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Ys I & II Chronicles Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Ys I & II Chronicles Original Soundtrack Mini Album Title: Ys I & II Chronicles Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: NW10102810
Release Date: November 19, 2009
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


Yet another remake of Falcom's Ys I & II was made in 2009, this time for the PSP. For several reasons, however, this remake was more special than the majority preceding it. First and foremost, Falcom itself was responsible for the development, whereas most other console ports were handled by external developers. This ensured a high quality production that nevertheless remained faithful to the original. This also applied to the soundtrack and arranger Yukihiro Jindo did his best to ensure Ys I & II Chronicles featured the definitive version of the Ys I & II score. This two disc soundtrack release reflects that he largely succeeded.


Love it or hate it, the Ys I & II Chronicles soundtrack wouldn't be legitimate without an arrangement of "Feena". Following a choral opening, Yukihiro Jindo's orchestration moves into a mellow woodwind-based passage that recounts the melody in a typical sentimental way. By the second minute, it's clear that this arrangement is actually a deep one, as Akiko Nagano offers a much more poignant violin interpretation of the melody, leading to a fulfilling orchestral buildup and a mesmerising suspension. The subsequent Ys I Chronicles opening theme provides a more cinematic interpretation of the theme, building from a modest harmonica solo to a dramatic climax that exposes a darker element to the storyline. Whereas the "Feena" arrangements take an expansive approach, Jindo strips "Tears of Sylph" down to its bare bones — a pensive woodwind melody against soft piano arpeggios. Though musically simple, the arrangement works as it reinforces the modest and innocent qualities of Yuzo Koshiro's original, and hence portrays the main character fittingly.

Moving to he dungeon themes, "Palace" is one of the most ambient additions to the soundtrack. However, Jindo still ensures it is immersive experience with its gorgeous solo violin performance and the mesmerising piano wanderings. It's quite an experience to glide through the shrine to the accompaniment of this arrangement. "Palace of Destruction", on the other hand, shows what happens when the dungeon springs to life. It's exactly what fans who played the game back in 1987 could only dream of — a well-produced band performance offering a melodic focus, a gritty backing, and plenty of liberation during the solos. Less appealing is the rocking interpretation of Darm Tower's "Tower of the Shadow of Death", given the imbalance of the rock elements and cello motifs. It still has its moments, but isn't quite a classic anymore. Fortunately, the arrangement of the upper floor's "The Last Moment of the Dark" is spot on and totally sinister. The chord progressions sound darker than before with their presentation on dense strings while the understated choral element brings out the malice.

Despite the dark and sad undertones of the soundtrack, Ys I is still a light-hearted experience and this is reflected by many arrangements. For example, the town theme "Fountain of Love" sounds peppier than ever with its Dragon Quest-inspired classicisms, while "The Syonin" brings a much-needed silliness to the experience with its honkytonk influences. "First Step Towards Wars" proves a surprising overworld theme given its light rock influence, yet the original melody and arrangement are so adventurous that they're a surprisingly good fit. However, Jindo reserves the hardest rock pieces on the soundtrack for the battle themes. Masaru Teramae's extravagant guitar solo from 0:41 brings a lot of attitude and hostility to "Holders of Power". The final battle theme, on the other hand, is more of a light rock performance intended to motivate at the climax of the game. Perhaps most surprisingly and controversially, the Ys I selection ends with a vocal arrangement of "See You Again" entitled "Victory!!". The arrangement is based on that of Falcom Special Box '97, but the youthful Kanako Kotera offers a new performance.

Moving to the Ys II Chronicles soundtrack, Jindo opens things on a rocking note with "To Make the End of Battle". The arrangement takes longer than most to expose the opening hook, but soon makes Ys fans ecstatic. The track also receives a extended band performance at the end of the soundtrack. Elsewhere there are some refreshing deviations from the formats established on Ys I Chronicles in this soundtrack. For example, the perky fantasy-inspired interpretation of the title theme "Lilia" is a refreshing departure of the sentimental "Feena", whereas the town themes "Too Full With Love" and "Tender People" are considerably more sedate than their counterpart. There are a range of more experimental arrangements too, such as the entrancing "Companile of Lane", the eerily soundscaped "Cavern of Rasteene", and the tribal-influenced "Colony of Lava". Finally, "Palace of Salmon" is a refreshing departure from the rock tracks with its upbeat Spanish guitar work. It's still peppered by some orchestral passages and electric guitar chords to maintain that Ys sound, but still sounds very novel and catchy with its flamenco focus.

The Ys II Chronicles features an even more substantial rock influence than in its predecessor. There are many highlights, ranging from the slightly surreal piano-decorated interpretation of "Protecters", to the racing synth rock fest "Over Drive", or the heavy metal jam "Moat of Burnedbless". Howver, perhaps the biggest transformation is Ys II Eternal's "Battle Ground", which takes everything that was good about the original and makes its ten times better. Once again, the focus is placed on a catchy melody, which becomes rather disorientating with its fast-paced repetition. However, it is presented in a much more compelling way: studio-recorded electric guitars take the lead instead of mid-90s synth, Kotaro Hatanaka's drum kit is harder than before and introduces some cross-rhythms, and there are much-needed reflective interlude and guitar solos before the loop. For the final battle "Termination" fittingly returns to its rock routes following the hyper-epic approach of Ys Origin. The soundtrack ends with a spiritual interpretation of "Feena" and an enjoyable rock vocal interpretation of the ending theme.


Overall, the Ys I & II Chronicles Original Soundtrack is the definitive version of Ys I & II music for those wanting more than the originals. Yukihiro Jindo knows exactly how to interpret the originals so they are both immersive in the game and appealing to stand-alone listeners. Whether handling cinematic orchestrations, haunting ambient themes, or rocking action music, he seems to get it right and bring the series' music to the modern age. Jindo realizes that overarranging the soundtracks would alienate hardcore fans and lose the modest quality inherent to their original impact. However, he still uses modern technology to enhance so many pieces with rich sampled orchestrations and powerful band performances. Those looking for an introduction to the series' classic music would be wise to use this remake soundtrack as a starting point.

Overall Score: 9/10