers affair that always highlights the lighter aspects of a game, but it should feel a lot more viable and memorable than this, not like a missed opportunity. (6/10)

2) You'll Never Be Alone

"You'll Never Be Alone" emits a sense of magic that is similar to "The End of the Wilderness" but doesn't build upon itself in the same way. Granted, the feeling that the game's characters are longing for something that is just beyond the horizon is there but as the instruments and composition go through the motions, it feels more fluid and homogeneous from an emotional standpoint. If you've played the North American version of the game and heard the alternate instrumental version (which opens with a horn rather than strings) there is a lot more to consider. As strong as Kaori Asou's vocals and Naruke lyrics are they don't support or further enhance what the music has to offer; they almost feel like a needless obstacle. Despite the fact I would rate the instrumental version higher if it was present on the soundtrack, both versions succeed in portraying their intended message to the listener quite well. (8/10)

3) Going Out

To anyone familiar with video game music, its common knowledge that most scores (RPGs especially) have their own little collections of pieces that only see action once or twice within the span of a single playthrough. With one hundred plus tracks spread out over two discs its safe to say that many of these tracks call Wild Arms 2nd Ignition home. "Going Out" is such a piece and while it's neither terrible nor musically unsound it ends up on the negative side of the spectrum regardless of its befitting, in-game context. First played during Ashley's introductory adventure as the musketeer brigade of Meria Boule makes their way to the Withered Ruins (and then, as expected, the only reprise taking place 25-30 hours later) the subdued, almost leisurely militaristic feel is undermined by the slightest sense of silliness that foreshadows how quickly things unravel once they reach their destination. All in all, "Going Out" is a classic example of a decent track that is incapable of making a class change. (6/10)

4) Dungeon: Ruins Type 1

If one were to say dungeon themes weren't an important element in the tapestry of an RPG it would be a lot like a person stating they're above breathing oxygen; it's a notion so ludicrous it's bound to induce laughter to all within an earshot of the speaker. All joking aside, to underestimate Naruke's work in this area would be borderline criminal even though there are some that fail to impress. The most notable entries — like those in the three part "Ruins Type" series — are among the list of reasons why this soundtrack should be considered by everyone. That's a lot of hype, but does "Ruins Type 1" live up to it? Yes and no. It isn't hard to forge a valid argument that this is the weakest of the three arrangements by far; still, the playful sense of discovery created from the interplay of the instruments is extremely welcome in the game's dungeons and is a nice change of pace from the first game where these pieces mostly adhered to a moody and cryptic palette. In the end, just try and take in this fun track as Naruke intended: resist the urge to over analyze it and accept it at face value. (7/10)

5) Serious Struggling

"Serious Struggling" is an interesting track for all the wrong reasons. None of these reasons have much to do with the quality of the composition (which more or less shares its fate with "Going Out") but whether or not the title coincides with it and its in-game context. Case in point: if I was going to describe this track to someone the first thing I'd ask them to do would be to forget any and all preconceived notions about seriousness and strife being presented in a musical fashion. With that out of the way, I would then present them with the previous iteration of the title "Confusion in the Front" and, unlike above, allow them to read into it — particularly the word confusion. Hopefully associated ideas such as aimlessness, awkwardness, silliness and goofiness would be the result and give them a better grasp on what this track offers. As far as a title goes, is "Serious Struggling" so far off that there is no justification for its use? It's a real stretch, but one could contend that this seemingly wayward title is an extension of the humorous, slapstick nature of the piece and is meant to be ironic since it is anything but. In the end none of this, even its clever, covert musical connection with "Going Out" can serve to bolster this track's meek identity. (6/10)

6) Chase

It's ironic that after chronicling why the title for the previous number doesn't fit (and how it barely might) along comes a piece where I can seriously imagine someone struggling. Here we have the main danger theme of Wild Arms 2nd Ignition — it's repetitive, somewhat annoying (the end of the game's first disc proving that quite nicely) and does little to change one's view on such tracks. As damming as this is, "Chase" really does deserve more credit than it may initially receive due to the architecture employed: a multi-layered composition that gains a small amount of intensity in each section. This approach may seem standard — Junya Nakano practically built his score for Dew Prism around this very concept — but it feels like a step up from the first game where Naruke repeated the same bar over and over in "Collapse." Regardless, it's nothing to get excited about; the track working when the situation calls for it and being digestible enough outside the game. (7/10)

7) The Crisis at Hand

When there are a large amount of pieces on a soundtrack, the chances that there will be tracks that try to invoke comparable thoughts and emotions within the listener in a similar way increases. While it's entirely possible for someone with an open mind to enjoy or appreciate everything that comes to bat, there are cases where the stronger creations seem to devour the others beyond conscious thought. This is the crisis that "The Crisis at Hand" faces: the dissonant feel that seems to radiate with the malice and cunning of scheming adversaries is right on, yet the same could really be said of "From Anxiety to Impatience" that comes along a little later. An inferiority complex like this may have to do with the fact the latter appears to be a bit more tangible than the former, but this is of little consolation for a track that is truly a victim of circumstance. (6/10)

8) A Dramatic Escape

As a forbearer of bad news, it's unfortunate that "A Dramatic Escape" reveals the utter predictability some of Naruke's work falls prey to so early. The title really says it all here: you get a triumphant — dare I say dramatic — horn opening up the track before it settles back into its default posture of relief. Even though this piece falls hard out of context (where it actually seems more at home) it does stand as a great point of contrast for when Naruke does succeed in making the predictable attractive though the airs of familiarity. (6/10)

9) Scene of Reminiscence

Alongside books and movies, RPG's usually incorporate flashbacks to flesh out their characters and the world around them. Not one to be left out of the crowd when it comes to storyline essentials and clichés, Wild Arms 2nd Ignition spends ample time detailing Brad's involvement with the Slayheim Liberation Army years before the opening of the game. "Scene of Reminiscence" caters to these scenes with a semi-ambient hum-like backdrop that acts like a canvas for the chilling notes of the accompanying acoustic guitar as they cry out with a resounding echo. Chances are that some will be completely at odds with the sparse instrumentation and minimal development, but the piece has another trick (application) up its sleeve. Replacing "Hidden Village" in the second half of the game when a terrible omen befalls Filgaia, "Scene of Reminiscence" doubles as a town theme. The contrast created from the fact that it's the only morose theme employed as such is invaluable and gives this sleeper track the slight edge it needs to be (eventually) noticed. (7/10)

10) Dungeon: Natural Type 2

Truth be told, "Dungeon: Natural Type 2" doesn't offer any kind of revolutionary twist on the quintessential forest dungeon theme that crops up in almost every RPG. In a forward yet indirect manner, Naruke molds the triumphant Wild Arms sound to a piece dripping with a deep, hollow earthen vibe. This is hardly a bad thing; in fact it's one of the most enjoyable dungeon themes outside the "Ruins Type" series. It's hard to explain why it's so easy to take in but I can't help think it has something to do with similar themes in Legend of Legaia. Confused? When it comes to pieces crafted especially for a natural/forest environment they usually play out deep and earthen or light and mystical. In Legaia, where nature was an integral part of the storyline, these tracks were cheapened by their hollow feel due to the countless composers that had treaded the same path beforehand. Of course, the same could be said of the other path that's explored here, but all things considered Naruke made the right choice on this one. (8/10)

11) A Momentary Respite

Unlike many of Naruke's earlier event pieces, "A Momentary Respite" isn't left in neutral when it is taken out of context: a goal any composer should strive for. Unfortunately, such a feat is only compounded when these pieces receive minimal in-game play. This piece is no exception, really walking the line when it comes to how the listener is pulled in — the played-out side of familiarity almost eclipsing that which is tasteful. The acoustic flavor found here is rather similar to "Scene of Reminiscence" although the more continuous instrumentation and the emotional aspect is about as opposite as you can get. However, like the aforementioned track, "A Momentary Respite" draws some additional strength from an unlikely source: the next track "From Anxiety to Impatience." The synergy created by the contrast of these tracks is really shown in Brad's introductory quest when they are played in quick succession of one another. This quick turning of the tide (which the order of the tracks thankfully preserves) is enough to keep its head above the water of its almost negative familiarity. (7/10)

12) From Anxiety to Impatience

The story of "From Anxiety to Impatience" is that of a title which has been seen on almost every Wild Arms release since the first OGS in 1996. Connected by mood rather than composition (it's a completely different entity each time around) the story represents one of the more clever musical conventions in the series' universe. Then again, some may find the dread and worry these numbers are predetermined to represent not so clever though the 2nd Ignition incarnation feels like one of the better ones — if not the best. Gone is the painful, mournful cry that opened the original, leaving the deep guitar work and march-like background to paint a picture of an ill-fated confrontation — a scenario that "The Trouble Brewing Along" tackles in a more indirect manner. While the original is enjoyable in its own right, neither Naruke nor any of her successors have written anything more appealing under this title that what you'll find here. Couple this with the symbiotic relationship it shares with "A Momentary Respite" and the above becomes obvious. (7/10)

13) The Young Witch Appears

Being the first of a few pieces dedicated solely to Lilka, crest sorceress and little sis of the famous Eleniak witch-girl of Sielje, "The Young Witch Appears" is a hole-in-one when it comes to representing the bumbling nature of the game's main source of comic relief. The nutty, kooky percussion, the "woo!" vocal sample that peeks out every once in a while and the questioning subtext paints the perfect picture of youthful inexperience and childlike wonder. The only thing is it's not perfect. It's... too easy. Looking at the vast ocean of classic character themes that have graced games over the years this one misses mark; it neither makes me melt in my seat nor do I really think of the challenges the character will eventually overcome — something "Separation" totally nails. Because of this, it's hard to have patience towards the track, especially when one is waiting for a crisp battle or dungeon theme. Even if it works from a standard point of view, it is unsuccessful at accurately hinting at what drives Lilka forward. (6/10)

14) Separation

While it may not seem like it (um, let's see... what's the highest grade received by a track so far — an 8?) the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Soundtrack is home to some wonderful tracks. I know, I know, when are we going to hear them and see some 9's and 10's. Rest assured they are coming, but in the meantime there are some delightful tracks like "Separation" that share their own brand of magic along a way. Used to portray the physical and emotional distance between characters at various points in the game, the fact that this piece is not a character specific has always dumbfounded me. Why the odd statement? This track is just hook, line and sinker Lilka to me. The hollow passages of the flute and wavering effect of the remaining instruments just (quietly) scream her name, giving the void within shape. So no, it's not really a character theme, but damn, it sure is in my book. The simple structure of the composition and spot on flute samples bringing it home. (8/10)

15) Monsters Appear

Crap. After the last track it would have been nice if the soundtrack could have surrendered a few more of its higher end tunes but it continues to horde. Oh well, what can you do short of putting them in a better order in a playlist? There isn't much to say about "Monster Appear," the horn's declaration of dread is pretty standard, but it's the curious, almost devilish little notes that follow that make the track feel almost... cute? This makes one wonder if this was a conscious effort by Naruke to link this back to "The Young Witch Appears" due to the fact both appear in Lilka's introductory adventure. What ever the case may be, the elements that make up this event/scene piece are interesting yet not really worth investigating outside of its zone of safety. (6/10)

16) Victory!

