Tag Archives: PlayStation Vita

Review: SaGa SCARLET GRACE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

I’ve admittedly not completed a single game in the SaGa series, but that hasn’t stopped me from appreciating Kenji Ito’s sweeping and majestic orchestral scores. In fact, I’ve reviewed a number of them and their arrangements on this very blog. After hearing a sample on the Square Enix Music sampler last year, I was looking forward to the Scarlet Grace soundtrack in particular, and I’m not disappointing upon hearing it now. There’s all the wondrous orchestral beauty, chugging metal, and more that you’ve come to expect, and then some.

Starting with sweeping and joyous overture and the contemplative and regal and uplifting “Scarlet Dark Star,” it’s then on to the spunky guitar and string ballad, “When Flowers Bloom ~ Urpina Theme,” the upbeat rock battle, “Trampling Petals ~ Urpina Battle,” and the swaying lullaby-esque “In a Quiet Forest ~ When Hearts Are Tested.” “That’s Cute, Right” is an infectious bubbly electronic track, “Graveyard ~ Siegfrey’s Theme” is dark and ominous, and “Devil – The Fallen One” is epic synth rock in classic SaGa fashion.

Some of my favorites include “Guardian of Martial Arts ~ Divine Star Marigan,” a determined march with rolling snares and a regal tone, “Ever Near to Sorrow,” a somber and tragic piece with harp and slow strings, “Quietly ~ Taria Theme,” a fantasy pop ballad with woodwinds, strings, and bells, and “Grassland ~ The Wind and One Who Presses Forward,” a hybrid Western/Asian-flavored track with spunky Western bass and galloping percussion. The album closes with all the explosive vigor you’d expect, with wailing guitars, rock organ, romantic violins, and epic strings.

In all, Kenji Ito has done another wonderful job, showing once again that he may be the man to take up the Dragon Quest mantle someday. His orchestral work is getting that good.

Pick up the album on CD Japan if you’re interested.

ω Labyrinth Song Collection♪ (SRIN-1138)

SuperSweep is at it again, publishing obscure music that you won’t hear anywhere else. This time it’s the PlayStation Vita title, Omega Labyrinth featuring Daisuke Nakajima as the primary composer with a number of vocal anime-style themes thrown into the mix. The game itself is a challenging roguelike dungeon crawler with a story centered around the protagonist seeking out a grail in order to request a wish to increase her breast size.

In terms of the music, it follows the upbeat anime formula. The opening vocal theme, “Brave Heart,” offers sticky sweep pop rock with female vocals that are silly and energetic, followed by another vocal track that is more acoustic and folksy in nature. There’s everything here from cool ninja rock with shakuhachi and shamisen to classic J-rock with impressive guitar solos. You’ll find the usual suspects for this type of game: tense dungeons, epic boss battles with explosive rock, and a lovely sweeping orchestral pop tune to close out the game.

The album is available at CD Japan if you’re interested.

Bullet Girls 1 & 2 Soundtrack (SRIN-1140)

SuperSweep Records is at it again, bringing music you wouldn’t expect out on CD with the release of the soundtracks to the PlayStation Vita games Bullet Girls 1&2. The album features an eclectic selection of electronic, orchestral, and pop music composed by Masanori Hikichi, including the catchy J-rock title themes, “Faith” (Bullet Girls 1) and “One’s Bullet” (Bullet Girls 2), both featuring vocalist Tifan.

Between military marches, smooth synth pop, funk, and pop rock, there’s something for everyone with this release. There’s sweeping orchestral, spooky trip hop, and even dance music. It’s all wonderfully produced, and even some of the darker tracks maintain an upbeat atmosphere. They also include a number of jingles from the game and the instrumental versions of the vocal tracks.

Bullet Girls 1&2 Soundtrack can be imported from CD Japan if you’re interested.

Ukiyo no Shishi/Ukiyo no Roushi Background Music Collection (SRIN-SRIN-1139)

This one may have slid by your radar earlier this year, but you’ll want to check it out. SuperSweep Records looks back at this PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita title offering a cool blend of electronic music with traditional Japanese instruments by Patapon and LocoRoco composer Kemmei Adachi.

You’re in store for some really amazing atmospheres, starting out of the gate with the opening track, which features pumping electronics and the addition of Japanese koto, shakuhachi, and vocals. There’s plenty of funk throughout, tense stealth espionage cues, a hauntingly beautiful ambient piece with sound effects and siren-like female vocals, a lounge track with flamenco-like guitar and koto, what I’m calling ninja dance music with bumpin’ bass, crunchy and glitchy electronic offerings, and an amazing 90s dance track that will get the nostalgia flowing.

Pick Ukiyo no Shishi/Ukiyo no Roushi up on CD Japan if you want to try something different. There’s not a whole lot of music like this out there.

Review: ADVENTURES of MANA Original Soundtrack

Most know the Seiken Densetsu franchise for the second game in the series, which is known outside of Japan as Secret of Mana. However, the first game, originally released on the Game Boy and again on the Game Boy Advance, is now enjoying yet another re-release on iOS, Android, and the PlayStation Vita. It also gets another arranged soundtrack, putting Kenji Ito’s memorable melodies in the hands of former Falcom JDK member Noriyuki Kamikura, Nobuo Uematsu protege Tsutomu Narita, and Ito himself.

