Tokimeki Memorial -Forever With You- Original Soundtrack 2
Tokimeki Memorial -Forever With You- Original Soundtrack 2
December 21, 1996
Buy Used Copy
I honestly don’t know how to begin describing this soundtrack. I guess I could start off by saying that it sounds like the musical geniuses at Konami, who had spent much of their time writing music for old-school shooters and platformers, tried their hands at creating the soundtrack for a dating simulator and wound up composing one of the most entertaining soundtracks of all time. That would cover things pretty nicely, but there’s so much more to it than that.
A better way of starting this review off would be to put both the game and the soundtrack that accompanies it into context. When Tokimeki Memorial (the game) came out in Japan, it was the game that can be traced back to the popularity explosion of dating simulators that started showing up in the mid to late nineties. In some cases, it’s not hard to see why this game was able to trigger such a reaction… Despite consisting of still images with blinking eyes and moving mouths, the characters are very likeable and the game contains a nice amount of depth (even for someone like myself, who understands Japanese well below what a native Japanese pre-schooler would). It goes without saying that it is one of the most popular and recognizable franchises in the world of Japanese videogames, with poster-girl Shiori Fujisaki’s face plastered on everything from T-shirts to CDs. As far as the popularity of the music, I could just say that there have been a ton of CDs that have come out which contain mostly excellent arrangements of the music, but instead, it might be better to show you. Scroll down to where it says Tokimeki Memorial on the left and click on it. Viewing the discography, scroll down and count the number of CDs that are associated with Tokimeki Memorial (just the first game, not the second or the third in the series).
Back yet? That’s nowhere near all of them, but just about all of the major ones are covered here at Square Enix Music Online (many of the other ones are just drama albums). The scary part is, there is not one on this list that I would even come close to calling bad, bland, or uninspired. Rather, it’s quite the opposite: The four Tokimeki Memorial Sound Collections are among my most treasured game music arranged albums (they would be my absolute favorites if it wasn’t for those pesky Ys IV Perfect Collections and the King of Fighters Arranged Albums) and all of the Vocal Collections manage to throw out song after song and remain interesting, something I find that doesn’t happen with a lot of Japanese vocal collections. Even the MIDI Collections, which remain a little too faithful to the original versions of the songs, offer enough that I find myself playing them quite a bit. My point? Well, when games get arrangement-happy, there’s often enough substance in the original music to warrant additional takes on it. In that regard, Tokimeki Memorial Forever With you Original Soundtrack 2 manages to pull triple duty: It fits the game it accompanies perfectly, it sparkles as a stand-alone release, and serves as the perfect backbone for all of the various arranged albums that are based off of it.
As I said before, the style is very reminiscent of the old-school style of music that the Konami composers are known for. Most of the 172 tracks here are loaded with memorable, hummable melodies that eat their way into your head. On the same hand, these tracks manage to portray the perfect atmosphere for their accompanying scenes or characters. The soundtrack manages to be fun and entertaining, without feeling the need to achieve, say, a Final Fantasy VIII level of overall sappiness. Many of the tracks may seem to go by very quickly, a good number clocking in at about a minute with being looped, but that is simply because the game goes by at that pace. It’s hard to fault the music for something like that.
What I am most impressed by is that there is practically no attempt at realism here. Outside of a handful of vocals, everything has a distinct artificial sound that can best be described as pleasing to the ear. I’m not aware of any differences between the Saturn and PlayStation versions of the music, but I’ve spent enough time with the Saturn version of the game to know at least it’s the one that’s on here. You may be wondering why there are two soundtracks for Tokimeki Memorial. The first one was released about a year before this one and I believe it contains either the Super Famicom or the PC Engine version of the score (I can’t tell from listening to it). Trust me, this second soundtrack is the one you want. It has more tracks, the artwork and linear notes are much nicer, and the synth is much more pleasing to the ear (the first soundtrack always gives me a nasty headache when I listen to it).
The first disc is definitely the meatiest, as it covers the most important tracks of the game — the character themes and the music for the actual date spots. Both of these types range from fast and upbeat to slow and peaceful, depending on the girl or date spot. For example, Yuko Asahina and Yumi Saotome (two of the more energetic characters in the game) both have upbeat, fun themes, while ones like Mio Kisaragi’s and Shiori’s are slower and much dreamier. The only one that really falls outside of this categorization would probably be Yuna Himoo’s theme; it’s much more fitting for her mad scientist personality. Rei’s theme and Yoshio Saotome’s themes are here as well — Yoshio has a cool rock piece and Rei’s theme has that touch of overblown royalty that fits his character so well. The date spot themes follow this exact pattern as well, depending on the location. For example, the park, the aquarium and the library are dripping with slow nostalgia, while others like the beach, the pro wrestling event and the karaoke event are loud and exciting. Also, during one of the scenes at the karaoke booth, one of the girls (Ayako Katagiri) actually sings the short version of “Don’t Carry Love Too Far” in-game. This is included here as well. The full version is on Tokimeki Memorial Vocal Collection 2. Honestly, it’s one of my more favorite vocals that have come from the series. Overall, it’s this diversity that keeps the soundtrack (and the game) interesting.
