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Genso Suikoden II Original Game Soundtrack :: Review by Mac_Tear

Genso Suikoden II Original Game Soundtrack Album Title: Genso Suikoden II Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-7931/4
Release Date: December 23, 1998
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Three years after the great success of the first game, Konami continued the story the of the 108 Stars of Destiny with Suikoden II, one of the most beloved installments from the series and the best Suikoden title so far, in my opinion and many others. Miki Higashino returned as the main composer this time; she left Tappy Iwase and the others behind, though a few reprises remind us of their compositions. If you played the game, you'll get a feeling of nostalgia and reminiscence of the scenery and gameplay with each single track, which is a good sign. Sadly Higashino left Konami 2002 and never composed again for the series, which is a big shame, because together with its ethnic and empathetic music, the Suikoden games reached a high status in the hearts of the gamers and critics. But luckily some of her contributions reached traditional statues and were arranged in later followed games, as well as on several arranged albums, so some of her compositions have become immortalised.


"Opening" makes a great appearance as introduction to the soundtrack. The performance by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus is superb and the composition itself is also excellent. From dramatic choir passages, a sad interlude, or the wonderful march rendition of the main theme, everything is done right here. I really recommend this track. Continuing with Disc One, "Enemy Attack" serves as an hectic and Asian-inspired crisis theme with catchy arpeggios and fits very well into the first scene. The game's main battle theme "The Will" is a phenomenal combination of catchy melodies, electronic beats, and orchestral timpani. It's full of power, heroism and pushes the gamer forward. The second major theme "Reminiscence" is a beautiful piano piece with a magical melody and haunting vocals later on. Definitely one of the best creations in the series so far.

"Those Who Work Must Eat" serves as an area theme and fits extremely well. The light medieval atmosphere is featured in a few tracks from this score. The first arrangement of Suikoden II's main theme comes in form of "The Great Street Performers" with an ethnic-inspired rendition perfectly fitting for a gypsy performance. "Beautiful Morning" is a happy piece with nice melodies and instrumentation and "Homesickness" is also a simple but beautiful piece with an nice arrangement. But of course there are also plenty of arrangements from the first Suikoden, such as the harmonious trademarks "Name Entry" and "Results", the ambient dungeon theme "Labyrinth, Penpe 2", the main theme arrangement "Rescue", and the "Touching Theme" arrangement "Their Star". The first disc closes in a harmonious way with an acoustic arrangement of "Reminiscence".

"Amid the Silence" opens the second disc nicely with a smooth and low-key arrangement. The flute and male vocals are absolutely beautiful to listen to. The town theme "Let's Climb That Hill" features a renaissance atmosphere with nice instrumentation, almost like an medieval dance, while "If You Listen Carefully" and "Her Sigh" are more melancholy and serene themes with lush strings and woodwinds. The second especially is absolutely beautiful. "Ah, Beautiful Dancer" and "Nahala Yam Koong" are two ethnic-based town themes with oriental atmosphere and nice percussion. "Dandy Richmond" is a quircky jazz theme for the great detective with an amazing arrangement by Atsushi Sato. The headquarter theme for the first half of the story, "Time to Relax", is also a beautiful composition. It's again minimal, but absolutely fitting and almost magical.

Two Suikoden classics are also on this disc, namely "Narcy's Theme Again" with it's typical French style and clumsy atmosphere and "Moonlit Night Theme" with a stunning arrangement full of emotion and memories. The Vampire Neclord from the first game is also back and with him "Passacaglia with Chorus", a short but gorgeous interlude of the Suikoden's "Passacaglia" performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus. It's a perfect introduction to his Castlevania-inspired theme "The Fugue 'Praise to be My Master'", a pure gothic organ arrangement with several sections towards the end.Like the first disc this ends with a rendition of "Reminiscence". This time it's more emotional and ethnic and definitely constitutes one of the best arrangements of this theme so far.

