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Star Ocean The Second Story Original Soundtrack :: Forum Review

Star Ocean The Second Story Original Soundtrack Album Title: Star Ocean The Second Story Original Soundtrack
Record Label: First Smile Entertainment
Catalog No.: FSCA-10063
Release Date: November 18, 1998
Purchase: Buy at Game Music Online


Written by Totz

This album was how I was introduced to Motoi Sakuraba, way back in 2000, when I first bought the game. Some of the tracks became instant classics on my head, as I could easily memorize masterpieces like "Stab the Sword of Justice," the great regular battle theme, "Field of Expel," quite possibly the most epic piece of the Original Soundtrack, and "Theme of RENA," which is, in one word, beautiful. However, it wasn't until I really got into VGM that I started to do some more research on Sakuraba, and found out he had worked on tons of albums, including Valkyrie Profile, which had easily one of the most acclaimed soundtracks ever. Even though I don't quite like it like everyone else, I can't deny that Sakuraba had some really great ideas there. The mere range of emotions the Star Ocean The Second Story Original Soundtrack evokes is amazing. Sakuraba writes with near perfection any kind of theme imaginable to man, which is why this album is regarded as one of his best albums ever made. Let's take a closer look as to why this is the case...

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) At the Crack of Dawn (Written by Chris)

While just 37 seconds in length, this introductory theme immediately pronounces the name Motoi Sakuraba when you first hear it. Its triumphant melodies, concentrated textures, and rapturous chord progressions all contribute towards bringing about new dawning as we enter the wide and wonderful world of Star Ocean The Second Story. It can safely be summarized as short, but sweet. (8/10)

2) Silent the Universe (Written by Z-Freak)

Right from the start, "Silent the Universe" has an ominous yet epic vibe to it. Sakuraba always makes his introduction themes memorable, as they are peppered with orchestral samples. A feel of grandeur awaits as you are introduced to this magnificent score. There is a certain sense of progression through the track which simply makes it stand out from all those generic openers from other RPGs. As mentioned earlier, we pass from an ominous sequence to a hopeful, entrancing passage that just hits the listener immediately. This is just the beginning to one of the most impressive soundtracks of 1998 that literally put Motoi Sakuraba on the map to North American gamers. It only gets better from here to the end. (10/10)

3) Feel Refreshed (Written by Gilgamesh)

A beautiful piece played by a synthesized piano with an added "glassy" effect that creates, as the title would suggest, a calm and soothing emotion for the listener. Listening to the track on its own, I can literally picture lush, green fields with streams of water flowing down a river. It's really amazing what Sakuraba did with this track using only one instrument. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by this track's use of the instrument in the game itself. If memory serves, this track was never played during any in-game events. It was only used during the opening menu option to select a sound setting (mono, stereo, surround). This results in a shorter than normal track although the theme does get enough time to develop. This theme isn't super catchy but serves as wonderful background music. (9/10)

4) A Feeling of Oppression (Written by Jared)

Though this track is short, clocking in at just over 1 min and 20 seconds, it develops nicely and operates well as a very ambient piece. It has no real flaws, but it's not really outstanding either. One thing I found interesting was the use of keyboard percussion. I felt it added a lot of the feeling to the track. Also, the strings set up a nice background for the piece and allow the other parts to build off of it. Overall, this is a worthy track with no exceptional qualities. (8/10)

5) The Venerable Forest (Written by Talaysen)

Ahh, the calm, peaceful forest. This piece does a good job of setting up that feeling. The melody is really soothing, while everything else seems to support it pretty well. There really isn't any interesting development though. The piece is pretty much the same throughout. There's a bit of a change in the middle, but not much. And the transition seems too sudden to call it "development." I guess for such a short piece, that's not too big of a flaw. Overall, a nice listen, maybe a bit repetitive, but the short length easily compensates for that. (8/10)

6) Electrical Dance (Written by Totz)