The second disc contains the seven seasonal themes, then the rest is filled with various event themes that happen sparatically throughout the game (many of which I’ve never even come across when playing, which should tell you how many different events the game can throw at you). I’ll say exactly what I said about the first disc. The music is very catchy and is incredibly diverse in fitting whatever the scenes call for. Of the event themes, my favorites are the ones for the athletic meet and the ones for the field trips. Some of the other event themes do start to drag a bit, but they’re not offensive enough to warrant skipping (mostly because they’re so short). If you’re a fan of Parodius, a couple of these themes actually arrange classical (or at least familiar) music in the same style — The Folk Dance is the same tracks as the A-type music in the Game Boy version of Tetris and the brass band events have fun with the first level of Gradius and Ride of the Valkyries. The season themes are the ones you’re stuck listening to throughout the menu portions of the game (which makes up a good portion of the non-dating sequences), so a good bit of effort went into them. Even hearing them for a good portion of the game, I never get tired of them.
The third disc wraps everything up, though it’s probably the most awkwardly put together disc in the set. It opens with a series of karaoke versions of songs from the game (just the short versions — I believe they’re used in the karaoke box date spot when your character sings). Afterward, there’s a short series of pieces that represent the hilarious old-school Final Fantasy-style battles in the game (you have to see them to completely understand the take-off). These tunes remind me of the main boss battle from Final Fantasy VI more than anything.
Afterward come the closing tracks, including the classic vocal “Futari no Toki” and the short version of the classic, yet depressing bad ending theme, “Poem of the Effeminate Losers”. If you’re going to label a dating simulator with more of a sappy stereotype, these were the tracks you were thinking of. They’re not bad at all (especially the vocals), but they fit right into that stereotype, so don’t expect too many surprises. From there, the selections get even stranger. You get the music from the Time Attack mode in the Twinbee game at the video arcade dating spot (which I believe is lifted from Detana! Twinbee, but I’m not 100% sure) and then a couple of dance tracks, which I have never encountered inside the game. Finally, as bonus tracks, two vocals from the fourth vocal collection are present. One is done with just Shiori’s seiyuu and the other is more of a full group effort. These, combined with the other vocals on the rest of the album, should give a good sampling of the vocal collections.
Looking back, the only drawbacks I have with this album come from the fact that it’s too much of an original soundtrack for its own good. Track lengths can end up being a concern for some; most of the really important themes (the character themes, the seasonal themes, the ending themes, and about half of the date spot themes) get two full playthroughs, but just about everything else goes for about one, then fades mid-way through. It’s not quite as offensive as the soundtracks Motoi Sakuraba ends up doing work on, because it feels like there is some effort to extend the tracks, but CDs can only hold so much music and there’s only three discs for all 172 tracks… The other drawback is that at some points, the tracks start to drag a little bit (mostly in a couple spots on Disc Two). Oh well, other soundtracks are much more offensive in this respect, so it’s not that glaring of a flaw. The producers must have seen this as well, because all of the “dragging” tracks end very quickly. As you can see from the score I gave it, these flaws didn’t affect my opinion too much.
I recommend this soundtrack very highly. If nothing else, it has the ultimate mark of a great soundtrack. Even though it seems like it has an overwhelming amount of music, it’s sad when it comes to a close. If you’re choosing to avoid it simply because it’s the soundtrack to a dating simulator… well, you’re going to miss out on one of the best Konami soundtracks, plain and simple. Although I recommend playing the game if you have the chance, this may not be possible for some (due to Konami’s lame decision not to release it outside of Japan). Honestly, you shouldn’t have to in order to fully appreciate the music. If you’re more of an old-school gamer like I am or if you’re just looking for something fun that is as good at presenting classic melodies and atmosphere at the same time, you should walk away satisfied. Just be sure to look into the Sound Collections if you like the style. Like most Tokimeki Memorial CDs, this is relatively easy to find. Anime Jungle and Yahoo Japan often sell this at around $20 or so used and I’ve seen them on eBay as well for around the same price.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andy Byus. Last modified on August 1, 2012.