Chaos Rings II Original Soundtrack
Chaos Rings II Original Soundtrack
March 15, 2012
Download at iTunes
The third title in Media Vision’s Chaos Rings series, though the first to be set in an entirely new universe (thus the awkward naming), Chaos Rings II, released in March 2012, brings back Noriyasu Agematsu as sole composer, after what can only be described as an unbridled success with his work on the first game. Chaos Rings and its immediate sequel, Chaos Rings Omega, had fantastically advanced scores for a game made for mobile devices, with production values and compositions rivaling any big budget title of the last few years. This was all the more impressive considering how early these titles were released in the iPhone’s life cycle. By now, however, as the music in iPhone games are commonly showing more complexity and higher production values, how does Agematsu’s newest score compare? Can he match or even surpass his past efforts?
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the first track, “Chaos Rings II,” reuses the main theme from the Chaos Rings series. Akin to Yoko Shimomura’s successive arrangements of the “Dearly Beloved” theme for the Kingdom Hearts series, however, this is not merely a simple rehash of the original, but a wonderful and complex arrangement that evolves the original to new heights. The following track, “The Sacred Pedestal,” begins with a brief melody on a church organ before its full orchestration kicks in, referencing the main theme, and concluding with sad undertones to highlight the depressing nature of the game’s story.
The next grouping of pieces is a collection of the game’s area themes, half of which are loose arrangements of the four area themes from Chaos Rings and half of which are new. I use the term ‘loose arrangements’ as these pieces, while retaining the melodies from their original counterparts, are arranged in such a way as to be only superficially related to their originals. The emphatic “Froze Sky, Scorched Earth” from the original game has been quieted down into the somber “Drifting Sorrow,” while the reverse has happened in the transition from the older “Fall From Grace” to the newer “Forest Thickets.” The arrangements are all fantastically done, and can be called the superior versions. Because of their drastic changes, they also never feel cheap or lazy.
The new area themes are similarly fulfilling, with the possible exception of the slow-moving, Asian inspired “The Curfew Tolls,” which still manages to hold the listener with a relatively complex development. “The Land Desolate” develops from somber into hopeful in a fantastic movement, and then back again for its loop. The mournful vocals help tremendously in this piece. The variation amongst all these themes helps keep them fresh and interesting.
A collection of battle themes follows. “Battle Benedictit” is the game’s main battle theme, and it is perfectly thrilling, without being too dramatic to be heard for every battle. Snippets of choir throughout and a hopeful finale round out this exciting orchestrated piece. “Dire Struggle,” the main boss battle theme, somewhat predictably adds electric guitars to the orchestrated mix, but the melody isn’t quite as strong as it was in the preceding, though the raw energy is still there.
Among the special battle tracks, “Hallowed Beast” is quite the dramatic boss theme, with its operatic vocals and fierce melody culled from the one of the game’s vocal themes. “The Four Horseman” and “The Embodiment of Destruction” are rather odd boss themes; while effective in context, they don’t work particularly well outside of the game’s context considering all the discord and lack of focused melody throughout. The overly hopeful “With the Power of Our Feelings” is quite enjoyable, and accurately portrays the emotional ups and downs of the character’s journey in the game. Closing this section is the rapid, energetic “Now We’re Rockin’!,” which contains the melody of the first game’s “Merchant’s Song,” as well as new material.
The next convenient bundle of tracks is the event themes. The standard plethora of RPG themes are present and most are simply named. The simplicity of their names, however, does not reflect the simplicity of the pieces. None stand out in particular though all are fantastic representations of their concepts. The hurried piano in “Crisis” serves its purpose admirably, augmenting the track’s orchestration, and the soft emotions evoked in “Emotion” are quite fitting.
The final battle theme, “Awakening: Creator Conqueror,” is standard final battle fare, with operatic vocals and grandiose arrangement of the series’ main theme. It’s quite good, though not particularly noteworthy, and its lack of an original theme is little disappointing. “Everything’s Riding on This” contains within it another arrangement of both the series’ main theme and one of its main vocal themes, again in a grandiose, yet gentler, arrangement.
“To Each, a Tomorrow” is one of the game’s two vocal themes and it’s rather substantial, tying together many melodic lines heard throughout the soundtrack into a single operatic nugget of enjoyment. Sadly, the theme song “Celestial Diva” is conspicuously absent from this digital release and must be purchased as a separate single. The final track, “It’s Me We’re Talkin’ About!” is a bit of a bonus – an 8-bit arrangement of both Chaos Ring’s “Merchant’s Song,” and the series’ main theme. It’s greatest flaw is making the listener desire more, but other than that, it’s a fantastic and nostalgic closer.
The Chaos Rings II Original Soundtrack is fantastic, surpassing its predecessor in almost every way. Its major flaws are both its lack of standout battle themes and a curious omission of the game’s main vocal. The rest of the soundtrack, however, with rare exception, is golden, and it definitely should not be missed by any VGM enthusiast, especially those familiar with the composer’s past efforts. It is only available digitally for 10 USD, but is well worth it.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on April 16, 2014 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on April 16, 2014.