This is a track used in the game to represent danger, much like a "hurry" theme. There's nothing really that stands out in the piece, but the percussion does get kind of annoying. But it serves its purpose well, and it's short enough to prevent it from being too dull. (7/10)

7) Stab the Sword of Justice (Written by Zohar Seeker)

Sakuraba's struck gold with me using "Stab the Sword of Justice" as the battle theme. It never gets old and boring. The synth work is top notch and the melody just stays in my head. It's fast-paced, full of action, and exciting just like the battles in the game, which makes this track very appropriate for its purpose. Listening to this track while controlling the movements of all four characters, trying not to mess up, trying to cast that spell before that floating goat gets my girl, is really great. I usually find myself humming along when I hear this music, as I am doing right now as I type. (10/10)

8) Strike Your Mind (Written by Chris)

This is the game's victory fanfare and is understandably very short. A comparison to the classic Final Fantasy "Victory Fanfare" is always going to be made here; however, although many of its features are very similar, "Strike Your Mind" eliminates the bombastic pompousness of the Final Fantasy "Victory Fanfare" in favor of the light-hearted excitement characteristic of Sakuraba. This one doesn't grow old too quick, and while nothing remarkable, it serves its purpose. (8/10)

9) Pure a Stream (Written by Z-Freak)

"Pure a Stream" uses a similar melody as "The Venerable Forest," the slow pace of the notes of the flute and harp clearly evokes the vision of a quiet, back-water village — a calm yet entrancing theme which is surely used for a town theme. It is one of the calmer themes on the soundtrack, as it will start getting more dynamic and epic in sound. Overall, "Pure a Stream" shows Sakuraba's ability to relax the listener, even if only for a little while. (10/10)

10) Mist Began to Form (Written by Gilgamesh)

This track is quite mysterious and thoughtful in tone — good music for the scene early in the game where the village elder explains the situation of the world to our hero. The arrangement is a bit soft, relaxed, and quite simple using chime and string-like instruments. The motif used is also quite similar to Final Fantasy's "Prelude," using a 1-2-3-5 progression, but with some in minor keys. The track gets somewhat boring after awhile, but it does serve its in-game purposes rather nicely. (7/10)

11) Field of Exper (Written by Talaysen)

I remember this piece very well from the game. As the name implies, it's the overworld theme for the planet Expel. I could draw a parallel here to the overworld theme in Final Fantasy VII. They both develop throughout the piece in great ways. While "Field of Expel" isn't quite as epic, it is still a great piece. As for instrumentation, I like Sakuraba's selection of instruments. His use of the brass and flutes is great, and timpani and snare drum do a good job of pushing the piece along. The biggest problem is his cymbal synth. It's just downright horrible, mostly in the suspended cymbal. Other than that, it all sounds very good. I think this is one of the best overworld themes I've ever heard in an RPG. (10/10)

12) Weathercock (Written by Totz)

This is another town theme, and, if I'm not mistaken, it's played in the second town (the one with the mine, where you later get Ashton). Although not as relaxing as the previous town theme, it still does a pretty good job portraying a little town. A good thing about it is that even though it's relatively short, it still manages to develop itself greatly, thus the listener won't want to skip to the next track. (8/10)

13) Rescue Operation (Written by Chris)

This is quite the typical Sakuraba 'techno-style' track: the bass is overdrive while the melodies are really happy-go-lucky. While some don't like this style, I think it is highly amicable to listen to and maintains the long run of strong tracks. It's a shame it is a bit brief though — a little more development wouldn't have gone amiss. (8/10)

14) Cuddle (Written by Z-Freak)

Sounds like another town theme to me. "Cuddle" has a similar feel to "The Venerable Forest" and "Pure a Stream." The use of the synthetic harp and flute makes it appropriate to get the listener to simply relax and soothe him/herself in the short, yet sweet theme. A wonderful effort, though he has done better since this soundtrack. (9/10)

15) A Crisp Morning (Written by Gilgamesh)

