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Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories Best of Soundtrack (US) :: Review by Chris

Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories Best of Soundtrack (US) Album Title: Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories Best of Soundtrack (US)
Record Label: NIS America
Catalog No.: TSI-1703
Release Date: August 30, 2006
Purchase: Buy at eBay


NIS America decided to treat their localisation Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories to a bonus soundtrack for those who bought the game. Unlike the Makai Senki Disgaea 2 Original Soundtrack featured in the Japanese version of the game, this soundtrack has just one disc and features half of the themes on the soundtrack. Is what offered sufficient to capture the goodness of the Disgaea musical experience or should those receive track down the Japanese soundtrack as well?


Beginning with the vocal themes, "Sinful Rose" provides a memorable introduction to the game with an uplifting pop singer and extravagant violin work. Unfortunately, this version has a playtime of just 1:39, meaning it feels over just after it has begun; the full length version is exclusive to the Arrange Soundtrack and the cut here seems like a ploy to get people to buy that. My favourite of the bunch is "White Tiger", an 80s-infleunced rock piece featuring heroic beats and a passionate performance from Tenpei Sato himself. This song also receives a cut but it's less significant as it feels established enough at least until the sudden anticlimactic fade-out. "There's Something I Want to Tell You" is a gentle theme featuring a beautiful contemplative performance from vocalist Miki; it's a mature rounded composition, though the sparing use of pop drum beats gives a cheesy edge at times. Finally, "Sparkle ~ To Become A Star" featuring Akiko Kawakami is the most conventional theme of the bunch, reminding me of J-Pop themes from the Wild Arms series. It's definitely one of the better video game vocal themes out there and would have had potential as a stand-alone single.

There are a bunch of arrangements from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness here. The first instrumental track "Magnificent Dark Family '05" is an arrangement of the dark march "The Great Dark Race"; Sato takes plenty of a liberties here to create a vibrant new perspective on the theme, introducing quirky beats and ethnic-inspired instruments. "Etna Rock" transforms the big band jazz original into a fast-paced rock version. The vocal performances retains the seductive power of the original, but the instrumentals are very different giving some cheesy charm. Maybe even more surprisingly, the classic "Lord Laharl's Hymn" only receives one incarnation here... and it's a cute three voice chiptune remix! This piece demonstrates that, while Sato can produce some of the most technologically advanced sounds for the PlayStation 2, melody and atmosphere are at the heart of his music. On the topic of recurring melodies, "Rosalind" portrays the obnoxious aristocratic daughter by combining carefree violin melodies with goofy warped synth accompaniment. The melody is rehashed completely in "Rosalind's Palace" at the end of the soundtrack, which is a great disappointment when a more worthy composition could have been put in its place.

Taking a tour of the remaining instrumental themes, the best of soundtrack captures the diversity of the original quite well. Some of the best melodies are found in the lighter themes. These often exhibit a jazz feel, such as "Wonder Castle", "Makai Band", and "Makai Station", which is a welcome change from its sometimes bombastic predecessor. However, there are exceptions such as "Brother & Sister" and "Prinny My Love", both comforting frivolous pieces. Of the battle themes, "Cyber Dance" and "Shinobi Dance" are two of the most rhythmically and melodically compelling tracks on the score; the former is a fascinating fusion of ghostly and electronic sounds while the latter punctuates ethnic flutes to create a very unusual sound. On the more emotional side, "Song of the Gods" brings plenty of expectation with an organ and choir opening while "R.P.G." is a shimmering and triumphant orchestrations. "Trance No. 4" announces the climax with an otherworldly electronica piece in the spirit of "Planet X". The final battle theme "Disgaea Rhapsody" is an improvement on its predecessor and Sato gives it all he's got with heavy orchestration, supporting chorus, ethnic instruments, violin passages, and evocative female wailing. And, well, that's all folks.


Overall, the Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories Best of Soundtrack certainly provides a good reflection on the musical score for the game. After all, it includes practically all the vocal themes, Disgaea arrangements, lighter themes, and climactic pieces. However, it comes at a cost. Notably absent are emotional themes like "Dawn Whisper" and "Elegy of the Tundra" and battle themes like "Over Driver" and "Demon's Trill" that would have been so appealing to many during the in-game experience. Hardcore Sato fans should seriously consider the Makai Senki Disgaea 2 Original Soundtrack, though this may suffice to the casual fans. As a side note, avoid the Makai Senki Disgaea 2 Arrange Soundtrack as it is even more limited.

Overall Score: 6/10