From the lovely strings and piano of the moving main theme, “Rising Sun,” to the blazing rock with epic organ of “The Final Conflict,” this album acts as a great introduction to a soundtrack that many may have missed. “Bloodsands” sports chugging guitars and the battle cry of brass, “Village Theme” features sleepy and comforting woodwinds and acoustic guitar, and “Town Theme” is a bouncy, bubbly piano, flute and guitar piece that would be right at home in a drunken tavern, and is easily my favorite track on the album. There’s also the rocking overworld, “Endless Carnage,” that gets the blood pumping, the orchestral-rock fusion track, “In Search of the Sword of Mana,” with its pumping octave-jumping bass, the dark and mysterious “Dungeon Theme 1,” and even a funky version of Uematsu’s chocobo theme. Then it’s the exotic droning and sitar of “Dungeon Theme II,” the angelic “The Mana Shrine,” and the sweet harp tune, “Say it With a Song.” From there you have all the remaining RPG trappings, including a synth rock battle theme, a regal castle tune, a comical moogle theme, and several melancholy ballads.

This is really a classic score from Kenji Ito, and Narita and Kamikura have done a great job with the arrangements. Anyone who’s an Ito fan or is looking for a classic JRPG romp, I recommend picking up the album from CD Japan.

Review: I am Setsuna Original Soundtrack

There’s been a lot of talk of Chrono series influences on Square Enix’s new RPG, I am Setsuna. That immediately had me interested in the game and its soundtrack, and upon learning that that the score would be recorded almost entirely on solo piano, my anticipation grew. The score features two discs of piano performances that touch on all the RPG trappings, including a bass-heavy and dangerous battle theme (“Deadly gamble”) and frightening dungeon theme (“Dark caves”) to the cute and whimsical “The warmth of life” and beautiful and serene ballad, “Hidden intentions.”

I was surprised at times just how versatile I am Setsuna is despite relying on a single instrument. I really love “No turning back” with its upbeat action and distinctly Asian vibe, “March of the brave” and its semi-serious approach that’s both playful and determined, the reflective and somber “Regal ruins,” the rapid staccato notes of “Endless crusade,” the mysterious “A secret passage,” the rambunctious “Rare,” and probably my favorite track on the album, “Silent snow,” which features twinkling piano notes that descend in a sorrowful fashion with just a tinge of beauty. I’ve noted that the soundtrack is “mainly” piano several times now, and that’s because tracks like the tense and lightning-fast “Relentless advance,” the energetic and wondrous “A fantastic encounter,” the determined “Out of time,” and the explosive “Hidden danger” also add in bass and percussion to great effect (you really notice the additions when none of the other tracks feature them). There’s also a little chiptune surprise in “Dreamer’s conclave” tucked away at the end of the album that is quite a treat.

In all, I really enjoyed my time with the I am Setsuna soundtrack. It offers icy atmospheres and beautiful ballads, perfect for a game that takes place in the snow, and does a lot with a single instrument. Grab it on CD Japan if you’re interested in giving it a listen.

ODIN SPHERE LEIFTHRASIR Original Soundtrack (BSPE-1057~8)

Odin Sphere fans should rejoice. Not only is the game being released in HD remake form, but there’s new music written by Basiscape written specifically for the new version as well. Basiscape has released the two-disc soundtrack on Basiscape Records, available in physical CD format in Japan (see CD Japan) or digitally on iTunes International.

Fans of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Basiscape will find a lot to love. From the beautiful new version of the main theme complete with choir to tense Sakimoto-esque battle themes, a mysterious and serene forest theme, an oppressive lava area theme with clattering chimes, a mischievous forest kingdom, an otherworldly netherworld, and a soothing track to listen to while digging through the text archive, there’s something for every fantasy music lover. There’s playful and exotic, heroic and energetic, and bombastic and regal. Even flamenco and Celtic music make an appearance. In addition to the new tracks, there are also five arranged versions from the original score and this new material to enjoy.

Grab if it you’re an Odin Sphere or Basiscape fan!

Muramasa Rebirth Genroku Legends Original Soundtrack (BSPE-1054~5)

Do you love Muramasa? The game is gorgeous, and the soundtrack by Basiscape has also received high praise. Muramasa has seen several album releases with a soundtrack and arrange album to date, but this latest collection from Basiscape Records brings together new music created for the PlayStation Vita port Muramasa Rebirth DLC packs, composed by the Basiscape team.

Fans of the original score should feel right at home. Lots of beautifully-layered Japanese instruments abounds, complete with rock and orchestral backings as appropriate. The opener, “Strike the Four Strings,” features studio head Hitoshi Sakimoto’s memorable theme and other standouts include the contemplative and sweeping “Mountains and Rivers,” the decisive orchestral piece “Perseverance,” and healing “High-Rise Buildings,” the lovely vocal theme with piano accompaniment titled “Rice Flower,” the gorgeously flowing strings of “Astonishing Sight,” the cool jazz fusion of “Solid Fortress,” the super serious espionage-esque “Pursuit,” the pop-tinged “External Traveller,” and the mischievous “Extraordinary Talent.”

While the physical two-disc set is available in Japan and is covered in artwork by Vanillaware, the album is available on the iTunes US store if you’re interested.