A short, five second passage that is used as sleep music during the game. Like "Pure a Stream" and "Cuddle," echo synth wind instruments give that wonderful "air" quality to the track and is a vast contrast to sleep music in other RPGs. Most other RPGs use soft music that would be played before going to bed but this sounds like music fitting for the moment after waking up. It's like stepping outside and taking a big breath of fresh air. (8/10)

16) Shower of Blossoms (Written by Lokoluis15)

With a title like "Shower of Blossoms," one would normally expect a slow, sort of girly piece. This track is far from that. It has the aura of an imperial troupe — complete with snare drum and trumpets! Starting off slow, and seemingly repetitive, the track gets more and more interesting as new instruments come in. The quick descending notes in the background give the feel of blossoms falling, gently but quickly. As the snare drums come in, the piece is given a sort of imperial taste, creating a picture of an army, or a group of warriors marching off to battle (but because of the title, it is habitual to imagine this army in a "shower of blossoms"). This track paints a nice picture that serves as proof that not only does Sakuraba know what he is doing, he is good at it as well. (9/10)

17) Sacred Song (Written by Talaysen)

If I recall correctly, this is the music used in Cross Castle. A lot of the piece uses chanting, which is very unappealing in this case. I suppose it fits the name though. Development? Not really any to speak of. A trumpet joins later for a fanfare, but that's about it. A very uninteresting piece, by all accounts. At least it's short. (3/10)

18) The Bonds (Written by Totz)

What can you say about this track? It's a short 13-second jingle that plays when someone joins your party. Very fanfare-ish, and does its jobs well. I'm just not giving it a higher grade because I consider it an unnecessary track. (7/10)

19) Walk Over (Written by Chris)

This is one of the numerous town themes featured in the soundtrack. It has a grandiose nature as created by the brass fanfares and snare drum rolls. While very simple, there are no obvious problems with this one. It achieves a lot out of very little. (8/10)

20) Misty Rain (Written by Talaysen)

Can we say "repetitive?" Almost every measure consists of only three descending notes. Almost every measure sounds almost exactly the same as the one before it. A very dull and uninteresting piece. (3/10)

21) Moderate (Written by Chris)

This is a town theme that you either say 'Ooh' or 'Eugh' to. There's nothing moderate about people's opinions to it. (Get it? Yeah, I know the joke sucks!) Personally, I'm in love with it. A number of abstract musical features combine together here to create a luscious array of color. The passage that occurs from 0:43-1:20 is particularly magical. Marvelous, just marvelous! (10/10)

22) Heraldic Emblem (Written by Chris)

Sakuraba succeeds in creating a highly effective track from rather unorthodox musical features once again. Agitated percussion motifs seem to dominate the track, creating a sense of impending doom. Against this lies some wind and string motifs that manage be both mysterious and beautiful at the same time. The subtlety of the composition is first-class.

23) Dynamite (Written by Talaysen)

This piece is designed to get the player pumped up for battle, and a good job it does. It starts out with a funky bass line before going into the more intense section. Then the intensity keeps going and never stops. Sakuraba's chaotic fast-paced battle pieces are usually a hit or miss, and in this case, it smacks a bulls eye. (9/10)

24) In a Lightsome Mood (Written by Talaysen)

If I recall correctly, this is a town theme. The first thing one probably notices is the march-like style, most likely from the background. And then a beautiful flute melody comes in for a bit after about 25 seconds. Around halfway through, a fanfare takes the stage in the form of trumpets, adding to the march-like style. And then...it's done. There's the biggest problem in the piece: It builds up to a fanfare and then doesn't do much after that. Nonetheless, as a whole, the piece is decent. (7/10)

25) Breath of Air (Written by Chris)

The sailing music for Star Ocean: The Second Story. This is an epic and triumphant theme that is ideal for sailing the boundless seas. Led by the brass, Sakuraba's poignant melodies do all that is needed here. Definitely a track of good spirits, this one is bound to cheer you up on a bad day. (9/10)

