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Tenchu 2 Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Tenchu 2 Soundtrack Album Title: Tenchu 2 Soundtrack
Record Label: Mega-Alpha
Catalog No.: iTunes
Release Date: May 17, 2006
Purchase: Download at iTunes


Following the glorious reception of his soundtrack for Tenchu: Silent Assassins, Noriyuki Asakura returned to score its sequel in 2000. Following the pan-Asian approach of the original, it was requested that he created an exclusively Japanese sound for the title. A physical soundtrack release was never made available for the soundtrack, but Asakura eventually released his music through iTunes in 2006.


The opening theme for the title, "Target", is even more multifaceted than its counterpart from the original Tenchu. Yui Murase returns to interpret the melodies here and once again proves she is one of the most expressive and mature vocalists in game music. Contrary to the developer's request, Asakura is quite liberal in his treatment of the instrumentation, blending authentic Japanese forces with contemporary elements and rejecting any theoretical conventions. Using these elements, Asakura offers an impressive metamorphosis from its slow ethereal introduction into a dramatic action-packed passage. The result theme has a profound impact, particularly in combination with the visuals, though is sadly the only track of this kind on the soundtrack.

Of all the background music on the soundtrack, "Destiny" is probably the one that is closest to those in Tenchu. The track undergoes a major evolution during its three minute track time. It initially features contrasting passages dominated by elegaic string chords and serene flute melodies; these contrasts represent both a conflicted mind and a dire situation within beautiful scenery. The composition takes an even more sinister turn around the 1:56 mark, as the gloomy strings predominate and even some electronic overtones appear. Each individual section is intricate and emotional, but what it most impressive is the way they fluidly come together to create a striking atmosphere in a natural manner. It's not just a basic accompaniment to scenes, but a psychological journey too.

While there are clear setpieces such as these on the soundtrack, the majority of the other contributions to the soundtrack are short, rarely exceeding 90 seconds. This is in contrast to the soundtrack for Tenchu, where every track took listeners through a five minute journey. Some of these tracks have a profound impact in context, for example "Resentment" and "Dark Cloud" with their dark cinematic feel, but even these are too short and sparse to interest on a stand-alone level. "Presentiment", "Trial", and "Vermiculation" are especially superficial, featuring a few stereotypical Japanese ostinati on loop. Asakura partially redeems himself towards the end of the release with some spectacular action tracks and two gorgeous ending themes, but it is arguably too little too late.


The soundtrack to the second Tenchu game features many beautiful and intense Japanese stylings from Noriyuki Asakura. However, due to its narrow stylistic focus and short linear tracks, it lacks some of the defining features that made the Tenchu soundtrack so appealing. It is well worth sampling the digital release, since there are a number of breathtaking tracks, though the exceptional soundtrack for the original game should be a collector's first point of call.

Overall Score: 6/10