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SaGa 2 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Sacred Original Soundtrack Album Title: SaGa 2 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Square Enix
Catalog No.: iTunes
Release Date: June 26, 2006
Purchase: Buy at iTunes


SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu, rebranded Final Fantasy Legend II in North America, was the second title in a popular trilogy of Game Boy titles. Nobuo Uematsu returned as the lead composer of the title, but was joined by Kenji Ito, a complete newcomer at that point. The pair maintain the magical feel of the original SaGa with a range of original compositions and arrangements on the title. The resultant score was released in four versions: as a stand-alone Mini CD in a guidebook, as part of a two disc set with the rest of the SaGa trilogy, as the second disc of the series' box set, and as a stand-alone digital download in Japan.


Nobuo Uematsu maintains continuity with the original SaGa by offering a number of arrangements on this title. "The Legend Begins" is a welcome rendition of the original "Prologue"; more familiar with the Game Boy's capacity than the year previously, Uematsu was able to blend the resonant melody of the original with a more elaborate harmony line. The Game Boy synth still has a piercing and crackling quality, but it's not as much of a hindrance here, although the version on the DS remake will be more attractive to most listeners. The arrangement of series mainstay "Wipe Your Tears Away" is less substantial, but still features a charming melody and some pleasant counterpoint in the second section. The victory theme "Eat the Meat" is also overhauled here and is delightful as ever at the end of battle.

The main theme for SaGa 2, "Searching for the Secret Treasure", offers the boundless adventurous feel desired for the world map. While a little weaker than its predecessor melodically, it makes up or it with a rich development and intertwining melodies that reflect the relationships and journeys of the companions. Deviating away from the melodic focus of the soundtrack, Uematsu offers an atmospheric depiction of the "Pillar of Heaven" using, rather predictably, ascending arpeggios. Another of Uematsu's relatively sparing contributions, the game over theme "Wandering Spirit" maintains this spiritual vibe with its elegaic yet unresolved melody. It's one of many themes that doesn't quite stand up against its counterpart. It was only on the DS remake that these compositions finally achieved their full potential.

Kenji Ito is the most impressive contributor here and instantly makes an impact with the normal battle theme "Lethal Strike". More wholesome and balanced that Uematsu's battle themes from the original SaGa, it plunges gamers into battle with its vigorous runs, while offering plenty of great melodies to whistle along to. It's arguably better than all the battle themes Nobuo Uematsu had produced at that point, affirming Ito's reputation as a master of battle themes. "Through the Cramped Darkness" portrays the protagonists' uncertain journey through the game's dungeons with its abstract chord progressions and pressing bass line, while "At the End of the Decisive Battle" is a showcase of how the composer can create plenty of intensity using modal scales. Less impressive is "Theme of the New God", which takes too long to get going yet loops prematurely.

Journeying to the finale of the soundtrack, Ito's "Never Give Up" is a motivating march-like track used during the last areas. Its lyrical quality contrasts considerably with Uematsu's somewhat more mundane "Burning Blood". Thankfully, the final battle theme "Save the World" makes up for this with its glorious development, exuberant exploration of the Game Boy synth's pitch range, and eventual reprise of the preceding track. Following so many chaotic tracks, the two ending themes capture a sense of relief and serenity at the end of the game. They also offers some well-integrated reprises from earlier themes featured at the end of the game, ensuring an even more nostalgic experience. It's a pity that, due to in-game limitations, these tracks couldn't have been even longer akin to the soundtracks in the Final Fantasy series.


Overall, the SaGa 2 soundtrack maintains the magical and personal feeling of the series while exploring the range and depth of the Game Boy further. Uematsu's contributions aren't quite as memorable or emotional as those of the original, though Ito demonstrates in this debut that he is capable of creating most types of RPG compositions while exhibiting a different sort of lyricism. At just 28 minutes (or 18 on the Mini CD bonus), this soundtrack is probably too brief to be worth a stand-alone purchase, unlike its DS counterpart. However, it forms a worthwhile component of both the All Sounds of SaGa compilation and, for hardcore collectors, a giant series' box set.

Overall Score: 7/10