26) Discord (Written by Chris)

I'm not sure whether Americans are familiar with Marmite, but it is something you either love or you hate. This track is very much the same. Some will love its weird discordant jabbering. Why? Because a) it works in the game well that way, and b) some people (including me) just love odd things. Some people will despise it for exactly the same reasons, however. Why? Because a) it's not very easy on most people's ears, and b) some people just hate odd things. I'll rate it entirely according to personal choice, but it may not reflect your own potential viewpoint as a prospective listener. (10/10)

27) The Colosseum (Written by Totz)

This track does exactly what it needs to do: it gets us hyped up for the battles in the Lacour Tournament of Arms. What I like most about the track is the use of the trumpet (or french horn or whatever). It tells us "You know, this is epic! Epic battles! BATTLES!" and I like that. (9/10)

28) Pyroxene (Written by Totz)

This track is really, really good. It begins ominously, but then the flute comes and it gives a feeling of mystery. If I'm not mistaken, this track is played in the Linga cave, where you have to pick up a special kind of herb and stuff. If it is indeed played there, play the game and see what a perfect match it is. (9/10)

29) Ome of Hope (Written by Chris)

Eh. How do you like 13-second filler tracks? Personally, I prefer them with only one sugar, but with milk. But what about you? If you like them with synth guitars and synth recorders then you'll like this track. (6/10)

30) Ceremight (Written by Chris)

This is like "The Colosseum" all over again, but in a more full-blown and energetic style. I believe I'm correct in saying that it's the loudest track on the entire soundtrack. Sakuraba certainly pounds out its melody. It's very funky and epic, but not especially original. (8/10)

31) Invasion (Written by Totz)

Like "Ceremight," it sounds like a military march (it does to me, at least). And, again, like "Ceremight," it's very good, even better, actually. The brass instrument(s) used give(s) the pieces lots of power. My only complaint is that when the first section repeats (around 0:43), it sounds kind of awkward. Other than that, the piece is great. (9/10)

32) Intangible Body (Written by Totz)

Ooh, a very sinister track. You might not like the piece when it begins, but just you wait until 0:28. A very eerie choir kicks in, and the piece gets even more sinister. It's a pity the choir didn't stay for a longer amount of time. All in all, a track that aims to be eerie, and pulls it off flawlessly. (10/10)

33) Look Forward (Written by Chris)

"Look Forward" is a militaristic piece ideal for representing the preparation for the shadows that lie ahead. It's mostly optimistic, but there is a hint of sadness present within its poignant melodies. While not as memorable as some other themes, its composition is mostly well considered and mature. I have no major quarrels here. (8/10)

34) KA.MI.KA.ZE (Written by Talaysen)

Rather than starting off low, this piece just comes out full-blown at the beginning. Typical of a Sakuraba, this upbeat piece uses brass in the foreground and a simple backbeat in the percussion. I can't say it's a bad piece, but there's really not much depth to it, and not much evolution either. Definitely not one of the better pieces on the soundtrack. (8/10)

35) Decisive Battle (Written by Z-Freak)

The boss theme in Star Ocean 2 spells trouble. The slow buildup to the piece gives it an epic feel, and at 30 seconds in, it gets more and more foreboding. Maybe it's the clash of cymbals, the constant drumbeat, or the introductory violin samples which gives this piece a unique feel. One of the few orchestral-quality battle themes, which is refreshing from Sakuraba's hyperactive themes from Valkyrie Profile and Shining The Holy Ark. The only fault is that the piece doesn't loop. Given the entire album is like this, it's not really an issue. (10/10)

36) The Climax of the Tower (Written by Chris)

If you're a Sakuraba fan, then you'll love this classic Sakuraba battle theme. If not, then you'll probably find it one of the most detestable works ever created. Like "Stab the Sword of Justice" earlier on the disc, this track is heavily electronic-based. Indeed, it goes into techno overdrive! It's melodies are unforgettable and its fast-paced intensity means it's just perfect for the climactic battle between you and Berl. A little hard on your ears maybe, but perfect nonetheless. (10/10)