On the heels of the not so hot "Monster's Appear" is the fanfare crafted to balance its mood by association. Regardless of its intended purpose, "Victory" is yet another instance where the title leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination as the expression of triumph is even more generic than the previous track's take on despair. Sure, that Wild Arms vibe is there but it only reinforces how painful it feels when playing that card fails to turn an average item into something special. It's worth noting that even though this piece is not employed as a battle fanfare, it could very well lend itself to such an application given the right situation, and it does give some foresight into Naruke's work in that area. (6/10)

17) A Journey

To talk about "A Journey" without reflecting back on "The Young Witch Appears" and "Victory!" is rather impossible because while this track doesn't flat-out railroad the others into submission, it is successful in achieving similar goals. Neither bound by the "dissect the core of the character" directive of a character theme nor the product of over watering a basic idea with Wild Arms Miracle Grow, "A Journey" has the ability to sidestep these problems. The reason why isn't very apparent on a one-on-one basis with the soundtrack itself but it's the track usage in the game that allows it to do this. One of the better one-shot tracks, this is the highlight of the Lilka specific numbers ("Separation" not counting *frown*) that cements the fact that the interplay between the last few tracks should be commended even if a lot gets lost in translation along the way. (7/10)

18) Quiet Night

There is so much to rag on here it isn't even funny, though none of it has to do with Naruke but rather Yasunori Mitsuda. If you're wondering what he could possibly have to do with a Wild Arms track here's a hint: music box. As hard as I try to banish thoughts of similar tracks in Chrono Trigger and Xenogears they always find their way back when listening to "Quiet Night." Simply put, Mitsuda's ability to wrap a melody around the frontal lobe of a listener with this *instrument* is so razor sharp it's downright sadistic. Naruke's excursion into this realm is a bit more layered but has too few weapons to battle the mental contamination (the good kind mind you!) from Mr. Music Box above. Still, there is nothing to be gained from blasting this piece into orbit. (7/10)

19) Formal Ceremony

A stifling and wretchedly stereotypical piece, "Formal Ceremony" is a track that is devoid of life or soul outside it's one and only appearance during the ARMS (Agile Remote Mission Squad [NA]/Awkward Rush & Mission Savers [Japan]) commencement ceremony. Yeah, for something like this to play during such an event is hard to imagine. The upbeat percussion and proud horns go on in all their glory but you've heard it all before. Okay, so it's not as bad all this sarcasm is making it out to be. It's listenable, yet Naruke did herself and the soundtrack a great disservice by not tinkering around with this idealistic sound any further. Furthermore, had this piece had been crafted in a manner that made it more accessible, it may have been able to accommodate more scenes. This is the track's complete undoing because "Castle," a later track similar in style and substance, could replace "Formal Ceremony" despite lacking a significant amount of superiority. It's never a good thing when you can prove a track to be unnecessary. (6/10)

20) 1st IGNITION

While a curious metaphor, "1st IGNITION" is a lot like that person you knew in high school that had to play in every sport and be a member of every club. You scratch your head wondering how they accomplish so much but though observation you begin to realize they don't have it so great; their assets being stretched so thin they never have time to have unscheduled fun let alone breathe. This is the story of "1st IGNITION," a musical storybook of Filgaia's salvation crammed into a single, two minute segment. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, yet the precedent Naruke set with "Funeral March" in the first game fights this premise. Here we have a wide variety of emotions being expressed during the post-introduction credit roll as opposed to one. Naruke does a good job at stringing the emotional fragments together and incorporating some of the later themes, but it's not until the very end that we know what we should take away from the experience. The piece feels lopsided as a result even though the emphasis at the end is right on. (6/10)

21) Field: Roaming

At first, this seemingly standard take on the main theme "You'll Never Be Alone" may appear to be nothing to get excited about, yet this track marks a real turning point for the soundtrack. Could this be the result of the aura of freedom presented by map themes in general ("roaming" being a killer adjective here) or the sense of promise the whistling instills in the listener? Whatever it is, "Field: Roaming" does feel a bit limited when compared to future field themes, mostly due to the warm, almost earthen embrace of the instruments that reminds one of the travel restrictions placed on the player in the early stages of an RPG. Perhaps the best thing about this track (besides being the basis for some of the more endearing love pieces) is how it manages to capture the importance of the character's journey without being a monstrous epic or completely giving into the playfulness sprinkled throughout. (8/10)

22) Field: Distorted Sky

For some reason, I can't help but think of Doppler radar whenever "Field: Distorted Sky" comes across my speakers; its waves emitting from a central point, fanning out in search of dark and dreary clouds like the alternating bass and double bass percussion waiting for something from beyond to respond. The eerie whistle taunts and teases the listener with thoughts of the heavens being devoured by chaos. By the time the acoustic guitar jumps in at the end with its frightful cold notes of worry, you know something big is happening in Filgaia. Really, while I haven't said a whole lot about this track I can't say enough — Naruke blends her western sound with the paranormal so well it's scary. What's even scarier is she sacrifices nothing to do it: no bizarre or out of place samples, no compromises. This is the kind of stuff that brings me back to the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack time and time again. (9/10)

23) Field: Last IGNITION

Forgoing a lot of the conventions expected of it by relation, "Field: Last IGNITION" drops the whistle motif present in the previous field themes and offers a straightforward experience unlike "1st IGNITION" on which it is based. The absence of the former is merely a façade however, as the lead synth takes center stage as the track progresses much like a whistle would have. There are a myriad of emotions captured as well: the simultaneous gearing up and winding down of an adventure nearing its finale gives into the uncanny sadness of an uncertain future. None of this is groundbreaking and it is still no match for "Field: Roaming" or "Field: Distorted Sky," but it taps the right resources well enough. (7/10)

24) Town Where the West Wind Blows

Town themes have always been an interesting subdivision of Wild Arms music with Naruke at the helm. I don't mean interesting in a "nice try, but..." sort of way but interesting in that they are never tackled in the same exact way in each game. The original Wild Arms had pieces that felt like social commentary on how the nature surrounding each town influenced it in some way, while a similar approach in Wild Arms Advanced 3rd took on a more gritty and personal touch. In contrast, Wild Arms 2nd Ignition makes a real departure by concentrating on the excitement to be had in towns, whether it be haggling with weapon store owners or cleaning out people's houses due to your rampant kleptomania. "Town Where the West Wind Blows" does just this, the flute lying down that typical town vibe as the xylophone-like notes create a childlike sense of freedom one would expect to hear as they crank the handle of a jack-in-the-box. Those looking for a deeper expression of emotion will find this and most of the other town themes hollow, but there are times where things are fun because they are hollow. This is one of those times. (8/10)

25) Western Village

Most of what applies to "Town Where the West Wind Blows" above also applies to "Western Village." As it is, the experience here is so iconic of the Old West it is shameful; images of cowboys crewing on long pieces of wheat, lazily leaning against the front post of a saloon as they target a spittoon are all too clear. It is as shameful as it is its brilliant, brilliant because it simply embraces what it is without remorse, turning negative connotations associated with the cliché on its ear. Let go of your ego and see just how easy it is to get lost in this piece, how easy it is to forget the complete lack of originality as the two acoustic guitars intermingle. (7/10)

26) Hidden Village

Fans of Naruke's town themes in the first Wild Arms will most likely find that "Hidden Village" has the deepest and greatest meaning out of all her efforts here. They're absolutely right, though there are a few obstacles that may hinder one from fully connecting with it out of context. The first is while some of the instruments (e.g. the hollow percussion) convey that general village atmosphere the main melody feels a lot more personal than normal for a town theme. This is no mistake as the innocence that flows forth from this track is geared more towards the depiction of a young, beautiful soul than a town. The second thing that halts the complete comprehension of the track is the hidden subtext the game places on it at one point. As peculiar as it sounds, "Hidden Village" is meant to lead you into a false sense of security in one particular case and the bold sense of Baskar pride does just that. All of this and the contrast it shares with it's disc two replacement "Scene of Reminiscence" serves to show this track has a lot more going for it than a mere listen would suggest. (8/10)

27) Inn

The sleep/inn jingle is always an awkward part of a track-by-track review that usually goes as follows: passing judgment on a five to ten second "piece" of music, stating it's too short to give it a grade and then half expecting the author to break into some kind of deep inner monologue. Even though I can't deliver on that last one, hopefully I can keep it interesting by presenting some odd facts about inns in Wild Arms 2nd Ignition. Contrary to other RPG franchises the inn theme of Wild Arms has been carried over throughout the games, realigned for each appearance. This time around that dreamy, bed head feel is toned down even though we still have the guitar and whistle present. The bad news is the more you hear this during the game the more unlucky you may feel. Sleeping too much (being a sloth) in Wild Arms 2 decreases your character's awareness (which is controlled by the luck statistic) and leaves them more open to surprise attacks and diminishes their chances of learning/sparking/absorbing new abilities. As clever as it seems to implement such a system, it fails to take into account that once you acquire a certain character you'll rarely need the services of an inn again. (N/A)

28) Heading Far from the Sea

Like the waves of an angry sea sinking the sturdiest ship or testing the hardiest sailor, the hands of time can dull the sharpest points and fade even the most vibrant of colors. Cruel as that may seem, there are occasions where time is the greatest of allies, allowing us to see things we couldn't see before. This is the bane of the lullaby-like percussion and ferryman whistle of "Heading Far from the Sea" as it attempts and fails to live off of its simplicity. How the moon steals its shine from the sun is reminiscent of how this track steals its perceived shine from similar tracks like "Live Reflector." The only problem is no one is going to mistake the sun for the moon and the same could be said about the vast difference in quality between these two tracks. For this listener, this piece's days of latching on to uncomplicated tracks that actually add something to the soundtrack are far over. (5/10)

29) The Stronghold Surfaces!

For a theme reflecting on an incredible piece of aviation technology, "The Stronghold Surfaces!" sure goes nowhere fast. The strong and bold opening plays into the title very well — that exclamation point is not just there for show — even though it does feels a bit phoned in. Any and all praise is short-lived however, as the track loses focus as it putters around looking for a purpose much like the enormous albeit limited vehicle it represents. Actually, I take back what I said about the beginning — with its expansive, nature encompassing aura, the WHOLE thing feels phoned in. As laughable as the idea of a head-to-head comparison is, it's really hard to say which — this, or "Heading Far from the Sea" — deserves the dishonor of being labeled the worst transportation-based theme. To its credit, at least "The Stronghold Surfaces!" doesn't try to be something it isn't. It is as thin as paper and as enjoyable as sugar free gum from the get go. (5/10)

30) Harbinger of the Hurricane

With two flaccid vehicle themes down for the count, it's not hard to imagine the skepticism surrounding the third and final entry. Neither the final nail in the coffin or a magical cure-all for this taxed section of the score, "Harbinger of the Hurricane" will likely disappoint those looking for an offering as grand and sweeping as "Bird in the Sky (Emma's Theme)" from the first game. However, such a comparison seems unfair for a variety of reasons, among them pitting a track with a solitary message against one with a dual message. One could argue this composition, fueled by the finale and paranormal motifs heard earlier and the lead avoiding the temptation to go whistle on the listener does give it multiple dimensions. The track really fights this premise though, which given it shared characteristics with "Field: Last IGNITION" is completely appropriate. Short of stellar and beyond mediocre, the dose of adrenaline "Harbinger of the Hurricane" adds to this formula is worth your time. (7/10)

31) Dungeon: Natural Type 1

The two tracks that make up the "Natural Type" dungeon series are a mini-history lesson about Naruke's ability to make a compositional scheme work one minute and then have it backfire a track or two later. With a ruse that should be more than recognizable by this point, "Dungeon: Natural Type 1" attempts to grab the listener by providing a sound that is both familiar and befitting of its environment. While "Natural Type 2" manages to make something of itself despite this, "Natural Type 1" does not. The happy-go-lucky mine/mine cart ride subtext is so generic and deep seeded it smothers the better (yet not necessarily good) aspects of the track like the harmonica. The nicest thing I can say is even though it truly adds nothing to the score (outside of reinforcing how every positive becomes a negative at some point and vice versa) it's not a real burden here or in the game, though it doesn't have much life beyond the latter. (6/10)

32) Dungeon: Ruins Type 2

While "Ruins Type 1" helps support the rough terrain at the beginning of the soundtrack, it isn't until "Ruins Type 2" that the series validates itself as some of the "must hear" music in Wild Arms 2nd Ignition. If the lust of adventure is one of your guilty pleasures look no further: guitars, horns and harmonics are ablaze here, all out to capture unwary ears. This is hardly an accurate description on what's really going on here, the instruments not being as forceful as they seem — especially those in the background. It is from here that the underlying sorrow takes form and when it melds with the slight hesitation of the other instruments it creates that perfect sense of covert loneliness. As much as I enjoy "Dungeon: Ruins Type 2," I have to admit that Atsushi Tomita's techno/rock remix from the Wild Arms -Music the Best- rocking heart arrange album gives Naruke's original a real run for its money, though both are definitely worth a stop on their respective albums. (9/10)

33) Dungeon: Ruins Type 3

Game show! Game show! Game show! Okay, so you're not on a game show per say, but you'll feel like you've hit the jackpot as you collect the multitude of treasures inside the four elemental dungeons this piece calls home. As big of a smile "Ruins Type 2" puts on my face, "Ruins Type 3" makes it even wider. The beat of the percussion personifies descending flight after flight of stairs as your characters search for a way to combat menace devouring Filgaia. Still, the percussion would be nothing without the horns and their ability to switch emotional frequencies at a moment's notice. One second the fact that the world's future is in your hands is related via a reaper-like call and the next the playful, jazzy sound gives you permission to find fun within the above. In the end, this is what this series of tracks is about: do yourself a favor and accept Naruke's infectious invitation. (10/10)

