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Grandia II Original Soundtracks: Povo :: Review by Totz

Grandia II Original Soundtracks: Povo Album Title: Grandia II Original Soundtracks: Povo
Record Label: Two Five Records
Catalog No.: TRCD-10014
Release Date: October 13, 2000
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


Grandia II was my only Dreamcast RPG (I didn't care that much for Skies of Arcadia at the time, but it's a good game). Because of that, I could concentrate my playing time on it, instead of having to spread it through several games at once, which would only lead to me going "Huh?" a lot of times. Well, I really liked it, and I consider it to be one of the Dreamcast's best games.

The Grandia games were never that great in stories, but the awesome characters more than make up for it. Ryudo is easily one of most easiest people to quote in real life. Just for fun, try saying stuff like "We're together. We're holding hands. Why else would we be so damn near each other?" when someone sees you and someone else walking holding hands and asks you if you're going out or dating or whatever. The look on the person's face will be priceless.

Anyhow, no great game would be complete without a wonderful soundtrack. Iwadare did a fantastic job with the game's soundtrack, and all praise directed at him because of it is well-deserved. Unfortunately, I wish I could say his more recent works are as good as Grandia II, but I can't. This was probably the last original album that Iwadare got right. Let's go see why, shall we?

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Memory of the Gods (Full Version)

This is pretty much like the Deus version, except the beginning is not the whooshing sound, but rather a tense passage that leads us towards the familiar theme. It develops in the same way as its counterpart, but there's a new section; since you find out the truth about the Granas x Valmar showdown, this new part is aptly written to tell you just that. Since it sounds pretty wicked, I guess you can say Valmar won. And since he (it?) won, it's time for the tranquil, almost happy, final section. Odd, huh? Well, I don't like it as much as the Deus rendition, but I can't condemn it from being the way it is. (7/10)

2) Cyrum Kingdom ~ Prosperity and Freedom

Like every other town so far, the kingdom of Cyrum, Roan's home, gets a theme of its own. The presence of bustling town fair results in an upbeat theme — one that has percussion, piano, synth and brass as backup and a melody that jumps around a few winds (a harmonica being one of them). There's a pretty groovy section with the synth organ playing a little variation of the melody. All in all, it's a pretty good theme, perfectly representative of a popular fair, but if there are shortcomings, it's in the backup. It's almost always so present it could get annoying from time to time. Luckily Iwadare noticed this and wrote a small section that is without most backup instruments. Smart move. (7/10)


For such an emphatic title, this track sure doesn't deliver. It's an arrangement of "Can��o do Povo," a still to be heard song, for winds, strings, percussion, and accordion, with a few new passages inbetween some sections. You know, I think it's called like that because it's lively or something. It's not THAT lively, I'll tell you that. If it were up to me, it would have been called something like "LIve," with half in capital letters. I think that would be a good representation of it. Yeah. Anyway, it's a pretty enjoyable tune, that uses yet again one of the songs, but without offering any interesting takes on it. (7/10)

4) Cyrum Castle

Being a fantasy RPG, Grandia II is set in a faux-Middle Ages period. And what was one of the most popular instruments back then? The harpsichord. And that's what Iwadare uses on this track, and just that. In fact, it's mostly the piano accompaniment of "Cyrum Kingdom ~ Prosperity and Freedom" being played by a harpsichord. Because of that, it doesn't take a long time to loop, and the track takes a big hit because of that. Fortunately for us, we don't spend a lot of time in that castle. (6/10)

5) The Proclamation of Cyrum Kingdom ~ March

*insert standard epic fanfare here* That's half of the track. The other half is an arrangement of the melody from "Cyrum Kingdom ~ Prosperity and Freedom" that is nothing short of awesome. The brass parts are well-written in the arrangement, and even though it's simple, the fun is still there and makes up for the lackluster beginning. (8/10)

6) Romance at a Windy Isle

"Romance at a Windy Isle" is the first of many simple yet elegant compositions. Featuring nothing more than a piano and a flute, it manages to convey an idea of tragic love perfectly. I love these kinds of compositions: they show a different side of Iwadare than the rocking battle composer side that most cherish. (9/10)

7) The Moon of Valmar

Combine the quirkiness of Final Fantasy IV's "Another Moon" with the almost machine-like repetition from "Within the Giant" and mix them up with some awesome development and you've got "The Moon of Valmar." It's a pretty strange track that sounds like something Nakano would compose, not Iwadare. It's got layering and everything! It begins with some percussion, then comes keyboard, then electric guitar, then synth, the drums, then another synth, then strings, and then later on another guitar... it's crazy, it's effective, it's creative, I like it. It's chaotic, but in a good way. (8/10)