37) Mysterious Dreams (Written by Chris)

This theme accompanies a number of dream sequences throughout the game. As you might have guessed, Sakuraba takes an ambient approach to represent it through using suspended synth vocal chords throughout. A filler track, maybe, but the chord progressions are still quite beautiful. (8/10)

Disc Two

1) A Quirk of Fate (Written by Z-Freak)

I can't quite put my finger on where or when this track is played, but judging by its name and position on the soundtrack, I think I know where it's played (I won't tell, it's a major spoiler). It's nicely put together, with strings giving this hopeful feeling, while the clash of the cymbals make it epic. But what I like the most is the beginning. In a nut shell, a short track that accomplishes what it sets out to, and with style. (9/10)

2) The Dim Light of Dusk (Written by Chris)

This is a short but sweet acoustic guitar track. Its melody is surprisingly refreshing despite its simplicity and predictability. It's a very straightforward track that succeeds in its purpose but could be much more. That's all there is to say about this one. (7/10)

3) Desert Island (Written by Chris)

If you want to overdose with a techno overkill then this track is the correct one for you. It's extremely dissonant, blaringly loud, and highly repetitive. At least the ascending chromatic sequences creates a sense of impending danger. Despite succeeding in its purpose as 'hurry' music, this is probably the most irritating and unmusical track on the album nonetheless. (2/10)

4) Lose One's Illusions (Written by Chris)

Although not as striking as "A Quirk of Fate," heard at the start of Disc Two, this arrangement of the "Theme of Rema" (heard in its true form in the middle of Disc Two) is one of the most beautiful themes on the Original Soundtrack. It develops gradually from the fragile ostinato of the acoustic guitar with the introduction of strings and later brass at 0:32. The real peak of the piece is at 0:55 when the brass emerges as the predominant instrument and plays the theme triumphantly against the sci-fi sound effects in the background. This melodies sound rich in this form and the sci-fi effects give a distinct ethereal quality to it. (8/10)

5) Hydrangea (Written by Talaysen)

While the synth choice for the background music is pretty bad melodically and harmonically, this piece is solid. The melody is pleasing to listen to, especially the flute parts. The harmony (for the parts there is some) fits well, even though it's really simple. The arpeggios in the back adorn the melody nicely, assuming one can get past the bad synth. There are three main problems with this piece. First, it is very simple, using only three lines. Second, the background line synth (as I mentioned several times before) isn't very good. Third, the background is a bit too loud, so the melody can't be heard as well as it should be. (6/10)

6) Field of Nede (Written by Chris)

"Field of Nede" is the second overworld theme of the game and is even more impressive than "Field of Esper," heard on Disc One. The musical features employed are typical of that of an epic theme — from gushing flute melodies to heartfelt brass fanfares, from pounding timpani use to driving snare drum rolls — and gets even better with a bass line, which is provided in Star Ocean 2 Fantasy Megamix. It develops beautifully and has a stunning climax that provides a poignant picture of your heroes' mighty and tragic quest to save the universe. A true masterpiece — probably my favorite theme on the entire album. (10/10)

7) Endlessly (Written by Chris)

This is a suspense track with a rock element to it. A lot of the track is fantastic — the electric guitar use and bass guitar use at the start of the track is original and definitely creates an agitated feel. However, the main melody that emerges at the 0:30 mark doesn't do much to maintain this atmosphere and is far too light and carefree to fit the style of the track. As a result, this track is unlikely to offer much impact in the game, even though it sounds cool at first. (7/10)

8) Teary (Written by Chris)

This is the first arrangement of the Synard theme to be heard and my personal favorite. The luscious wind melodies come through magnificently and it develops to represent a wide array of feelings. I'll save you from listing the musical features of this track, since it is the melodies used and atmosphere created that makes this track such a beautiful one. (8/10)

