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Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collection :: Review by Jillian

Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collection Album Title: Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collection
Record Label: Avex
Catalog No.: AVCD-17444 (Copy Protected)
Release Date: March 31, 2004
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Many fans were skeptical of the ability to convey awesomeness in the Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collections album, and this was due to the poor, electronica orientated Final Fantasy X-2 Original Soundtrack. I kept an open mind; either way, had I been skeptical or not, I would have ended up loving the Piano Collections, just like everyone else. This album literally stunned piano fans. Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collections is my favorite Piano Collections album to date, filled with emotional and brilliant arrangements, fantastic performances, and a great track order that is able to convey Yuna's sadness, the quirkiness of new Spira, and the beauty of love and hope.

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Wind Crest ~The Three Trails~

"Wind Crest ~The Three Trails~," which wasn't featured in the Original Soundtrack, was unfamiliar to me, so I could neither dissent nor comply with the tracks appearance on the soundtrack. I have since listened to the original, and I love this track! The minor key and flowing arpeggios add to the melancholy and mysterious feel of the track, a track that reflects the underlying tone of the game. Enchantingly engimatic and quite like a musical prologue, the track begins the musical story of the soundtrack: the uncertainty of Yuna's quest, the unfamiliar enemies, and the desire to simply hold on to love. The track picks up its tempo eventually, but maintains the mystical, yearning tone throughout. (10/10)

2) Yuna's Ballad

One is almost never satisfied with piano Original Soundtrack tracks featured on the Piano Collections album. Therefore, I wasn't expecting anything too fantastic with this track; perhaps just a more gracious version of an already-pretty piano score. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the arrangement of this track. There are plenty of arranged harmonies for people like me to devour, and plenty of Original Soundtrack-loyalty for others to enjoy as well. It outstrips the original in its ability to portray Yuna's heartache and wanting; the perfect insight into the main character's mind. A beautiful, bittersweet, almost jazzy rendition of the original. Music is supposed to touch the heart, which is certainly what this track does. (9/10)

3) Paine's Theme

I was mortified to discover that one of the girls' themes was portrayed in piano style, considering how abysmal and unpopular all three girls' themes were in the Original Soundtrack. However, perhaps to shine some justice onto "Paine's Theme," Matsueda and Eguchi pitched the idea to have it on the album. It's so varied from its original that it's difficult to pick out the melody. The style doesn't follow any particular one, although it's more jazzy than anything else. The first couple of times I listened to this track, I wasn't impressed; I found it loose and lacking a purpose. However, over time, you will come to realize that it is so much better than the original in portraying Paine's mysterious personality. The airy melody, followed by forceful chords, certainly accents Paine's actions and words. In the end, it'll grow on you. (8/10)

4) Creature Create

The 7/4 time signature and jazz style will prove to be a difficult score to master; however, it will be even more difficult to prove the reason why anyone would chose to master this track when the album is shining with other fantastic treasures. The track is all over the place, both melodically and harmonically. However, oddly enough, the messy flamboyant style of this score is what makes it weirdly appealing. The overly repeated harmony will eventually take its toll on your ears, though. The first time you'll listen to this piece, you'll be thinking, "What?" But I've listened to this track x amount of times, and once I decided to get over the weirdness and craziness of this track, I liked it a little bit more. Key word: little bit. (5/10)

5) Calm Lands

The immense green fields known as the Calm Lands were Final Fantasy X's answer to lack of a world map. I cried every time I discovered I had to travel from one end to the other. The Calm Lands theme from Final Fantasy X (titled "Yuna's Determination") was more enjoyable than Final Fantasy X-2's version; however it is by no means a poor composition. It's pretty subtle in its arrangement in that it never strays very far from the original (and that may be somewhat assuring after listening to "Creature Creation") and has a light, carefree aura about it. While the mellow feel of the "Calm Lands" is enjoyable, it's not altogether unforgettable, especially when compared to some of the truly amazing works on this album. It does, however, portray the Calm Lands, and Spira itself, in the new light that has basked the once terror-ridden world: the carefree, careless light, where people can now enjoy life instead of hiding in fear from Sin. It's forgettable but enjoyable. (8/10)

6) Zanarkand Ruins

The Original Soundtrack version was new age, and it captured the mysteriousness of Zanarkand with a futuristic vibe; Matsueda and Eguchi take that futuristic track, keep the new age-ness, and add underlying tones of jazz, here! It sounds perfect, too, if you're looking for a melancholy, enigmatic, thinly harmonized track as well. However, going past the subtleness and thinness of the harmony, it's easy to hear the musical genius behind the piece. It is that very simplicity that makes this piece so alluring. This is one piece that is supposed to be pastel and delicate. Overall, it's not my particular style of piano arrangement, but still, it's good. (8/10)