8) Have Faith in Yourself

And here comes from awesome exploration themes. "Have Faith in Yourself" is the kind of music that gets you humming it after just one listen. And even you didn't know its right name, but remembered how it went after not listening to it for like three or four years, you know it's memorable right there. What's weird is that it's not particularly important to the game or anything; it's just an incredibly enjoyable theme. You've got a wind line playing a cheerful, upbeat melody, with some percussion and guitars backing it. There are also some nice brief keyboard and guitar interludes that connect both sections of the piece, but one of said interludes comes to mind: it leads us to an awesome, albeit short, keyboard section. Truth be told, there isn't a whole lot of variety here. Still, the way "Have Faith in Yourself" is developed, and the manner in which each instrument behaves, are top-notch. An easy 10/10 here, folks. (10/10)

9) Evil Root of Destruction

With a memorable string motif, timpani, cymbals, and a snare drum, Iwadare builds a theme that reeks of evilness. It's not the most developed, but I really dig the minimalist style he was going for here. (7/10)

10) Fight!! Ver. 3 ~ Middle Boss Battle

I know what you're thinking. Yeah, you're wondering where are the battle themes, aren't you? "Povo" may not have "Fight!! Ver. 1," but it has Ver. 3, which is just as awesome. Well, not "just as," but "almost as." It features a combination of modern instruments (electric guitar) with classic ones (strings), and the result is exactly what you would expect: a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping, battle theme that does not disappoint. (9/10)

11) Heh, They Didn't Get to Fight Back!

They sure didn't, because they suck. Defeat every enemy without letting them strike you and you're treated to this nice alternative fanfare music. It's nothing mindblowing, but it's nice to see you're getting SOME reward for playing the game well other than, you know, winning battles and stuff. If I had to compare the two fanfares (this one and the one from "Deus"), I'd say this was like a college party with drinks and games and women and the other one would be like your six-year old brother's birthday party. Both are fun, but you know you'll feel better during/after the college party. Catch my drift? (7/10)

12) Skye's Reminiscence

This is such a beautiful tune. "Skye's Reminiscence" is nothing more than a pretty sax melody and effective guitar and percussion accompaniment. It reminds me of Grandia Xtreme's "Grassy Plain of Ilusion," in the sense that it relies on simplicity to achieve its desired atmospheric effect. And because of the sax melody, above all, you get to feel some melancholy over something that has happened in Skye's past. He is Ryudo's pet eagle, by the way, and he TALKS. Well, I got to say this was a really pleasant surprise. Um, both Skye being able to talk and the music itself. (10/10)

13) The Town of Nanan ~ Overwhelming Nature

This track sure has an interesting choice of instrumentation. Nanan is the cliché beastmen village of the game, and it's represented by several percussive instruments, and a melody being played by something that sounds like an overdrive guitar with some weird buzzing effect. Oh, and not to mention the weird voices that pop up halfway through the tune and that lasts pretty much all the way throughout the end. It's unusual, but it makes for an interesting listen, even if the development is not too strong. (8/10)

14) Traditional Song ~ The Villager's Chorus

And now we get an all-male a capella version of half of the game's second theme song: "Can��o do Povo," the last track of the album. Unfortunately, I can't remember how exactly this comes to be played in the context of the game, but judging from its position, it probably has something to do with Maregg's village. Well, nonetheless, even though their pronunciation isn't the best, the song itself is nice to listen to. (6/10)

15) Despair and Hope

"Despair and Hope" is like "Skye's Reminiscence" on steroids. But legal steroids, because it's no cheater, I'll tell that much. Get Skye's track, replace the sax with a violin and the backup with a piano, and whammo, you get "Despair and Hope." Although saying "replace" is an understatement, because these new changes make the composition absolutely stunning. Marvelous all around. (10/10)

16) The Ones Hidden Within the Darkness (Mix Version)

... Great. Another one of those. And it's three times as long as its "Deus" brethren. The addition of a bell-like instrument playing high-octave notes doesn't distract me from the boredom that is listening to the engine-like sound of the neverending synth, the bizarre clock sound that randomly appears, or the infuriating electric guitar passage that keeps on repeating itself. At least it's the last one. Stay hidden within the darkness, please. (2/10)

17) Elegy

"Elegy" is a great composition to purge your ears from the previous track. It's a ballad for a keyboard instrument, an electric guitar way in the background, percussion, and violin. Its development is the addition of a synth line that is later developed alongside the electric guitar. It's yet another marvelous melancholic piece, but it's not as stunning as "Despair and Hope." I do like the use of modern instruments; it makes more a nice contrast. (8/10)