9) Breezy Afternoon (Written by Totz)

If I'm not mistaken, we hear this when we're flying around on our Synard. Although I like the more upbeat beginning (its got a nice, catchy beat), my favorite part of the track is its development, that begins around 0:58, I think. Anyway, the instrumentation is really swell, with a nice percussion, a solid string accompaniment (there's a harp too, I think), and a flute (or some other woodwind instrument) playing the main melody. Like the other two overworld pieces, this one is great. It's a pity we don't get to hear it in the game very often, because traveling by Synard is usually very quick. (9/10)

10) Deadly Hatred (Written by Z-Freak)

Name-wise, I'm kind of disappointed. I was expecting this kick ass battle theme, but whatever. This is a rather atmospheric composition, with suspended strings serving as most of the accompaniment, some weird sound effects I can't really describe, and some violins (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) playing some passages. If the instruments weren't as loud, I'd go as far as saying that it's amazingly Nakano-ish. Because of its ambient nature, it doesn't make for a very exciting listen outside of the game. Especially because there is almost no development, which makes it a dull piece. Though this might bore you, it is extremely effective in setting a mood. (7/10)

11) Tender Spot (Written by Chris)

After a series of good tracks, it abruptly ends here with a harsh techno rampage. See my review for "Desert Island" (track 3 on the disc) if you want to learn why this one is so irritating. One question, though. Why is it called 'tender spot' when it is jarring to the extreme? (2/10)

12) Theme of RENA (Music Box) (Written by Totz)

Although not nearly as emotional as the next track, "Theme of RENA (Music Box)" is a cute little arrangement that portrays Rena's innocence, and is just preparing us for a major revelation (if it is indeed played where I think it's played). This piece, while not exactly original, is still quite enjoyable to listen to, thanks, in part, to its simplicity. (8/10)

13) Theme of RENA (Written by Totz)

Finally, after one CD and a half, we get one of the best themes ever. "Theme of RENA" is highly evocative, with an almost holy feeling, due to the use of the (soprano?) choir in the first half. The harp and the flute (I'm pretty sure there is a flute there) are used to represent Rena's more delicate side, while the choir shows us how emotional her character can be. Weirdly enough, I'm tending to like the final development of the pieces more so than the beginning. It's not any different in this case. I keep counting the seconds until it hits 0:44, and the second part of the track begins. Awe-inspiring, to say the least. All in all, a fantastic, emotional piece that paints Rena's character perfectly. (10/10)

14) White the Heart (Written by Totz)

If it wasn't for that annoying accompaniment, this track would easily be another "Theme of RENA". The flute melody is gorgeous and it just gets better after 0:35. Finally, at 1:02, that percussion from the beginning vanishes, and the piece is able to develop without anything to hinder it. Too bad the percussion comes back around 30 seconds later. (8/10)

15) Let's Walk in a Parade (Written by Totz)

This piece is played in only one place, if I remember correctly. There's this amusement park in Nede, where there a Colosseum, bunny races, etc. to waste your time. Unfortunately, the track isn't as fun. It hardly has the chance to develop itself before it loops again, and ends up getting annoying a bit too quickly. (6/10)

16) Come on Bunny (Written by Totz)

Another amusement park theme, "Come on Bunny" is played during the bunny races, where you just watch gigantic bunnies race. Yeah. And just like the previous piece, this one doesn't have a lot of variation (not that it needs a lot, after all, it's just a stupid mini-game), so it doesn't have a lot of effect outside the game, although it is more fun to listen to this one than to "Let's Walk in a Parade." (6/10)

17) Fortune Teller (Written by Chris)

This solo harpsichord shows that Sakuraba really isn't another D. Scarlatti. The harmonies are completely underdeveloped and the melodies are pretty uninteresting. While it probably works well in the amusement park where it is played, it doesn't evoke much on its own. Indeed, I've heard many more sophisticated uses of the harpsichord. (6/10)

