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Ace Combat 2 Original Sound Invitation :: Review by Chris

Ace Combat 2 Original Sound Invitation Album Title: Ace Combat 2 Original Sound Invitation
Record Label: Sony Computer Entertainment
Catalog No.: SCEG-765
Release Date: December 20, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Released in 1997 for the PlayStation, Ace Combat 2 was a crucial game in the flight simulator series' history — the first game specifically developed for consoles rather than arcades. The four composers of the score created a largely impressive soundtrack featuring atmospheric soundscapes, ambitious fusions, and breathtaking guitar solos. Whereas some tracks referenced the funk-based approach of the Air Combat and Air Combat 22 scores, others took a more mature direction reminiscent of the series' music today. Unfortunately, it wasn't until 2010 that the title finally received a full soundtrack release, and before then only a promotional album was available featuring reworked versions of three subsidiary themes from the soundtrack. Let's take a closer look at the offerings...


For better or worse, the selections featured on Ace Combat 2 Original Sound Invitation largely focus on the cheesier aspects of the original score. Hiroshi Okubo's "Invitation to Ace Combat 2" and Nobuhide Isayama's "Night Butterfly", in particular, are reminiscent of the older scores for the series with their focus on rocking rhythm guitar riffs. Kohta Takahashi interprets some catchy melodies and offers elaborate improvisation on top from a semi-acoustic funk guitar lead. The improvisation is much more elaborate than the original versions, despite few changes otherwise, though the bass riffs become somewhat laboured during their five minute playtimes.

These approach of these two tracks will divide listeners. On the one hand, the bass riffs and guitar improvisations are bound to thrust listeners into action and offer plenty of catchy riffs to enjoy. Particular highlights include the melody from the 0:55 mark of "Invitation..." and the warm acoustic solo from 1:20 on "Night Butterfly". That said, the final performances sound like they belong in the 1980s and won't come across as cool as intended for those used to listening to rock movements in the 1980s. A display of more progressive tracks from the original game score, such as "El Dorado" or even "Fire Away", may have made a more inspiring statement for consumers in Japan.

At least Tetsukazu Nakanishi offers a prelude to the style he would develop in Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere with "A.C. Revolution". After a progressive funk introduction, he transitions into a tense section dominated by bubbling electronic synth lines and infiltration voice-overs similar to those in Internal Section. The electronic forces gradually predominate over the funk forces and the result is quite enpowering. While the core ideas are good, they're all the more enhanced with the extensive development sections that occur from the 2:30 mark. The eventual coda leaves the album on a warm note with piano backing while the electric guitar solos help to bring the score with stylistic nods to the two preceding tracks.


The Ace Combat 2 Original Sound Invitation focuses on a small part of the much more expansive Ace Combat 2 Original Soundtrack. Some will appreciate the choice to offer some of the more cheesy tracks from the original score here, whereas others would have preferred more progressive offerings. Either way, this album has been finally made redundant in 2010 by the release of a full soundtrack for the game with Ace Combat: Joint Assault and among the lesser bonuses of the second disc are the three tracks featured here. Namco's initial strategy for commemorating Ace Combat 2 was certainly dubious, but thankfully they've at last made up for it.

Overall Score: 5/10