34) Dungeon: Pinch Type 1

A scathing blow after some of the soundtrack's highest highs, the "Pinch Type" series takes the stage with some of the score's lowest lows. Used primarily for desolate and deserted towns, the idea here is to create uneasiness though disharmony. Naruke does just that, but the result feels so bloated and unattractive it makes it hard to swallow. This is a shame because there are a few elements — like the hard-nosed piano work at the beginning — that do stand out due to their steady aim but lack the ability to really gel with one another. Regardless, it's these small glimmers of light that keep "Dungeon: Pinch Type 1" from being a complete let down, though most will find it as unforgiving as the wastelands of Slayheim itself. (5/10)

35) Dungeon: Pinch Type 2

Given that "Pinch Type 2" does little to mend the shortcomings of its predecessor, it should come as no surprise that its effort to burrow into the mind of the listener ends up short even with its few additional perks. The main melody is more concrete here, but that static sense of oppression that Naruke runs into the ground throughout the score challenges it with its unyielding drive. Ironically, the aspect that garners the most attention is once again the piano, the stone cold performance before the repeat paying homage to the first track in the series and easing the pain of all the droll musical climaxes that come before it. The most unfortunate thing about the sound and direction of these pieces is it doesn't end here, making for some mind numbing experiences ahead. (6/10)

36) Dungeon: Horror

Regardless of how blunt it may sound "Dungeon: Horror" is an annoying track. It's not annoying in an "I can't believe they thought this sounded good" kind of way but a "thanks for reminding me of all the antagonizing dungeons in the game" way. That being said, those that have never heard this piece in context probably have an advantage over those that have (unlike every other track presented) though they don't miss out on that in-game experience entirely. What initially seems to be a piece full of wonder quickly sheds it skin, revealing what is a rather sarcastic performance by the lead instruments. They pull at you and tease your senses like the intersection of a maze as the pompous beats rack your brain with endless decisions. It's a lot like the entrance of a labyrinth itself: the thrills and excitement in "Dungeon: Horror" seem devilishly alluring, yet once you pass the same structures inside again and again you begin to feel how unwelcome you really are. (6/10)

37) Dungeon: Urgent Situations

More of a danger/crisis theme than a full-fledged dungeon theme, "Urgent Situation" reiterates the idea that these types of tracks are neither a particular strength nor a glaring weakness of Naruke's. However, to understand how this piece becomes stronger because of this, one needs to acknowledge that there is strength to be found in perceived faults. For a danger theme, "Urgent Situation" doesn't really bring the power pound for pound, instead opting to work with a subdued palette through all three tiers of intensity. It's too relaxed to be truly engaging, but then we don't really need another "Chase." My favorite part is when the percussion shows up and breaks things down at the end right before the loop, essentially resetting the piece. Those looking for a little more meat to such tracks will likely pass even though it's wired pretty much the same. (7/10)

38) Dungeon: Battle Preparations

Contrary to other dungeon themes, "Battle Preparations" is not used throughout the exploration of a location but rather when one encounters an enemy with whom they share a witty retort. What's odd about the track is it doesn't give into that thick, stereotypical drama you'd expect but the other way around; the reserved build up of tension sounds like something played during a raffle of some kind. What's even odder is how fitting the above description really is, the scene accompanying it in the game showing the main character making a huge gamble with the emotions of another. Musically, the way Naruke manipulates the emotion of the instruments — going from serious to almost comical — by implementing moments of slight hesitation is clever even though its far from seamless and a bit to wishy-washy to listen to out of context. (6/10)

39) Dungeon: Mystery

For the musical backdrop for dungeons that are guardian related but not guardian specific (if that makes any sense at all), there is a lot more going on in "Dungeon: Mystery" than its tranquil mood would suggest. For example, whip out a pair of headphones and check out that killer low level that tucked away in the back. Awesome. Still, what makes this piece significant is the banjo and how unorthodox its inclusion in such a serene piece seems until you hear how compatible it is with the flute. Working in tandem, there is never an instance where one instrument tries to shove the other aside in an abrasive manner to grab the spotlight. Even the wily whistle that steps in and out adheres to this concept as it harkens back "Hidden Village," hinting that what we have here is more than just a dungeon theme. "Dungeon: Mystery" may lack the impulse of "Ruins Type 2" and "Ruins Type 3" but it doesn't need to, presenting its own nonchalant charms. (8/10)

40) Dungeon: Odessa's Hideout

You knew it was coming, that the doom and gloom of the "Pinch Type" series would rise again. The only thing you didn't know was how soon that specter would reappear. Pretty much everything I would say here I've said elsewhere: the track undoubtedly drives home the idea of oppression — a good match for an aggressive, terrorist organization — but do we have to hear this expressed in the same fashion each time? If I was a member of Odessa and had to listen to this all day in the compound I was guarding I'd defect to ARMS quicker than you could say "Valeria Chateau" so I could hear something less depressing. There's a bit of a mechanical motif here too, a reference to Odessa's use of ancient technology to push people around. Whatever excuse you want to use to try and put a positive spin on what's here, it isn't very enjoyable or engrossing. (6/10)

41) Dungeon: Pillar of Hell

Ooh! I love the title here. "Pillar of Hell" sounds so arduous and crunchy. Personally, I've always wondered if the title could be interpreted as "Diablo Pillar" considering that is what these hellish pillars go by in the game but no — it's cool the way it is. When it comes to the track itself its hard not to get sucked into the dark, empty void that looms in one's imagination as the dark notes paint a cautionary tale of trial and error. Still, what's here mainly works because of similar tracks attempting near-identical stunts — like bombastic climaxes — and bungling them or trying to present a complex buffet only to choke on the appetizer. The bombastic climax in "Pillar of Hell" is appropriate to the point where it enhances what comes before it instead of trying to justify it, while the conservative composition remembers to chew before swallowing, leaving the plate (er, slate) clean for the next serving. (7/10)

42) Dungeon: Heimdal Gazzo

Rife with struggle, "Heimdal Gazzo" hits the listener with a piece suggesting that conflict and conclusion will be the order of the day. Everything is peachy in that respect except the words rife, hits, struggle and conflict may lead one astray in thinking this track goes all-out like "Ruins Type 2" when it doesn't. The sense of progression provided by the guitar and horns is restricted from flowing too fast and free, this constraint tightening it's grip in the last half when the guitar retreats, allowing the horns to relay that while the day will be won, it won't be won without sacrifice. However, at its core the success enjoyed here really belongs to "Ruins Type 2" that grew this brand (of composition) in the first place, "Heimdal Gazzo" merely being another flavor of said brand. Even though one is more likely to discover this as they listen, this piece is able to dodge the negativity associated with rehashes due to its lovely subtext. (8/10)

43) Dungeon: Anastasia's World

Just about every instrument in "Anastasia's World" feels symbolic of the character reflected in the title in one way or another. The interesting thing about this is how the performance that carries the composition somewhat changes between the soundtrack and the game itself; on the soundtrack the heartbeat like bass line propels the track forward as it characterizes Anastasia's love and longing for Filgaia. This is really up for grabs in the game (and mono televisions) as the angelic female harmonies and sobering piano work on much more even footing with the aforementioned bass. As such, it may seem ideal to pick an instrument to follow as the piece progresses but this is the last thing you're meant to do, the hollow feel created by their cooperation being the main draw. It's true that "hollow" sound is nothing new to the score by this point, but its how Naruke accomplishes it despite the deep bass and lack of flute that make it worth note. Alongside "Dungeon: Mystery," "Anastasia's World" fulfills its dual purpose very well, more than any of the other Anastasia related tracks. (8/10)

44) Dungeon: Spiral Tower

A composition that aspires to sound as busy as the hum of electricity, "Spiral Tower" is not afraid to let it all hang out. It should be with that antagonistic atmosphere heard in "Dungeon: Horror" making its return. The main difference between this track and the form of energy that best represents it is while electricity is bound and focused in its effort to energize something, the elements that make up this piece are not, failing to govern each other. To put it another way, "Spiral Tower" wants it all and ends up with very little, hopelessly juggling everything including the kitchen sink. The other area where the track fails is the climax, where the same four note motif is repeated multiple times in an effort to prove this track's worth. Naruke's attempt is in vain, the track only being memorable for its overgrown sound. (5/10)

45) Dungeon: Center of Filgaia

Not to be confused with track 2-22 "Center of Filgaia," "Dungeon: Center of Filgaia" finds Naruke revisiting the style that made "Pillar of Hell" come alive a few tracks earlier. "Heimdal Gazzo" pulled this same stunt with "Ruins Type 2" not too long ago, the difference being not a change in subtext but rather an increase of intensity in the current subtext. The bad news is it comes at somewhat of a price: the climax. As mellow as this serious piece is, going from this to such a bold segment in the fraction of a second feels forced even if the hair trigger sense of despair does embody the peril of Filgaia to a tee. I can appreciate what was trying to be accomplished here (hence the high score), but a bit more build up could have been applied without diminishing the message; in fact, if implemented in a clever enough manner it could have pushed the drama beyond where it stands now. (7/10)

46) Castle

Considering what was said about this track was back in the "Formal Ceremony" section of the review, it's understandable how one would expect "Castle" to be an unremarkable piece of music. Well, nothing has changed since then, this track being so typecast by the environment it plays in there are simply no surprises. This isn't a good thing, especially if a composer wants to keep listeners on their toes, but in the vein of "Natural Type 2" it avoids the bigger, less attractive stereotype associated with its surroundings; namely that overbearing regal sounding stuff. It's true that "Castle" does come forth with this tone but it is diverted from consuming the track due to the peaceful interlude of the flute, a reminder that while kings and queens are important a kingdom is nothing without its people. Regardless of how much a difference this small deviation from the formula used in "Formal Ceremony" makes, it won't be at the top of any of your playlists. (7/10)

47) Guildgrad

"Guildgrad" marks the return of the flute that has allowed numerous to define their sense of being. However, to say this alone is what makes this track so alluring as opposed to a piece like "Separation" is unconscionable because the spirit captured here is the result of a strong, homogeneous mixture rather than one instrument carrying the bulk of the load. You have the nutty and kooky sound effects commenting on how life in Guild Galad (and the world) has been made easier by the technology developed here. This is all done without giving into that brainless theory that a technologically advanced location has to have a techno/electronica based theme, or is it? As rustic as "Guildgrad" is there this mysterious sensation that the aforementioned styles (present in the sound effects) are right in your face, yet are so engraved in the composition that they are almost translucent. A great experimental track that barely feels experimental, the only hitch here is the calming nature can get monotonous if heard for a prolonged period of time. (8/10)

48) Valeria Chateau

If I was to choose one word to describe the music that is "Valeria Chateau" it would be reprieve. This isn't without reason, the Valeria Chateau being the base of operations for ARMS and where your characters rest after missions. The thickness of the acoustic guitar drives home several ideas that are expressed and tested in the game like friendship, trust, courage and perhaps most important of all, unity. The quirky interjections throughout may seem to clash with the seriousness of the above at first, though it acts more as a counterbalance to the pain these ideals cause the characters at times and how they will be confronted with strength and resolve. As significant as these concepts are to the game's storyline, they musically disallow the forceful, regal flavor found in "Castle" and "Formal Ceremony" which is a blessing here — a pompous "home base" theme would have made for a terrible piece of elevator music. (8/10)

49) Live Reflector

Without a doubt, "Live Reflector" is one of my favorite tunes on the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack. One reason is it simply thrives despite its simplistic nature, leaving previous pretenders like "Heading far From the Sea" in the dust. However, that's a pretty superficial reason to enjoy something. Digging deeper for a real reason I'd have to say what really attracts me to this hybrid of hope and sorrow is how each emotion is tied to a single instrument: the solitary flute filling the air with a concave sense of sadness as the harp chimes in sporting a touching yet cautious sigh of hope. Neither instrument bullies the other, almost as if they've come to some sort of mutual musical agreement and it just makes me melt when I hear it. Reading about it does is no justice but it is powerful stuff, even if with the track only playing once before the fade. Do yourself a favor and check it out. (10/10)

50) Guardian

Warm and soft, "Guardian" contains that majestic feeling one would associate with a higher power granting your request for assistance, whether its imparting a fraction of their wisdom upon you or maybe even something a bit more tangible like aid in battle. Despite my fears of how ill-fated such a composition would turn out earlier, Naruke is able to present the ying (light and mystical) to "Natural Type 2's" yang (deep and earthen) without it seeming too textbook. It does its job confidently enough but lacks that extra something that other, similar half a minute tracks seem to have. (7/10)