18) Cooking Master (Written by Chris)

This is yet another track for the amusement park. Its melodies are quite a bit catchier than some of the others, making it seem ideal for mini games. Again, however, it barely develops and is pretty musically unremarkable. It's a fun track to listen to in short quantities, but that's all. (7/10)

19) Mission to the Deep Space (Written by Totz)

After so many mediocre tracks, there's finally a fantastic piece. "Mission to Deep Space" is everything one can hope in video game music: great melody, awesome instrumentation, and solid development. Those are the traits of a class-A composition, and this is one of them for sure. The synthesizer is easily the best feature of the track. (10/10)

20) Shiver (Written by Totz)

To put it bluntly, "Shiver" is a dull track. It doesn't have many redeeming features, and the bad far outweighs the good. It's repetitive, goes nowhere, and the instrumentation is sub-par. (4/10)

21) Tangency (Written by Totz)

When I heard this track for the first time, I can't say I was impressed. But since then, something "clicked" and I really enjoy it now. It's not quite "Stab the Sword of Justice" great, but excellent nonetheless. Sakuraba's simplicity at its finest. (8/10)

22) Invade (Written by Totz)

This is another military theme, and, if I'm not mistaken, it's played in L'Aqua. It does kind of sound like other military themes from the same soundtrack, so no originality points. I actually thought it was another militarish piece! I would be lying if I said I didn't like this track, because I do. It does its job very well, and manages to not be annoying, which are huge plusses for me. But it's just not very original. (7/10)

23) Fight to the Last (Written by Chris)

This is an epic theme dedicated to Claude. It mostly features militaristic brass melodies against suspended strings. A couple of cymbal crashes are also added. The whole thing manages to carefully evoke feelings of both hope and sadness. A little monotonous, perhaps, but still a beautiful theme. (8/10)

24) Beast of Prey (Written by Chris)

This is the battle theme for the second boss battle with the ten wise men. It features fast-paced synth harpsichord arpeggio sequences against an upbeat techno bass line. It captures the intensity of the battle theme appropriately and is very catchy. Unfortunately, though, it is a little grating and could have been better developed. Not one of my favorites, but it does the job. (7/10)

25) Mighty Blow (Written by Chris)

This is another classic theme with Motoi Sakuraba engraved all over it. It's extremely harsh and discordant, but features many more original and innovative features than throwaway tracks like "Desert Island" and "Tender Spot." Besides, it's got an inherent addictive nature to it. Liking this track requires a select musical taste (or a healthy indulgence in masochism). Since self-harm has yet to appeal to me, my liking for this track must be thanks to my unusual tastes! (9/10)

26) The Incarnation of Devil (Written by Totz)

This is easily one of Sakuraba's best battle themes. Short and to-the-point, "The Incarnation of Devil" manages to not get old. For me, the piece truly shines from 0:14 to 0:29. I don't know, there's something about those 15 seconds that make me think "this is awesome. There should be more tracks like these." But it could have been a bit longer... (9/10)

27) The Ultimate Terror (Written by Totz)

If I'm not mistaken, this track is played in the game's final dungeon. I don't like that place. Either way, something on this piece just rubs me the wrong way. It could be the really annoying percussion that is way too loud, the track's minimal development, or the fact that most things about it are drab. The only thing that stands out are the strings, which really give this "dangerous" feeling, and that saves this composition from being completely mediocre. (6/10)

28) Can You Say Yes With Eyes Open (Written by Totz)

Wow, it's a pretty mood-setting piece. After a more than dull beginning, the track is greatly improved. The bells and the evil-sounding string section are great and, even though the composition goes almost nowhere, it's still a fantastic mood-setter. (8/10)

29) Integral Body and Imperfect Soul (Written by Totz)

If you were wondering why there was such a mood-setting piece, "Integral Body and Imperfect Soul" is the answer. After all, it is the final boss battle theme.

