Final Fantasy X-2

Music composed by
Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi

"1000 Words" & "Real Emotion"
Lyrics by Kazunari Nojima
Vocals by Kumi Koda


Disc One-31 tracks-66:30
Disc Two-30 tracks-72:06

Because this was the first soundtrack I had purchased before the I played game itself, and the fact that Nobuo Uematsu had no part in this soundtrack, I was skeptical as to how much I would enjoy this new change of pace. As it turns out, just as Final Fantasy X-2 looks to have taken a complete change in direction from the previous installments, this soundtrack does the same. As a result of this new direction, many fans of Uematsu's masterpieces may be very well disappointed if not disgusted by this soundtrack. I was among these people as I listened to it for the first time. It started out beautifully with Eternity - Memory of Lightwaves, a piano solo I immediately wanted the sheet music for. Next came Real Emotion, a jarring transition from the first track. I believe this upbeat techno-pop vocal song is FFX-2's introduction music, and its a 180-degree turn from Liberi Fatali or FFXI's Opening Theme. Surprising, I really enjoyed this song by the time it was over. If you liked Hikari - Simple & Clean from Kingdom Hearts, I think you'd like this song.
Unfortunately, Disc 1 pretty much went downhill from here. The disc is full of either somewhat boring ambient songs or techno, jazz, and synthesied music. The three YuRiPa battle themes sound more like a dance party than battle music. It was at this moment I realized this was definitely not a Final Fantasy soundtrack, and decided not to treat it like one. Once I stopped comparing it to Final Fantasies past, the soundtrack actually became really good. Sphere Hunter - Seagull Group has a great bass and brass combo melody in it, and was one of the highlights of Disc 1. Other notable tracks on the first disc are Zanarkand Ruins, a really peaceful and serene piece, Sphere Hunter, an electric organ kind of light rock-like piece, and Besaid, somewhat reminiscent of FFX's Besaid Island with its piano and drum tropical feel. Like I said, you won't find many strings in this soundtrack as in previous Final Fantasies.

Disc 2, however, is where the soundtrack really starts to shine. It starts off with Seagull Group March, something which at first I really didn't like at all. But after a few listens, I actually came to really like this song (it's a good break from the symphonic or darker FF music I usually listen to). Nothing musically beautiful like Melodies of Life or Aeris' Theme for sure, but instead the song is really upbeat peppy and just has an overall happy-go-luck feeling to it. I can hardly imagine what could be happening when this song appears in the game. It's sounds mainly like the title says with a marching band beat to it, but it's scattered with all kinds of random noises: fireworks, roosters, shoots of Ya-Hoo!, something that sounds possibly like a baby crying, stuff that really brings us to the point of one of the soundtracks greatest points.

The synth is AMAZINGLY GOOD. Being a brass player, I was stunned by how realistic the brass sounded, from the tuba to the trumpet falls. FFVII's brass sounds absolutely TERRIBLE after listening to this. At many moments it was hard to believe this music was even synthesized, all the instruments are just that good, even better than FFX and Kingdom Hearts.

But back to the soundtrack, Disc 2 has it's absolutely breath-taking moments. It's a complete change from Disc 1's upbeat party music. This disc actually sounded like it could fit in a Final Fantasy game. Great Existence has quite an ominous, menacing tone to it and is quite fitting overall. Anxiety actually almost scared the pants off me. The song is incredibly freaky. I don't know how to quite describe it, just don't listen to it when it's dark and the lights are out. It's actually kind of cool when you get over the possessed nature of it. Rikku's Theme probably fits her better than Yuna's or Paine's themes, and I liked it, but it could be because I'm somewhat partial to jazz music. One thing a hardcore Final Fantasy fan may find really hard to digest is the Chocobo theme. It is not anything like the typical ____ de Chocobo we're used to (in fact, it's not even named with a "de Chocobo" derivative). I guess that's a result of Nobuo's absence. However, I didn't mind it all that much after standing up a shouting, "THIS ISN'T CHOCOBO MUSIC!", but it does get kind of repetitive after, say, 10-20 seconds of it.

Now, after making it through the fun, happy songs, and the demon-possessed tracks, comes the real magic behind this soundtrack, the main reason it's worth a purchase. Eternity - Memory of Lightwaves makes a reprise in a pop form, which I actually like even better than the piano version. 1000 Words is similar in style to Melodies of Life or Eyes on Me, except that it's in Japanese, of course. If you liked any of the love themes from the previous games, you'll like this one (assuming it even is a love theme). Next comes a whole cornucopia of intense, powerful tracks that sound very likely to be Final Boss music. This is where the strings come into the soundtrack. Destruction was in my opinion a masterpiece, very powerful and frantic with well-placed and unexpected orchestra hits scattered throughout. I liked it a lot more than the boss music from the original FFX. There are at least two more tracks together with this one that follow a similar pattern, which brings up the major drawback of Disc 2. Destruction, Demise, and Struggle to the Death all sound quite similar with a slight key change put in for variety. But the redudancy really rears its ugly head on Nightmare of a Cave and Vegnagun Starting. Nightmare of a Cave starts with a frantic piano solo followed by an intense orchestra. But two tracks later comes Vegnagun. This song started with the EXACT same piano solo, and I mean to the very note. However, the rest of the track is a very cool, intense organ/choir piece which definitely makes up for the first 15 seconds.

The Ending Theme of this game is of the same calibre of any Final Fantasy. It's a very moving symphonic piece along with an orchestra version of 1000 Words (just as Suteki da Ne made an orchesta return in the original). I'd say it's right between FFIX and FFVIII's ending themes in quality. The soundtrack comes to a close with Epilogue - Reunion (which is a very suspicious title I might add, and I hope I didn't spoil anything) Anyway, this final song is very soothing and beautiful, and a very nice way to end the soundtrack. (Sadly, The Final Fantasy Theme and the Prelude are nowhere to be found, but oh well, this isn't your average Final Fantasy, and I didn't expect to find them anyway. Come to think of it, neither did FFX).

All in all, I think this soundtrack is worth a buy if only for Disc 2's array of very good music. If you like techno dance music, Disc 1 is also for you. At times a few songs start to sound extremely redundant (aka the piano solo mentioned earlier), but there are enough great tracks to keep any fan pleased with his purchase. It's a different path from what we've come to expect from a Final Fantasy soundtrack, but it's in no way a turn for the worse. I would've preferred Nobuo Uematsu, that's for sure, but the composers did a very good job on their own. Come into this soundtrack expecting good, original music, rather than specifically Final Fantasy music, and I think you'll be quite pleased with what you hear.

- Chris Heit


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