51) Tim and Colette

More of a musical extension of "Hidden Village" than its own separate entity, the opening of "Tim and Colette" is ridiculously predictable for a love theme. This isn't to say the rest of the song escapes such a label either, utilizing the instruments found in other Tim related numbers, but it does garner a little more respect. Probably the most attractive aspect of this piece is what Naruke doesn't do, that being using a variation of "You're Not Alone" to depict this couple's love. Maintaining this distance is crucial for several reasons, among them to avoid encroaching on the pivotal role of Ashley and Marina's relationship within the storyline with one that is interesting but not as deep and complicated. Additionally, the last thing we need is another rendition of "You're Not Alone" to add to the already extensive catalog of reprises, something that will become an issue in just a short while. I'll give it to Naruke for knowing when enough is enough, but I still tend to view this track as mediocre. (6/10)

52) Operation ARMS' Theme

Blah! Why couldn't "Operation ARMS' Theme" fall after "Odessa's Theme" in the tracklisting? Now I have to talk about the latter (spoiling what's ahead) before I can dissect the former. Anyhow, as much as I will scold "Odessa's Theme" for its lack of internal contrast, the close proximity and usage of these tracks proves there is a reason for this, being the contrast is meant to come from the opposing track rather than within. This plan works on the simplest level imaginable yet there are issues that challenge its effectiveness. As impossible as it is to mistake the icy chill associated with Odessa for the elements and emotions revisited here from "Valeria Chateau," even when taking the switch from the acoustic guitar to the bass guitar into account, the comparable tempo fleeces them of some of their individuality. "Operation ARMS' Theme" does have a few weapons that gives it a bit more pop than its counterpart, be it the rumbling earth sound effects at the beginning (personifying ARMS' progress as the world's progress) or the climax that's similar in style to that in "Spiral Tower" without seeming like a desperate cry for attention. All in all, it's a track with a sufficient amount of processing power. (7/10)

53) Odessa's Theme

As pointless as such a comparison seems, I often think of Nobuo Uematsu's "ShinRa Company" from Final Fantasy VII when confronted with Odessa's Theme. Beyond some of the obvious differences — an upbeat number versus a moody, drawn out one — that oppressive reign of tyranny runs rampant in both. However, when it comes to their one-dimensional quality working for them instead of against them, "Odessa's Theme" runs into a snag due to the presentation of the villains in the game. Many of the higher ups in the ShinRa were as soulless when they met their unapologetic ends as they were in the beginning of the game, if not more so. On the other hand, while the members of Odessa's Cocytus appeared to be as hopelessly sick and twisted as their acts of terrorism, they became more human with each defeat, the veil surrounding the noble ideals gone awry slowly withdrawing. It's this "sadness of insanity" that Naruke fails to explore and the track feels stunted because of it. Again, this has a lot to do with maintaining contrast with "Operation ARMS' Theme" but it's my opinion that Naruke missed the bigger prize; a subdued refrain like those found in "Battle Robot Jack" near the end that could have reflected the above and given this track so much more life. While there is no excuse for the actions of these characters, the continuous, unbridled sense of insanity is inappropriate on the whole. (6/10)

54) Battle Force

Due to the piss poor attempt at arranging Wild Arms 2nd Ignition's music in any kind of logical order on this soundtrack (let's see... let's start by putting them in the order they appear in the game [somewhat] and once we get past the three introductory quests we'll just start chucking them together based on their usage! Yeah, that's a killer idea to keep people on their toes) the listener won't hear a single battle theme until track fifty-four. Track fifty-four? I wish I was kidding, but no — it's a reality. If all of the deficiencies that have been outlined up to this point weren't enough, "Battle Force" is actually one of the soundtrack's best battle themes despite its repetitious nature and lack of anything resembling complexity. This doesn't speak well on what's yet to come; still, forging an ill-opinion of this track in an effort to drive it into the ground is so easy it's like creating a bad joke that revolves around a pun. Fun as that may be, those that can turn off their creative complexity detectors will have a blast with this track as they did with "Critical Hit!" from the first game. If that's not your thing, the fact it's one of the few tracks that manages to loop twice won't be much of a consolation prize. (7/10)

55) Battle: Knight Blazer

My speech above about the lackluster battle themes ahead was apparently a bit pre-emptive. "Battle: Knight Blazer" is a godsend in the game, able to mask particular abominations when you summon "the Blaze of Disaster" into battle. While the power of this grotesque creature teeters on the edge of absurd, there certainly isn't anything absurd about this piece. Things start out with a revenge-like call crying out into the night, the percussion and sci-fi elements sneaking in ever so slightly as the composition switches gears from the opening passage of reckless abandon to one illustrating controlled tenacity. The shifts in momentum employed by Naruke here are well executed, keeping the piece exciting though words like "epic" are far from appropriate. Perhaps what makes "Battle: Knight Blazer" stand out is how it musically defines an idea seen throughout the games in the series; that power itself is neither good nor evil. Of course, those responsible for writing the games' scenario never heard Masato Kouda's terrible remix of this track on the second volume of the Wild Arms Vth Vanguard Original Soundtrack so there are certain exceptions to this belief. (8/10)

56) Battle VS Mid Boss

There is a lot to be said about this track; unfortunately, none of it is good. "Battle VS Mid Boss" is a piece so musically bankrupt it makes a so-so boss theme — like that from the original game — look like a masterpiece. As expected, the feeling of doom is nigh as the blaring instruments go at it, stumbling over one another in their bid for attention. It's not even the sound programming that's at fault here. This is one of the worst — if not the worst — compositions Naruke has ever penned; the brain-dead path it follows comparable to something one would expect the inexperienced to come up with as they feel their way through a new piece of software. It's somewhat more tolerable in-game when you're forced to listen to it until you cancel it out with the much more enjoyable "Battle: Knight Blazer," but this recycle bin fodder is inexcusable otherwise. (2/10)

57) Battle VS Solid

Analyzing what "Battle VS Solid" brings to the table without reflecting on "W-W-What? (Zed's Theme)" from the first game is difficult because in essence this is what this track tries so hard to be — a variation or port of a previously successful track. As simple as it would seem to adjust the emotional frequency towards another character, the mixed result proves its not. Listening to Zed's theme it's crystal clear what you're suppose to feel: a goofy, overly dramatic adversary that isn't as important or powerful as he thinks he is confronts you and dispatching of this "comic relief" is meant to be fun. When it comes to "Battle VS Solid" the message is scrambled; the fear and threat that the ethnic instruments bring is unmistakable, but is there really a sense of sadness buried in here like I want to believe? If so, am I confusing the worry attached to the fear factor as that tragic sadness? It's terribly baffling when you know the back story of Solid (known as Kanon to most). It's like playing connect the dots without the dots being numbered but still knowing what the object is. What compounds this even further is how the fanfare associated with this track feels like the missing piece, but is it the missing piece or an additional piece? After playing the game a million times I can't imagine anything else playing as Kanon devilishly assaults your weakest character (usually Tim) with Pike Kicks and Drive Cuts in her pursuit of her blind and obstinate goals. Still, Naruke could have come up with something more concrete (and original) for the female Merc. (6/10)

58) Battle VS Cocytus

Even as a Naruke and Wild Arms fan, it's somewhat hard to discern what makes some of these battle themes good and bad. "Battle VS Cocytus" is no different, the pluses and minuses more or less equaling out to what is best described as a fair piece of music. Naruke again makes use of the thick, oppressive texture that's by now become the calling card of Odessa based themes but this time there's a bit more ruggedness to it. It's not really what you'd call a "western ruggedness," yet it adds a dash of flavor to a predictable formula. Also accounting for some of the hidden allure is the weariness of the brass section that almost sounds as if it's mired in quicksand, providing a reprieve from the sharp melodrama that desperately tries (and fails) to recapture the magic found in Wild Arms' "Power fighter." Still, there is only so much these elements can do to support a track that is otherwise boring and leaves little to interpret. The corresponding fanfare however... (6/10)

59) End of Banquet

Naruke (almost) goes completely acoustic here, the cold and lonely notes giving birth to an ill omen on top of a remorseful harmony. The gothic flair does lend itself quite well to the scene in which it appears, though it's hard to give it any kind of technical nod outside the crisp clarity of the instruments. It's not a bad, great, catchy or memorable track, but it could have turned out messy or even more pompous than it already is. In the end, it's just there. (6/10)

60) Battle VS Vinsfeld

In another instance where I can say "copy and paste what I said there here," the sharp, jagged and overly dramatic instrumentation of "Battle VS Vinsfeld" walks the thin line between tastefulness and tastelessness as the theme holds nothing back and goes for broke. Unattractive as the bombastic peaks are this isn't a too bad of a track, easily surpassing the aforementioned "Battle VS Mid Boss." It cannot compete, however, with a composition that can build tension without feeling as fragmented and pointed — the previously mentioned (and far superior) "Power fighter" coming to mind. As befitting and maddening as the percussion is in presenting one of the most dangerous and charismatic minds in Filgaia, it is regrettable that Naruke took such a one-dimensional route with this one considering how it's the concluding Odessa piece in the game. Can't win them all I suppose. (5/10)

61) Battle VS Toka and Ge

Highlighting the ill-fated battle exploits of the infamous, self-styled "master of disaster" Liz and his faithful assistant Ard ("lizard," get it?), "Battle VS Toka and Ge" is another battle theme that is highly dependant on that thick, ethnic flair Naruke cultivated in the original game with "W-W-What? (Zed's Theme)." The problem is as hard as this track tries, it is unable to escape the shadow of this composition much like "Battle VS Solid." The difference between the two lies in the fact that the stigma associated with this connection is even greater this time around thanks in part to the overall tempo, theme and direction being so close to the "original." Eliminating any and all doubt about the message behind the piece is a positive step; the wacky banjo portraying the questionable combat tactics of these two creatures of unknown origin to a tee. Outside the warmth and comfort of its in-game context, the track doesn't have much to go on until you compare it to the "interesting" rocking heart rendition. (6/10)

62) Battle VS Root of Kuiper Belt

To those that have played a Wild Arms game, the concept of a rustic western world that is reliant on the fragments of a bygone, technologically advanced society is not unfamiliar. As rewarding as it is to reap the rewards after scoring some of the world's coolest "toys" it is perhaps what lies beyond that is the most interesting — the unworldly. While most games in the series at least relate to this concept, it is the second installment that really runs with it. This also applies to the music; Naruke doesn't go too crazy with the notion, but once again the results are mixed. The result here is pretty damn good though; the sense of worry is a lot thicker here and is followed with a side order of dread — putting somewhat of a cap on the fun and thrill of discovery heard in "Field: Distorted Sky." Light jazz elements come into play late as the horns tease the listener, offering what will initially appear to be a lengthy reprieve from the doom and gloom before the moodiness shoots it down in a rude blaze of glory. Even though it falls short of stellar, "Battle VS Root of Kuiper Belt" creates an unfamiliar aura of oppression and makes what is a brief experience anything but brisk. Unfortunately, Naruke's success here... (7/10)

63) Battle vs Edgeworth=Kuiper Belt

...only magnifies her failure here, proving it only takes a moment for something that worked well enough to crash and burn next time out. "Battle VS Edgeworth = Kuiper Belt" is one hell of an example of this phenomena; none of the previous praise is applicable despite the return of the sci-fi/extraterrestrial motif. Simply put, this is just a really unattractive piece. The pushy, force-fed instruments aren't pushy in a good way, the climax is incapable of sealing the deal, and the entire thing misses the bigger, more emotional picture. While the oppressive beats musically depict the awkward jerking motion of this boss enemy's wing-like appendages the entire experience feels so soulless. What's ironic (rather problematic) about this is when one considers the sins committed to bring this abomination to life there shouldn't be anything "soulless" about. The remainder of the track — like the alien-like flute — only serves to add a layer of phoniness to what is already a misfired arrow; an arrow I wish was more in line with a heart-wrenching piece like "Last Battle" from Xenosaga. It's these unexplored possibilities that hurt this piece so much. (5/10)

64) You're Not Alone...

