Ys Books I & II Original Soundtrack / Legacy of
Legacy of Ys Books I & II Original Soundtrack
February 24, 2009
Buy Used Copy
In 2009, the Ys series made its long-awaited return to Western shores when Atlus released the DS remakes featured on Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. A bonus CD was packaged with the game featuring a selection of Yasuko Yamada’s arranged music from the two games. It was originally announced that the CD would only be bundled when the game was pre-ordered from specific retailers, but to make up for a two week delay in releasing the game, Atlus decided to pack in the CD with every copy. The resultant album is identical to the Ys I & II DS Original Soundtrack released in Japan except with two bonus tracks. Did those who buy the game get a treat?
Right from the title theme “Feena”, it’s clear that the music of Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is quite faithful to the original. The descending opening progression is even more synthy than usual, though the eventual timpani rolls add a cinematic touch. The interpretation of the main melody also stays close to the original, though with a piano taking the lead instead of woodwinds, giving something of a new age feel. It still has that old-school sound thanks to the DS synth, but there is another liberation for the instruments to be recognisable and the musical styles to be embellished. Plenty of other arrangements feel right given the original material. For example, Yasuko Yamada’s take on “First Step Towards Wars” satisfyingly blends the rock essence of the original with a more acoustic B section reminiscent of other RPG overworld themes. He also treats “Palace” in a suitably ethereal way using flute and piano before giving “Palace of Destruction” considerably more ‘oomph’. However, there is more continuity in the soundscapes between these two themes than most arranged versions and this probably makes it a more cohesive in-game experience.
Despite the subtle approach of most arrangements, rest assured that Yamada doesn’t hesitate to rock out in a few places on the album. Tracks such as “Tower of the Shadow of Death” and “Tension” are particularly enjoyable, since Yamada’s sense of lyricism really shines. “Holders of Power” and “Final Battle” are even more abrasive than most other arrangements of the theme and offer surprisingly dense drum beats despite the limitations of the DS. They’re too underdeveloped and harsh for stand-alone listening, but have a major impact in the game. Of course, listeners are also treated to a tight light rock interpretation of the credits theme “See You Again”. Although a fairly thorough interpretation of Ys‘ music, note that “Fountain of Love”, “Tears of Sylph”, and “The Syonin” are cut from the album for playtime reasons. This gets the album offer to a swift start after “Feena” but the omissions are pretty significant ones. It’s also a little strange that the MSX-produced tracks Tension” and “Open Your Heart” are incorporated instead.
There are also highlights among the Ys II selection. It’s very pleasing how “Lilia” has been elaborated upon to produce a more substantial title theme comparable to “Feena”. Yamada’s rock sound is also back in pieces like “Ruins of Moondoria”, “Companile of Lane”, and “Termination”. These are even more enjoyable than the Ys interpretations, perhaps partly since the original music is more compatible with rock-styled arrangements. However, the softer themes are probably the finest efforts in terms of both arrangement and synthesis, particularly the highly atmospheric “Subterranean Canal” and “Ice Ridge of Noltia”. Unfortunately, a larger number of tracks needed to be cut from Ys II to accomodate the playtime limitations of the CD. However, at least most cut were among the weaker tracks from the original score. Finally, there are two exclusive bonus tracks featuring the opening themes of the two games, namely a more cinematic interpretation of “Feena” and an interpretation of “To Make the End of Battle”. Both are very modest highlights, however, and “To Make…” sounds particularly weak compared to most interpretations of the theme.
Legacy of Ys: Books I & II features a mostly pleasing score. Yasuko Yamada largely preserved the nature of the originals, but didn’t hesitate to make some elaborations and diversions when it would be more immersive. However, the arranged version still features average quality DS synth and is nowhere near as technologically commanded as the recent PSP remakes. This is excellent news for fans of old-school music, but not so good for those looking for a modern interpretation of the music. As for the album itself, it compiles most of the highlights of the games into a single disc and is an entertaining listen from start to finish. However, it is not a complete version of either score, given it is just a one disc release, and completists will prefer to stick to other releases. Most Ys fans won’t be missing out by skipping this album, given the humble arrangements and incompleteness, but it’s still a nice bonus for those who bought the game and reflects the musical fruits of a largely successful remake.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.