7) Akagi Party

"Akagi Party" wasn't particularly well known in the Original Soundtrack, so the deviance from the original melody will have those unfamiliar with the track, wondering what it was used for in the game. One doesn't have to go back and remember the original to enjoy the arrangement of it, simply because "Akagi Party" is stunning! It starts quietly but enticingly, too, with a seeming want of dragging you further in. The kind of laid back part that follows the opening has a somewhat country, ragtime feel to it. The powerful, bombastic chords that follow accelerate the track's fantastic arrangement, and add to its power as the track progresses and attains its climax. Sit back and be amazed at the emotion and depth that a piano arrangement can bring to you. Piano virtuosi, prepared to be floored! (10/10)

8) "Nightmare of a Cave"

Another piano track in the Original Soundtrack, "Nightmare in the Cave" is a gothic and evil track. There's not much to say about this track, just that it's a more difficult version of what is featured in the Original Soundtrack. Those runs will have you up all night, especially if you want to play them perfectly! The briefness of this piece makes it somewhat safe: it can't continue on to be the disappointment that "...Treno" from Final Fantasy IX Piano Collections was; instead, it focuses on adding virtuosity and power in its less-than-one-minute track time to leave you chilled to the bone. (8/10)

9) Demise

This is another brilliant battle arrangement. "Demise" is one of my favorite battle tracks of all time, and the Piano Collections arrangement upholds its majesty. While the melody is right on key with its original, the two tracks differ greatly in their presentation, but both portray their respective presentation excellently. In the original, the upbeat techno-ish sound emphasized the rushing desire to finish the game and kick Shuyin into kingdom come. The piano version has a much more mysterious, subtle, and mystical feel to it, emphasizing the alien, cryptic Farplane. In the piano version, there is a continual crescendo and decrescendo that make the score all the more enticing and invigorating. The echoing chords and arpeggios create such quietly dramatic tension that "Demise" is possibly the most telling of all of the arrangements of the track. The odd but delicious harmony proves difficult to master, but it'd most definitely be worth it. A fantastic track, right up there with "Akagi Party" and "Epilogue ~The Reunion." (10/10)

10) 1000 Words

A flowing and melancholy track, "1000 Words" is another gem to the album. Although somewhat heavier than you may expect, "1000 Words" is an emotional track that I feared would be too similar to its piano version on the Original Soundtrack. The powerful chords and mystical arpeggios add to the track's dramatic power and eventually powerful ending. As for piano versions of primary tracks, "1000 Words" pales "Eyes on Me," "Melodies of Life," and "Suteki da Ne." It's that good. (10/10)

11) Epilogue ~Reunion~

If you thought I raved about "Demise" and "Akagi Party," you haven't seen anything yet until you've witnessed my absolute amazement at "Epilogue ~The Reunion." I was disappointed to find that Besaid wasn't on the track list, but I needn't have wasted the emotion, for "Epilogue" is an arrangement of Besaid itself! The beautiful simplicity adds to the powerful emotion that is conveyed throughout the use of crescendos and decrescendos. The flowing melody and somewhat pushing harmony balance together in such a beautiful, liquid-like way that you envision Yuna and Tidus running into each other's arms. The powerful, louder ending, which breaks away from the soothing quietness of the piece, is followed again by a brief section of quiet, and then it reaches the epitome of emotion with the ringing chords at the end. Simply beautiful. (10/10)

12) Eternity ~Memory of the Lightwaves~

The album ends with yet another Original Soundtrack piano track. "Eternity" ends the Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collections with the same note it began on — one of a tantalizing mystery, and an enigmatic, melancholy story. Although as a whole, it is arranged well, it's a bit too long. The harmony consists mainly of arpeggios, which indeed fit with the sad and flowing tone of the track. Unfortunately for this track, it is just another smooth, sorrow-tinged arrangement. However, like the Original Soundtrack version, it conveys the underlying tone of Final Fantasy X-2, and it is dramatic, picking up its tempo in the second half of the track. The difficulty picks up as the track progresses, and your fingers will have a grand old time flying across those ivory keys. The mighty arpeggios that occur just before the end of the track change into a slower, less impressive string of eighth and sixteenth notes, which although hardly what one would call a dramatic ending, create a quiet, cryptic atmosphere. (9/10)


Final Fantasy X-2 Piano Collections exceeded just about everyone's expectations. It is currently my favorite Piano Collections album, outsmarting each one to date. The musical story is apparent by the track list, and the overall jazzy, wistful tone very much represents the true Final Fantasy X-2 story. This album features some of the most fantastically arranged pieces of the entire Piano Collections series; a rare feat from one single album, a soundtrack that was, ironically enough, rather unpopular. This album is brilliance.

Overall Score: 10/10