"You're Not Alone..." is a peculiar track for a variety of reasons. The most confounding aspect is while it appears on the soundtrack, it is nowhere to be found in the game or in the stream/sequenced music data on either disc of the North American version. Exclusive use in the Japanese original also seems doubtful because while it contains vocals (the opening lines of "You Are Not Alone" — shocking given the title) those would have been removed during localization like the opening/ending themes. Most likely an extra thrown in for the sake of it, the explosion (?) at the end makes one reflect on the various blasts that rip though certain locals on the first disc alone. Regardless, it is a rather pointless addition to an already bloated soundtrack. Unfortunately, it won't be the last. (N/A)

65) Battle VS Lord Blazer

If a single track expressed what Wild Arms 2nd Ignition meant to me, this would be it. No disrespect to other great tracks like "Dungeon: Ruins Type 3" or "Live Reflector" but I can't help reflect on every superfluous NPC I've run across in the course of my adventure when I hear this all encompassing tune. That's a pretty tall order for any piece of music to fill, especially when it's a reprise of the main theme minus the full-blown production seen in the opening video. This accounts for a large portion of the charm found within "Battle VS Lord Blazer;" it's not the most complex arrangement of the theme, but is the one that is the most poignant and fun. I'll admit the previous statement is somewhat skewed having taken part in the battle itself — which rocks — but the strength of the brass section and Naruke's foresight of knowing when to charge ahead and when to scale it back should not be underestimated. Wholeheartedly recommended, though those looking for a little more variety when it comes to the instrumentation may prefer the version that appears on the rocking heart arrange. (10/10)

66) Battle VS Ragu O' Ragula

Uh-oh, you're in for it now! You've stumbled upon the doorstep of the series' most powerful and grumpy adversary. If this overbearing battle theme is any indication, this optional, reoccurring nightmare of a beast is out for blood and is not satisfied with just assaulting your party physically — that wouldn't be cruel enough. To Naruke's credit there has never been a theme specific to Ragu O' Ragula that has been noteworthy — "Catching a Glimpse of Hell (from Alter code:F) and "Manifestation from Hell" (from The 4th Detonator which was composed by Ryuta Suzuki) being just as unimpressive in their own way — but beyond the fact that such unattractive and unflattering compositions will receive next to no accolades for all eternity, the "no tomorrow, no future" subtext of these tracks does manage to work as it pries at one in a devilish, subconscious manner. "Battle VS Ragu O' Ragula" does this in many ways, containing a mood and texture comparable to the slightly superior "Battle VS Cocytus," not to mention revisiting the reaper-like call and engaging percussion of "Battle: Knight Blazer." These elements give the piece enough ammo to seem fair enough in-game or during a straight forward listen through the soundtrack, but on a one-on-one comparison the track is easily exposed for the ugly entity it is. (5/10)


There should be a law (or at least some kind of unwritten rule) that prohibits segregating battle themes from their respective fanfares. This isn't a call to combine them into a single, seamless track (which actually worked quite well on The Legend of Dragoon Original Soundtrack) but rather to have them succeed one another (in the tracklisting) to maintain these musical connections outside of the game. Of course, considering what soundtrack we're talking about, ranting about how far a little more common sense would have gone isn't going to solve anything. Still, if "CONDITION GREEN!" were to follow "Battle VS Mid Boss" or better yet "Battle Force" this would reinforce its position as the game's go-to fanfare. However, when it comes to how this reinforcement is achieved musically, Naruke takes the easy way out, the punchy emphasis at the end being ever so similar to how the standard fanfare in the original game began. Effective as it is, the track doesn't get away with it completely, the emotional apex never reaching the heights of the aforementioned "WIN!" or the level of beauty found in Wild Arms Advanced 3rd's own "CONDITION GREEN!" While it expresses victory adequately enough, this piece seems to gain that extra "something" in the game when there is some post fight dialog/mudslinging going on. (7/10)

68) A Tinge of Regret

As bold and reckless as the following statement may seem, "A Tinge of Regret" is a magnificent piece of music. Without delving too deep into the mythos surrounding the adversaries this track reflects upon, (Solid from "Battle VS Solid" to the members of Odessa's Cocytus in "Battle VS Cocytus") Naruke nails that brief moment when the defeated are physically and emotionally vulnerable. With the harmonica wailing in sorrow and the downtrodden guitar mumbling, cursing the idea of losing a sense of humbleness that is absent in the preceding battle themes is brought about. The ability of the composer to capture the mind and heart with such an abstract composition speaks volumes, especially when it makes me feel pity towards those that are unworthy of such mercy. Still, while I could swoon over this piece all day, this is really another instance where the success achieved here is the result of a previous endeavor — the Metal Demon/Quarter Knight fanfare "Retreat" from the first game. If the final score is any indication, however, this does little to dilute its impact. (10/10)

69) Before Victory

Continuing her work with introspective fanfares, Naruke attempts to make the listener look beyond the black and white idea of winning and losing. At first glance, this proud and boastful number accomplishes this quite well, with the power and majesty hitting hard before it fades into a hesitant, anti-climactic follow through of relief. It isn't this switchover that's interesting (actually, it's pretty boring), but rather when the beginning and ending meet one another on the repeat; the stark difference resembles something as it suddenly springs back to life. This is good and all, but "Before Victory" has a dirty secret that is buried due to the tracklisting, one that's a lot like that cousin in your family you deny being related to when asked. That secret? That such a smooth and clean (well, a smoother and cleaner) sounding composition is the concluding half of the crooked and obtuse "Battle VS Vinsfeld." Unfair as it seems to brand a fanfare for the shortcomings of another track, it's unlikely that blissful ignorance you had prior to this knowledge can save it. Even with the title and the subtext giving it a running start, its connections and slight dependence on its context stop it from really becoming something. (6/10)

70) It's Clear.

When it comes to "It's Clear.," the one thing that's unclear is my opinion. At face value, I could leave the cracker-jack sense of victory that's presented to its own devices, but it's hardly that simple — something inexplicitly draws me in. The possible reasons for this are innumerable: could it be the fact that it tops off "Battle VS Root of Kuiper Belt," one of the game's more respectable battle themes, or how it looks in comparison to the one bottom-of-the-barrel offering that follows? Perhaps, but the most important reflection one can make is that while the track enjoys its borderline techno/electronica style immensely, it comes off as way too happy. What makes this so bizarre is how Naruke avoids shooting herself (directly) in the foot with this plan, the exuberant amount of cheerfulness sounding creepy in an unearthly, sarcastic manner — all of this relating back to battle theme. In the end, Naruke more or less grazes herself with this concept, the ruse working on surprising level but not well enough to give an otherwise cheap and lean composition a real sense of solidarity. (6/10)

71) Crime and Sacrifice

While compositional infractions are nothing new to the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack, there are more than a few tracks that are dealt dismal fates through no real fault of their own. Trivial as it may seem to defend such a minute piece of music like a fanfare, "Crime and Sacrifice" deserves a second look. The main point in such a line of reasoning is simple: despite the fact that its counterpart "Battle VS Edgeworth = Kuiper Belt" appears to do it no favors, it actually does, the misdirection of the battle theme being the fanfare's gain. While the eerie, spaceless melody makes one ponder what is beyond the physical, it can only dig the track out of the hole so far, even with the subtext being self-sufficient (the lone exception being the appropriateness of the title which was hinted at in the section on "Battle VS Edgeworth = Kuiper Belt.") Destined to become a cellar-dweller regardless of what spin is placed on it, at least give it some consideration before abandoning it from your listening rotation. (6/10)

72) A New Sunset

Much like "It's Clear." that came before it, "A New Sunset" is a track that has always been at the center of a personal debate. The source of this conflict is based more on the relationship it holds with another track rather than the craftsmanship of the piece itself. The hang up is even though the track is fair enough, the semi-electronic waves melding with the angelic choir and tolling bells, it doesn't feel like it has the same kind of energy as "Battle VS Lord Blazer." This nagging suspicion that it is cut from a different mould radiates from the pointed yet tasteful brass section of the battle theme and how it is at odds with the experience outlined above; it's no stake through the heart by any stretch of the imagination but after such an intense and epic battle something a bit more punchy — like "CONDITION GREEN!" only a million times better — would have just been the icing on the cake. (6/10)

73) WIN!!!

Are all those exclamation points necessary??? Talk about overkill, even the original Wild Arms knew that one was more than enough. Okay, so you've just defeated the most difficult foe the game could throw at you yet there is little reason to celebrate. Why? "WIN!!!" is completely and utterly worthless; the sarcastic level of cheer literally choking one to death, sounding like something you'd hear after winning a mini-game rather than surviving the crudely depicted onslaught presented in "Battle VS Ragu O' Ragula." This track mocks the player more than anything, reminding them that the usefulness of the game's most powerful accessory (that they've just won) is only a mere fraction of what it would be had it been acquirable before this battle. That's just what everybody needs, a crummy piece of music to commemorate the cold and bitter truth that the New Game + option wasn't implemented until the next game in the series. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Who said I was bitter!? (4/10)

74) Game Over

<Desperately rummages through pockets looking for a Gimel Coin... NOT!>

In most games, a well-balanced continue system extends a helping hand while keeping other factors like overall challenge in check. It's no fun getting that pink slip of death without being able to exact revenge on the person, place or thing that wronged you. What stops this from working in Wild Arms 2nd Ignition (and subsequently Wild Arms Advanced 3rd) is the lack of said challenge, which severely decreases the chances of anyone with a moderate level of RPG experience from hearing this piece. While no one wants to hear the game over music of any game on any kind of consistent basis, a good one makes biting the big one a little less annoying than usual. Along the lines of "Main Title," which opened the album, the trademark whistle of "Game Over" carries the main melody as the clunky notes of the piano complements the aura of exhaustion. Nothing to write home about, but at least it avoids being one of those in-your-face bastard-child game over themes that makes you want to scream. (7/10)

75) Atomic ARMS

Naruke is able to make up some serious points with the closing track "Atomic ARMS." Perhaps the most important thing that can be said about this track is that while this is technically a vocal theme, to classify it as such would ultimately be misleading. It has lyrics, no doubt, but uses a combination of "oh," "ooh" and "whoa" in place of actual words in an effort to transcend imposed limitations (e.g. language barriers.) Both this and The Gospelers (the vocal congregation given credit for the performance in the endgame credits) succeed beautifully; the stillness giving into a relaxed beat that reminds one that even those with the most passionate of convictions grow weary. This is an excellent track that is worthy of anyone's ears. (10/10)

Disc Two

1) Resistance Line — Full Chorus Version (Disc 2 Opening)

Out of all the words in the English language, "consistency" is a term commonly associated with Michiko Naruke and her work on the Wild Arms scores. While I personally believe that Naruke's consistency began to border on the edge of monotony in Advanced 3rd and beyond, this is hardly the case with 2nd Ignition — unless one is referring to consistent inconsistency. The opening of disc two does nothing to fight such a perception, opting to use the "Full Chorus Version" of "Resistance Line" (which would also be included on the Wild Arms Vocal Collection -alone the world- album in 2002) rather than the game edit. With the in-game tracks being as short as they are due to the absence of looping, why drop this four minute whopper here when it seems to prattle on in comparison? This is only compounded by the fact that I've grown to hate some of the instrumentation within this piece; that blaring horn in the beginning growing more and more distasteful as time goes on. However, such distain does little to ruin the other brass in the sorrowful solo and the climax. "Resistance Line" doesn't reach the lofty heights of "You Are Not Alone" or "Atomic ARMS" but (the game edit) is still worth your time, the final grade reflecting its brisker presentation. (7/10)

2) Toka and Ge

Liz and Ard are back! In this quirky, inquisitive character/dungeon theme, the ethnic style of the duo's battle theme is retired in an attempt to create a composition that wants to be taken seriously yet is anything but. It's this intentional, transparent guise that gives "Toka and Ge" it subdued, slap-stick sense of comic relief, the short duration and dependence on repetition being part of the blueprint. Thankfully, because of its length the soundtrack lets it repeat a few times, giving one a good — albeit limited — idea of how it works in the game. It goes without saying that having first-hand knowledge of the characters the track reflects can only enhance it, though it stands as a solid introduction to this particular compositional "build" that will offer some surprising results later. (7/10)

3) Launch!