0:00 - 0:31 - What a lengthy intro. It consists mainly of choir + suspended strings + percussion, and, while it does a good job creating tension, its use stops right there. Outside of the game, it's kind of boring.

0:31 - 1:03 - Ok, it's still sort of the intro. It's the same as the last 30 seconds, but a harpsichord (or an electric piano, I can't tell) joins, and plays a really cool melody.

1:04 - 1:19 - This part is kind of creepy. I can't even tell what instruments there are. It sounds like pulsating chords going down a scale. Could be chromatic, I'm not sure.

1:19 - 1:31 - Another instrument joins in the creepiness and the harpsichord/electric piano makes a quick appearance (if it wasn't there all along in the first place) to lead the piece into the more battle-ish section. Hallelujah!

1:31 - 2:02 - Too bad it's not that great. After a minute-and-a-half building up, you'd expect something really memorable.

2:02 - 2:33 - A percussion is added to the mix, and the melody might have been changed a bit, I'm not sure.

2:34 - 3:02 - Argh, back to the creepy part.

3:03 - 3:17 - Now it loops back to the beginning.

I am not happy with that. It might have worked in-game, but it's certainly not being that great now. (5/10)

30) The Fateful a Moment (Written by Totz)

For a piece that strikes for "epicness", "The Fateful a Moment" is disappointing. It goes nowhere, gets dull really fast, and the annoying instrument in the back doesn't help either. Finally, at 0:56, an organ takes over, and the track picks up a bit, but nothing fantastic. Kind of a lame addition to the soundtrack, if you ask me. (4/10)

31) Resolution (Written by Totz)

Great, a piano track. After 2 really disappointing tracks, I was getting wary of listening to the other ones, but "Resolution" showed me I have nothing to worry about. It's a beautiful piece, and it really does give a sense of closure. Marvelous, simply marvelous. (9/10)

32) We Form in Crystals (Written by Totz)

I'm speechless. This piece is amazing from beginning to end. If it wasn't for this violin (could be a flute, I'm not sure) solo around the three and four minute marks, it would have been perfect. This is easily one of the best pieces of the album. (9.8/10)

33) Live in Plenty (Written by Chris)

This is a suitably epic penultimate track, which is full of Sakuraba's great symphonic mastery (what can this guy not do?). Since I've given extensive details on tracks like these (e.g. "Field of Nede"), I won't go into any more about this one. It's definitely a great track, though it could have been developed a little better. (9/10)

34) STAR OCEAN Forever (Written by Talaysen)

I think this piece is a mood setter, and nothing more. It starts out with strong trumpets while the snare drum joins in later, creating a march/fanfare style. There's only two sections: the first strong fanfare and a second weaker part without the trumpets, and then it repeats. The piece is really only a minute long, but repeats twice. To make things worse, it doesn't really go anywhere. It really does have a decent melody and all, but it lacks a lot in the development area. Not to mention it's extremely repetitive. (6/10)


Written by Chris

Most soundtracks have a defining theme. This soundtrack has many. These are featured from the cinematic introduction "Silent the Universe" through to the adrenaline-pumping "Stab the Sword of Justice," the epic overworld themes, and the sole leitmotif "Theme of RENA" all the way to the touching conclusion "We Form in Crystals." It isn't just major themes that make it stand out, however, but the quality of the work inbetween. Apart from dodgy moments such as "Teary Spot" and "Desert Island," filler themes are kept to a minimum and all themes both serve an important in-game purpose and add to the musical diversity of the album. No strong VGM collection can be present without this being part of it, as it is not just Sakuraba's most well-known work, but one of the most consistently wonderful creations ever made. (9/10)

Written by Totz

This album can be easily enjoyed by anybody, which is, like I said before, a testament to Sakuraba's versatility. A versatility he shows even more on the Star Ocean Till the End of Time album, but that's another story. The bottom line? Highly recommended. (9/10)

Average of Summary Scores: 9/10