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Soul Calibur II Original Soundtrack (Japan) :: Review by Pandemonium

Soul Calibur II Original Soundtrack (Japan) Album Title: Soul Calibur II Original Soundtrack (Japan)
Record Label: DigiCube
Catalog No.: SSCX-10086/7
Release Date: March 26, 2003
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Soul Calibur II had big shoes to fill from its critically acclaimed predecessor Soul Calibur. However both the game and the soundtrack fulfilled the high expectations placed upon them. Junichi Nakatsuru and Yoshihito Yano returned to compose the sequel and are joined by Asuka Sakai (Ridge Racer Type 4, Katamari Damacy), Rio Hamamoto (Tekken Tag Tournament, Beautiful Katamari Damacy), Ryuchi Takada (Ace Combat 6, We Love Katamari), and guest Junichi Takagi. The bulk of the compositions are from Nakatsuru with a little help from Yano, Sakai, and Hamamoto whereas Takada and Takagi only contribute one track each to the soundtrack. The soundtrack maintains the style of the original but exploits the higher sound quality to full effect in order to obtain a more realistic and potent orchestral sound.


Nakatsuru is the main contributor to the soundtrack yet manages to maintain consistency in the quality of his pieces throughout. After a bit of a wobbly start with the slightly dull "History Unfolds", he produces a string of high quality tracks such as "Unwavering Resolve". The famous "Hubris" borrows from Soul Calibur's "Bloom and Harvest", although is at a slower pace. The epic "Maze of the Blade" slowly ups the tempo, adds new instruments, and introduces new motives to the mix as the track spirals towards its conclusion. It is definitely the highlight of the soundtrack and makes a welcome change to the underdeveloped tracks that plagued the Soul Calibur soundtrack. here is also a long version of "Path of Destiny" featuring essentially the same melody as "Going to Where the Wind Blows" from Soul Calibur. However, it is given more time to build intensity and grandeur as the heroic soars in its opulent orchestration, the improved sound quality also makes the track noticeably more enjoyable.

Yano only contributes four tracks this time around and they are of mixed quality. The stand out track is "Brave Sword, Braver Soul", which has a brilliant driving percussion part and a potent oriental-inspired melody creating a very heroic atmosphere. However, "Evil Reborn" is not so inspirational, it has intensity but lacks any real melody, being based predominantly on orchestral hits and urgent string passages. Sakai also contributes four tracks to the album, although most of his efforts were a little insubstantial in comparison to the other composers. Her main contribution is "Labyrinth of the Moonlight", which is another longer and more developed track similar to "Maze of the Blade". There a large array of interesting percussion which gives the track a unique atmosphere. "Ordinary Pain" and "Windshadow" have noticeably weaker sound quality which makes them stand out in the soundtrack. However, the fact that they have little memorable to them makes them some of the weakest contributions to the soundtrack.

Hamamoto only contributes three tracks, but they are all of good quality if perhaps not up to the stellar quality of some of Nakatsuru's contributions. "Guided by Wind" is an enjoyable track with a notable melody and a good amount of development adding some nice touches towards the end. "No Turning Back" opens with a quite charming harpsichord and organ melody. It maintains a calmer atmosphere than most of the tracks on the soundtrack yet has a quiet anxiety. "Sword of the Patriot" is graced with a wonderful piccolo part that dances over the top of the orchestra with its playful runs. Takada's "Nothing to Lose" is a decent effort from the composer with some interesting orchestral touches. There is a very contrasting and mellow B-section section that interestingly combines Uilean pipes and piano. Takagi's "The Noble Blade" is a brilliant, if short, guitar solo track that is virtuosic and yet enjoyable. It gives a nice contrast to the large orchestrations of most of the other tracks on the album.


Overall I believe this soundtrack to be a significant improvement on its predecessor. The main factor in this is the larger number of highlights — the longer and more developed tracks such as "Maze of the Blade" and "Labyrinth of the Moonlight" give the soundtrack stand out tracks that can provide enjoyment for longer periods than most other tracks. It also shows an improvement in the musicality of the soundtrack with more interesting percussion rhythms and modulations, especially from Nakatsuru. However, the soundtrack maintains the consistency that made the original Soul Calibur so enjoyable and, although it has its troughs, the peaks balance it out enough to make a soundtrack one of the most enjoyable you can lay your hands on. In game the soundtrack works just as well as its predecessor fitting in with the time period and packing enough energy in order to be a suitable fighting soundtrack. The Soul Calibur II Original Soundtrack is definitely a fulfilling and stirring experience so I highly recommend it.

Overall Score: 9/10