Comical as such an observation may seem, "Launch!" has that generic "Action 5 News Weather Team Update" schmaltz written all over it. What's odd (scary rather) about this is how well it works in its given situation in the game. Like most elements discussed so far, Naruke's/2nd Ignition's relationship with "cheese" is split right down the middle — working on a surprising level when it succeeds and left to wither and die when it doesn't. Cut and dry as the consequences for success and failure have been thus far, there is something, an unknown quality that makes Naruke's failures in this particular area a lot less detrimental than they should be. If this sounds confusing and a bit convoluted, it may help you to know that "Launch!" is a failure, an observation stemming from its comparison with its forbearer "Ancient Shrine" from the first game. As much as it hurts when a composer outclasses themselves with a previous piece, Naruke is able to get away cleanly enough — somehow.... (6/10)

4) Boss Demo

The best way to describe the scene "Boss Demo" accompanies is to think about how bosses in Mega Man games are introduced after being selected from the stage select screen. With this image firmly in place, turn your adversary into a pitch black silhouette of itself (a la Hitchcock) with the obligatory piercing white eyes staring out from the darkness and place it all on a blood red background. Give the "fiend" an interesting title to go along with its name like "Boundless Glutton Monster," "Master of the Beginning and the End" or, my favorite "Limb-from-Limb Ripping Monster" for good measure. Finally, end this assortment of clichés with the grand daddy — make the image on the screen shatter like glass. It's so bad it's great. Why go through all the trouble of describing the boss demo screen in Wild Arms 2nd Ignition? As insignificant as this musical cue may appear to be on the soundtrack, the shuttering, scratching effect, sparse percussion, electronic bleeps/bloops and overly dramatic climax pulls the above together, capturing the idea of a boss enemy stalking the player's party with malicious intent. (7/10)

5) Soaked in Terror

"Soaked in Terror" marks the return of an arduous section of the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack: event/scene themes. Compared to the other games in the series and those that appeared near the beginning of disc one, Naruke takes more of an ambient route with these numbers, though to say they're completely ambient would only serve to misconstrue the definition of that style of music. In crafting compositions with a reserved amount of notes in the forefront and hum/hymn-like backdrops (think about "Scene of Reminiscence" from earlier) a hybrid of sorts is created — something between an ambient piece of music and the norm. Unfortunately, trouble isn't far behind, tracks such as these leaving one clamoring for some context to chew on. "Soaked in Terror" is ahead of the game in this respect however, the dark, drip-like percussion and dissipating electronic airs penetrating the depths of the silence quite nicely. (7/10)

6) Anastasia's Guidance

While it may seem rather inconsequential given the poor track layout, the fact that "Anastasia's Guidance" lies right next to "Soaked in Terror" is a blessing; their connection to one another all the more accessible because of it. Still, before taking in all this pomp, is there anything these tracks gain from it? Barely. Well, no... more like nothing. It's no surprise these tracks are similar from an architectural standpoint considering how like things are grouped together on the tracklist; it's the "elemental alignment" (light vs. dark) that drains away a lot of the initial promise once you realize the concept has already been done to death. This isn't the only thing keeping the positive benefits from this relationship out of reach. "Anastasia's Guidance" has a lot of extra baggage that "Soaked in Terror" doesn't in its inevitable comparison to "Dungeon: Anastasia's World," which most will likely consider the penultimate Anastasia based theme. (6/10)

7) Used by a User

There are so many possibilities for bad word play with a title this fine, yet in the interest of staying on topic I'll refrain from succumbing to such dark desires. Consider that a bullet dodged. Anyway, despite my fondness for the title and how it perfectly coincides with a handful of scenes in the game, it's the music we're here to discuss. This is bad news for "Used by a User" because as harsh as it sounds the title is the one and only thing the track has going for it; the music seeing fit to borrow bits and pieces from previous songs. That low-end semi-ambient hum? Check. Sparse instrumentation? Check. Notes in the forefront suspended and delayed to make it sound moody and creepy? Check. The combination of these elements hardly makes for an inventive composition by this point, presenting the more pressing question "does it contain any individual merit?" With the answer being painfully obvious, this is where the track loses it grip, even though it manages to eek out enough of a living for itself in context. (6/10)

8) High Pressure

Listening to "High Pressure," it's not hard to get the impression that delicate bonds could break loose at any minute. While the title may fool you into believing the unthinkable has already occurred, a stressful situation calling for a full-blown piece of danger/crisis music, nothing could be further from the truth. Naruke instead focuses on the tension preceding hell breaking loose and does it with such a reserved amount of emphasis that the worry developed throughout is more perplexing than fear mongering. Although this does change when the climax comes around, it avoids that "be all, end all" point of no return found in dramatic cut scenes. All of this allows the track to loop back to its default position where the beats can once again weave in and out in search of the climax without appearing segmented. Perhaps what is most striking about "High Pressure" is how far away it is from special, yet it feels so regardless, embodying a great cross-section of what Wild Arms 2nd Ignition is all about. (9/10)

9) Fate

As expected of a track that sees little action during gameplay, "Fate" can do little to avoid the guff that is typically thrown in the direction of filler tracks. Undeniable as this is, Naruke steers clear of some of the bigger, more loathsome stereotypes like that dark and overly dramatic "you're gonna die" stuff by focusing on some of the more mysterious aspects of destiny. Even so, there is no shortage of seriousness here, the only asides from it being when the horn challenges the unforeseen and the wind chime-like keys comment on its mystical nature before the piano comes crashing down. Aside from the short life expectancy, "Fate" offers a little more than a uniform, straight-shot composition, even though it's about as cheap and hollow as one. (6/10)

10) Agony

Rest assured, if you've played through Wild Arms 2nd Ignition and can't recall hearing "Agony" you are neither alone nor crazy. What's crazy is how subversive this track is when it does appear — one of several things that lead me to replay the game prior to writing any of this. Why does it fly so far under the radar? The lack of a true climax is perhaps the most obvious reason, something that allows it to meander on as long as it sees fit. Couple this with a peculiar sense of softness that dulls even the deepest notes of the acoustic guitar and you have a level a passiveness that exceeds that of "Separation" and its steady, dreamy rhythm. Finally, there's the partnership it has with "An Old Tale" and "The Wall Around My Heart," the latter being much more symbiotic than the former. The ability of "An Old Tale" to outgun "Agony" by encompassing a wide range of emotions severely compromises its impact and is proved by their interchangeability in the game. As dismal as the track becomes, its in good company with the similar, uninspired pieces peppered throughout 2004's Alter code:F score. (5/10)

11) Battle Robot Jack

With a lengthy duration and title that will most likely raise a few eyebrows, "Battle Robot Jack" is the kingpin of questions and queries when it comes to the music of Wild Arms 2nd Ignition. The reason for the track's length is justifiable — being a custom-sized piece for a non-FMV scene that proceeds without input from the player. With "Battle" in the title the door is left wide open for misinterpretation as a battle theme — while this is a scenario that could work under the right conditions, "Jack" seems to come out of left field even if it's a reference to the character from the first game. Thankfully, the word "Robot" refers to how the villains behind this "declaration of doom" want the inhabitants of Filgaia to act under their rule — strong and unified yet mindless and obedient. Unlike the majority of Odessa based themes thus far, "Battle Robot Jack" feels much less mindless because even though that regal, belittling sense of tyranny is present, the somber sections that follow the various climaxes (which unfortunately suffer from an ill-fated, high-pitched twangy sound that emulates a clock striking an hour) disallows it from droning on and proves the track can go where others won't. Welcome as it is to see the other side of the coin that is insanity (sadness) for once, its restricted usage in a track so large can only account for so much and amplifies its absence elsewhere. (7/10)

12) Wish Upon a Star ~ Broken Promise

Another track that is difficult to describe, "Wish Upon a Star ~ Broken Promise" is a piece that attempts to use "perceived silence" as a weapon. This is important because even though there aren't many moments of dead silence in the entire piece (the low-level hum employed throughout making sure of that), this doesn't register in your mind until the echoing notes of the piano and whistle flirt with it. This playing hard to get also applies to how far apart each performance is even though the instruments do overlap later in the game. Clever as all this is, there is a level of poignancy that this composition is incapable of achieving, even when it incorporates the main theme. This is only reinforced by how easy it would be for "Quiet Night" to take its place. (6/10)

13) Filgaia Summit

There are two scenarios that fill my head when listening to "Filgaia Summit." The first, a product of its action news-like quality, is a handful of television news journalists scurrying around in their effort to find enough stories to fill a twenty-four hour cycle. The other, as seen in the game, is where kings, queens and um... guild masters pound out policy in the name of diplomacy and national security. Questioning the vividness of such imagery and direction is the sound it shares with "Launch!," which asks if something so derivative can really offer a noteworthy experience given its short length and reliance on repetition. While some will undoubtedly say no without batting an eyelash, those that immerse themselves will find the hidden x-factor — be it the consistent beat of progress or the alternating weariness and hopefulness that goes along with it — that will make them realize that this is one summit that's not to be missed. (9/10)

14) An Old Tale

"An Old Tale" delivers another composition that is a dead ringer for the title attached to it. It's common knowledge by now that these type of tracks neither sink nor swim but end up somewhere in the middle, treading water in the shallow end of musical expression. Even though Naruke doesn't quite discover the riches of the deep, she is able to narrow the gap with this comforting yet haunting piece that can feel familiar to those unfamiliar with it. This however begs the question — is it worth sacrificing any kind of "real" individuality in sticking with a standard and avoiding the risk of disappointment that may be come with a more original composition? This is the gamble "An Old Tale" takes and wins, though the ideology behind it is as crude and ugly as they come. (7/10)

15) A Great Comeback

A companion piece to the brave resolve in "Operation ARMS' Theme," "A Great Comeback" proves a track can have connections while talking on a dimension all its own, namely being geared more towards the actions of a single individual than a collective group. Though their usage in the game goes a long way in forging such an opinion, it's the ticking clock motif — usually the providence of hurry/danger themes — that guides this composition with its reserved prominence. It's a refreshing take on a tired and true formula, even if the remaining instruments stick to their idealistic, heroic guns. Crazy as it may seem considering the forum in which is being discussed, Naruke's ability to differentiate two similar tracks by their subtext is beyond analytical and is commendable even if no mountains are moved in the process. (7/10)

16) From Beyond

A series that became a pair in Naruke's absence, "From Beyond," made it to its second incarnation (in Wild Arms Advanced 3rd) before being discontinued by her predecessors. When one considers the various nuances associated with the "Impatience to Anxiety" series, this may have been for the best. Still, this isn't saying much, as this is one interesting pair. Both pieces start small and end big, creating a sense of unity, but it's how they bridge the gap between these extremes that makes them different. The 2nd Ignition make goes from curious lament to selfless sacrifice in quick fashion, almost as if divine inspiration has struck the composer. Advanced 3rd's rendition is anything but quick, its use of repetition and build-up so meticulous nothing can deter it from its step-by-step evolution. Despite my general distaste towards the music from the third installment, I enjoy it's "From Beyond" more, but if you find yourself listening to one be sure to check out the other. (7/10)

17) Suite: I'm Back

The star witness in the case composer vs. overused main theme, "Suite: I'm Back" evokes gasps from the courthouse patrons even when the defendant has already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. The charges? They include shouldering a pivotal scene with an uninspired reprise (littering), attempting to pass a rather basic piano arrangement off as something special by dressing it up with a few meager perks (forgery) and pushing "You Are Not Alone" on the listener almost to the point of no return (battery.) This appears to make for an open and shut case, but like any trial you've seen aired on "Dateline," someone has a card to play in a last ditch effort to keep their head above the water or to bury the accused in a stone sarcophagus. Surprisingly, it's Naruke that throws that card, keeping herself out of jail with the next track. (6/10)

18) 2 Lovers Split Apart

Even though it's the hero that saves "You Are Not Alone" from the dark depths of disdain this late in the soundtrack, "2 Lovers Split Apart" can do nothing to ease the inner turmoil of "Suite: I'm Back" above; if anything, it only exacerbates it. This conflict grows out of the fact that while expressing opposing emotional extremes (hurt and happiness) there is a real similarity between the two. The deal breaker is that the acoustic guitar at the core of "2 Lovers Split Apart" gets more assistance from it's accompanying instrument — the Wild Arms whistle — than "Suite: I'm Back" could ever hope to receive from its segregated interlude. Really, it's uncanny how much the whistle distances the track's association with the original by first making the listener reflect on the "Field: Roaming" arrangement before tracking the theme to its source. Combine this with the agonizing, gut-wrenching sense of hurt that penetrates the soul and you know you got a winner. (8/10)

19) Marina's Miracle

Presenting a sound that's been used but not (really) abused, "Marina's Miracle" is a track that is nearly impossible to take in without reservation if you've heard "Into the Star Ocean" from the first game. While not exactly two peas in a pod, there is something that creates a sense of unity between the two even though the type of warmth expressed by each is characteristically different. Even its inferiority complex with its emotional counterpart "2 Lovers Split Apart" wasn't enough to sink it in 1999/2000 but this all changed when Naruke revisited "Into the Star Ocean" with 2004's Alter code:F. In giving that piece the overhaul she did — the key change being the inclusion of the harp — the buffer that separated these tracks was narrowed, diluting the identity of "Marina's Miracle" even further. What is left is a seemingly poignant yet thin composition that feels like its overstayed its welcome when it really hasn't. (6/10)