The third disc is the one with the most tracks, but also the weakest of the set in my opinion, because it contains lots of mini game and filler tracks, which are not really worth of listening. Some notable exceptions of the mini game themes are "Dancing with Karen", a short but excellent arranged theme by Atsushi Sato (*swing your hips, babe*) and "Theme of Temptation (Asian Dub Mix)", a cool ethnic-inspired rendition of Suikoden's "Theme of Perversion". Also enjoyable are "Bright Curtains, the Cooking Duel" together with "One-Minute Showdown". While the first is a glorious march of Suikoden's "Into a World of Illusions" and Suikoden II's "The Will", the second is a quircky tune full of fun and movement. It's amazing how such an fitting theme can be created in just one minute.

One of the earliest good themes on the third disc is "Two Rivers", a haunting and melodious theme again with a beautiful medieval instrumentation and feeling. "A Bustling Town" is the second headquarter theme and a more lively rendition of the "Time to Relax". It's really fun to lisen to and perfectly fitting once again. "Imprisoned Town" and "Freedom Again" are two of the most beautiful town themes on this soundtrack with excellent medieval instrumentation and gentle melodies. The second world map theme "Even Farther" is a glorious march, which I like better than the first theme. Also "Young Heroes" features a stunning atmosphere of heroism, even if it's quite simple and short, but the brass and strings work excellent here. The ANNELI Band also performs three pieces here, namely "Orrizonte", "Due Fiumi (Two Rivers)" and "La mia tristezza". All are quite enjoyable, but there definitely exists better arrangements of these themes, for example on the Vocal Collections.

"A Song in Praise of Peace" gives up a nice opener to the last disc with a sweet arrangement of Suikoden's "Into a World of Illusions". Even the beloved Gregminister theme and battle theme from Suikoden are back in new and fresh arrangements. Although I prefer the original versions, because of the better sound quality, these arrangements are done nicely and serve as a recollection to the fantastic first game. "The Hidden Village of the Ninja" is a lyrical composition with minimal style, but is enormously effective in the context of the game. "Withered Earth" is one of the top tracks from the whole score and one of the best creations Miki Higashino has ever made. The Spanish-inspired theme features a fantastic arrangement of catchy melodies and harmonies, full of dramatic and atmosphere.

But now let's finally come to the phenomenal battle themes from the last disc. We're starting with "The Chase", one of the most popular themes from the score, especially when you played the game. The piece is simply packed with emotions, power, and drama. I love the developement from the foreboding start to the furious part around the one minute mark, where the brass performs its great climax. "Gothic Neclord" receives a catchy arrangement, but also absolutely fits into the context of the game. "The Time of Confrontation", this instalment's duel music, is another furious and slow developing theme. It builds up the tension every new minute the track is played. At first it might sound a bit monotonous, but listen to the end. Finally, the last battle theme "Silver Battle" is an action-packed theme with dramatic developement. Not the most original theme, but absolutely worthy of listening.

The soundtrack ends with some really nice tracks. The first is "Chant", a Gregorian hymn with beautiful lyrics. It was an amazing idea to use such a track inside a video game. "We Will Always Be", the ending march, is a grand medley of several themes from Suikoden and Suikoden II. Encompassing a playtime of 12 minutes, it's the longest of all themes and definitely one of the best ending themes in the series. The ending theme "La passione commuove la storia" is a heart-warming song with enormous beautiful lyrics and performance. From the light female singer at the beginning to the glorious choir near the end, this song is packed with emotions and describes the love for music and Suikoden in a fantastic way. But it's also an sad but noble farewell of Miki Higashino to the main Suikoden series. We'll miss you definitely.


So what can I say more about this soundtrack? It's epic, emotional, and packed with memories about the game. Pieces like "Opening" (including the beautiful "Theme of Genso Suikoden II"), "Reminiscence", Withered Earth", "The Chase", "Gothic Neclord", or "La passione commuove la storia" are some of many tracks with have reached cult status and are definitely worthy of listening. If you have not yet, then do so now. A lot of the pieces and arrangements are simple, but that is the secret about this score. It's not about overblown orchestral instrumentation which other composers use. Instead it provides simple arrangements with strong and memorable melodies. That's why there is almost no bad track at all with the exception of the mini game, filler tracks, and sound clips, but even they are listenable. If you can tolerate this, you can enjoy all of these beautiful compositions. I recommend every game music fan to listen to this score and play the game as well. Simply a masterpiece.

Overall Score: 9/10