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

Ys I & II DS Original Soundtrack Album Title: Ys I & II DS Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: YSDS-00001
Release Date: April 18, 2008
Purchase: Buy at eBay


In 2008, Falcom released another set of remakes of Ys I & II, this time for the DS. A bonus CD was packaged with the Special Box package of the game featuring Yasuko Yamada's arranged music from the two games. Given it was a single disc, it only includes a selection of music from the two games, rather than the full scores. Eventually the same music was packaged into a bonus album for Atlus' Western adaptation, renamed Legacy of Ys: Books I & II, along with two bonus tracks. Did those who buy the Special Box in Japan get a treat?


Right from the title theme "Feena", it's clear that the music of Ys DS is quite faithful to the original. The descending opening progression is even more synthy than usual, though the eventual timpani rolls add a cinematic touch. The interpretation of the main melody also stays close to the original, though with a piano taking the lead instead of woodwinds, giving something of a new age feel. It still has that old-school sound thanks to the DS synth, but there is another liberation for the instruments to be recognisable and the musical styles to be embellished. Plenty of other arrangements feel right given the original material. For example, Yasuko Yamada's take on "First Step Towards Wars" satisfyingly blends the rock essence of the original with a more acoustic B section reminiscent of other RPG overworld themes. He also treats "Palace" in a suitably ethereal way using flute and piano before giving "Palace of Destruction" considerably more 'oomph'. However, there is more continuity in the soundscapes between these two themes than most arranged versions and this probably makes it a more cohesive in-game experience.

Despite the subtle approach of most arrangements, rest assured that Yamada doesn't hesitate to rock out in a few places on the album. Tracks such as "Tower of the Shadow of Death" and "Tension" are particularly enjoyable, since Yamada's sense of lyricism really shines. "Holders of Power" and "Final Battle" are even more abrasive than most other arrangements of the theme and offer surprisingly dense drum beats despite the limitations of the DS. They're too underdeveloped and harsh for stand-alone listening, but have a major impact in the game. Of course, listeners are also treated to a tight light rock interpretation of the credits theme "See You Again". Although a fairly thorough interpretation of Ys' music, note that "Fountain of Love", "Tears of Sylph", and "The Syonin" are cut from the album for playtime reasons. This gets the album offer to a swift start after "Feena" but the omissions are pretty significant ones. It's also a little strange that the MSX-produced tracks Tension" and "Open Your Heart" are incorporated instead.

There are also highlights among the Ys II DS selection. It's very pleasing how "Lilia" has been elaborated upon to produce a more substantial title theme comparable to "Feena". Yamada's rock sound is also back in pieces like "Ruins of Moondoria", "Companile of Lane", and "Termination". These are even more enjoyable than the Ys DS interpretations, perhaps partly since the original music is more compatible with rock-styled arrangements. However, the softer themes are probably the finest efforts in terms of both arrangement and synthesis, particularly the highly atmospheric "Subterranean Canal" and "Ice Ridge of Noltia". Unfortunately, a larger number of tracks needed to be cut from Ys II to accomodate the playtime limitations of the CD. Most cut were among the weaker tracks from the original score, though a devastating omission is "To Make the End of Battle" which is only featured in the Western album.


Ys I & II DS features a mostly pleasing score. Yasuko Yamada largely preserved the nature of the originals, but didn't hesitate to make some elaborations and diversions when it would be more immersive. However, the arranged version still features average quality DS synth and is nowhere near as technologically commanded as the recent PSP remakes. This is excellent news for fans of old-school music, but not so good for those looking for a modern interpretation of the music. As for the album itself, it compiles most of the highlights of the games into a single disc and is an entertaining listen from start to finish. However, it is not a complete version of either score, given it is just a one disc release, and completists will prefer to stick to other releases. Most Ys fans won't be missing out by skipping this album or its Western equivalent, given the humble arrangements and incompleteness, but it's still a nice bonus for those who bought the box set and reflects the musical fruits of a largely successful remake.

Overall Score: 6/10