20) The Wall Around My Heart

Like a rickety table that's supported by two shoddy legs and one good one, "The Wall Around My Heart" is sturdier than a casual, passing glance would suggest. It's only upon closer inspection that one can see how the track's connection to "Agony" and "An Old Tale" as a follow-up (like a fanfare is to a battle theme) prevents it from buckling and rudely crashing to the earth. Without this knowledge, the table might as well lay on the ground in a formless mass; the music box-like notes that harken back to "Quiet Night" and the melody that pokes at the main theme without ever reciting it are rather incapable of supporting it alone. As much as it tries to reinvent itself as trustworthy after its core strength is discovered, your best bet is to not to place anything of great value upon its surprising level of resiliency since it may eventually let you down. Giving it a listen after "An Old Tale" to recreate the continuity from the game is highly suggested however. (7/10)

21) Eve of the Last Battle

Contrary to previous compositions like "High Pressure" and "Used by a User" that receive a small boost through their given titles, "Eve of the Last Battle" is a piece that encounters the opposite scenario; the preconceptions that come along with it spoil what's inside. While the interpretation of any context clues will undoubtedly vary from person to person, there is something (perhaps the usage of the word "eve" instead of "before") that gives away or at least hints at this being an acoustic number prior to listening. Regrettably, once you hear it and your suspicions have been proven true, it's hard to get past the fact it fell along the lines expected. The late introduction of the whistle does little to fight the feeling that these cards are played out when they're anything but, though the pleasant and surprising appearance of the maracas (or comparable instrument) counteracts it as much as it helps it out. A good track that can only become better if one is blissfully unaware of superior material or chooses to be completely indifferent towards its deficiencies "Eve of the Last Battle" faces a tough, uphill battle. (7/10)

22) The Center of Filgaia

The winner of the prestigious "most useless track on the soundtrack" award, "The Center of Filgaia" is more of a continuously repeating sound effect than a song. Used at the end of the game between the second to last and final dungeons, it's basically here for the sake of completeness, yet that idea was thrown out the window the minute they decided to omit or totally forgot about "File Viewer." If the title didn't clue you in, the "bowels of the earth" vibe emitted here is certainly no accident. (N/A)

23) Humanity's Fight

The second of the "big four," a group of one-shot scene themes that are reserved for the final stretch of the game, "Humanity's Fight" is the one particular entry whose limited appearance is regrettable. It doesn't trounce the others by any means, but what makes it so intriguing is that its strengths happen to be the weaknesses of its brethren. When it comes to employing the Wild Arms sound, there is a lot less friction here than there was in "Eve of the Last Battle." In addition, its ability to present a serious piece of music that is simultaneously fun is something the abstract, strict and devout "Apocalyptic Threat" cannot accomplish. Finally, the sense of unity here exceeds that found in "Bitter Return," although in its defense there's a reason behind that. It's rather comical that such a robust feeling of togetherness is contained in a track that uses a singular possessive form of a noun in its title. On second thought, it's about as funny as the vague Rockman Zero title reference in the first sentence of this paragraph that most definitely flew under the radar. Anyway, as hopelessly off base as we are now, give "Humanity's Fight" a chance — it might surprise you. (7/10)

24) Bitter Return

Don't allow yourself to be lead astray by the title. "Bitter Return" is a track that invests in a lot of things — a touch of lament and the relief that comes along with the end of a long journey — but doesn't deliver with anything that resembles true bitterness. In what has by now become an unflattering cliché, the answer lies with the game, yet to dismiss how the thick, opening passage of reprieve retreats and allows the warm feeling that personified "Anastasia's Guidance" to prevail in its place shouldn't be passed over so easily. Though the comparison above isn't the greatest complement one could give the piece, "Bitter Return" is able to succeed where "Anastasia's Guidance" doesn't, avoiding ill-terms with companion tracks like "Apocalyptic Threat" despite their contrast. Unfortunately, the relationship between the two is severely compromised in the game through no real fault of the composer. (7/10)

25) Apocalyptic Threat

Not "Apocalyptic Treat" as it's been hilariously miswritten elsewhere; "Apocalyptic Threat" is akin to "Battle Robot Jack" in that it's bound to raise a handful of questions. Unlike every other track thus far or yet to come (save for "You're Not Alone" and "Wild Arms 2 Medley") it is impossible to hear the entire piece within the confines of the game itself. Whether this was due to a miscommunication between Naruke and the scenario/event planner(s) or the result of a last minute change, it's regrettable because of it's connective contrast with "Bitter Return" and the glimpse that it gives at the more abstract style that would later be adopted for Wild Arms Advanced 3rd (think "The Lance of PALERIDER.") If you've found yourself at odds with the route the series' music took at this point (*me*) this will by no means change your opinion, but it does stand as an important footnote in Naruke's evolution as a composer. (6/10)

26) 8 Tracks Nonstop

Love that title. Really, I don't think they could have picked a more workmanlike name ("The Prologue Begins From Here" from Wild Arms Complete Tracks/Alter code:F is almost as bad but manages to pull ahead due to the comedic flair attached to it) that utterly fails to convey this is the game's ending suite. Beyond the first and final entries, the remaining pieces reflect on the six playable characters and how they've grown during the journey:

Track 1 of 8: Admiring the Spiral Tower... (0:00 ~ 0:20) 0:20

This short, twenty second opening doesn't account for much of what this hulking behemoth brings to the table, yet like most of the pieces that follow there does seem to be a conscious effort to reflect on previous material, even though some may laugh at the suggestion of "The Center of Filgaia" being actual material worth reprising. Still, "Admiring the Spiral Tower" is not built around its three/four second appearance (which is much more tasteful and discrete this time around) but rather gearing up for the following section where things kick into motion.

Track 2 of 8: Nostalgic Reunion (0:20 ~ 2:24) 2:04

The first character based section of this medley concentrates on Tim, so a reprise of "Tim and Colette" from the first disc brings everything into focus. Taking the music box motif from "Quiet Night" and hacking off the needless, tacky intro from the original, Naruke finally does the theme some justice as it just feels right. Again, a lot of this has to do with the two "loves stories" in the game's narrative and how the respective tunes representing each fail to encroach on one another, a necessary boarder that "Nostalgic Reunion" proves is upheld until the very end.

Track 3 of 8: Valeria Sibling's Reminiscence (2:24 ~ 4:56) 2:32

Although the title of this section points towards the Valeria siblings (very important and central characters despite their NPC status), this chapter musically tackles Kanon's (Solid's) views on the aftermath of the adventure. The music box feel that helped redefine "Tim and Colette" above continues here, adding a melancholy edge to "Field: Last Ignition" which already flirts with the idea of sorrow. As a standard rendition of a central theme there is nothing to swoon over here, but the emotional peaks are well choreographed to the action on screen as it manages to present contrasting sentiments, which is quite contrary to the majority of pieces incorporated in this medley.

Track 4 of 8: With One Heart (4:56 ~ 7:43) 2:47

The one major hiccup in the ending, "With One Heart" isn't undone by anything Naruke does herself, but falters due to the fact the game's hidden character is incapable of extending anything resembling emotional warmth towards another party member. Oh, the script/scenario writers try, but by the time you delve into the tragedy that made her so cold via flashback, there is little this piece (which seems to be original and not a reprise) can do to change your mind. It's a nice warm piece, but when the character is standing there, questioning the limits of humankind in an egocentric manner while bossing others around it feels like a mismatch.

Track 5 of 8: Renewing Filgaia (7:43 ~ 10:01) 2:18

Another entry that appears to be original, the soft yet rugged "Renewing Filgaia" feels very familiar as it comes awfully close to emulating various pieces yet never completely takes the bait. The streamlined combo of the guitar and horn doesn't ask much here, and like many tracks throughout Wild Arms 2nd Ignition things are kept simple as the composer attempts and succeeds at conveying that the big bruiser Brad is really a softy at heart.

Track 6 of 8: To Each Their Own Road (10:01 ~ 11:59) 1:58

Figuring out which theme was used as the base here is somewhat difficult, with key portions indirectly resembling "Castle" and "Quiet Night." However, given that "To Each Their Own Road" centers on Lilka, the field of choices narrows and the core of the arrangement becomes clear. Wisely avoiding "Separation" for reasons that can be observed in the ending and the weak-kneed "Magical Girl Entrance" Naruke uses "A Journey," arguably the strongest theme used in conjunction with the character as its base. Although it's not quite a 180 in terms of broadcasting the same message with an alternate texture (the solace and humbleness found here versus the happy-go-lucky feel of the original), it is comfortable and welcome take that surprisingly doesn't go with the music box default when it appears it might.

Track 7 of 8: Friends Forever (11:59 ~ 14:11) 2:12

Finishing off the body of individual character selections, Ashley's piece is a righteous reprise of the main theme that was coined in "Field: Roaming." There isn't too much else to say; it doesn't greatly deviate from that which it is based though it has two distinct phases which adds to its marketability. "Friends Forever" also flows into the next (final) segment much like how the introduction "Admiring the Spiral Tower..." coincided with "Nostalgic Reunion."

Track 8 of 8: Last Scene (14:11 ~ 16:00) 1:49

Being the music extension of "Friends Forever," it's ironic that this, the final piece of this obtuse opus is not the music for the game's final scene. "(8 Tracks Nonstop)" is more of the ending were the events that take place occur right after the final battle, whereas "Final Chapter 1-4 (4 Tracks Nonstop) is more like the epilogue that shows the characters at a later point in time. It's confusing, which is why they really should have made the titles for these respective tracks much clearer. "Last Scene" carries on the use of the "Field: Roaming" version of the main theme with a calming flute passage that gently lays this beast to rest.


In all honesty, "(8 Tracks Nonstop)" is a track I don't find myself visiting as often as I should. Fickle as it may seem, the sixteen minute playtime is off-putting though with the aid of a music editing program one can cut the track apart (for the most part there are sizable gaps of dead air between most of the sections) and listen to them at their leisure on a one-on-one basis where things start to click and seem more attractive. Acknowledging and accepting the various reprises also plays a big part, though some will understandably cringe upon hearing themes like "You Are Not Alone" and "1st/Last Ignition" for the umpteenth time. One of the more obscure relations that hurts "(8 Tracks Nonstop)" is it's similarity to the first half of Final Fantasy VI's "Ending Theme" that also gives each character their own individual musical tribute, though you don't really need to look at the work of another composer to discredit Naruke's work. Although it may be (ok... is) another unfair comparison, this ending suite has next to nothing on the one in the original game despite how personal each selection is to each character. It also stands a little taller because there was some foresight to separate the pieces into separate tracks (Alter code:F did away with this and created a eleven minute monster). Regardless, if you find yourself having trouble digesting this eight-in-one, try cutting it up as described above and listening to each individual part side by side with the originals. You might end up surprising yourself in the end. (7/10)

27) Zephyrs's (Disc 2 Ending)

A piece that overflows with an amazing amount of craftsmanship and detail, "Zephyrs's" took a real hit when SCEA decided to discard Kaori Asou's vocals from it's presentation at the end of the game outside it's port of origin. This isn't to say the instrumental aspect of the track is weak — far from it — but when taking the full-featured experience into account — how the vocals cross fade into the whistle at the end — it really feels like something is missing once you know they're meant to be there by design. The impact the "handoff" above has in the vast scheme of things is simply astounding despite it basic nature, and only serves to reinforce how this theme fits the game like a glove. However, when one considers that "Zephyrs's" predecessor "Promise to a Blue Sky" was completely restricted to its homeland and was replaced by the excellent medley that failed to make it onto 2006's Complete Tracks, the fact that this is the series' first universal ending theme is nothing short of appropriate. (8/10)

28) Final Chapter 1-4 (4 Tracks Nonstop)

It's rather surprising given the similar layout to "8 Tracks Nonstop" that the sections of "Final Chapter 1-4 (4 Tracks Nonstop)" lack titles. Then again, these sections are no longer character specific and focus on the same scene, so the need for individuality is drastically reduced. Looking at each part, this is something that becomes even clearer as the picture below takes shape.

Track 1 of 4: (0:00 ~ 0:43) 0:43

The first section of the epilogue suite is similar to the coordinating piece in "8 Tracks Nonstop" in that it pokes at previous compositions rather than fully embracing the ideas within them. There's a small jab at "The Center of Filgaia" a few seconds in that is more inconspicuous than before, while some of the more sullen moments from "1st IGNITION" are revisited prior to the track's next phase.

