Ys II / Music from

Music from Ys II Album Title:
Music from Ys II
Record Label:
King Records
Catalog No.:
K32X-7704 (1st Edition); KICA-2302 (2nd Edition)
Release Date:
June 21, 1988; May 21, 1993
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished Omen The Final Chapter continues the story directly from the ending of Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished Omen. Adol has just defeated Dark Fact and now has collected the ancient tomes of Ys and suddenly he gets whisked up into the clouds from the top of Darm Tower. He wakes up without equipment on the floating continent of Ys and quickly comes to the conclusion that something is amiss. So off he goes on the final part of his first adventure.

Musically, while Ys I was primarily composed by Yuzo Koshiro, this time the tracks are evenly split between him and Mieko Ishikawa, also with a few tracks composed by Hideya Nagata. While many have a strong love for the music of Ys I, there are those who recommend Ys II much more. And I can understand that recommendation, as I’m one of those who thinks that the Ys series became stronger as time went on during its PC-88 days.

Body

So let’s take a look at the music that makes up this soundtrack. The first thing that you’ll notice is that there are a lot more dungeon tracks this time around. This reflects the expanded area that one explores throughout the game. The other thing that can be noted, or at least noted by those who have played the game, is that the soundtrack is comprised of the complete list of in-game tracks, unlike its predecessor which contained quite a number of unused tracks.

The soundtrack starts off with a large boom, with the energetic “To Make the End of Battle”. This track graces the opening animated sequence which runs before you get into the game itself and is truly classic Falcom rock. Though the synthesized sounds are still early PC-88 midi, the melody itself is catchy, at least once it gets started. The first 22 seconds of the track consist merely of early PC sound effect processing with an undulating heartbeat, but after those odd sounds, the track begins in earnest with a bold melody which carries through until 1:22 carried by what sounds like an attempt as a synthesized electric guitar. This piece stands in contrast with the title screen theme “Lilia” which is akin to “Feena” from Ys, though a bit more upbeat and brightly colored.

There are two different themes for the towns that you visit within the floating continent of Ys itself. “Too Full of Love” comes up first and it’s a relaxing laidback piece of music. Of note is the interesting call and response melodic structure that takes over at the 40 minute mark, which ends with a very nice build up at the 1:00 minute mark capping it all off. The other town theme is “Tender People”, which is also by Ishikawa. The structure is a bit more off-putting than “Too Full of Love”, at least at first, since the rhythms are so very oddly formed and some of the notes sound very out of place, especially the high pitched ones. Though once the melody starts up at 0:20, it gets a bit easier on the ears. Though I suspect that my complaints about this piece stem from the limitations of the early sound samples used by the PC-88 soundboard.

What about dungeon themes? The answer to that question is that there are too many to count. For those who have not played the Ys series as a whole, the world is usually structured in such a way that there is a couple of towns scattered throughout the areas you explore and the rest of the time you explore a series of interconnected dungeons/maps. Starting off, we get “Ruins of Moodoria”, which is the second contribution from Hideya Nagata. It’s not overly complex as a track. First the rhythmic structure is laid down, which basically remains nearly unchanged throughout the track, and a solo melody line enters. This style of composition basically also describes “Noble District of Toal”.

The other style of dungeon track is one where no clear melodic structure appears and could best be described as a purely rhythmic track. Two examples are “Cavern of Rasteenie” and “Moat of Burnedbless” where melodic fragments do appear for brief moments, but these tracks tend to be just about intense sound. They’re interesting, but not something that you’ll listen to more than once. There is also of course the odd one out, “Rest in Peace”, which is used for one brief dungeon in the game. Later on in the series it was eventually used for the game over track. I think it fits better in that purpose than as a dungeon theme; it’s a nice theme, but it’s not fast paced enough.

There are two different boss fight themes in the game. The first is for regular bosses, “Protectors”. It flows much like the boss theme from Music from Ys. It’s basically a rhythmic rock track with an almost muted melody line. It’s intense, but not musically noteworthy. Unfortunately, “Termination” sounds like it’s the underlying harmony of something that might be worth listening to. The piece only starts to get interesting once the B section starts off at 1:12. Even then, it still lacks a hook to grab you.

The ending theme “A Still Time” is a beautiful track. It’s such a lovely theme that it’s a shame that it doesn’t stay for very long as it ends just as it is getting warmed up. “Stay With Me Forever”, much like most of the Ys game end credits, is upbeat and full of energy and life. Then again, I suppose since the day has once again been saved by Adol, a happy theme sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

And like Music from Ys, for no extra charge they throw in a series of aptly named “Super Arrange Version” tracks. These are exceptional upgrades of four themes from the game itself by Hiroyuki Namba. The first track “To Make the End of Battle” takes the original theme, and electrifies it with several improvised sounding takes in the middle of the track. The electric guitar samples are sharp and really brings life out of the original track. Also of note is “Termination”, which sounds sharper and more lively than the original. This arrangement doesn’t hold a candle to the re-invented version which sits on Ys Origin‘s soundtrack, but here you can hear where some of those ideas came from.

Before we go, a word of warning: Ignore the sound effect tracks, which follow track 30. They’re a pointless addition, and will serve to annoy rather than impress.

Summary

Music from Ys II is a solid buy for those who have a tolerance for old 8-bit midi. It’s also a solid recommendation for those who have a love for Yuzo Koshiro and his style of composition, though his contributions are greatly diminished here from the first game in the series. This soundtrack is vastly improved in terms of flow and color from its predecessor Music From Ys and sticks out as a shining moment in the series musically. It’s a worthy addition to any serious collector of soundtracks from the pre-1990 era.

Ys II / Music from Andrew Oldenkamp

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

4.5


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andrew Oldenkamp. Last modified on January 17, 2016.


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