18) Collapse

It's nice to have a tension theme after so many quiet tracks. You know the tension theme — it's like the hurry theme, but without the speed; it relies more on suspense than on danger itself. "Collapse" is almost a grandiose composition for piano and orchestra and it almost quotes an entire passage from "Memory of the Gods," a theme that will appear five zillions times in the next few tracks. Back to "Collapse" now. Being written to create tension, it has a lot of repeated stuff, but at the same time, some really great short passages that make listening through the whole thing very worthwhile. (8/10)

19) The Mythical World

"The Mythical World" = A piano and "Memory of the Gods," bridge, "Can��o do Povo," horrible transition, a minor section with some chords, another bridge, "A Deus," some development, then end. Some of the arrangements have some slight variations to make them interesting, but nothing that stands out. As a whole, though, it's an OK track. (7/10)

20) Valmar

Employing the same motif as the one in "Evil Root of Destruction," but while adding so much more danger and tension with brass, winds, and choir, "Valmar" aims to be the theme of the god of evil or whatever he is. Its development is rather unexpected. After the known motif being repeated a few times, a new section is introduced, but by a clarinet and then a choir. The growth towards fully evil is not complete until the final moments of the composition, with a series of short notes that are suddenly interrupted, and the original motif, finally resolved. (8/10)

21) A Farewell, and Decision

It's another "Memory of the Gods" arrangement, but at least it's a creative one. It starts out as solo piano, but voices and strings soon join in, and the arrangement develops (wonderfully, I must add) mostly in the string section, with the piano as accompaniment. What I don't get is why the synth is so bad. I mean, when compared to the regular string synth, these strings sound downright ghastly, and I can't even say if I'm what I'm hearing is low strings or low brass. It's amazingly bad. Oh well. (8/10)

22) Awakening Ryudo ~ Prayers of the People

Now this is an awesome arrangement. It takes "Can��o do Povo," makes it a cappela and sung by only a female vocal, has a male choir and piano join in, and finally introduces the strings! At the end, all there is left is the piano and the strings, and they do a great job. Another easy 10. (10/10)

23) Fight!! Ver. 4 ~ The Final Battle

If there is one single track where Iwadare can go all out it's the final battle theme. And I'm glad he does just that! Tracks like this one, "Fight!! Ver. 1," "Fight!! Ver. 3," "COMBAT 4," "Despair and Hope," etc. really make me wonder where the Iwadare hate comes from. His albums are not perfect, true, and every track he composes has the same structure, but so what? He can write some truly amazing stuff. Coming back to "Fight!! Ver. 4," I can see one area this track disappoints: duration. I wish it were longer, because I'm afraid the amount of awesomeness contained in a mere 3:53 could leak, causing an incident, where some guy may or may not lose an arm. You want some rocking? You'll find it here. You want some thick (in a good way) accompaniment? Done. You want a fantastic example of why final bosses shouldn't be easy like the one from Grandia II? I mean, he's like some sort of fish or something. Well, "Fight!! Ver. 4" is what you're looking for. (10/10)

24) Can��o do Povo

And now we have got to the final track, the second song, "Can��o do Povo." It's Portuguese for "Song of the People," just like "A Deus" means "To God." You know, I like this two theme songs deal — it can provide some more colour to a game. What I mean is that while the first is much more introspective, the latter is much more upbeat, with one jut as beautiful as the other. "Can��o do Povo" has a lovely string, wind, and drum backup to the female vocal, making it as soothing as "A Deus," but with a sense of accomplishment or victory. The singer's pronunciation, even though not the best, is good enough. Oh, and it gets extra bonus points for being in Portuguese. No, I'm kidding. No, I'm not. Bottom line is, it's a great song, one that makes you feel triumphant, especially during the second strophe, which is when the accompaniment gets livelier. (9/10)


Grandia II was my second Iwadare game (the first being Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete on the PlayStation), and so I didn't really know what to expect musically. I was blown away by the color of town themes, the rocking nature of battle music, and the tense atmosphere of ambient tunes (yes, they work during the game). With the Dreamcast version of the game, a small sample soundtrack was included and they were nice enough to provide "A Deus" and "Fight!! Ver. 1," among others. I was quickly addicted to them.

The album Povo has several outstanding tracks, like "Fight!! Ver. 4," "Despair and Hope," and "Have Faith in Yourself," to name a few. Its theme song, "Can��o do Povo," does not disappoint. On the contrary, it's quite good, almost like a little pop ballad. I wouldn't say it's better or worse than "A Deus," since their goals are different. If I had to recommend one of the two Grandia II albums, that would be "Povo." Yeah, you wouldn't get fantastic tracks like "Fight!! Ver. 1," but that's a small price to pay for a lot more better tracks.

Overall Score: 9/10