Track 2 of 4: (0:43 ~ 2:13) 1:30

Upon the conclusion of a slight pause, the lead acoustic guitar and wily whistle lead the listener into a lovely reprise of "Castle." This brings up what is perhaps the most crucial aspect of this particular suite: given the importance of the Valeria siblings in this scene, why choose "Castle" over "Valeria Chateau," a piece that is specifically geared to their place of residence and general demeanor? A lot of this has to do with the regal sound contained within "Castle" and how it coincides with the reprieve that is, in this case, borrowed from "Valeria Chateau" instead of the other way around. This respect for her own creation speaks volumes and is another instance where not doing something pays off huge dividends.

Track 3 of 4: (2:13 ~ 3:38) 1:25

Naruke's use of "Castle" continues in this third movement. The opening seems to emulate a half a dozen previous pieces, but never quite reiterates anything that came before it like the core does. Regardless, things are switched up when it comes to the reprise; despite the similar run times with the last part it is much shorter this time around and is more forthcoming with its regal flavor. Even with the small gap of dead air between parts two and three and the introduction of the latter, the dynamic created by the reprise of a reprise is surprising effective. If anything, it serves to emphasize the power found in the concluding segment.

Track 4 of 4: (3:38 ~ 7:13) 3:35

Naruke comes bearing some goldmine-like surprises with the music for the game's final scene. The opening after the mandatory pause once again feels like it could originate from a handful of different tunes. Still, as this is not the main attraction, it is of little consequence to what this track becomes: a non-FMV version of "Zephyrs's." Like other prominent themes and their additional takes, the change from a full-blown production to in-game synth has little impact on the piece itself even with the absence of lyrics. With such a solid rendition of this theme appearing this late in the game most would expect Naruke to call it a day, but she presses on. Going out on what many will consider a limb, the tail end of "Zephyrs's" breaks into the resurrected "Marina's Miracle," which doesn't turn out to be the dead end one would imagine. The synergy between these two compositions brings this misunderstood track new life, life that was strangled out of it by the shallow musical aspirations its previous usage placed on it. As bold of a statement as "Marina's Miracle" makes at this juncture, it still doesn't mark the end track, something that is left to a small improvisation of "Ist IGNITION/Last IGNITION."


Much like "(8 Tracks Nonstop)" it's somewhat hard to take in "Final Chapter 1-4 (4 Tracks Nonstop)" in all at once — at least initially. Breaking it down, recognizing and acknowledging the reprises/phases goes a long way towards being able to enjoy it. However, not long after you realize that some of the parts play off one another (especially parts two and three) you'll most likely find the track needs to be put back together if anything. Despite the best attempts of the quirky interludes to tear it apart, the wind chime-like notes throughout point out the unity that draws this piece together. Bottom line: listen, pull apart, identify, reassemble and then enjoy. (8/10)

29) The Night Sky

One of two themes that accompany the game's bonus FMVs, "The Night Sky" is dominated by the acoustic guitar and backed with light percussion. The track's light hearted yet stern, introspective quality is another attempt by the composer to tackle and dissect the emotional conflict that swells within Lilka throughout most of the game and does so applicably with or without lyrics. Both tracks run under a minute and made a repeat appearance on 2002's Wild Arms alone the world Vocal Collection, where they are undoubtedly more at home even though they face more but not exactly superior competition than they do here. (7/10)

30) Miracle

The second bonus vocal theme, "Miracle," relies solely on the piano as it explores the relationship between Anastasia and Lucied, the guardian of desire. Again, the presence/absence of the vocals is of little consequence to the message on display, but one has to wonder if the themes and videos they play in were/are an adequate reward for beating the game, let alone a constructive use of the capital that was available for the game's production. With certain elements of the game out of date when it debuted and the lack of an option like EX game to extend replay value, these bonuses feel like an ill-fated investment even though they try to add something special to the experience. (7/10)

31) Wild Arms 2 Medley

As the final track on the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack, the "Wild Arms 2 Medley" raises questions similar to those that surrounded "The Night Sky" and "Miracle" but are focused more on the presentation of the soundtrack than anything else. I'm not going to go into my usual "if this track wasn't here they could have looped the actual in-game tracks" rant because given the length of the two ending suites such an argument doesn't hold water. However, if they had the time and resources to create this additional piece it would have been better spent expending a third disc to do this soundtrack right. Since going back in time and scolding some big wigs about giving Naruke's music the respect it deserves isn't going to happen, let's see what some orchestration can do to this cross section of 2nd Ignition tunes:

Track 1 of 7: Opening ~ Preparation for Departure (0:00 ~ 2:16) 2:16

Opening the "Wild Arms 2 Medley" is "Opening," better known as "Main Title." Definitely more suited to kick off this medley than the album itself, this change of scenery does the piece a lot of good. Still, its newfound resiliency is mostly due to "Preparation for Departure" adopting it as a musical prefix. A gutsy choice considering it's not at the forefront of the vast body of event themes; this version of "Going Out" maintains that which the original was built despite the sound upgrade. There is nothing silly to foreshadow this time around, but the reasoning behind its selection becomes apparent soon enough.

Track 2 of 7: Battle Force ~ Reminiscence (2:16 ~ 3:57) 1:41

The handoff from "Preparation for Departure" to "Battle Force" illustrates the main practice that propels this medley forward, namely alternating between calm, relaxing numbers and big, dramatic ones. This simple premise is bolstered by the fact it's the only place on the soundtrack where an event/area theme is followed by a battle theme. The hitch is when you orchestrate a big and bulky number like "Battle Force" it only becomes bigger and bulkier and comes off stiff. The performance gets a pass however, mainly due to an approaching blemish and transquillo's unimpressive remix of the piece on the -rocking heart- arrange. Things cool down quickly when "(Scene of) Reminiscence" arrives on the scene, though it's hard to ignore the volume problem from the first part that still persists here. Being one of the tracks where Naruke employed a low level, hum-like back drop, this particular element of the piece is almost nonexistent here. The piece still works as intended despite the illusion of dead air between the guitar's notes, but with it representing the medley's lowest lows and "Battle Force" demonstrating some of the highest highs when it comes to overall volume its not hard to believe a little more balance would have been very beneficial to the overall experience.

Track 3 of 7: Battle vs Mid-boss (3:57 ~ 4:35) 0:38

Back to the loud and bombastic, it's nice to see another battle theme get some airtime in this monster of a medley. Unfortunately, it just had to be "Battle VS Mid-Boss." The orchestration is able to accommodate the piece better than the in-game synth was, but this isn't saying much. It's still a very unimpressive piece that undoubtedly makes one yearn for something like "Blood, Tears, and the Dried-up Wasteland" from Advanced 3rd where Naruke was finally able to concoct a normal boss theme of note. Last but not least, the repetitious peaks in instrumentation at the end try a pull a "Spiral Tower" in their attempt to but their stamp of quality on the track; a ploy that is once again dead on arrival. The plus side? It's only thirty-eight seconds long.

Track 4 of 7: Field: Roaming (4:35 ~ 7:10) 2:35

Dwarfing most of the other tracks within this medley in size, there's little doubt that "Field: Roaming" deserves its place, snuggly secured amongst all the action seen here. The orchestration changes the identity of the piece slightly, being much more insightful and reflective than the original when it comes to the aura of warmth. The hollow, wamba-like percussion tries its best to remind the listener of the fun to be had with this tune, but since the brass section doesn't strangle the life out of the piece to begin with its assistance isn't as crucial as it would prefer until the very end. Regardless, a befitting centerpiece, "Field: Roaming" arguably gains more from its additional flairs here than anything that comes before or after it.

Track 5 of 7: A Momentary Respite (7:10 ~ 8:36) 1:26

Even though it breaks up the soft/heavy/soft/heavy pattern that has kept the medley on its toes thus far, "A Momentary Respite" helps form the mellow nugget within the center of this beast. As risky as it may seem to ditch one strategy to adopt another, rest assured the initial one is far from abandoned. Perhaps what is most the important aspect is the continued re-exploration of event/scene themes, ones that flew under the radar in the original sound section. It's true that none of the faults of "Going Out," "Scene of Reminiscence" or the current selection are resolved with a different sound source under their belt but such problems ultimately feel a little less detrimental due to the bond they share. As far as perks go for this track individually, the quaint deviation from the original where the acoustic guitar drops back near the end allows for an even more subdued entrance into the segment.

Track 6 of 7: Town Where the West Wind Blows (8:36 ~ 9:57) 1:21

Town Where the West Wind Blows" is another instance where the texture of the original is not necessarily lost but altered to the point that it warrants special attention. With the charming, toy-box-like nature of the initial synth toned down, it's not hard to imagine how many ways such a reworking could go awry. Thankfully, it's handled with enough grace and tact that the majestic feel still comes off as fun. It also calls out how much of a connection there is between it, the aforementioned "Field: Roaming," and the piano-biased -feeling wind- rendition "The One I Want to See Most."

Track 7 of 7: Formal Ceremony ~ 1st IGNITION (9:57 ~ 13:29) 3:32

Like waking a sleeping beast, the bombastic side of the medley returns with a vengeance. One has to wonder how much bite "Formal Ceremony" can possibly muster when the piece was more or less built for this sound to begin with. Nothing here changes the fact the cheap, clichéd feel from before retains its hold on the piece, and the bold improvisation before the transition into "1st IGNITION" hardly disproves such a view. Yet, as tired as the following statement has become, there is a plan (connection) at work here, one that "1st IGNITION" puts the finishing touches on. Unfortunately, as much power as the orchestration has provided some of the other compositions, the same cannot be said with the closing movement. The lack of forward drive becomes obvious when the acoustic guitar, a vital element in the in-game original, is cast aside before it even gets a chance to shine. Combine this with the once proud and pivotal conclusion coming off much weaker than before and it's clear while the medley is a worthy addition to the soundtrack, it doesn't exactly finish it off on the strongest note, even when it highlights one of the score's boldest moments.


A pleasant addition to the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Soundtrack, the "Wild Arms 2 Medley" is all about connections: connections in usage, connections formed by patterns, even connections found through differences and deficiencies. Intriguing as they may be, what about connection between these tracks that's been alluded to but not yet divulged? A musical scheme that may have been more noticeable had the tracks been placed in the order they appear in the game when it comes to the tracklisting, all the pieces that form this tribute appear within the first few hours of the game. The fact that "Main Title" kicks things off and "Formal Ceremony/1st IGNITION" brings things to a close is the farthest thing from a coincidence. However, another interesting aspect is the decision of the arranger to pass on the multitude of Lilka related tracks that call this particular stretch of the game home. Such omissions are probably an attempt to maintain a wide scope of focus and avoid concentrating on individual characters. Taking in the obvious effort and detail that went into this bonus material, the various pitfalls and vices found throughout only stand to reiterate this is no magical band-aid for all the shortcuts the publisher took with the soundtrack's feature presentation. (7/10)


Perhaps more than any other soundtrack that comes to mind, the quality of the material within the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack is divided upon itself. This is something that becomes even more apparent when one starts looking at each type of track individually. Lumping all the dungeon, battle, etc. themes together promotes this damaging train of thought even further. Town themes take the gold for being as far away from the 50/50 standard as possible. Dungeon themes manage to achieve a favorable 60/40 split with some extremely strong pieces drowning out some of the more mundane byproducts created out of Naruke's various vices. Battle themes face the opposite scenario, a small fraction being able to escape the rusty chains, but overall are unable to rescue that particular section of music completely. Walking the most precarious line are the event themes, bogging down the start of the first disc and making the concluding disc extremely dry despite the overall consistency the scores above reflect.

Oddly enough, it's this lack of consistency that may make 2nd Ignition more attractive than its predecessor. While many are bound to disagree, Advanced 3rd's consistency comes at a price, offering few tracks that are clear-cut winners and leaving a substantial amount material to sort through and judge. On the other hand, it's easier to tell the good from the bad and the ugly when it comes to 2nd Ignition. As a result, those that can be pleased with individual tracks rather than the entire body of work crafted for a game will have little problem taking the good, acknowledging the bad and the impact it has on that which is attractive and leave it at that. Listeners who take their soundtrack in as a single living entity will most likely find the terrain too unforgiving and leave this particular chapter of Wild Arms music to the ages. There is little to no science behind such a statement but there is little doubt that these scores are aimed at accomplishing different feats even though their intentions are the same.

In the end, the Wild Arms 2nd Ignition Original Soundtrack is a score that gives according to how much the listener is willing to give in return. Still widely available from several reliable retailers years after its release, don't skip out on what it has to offer based solely on the glitz and glam it's predecessors and successors hold — or appear to hold — over it for a good, in depth listen may yield quite a few diamonds.

Overall Score: 7/10