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Star Ocean The Last Hope Arrange Soundtrack :: Review by Don

Star Ocean The Last Hope Arrange Soundtrack Album Title: Star Ocean The Last Hope Arrange Soundtrack
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-00268
Release Date: April 8, 2009
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


With every major tri-Ace release, Motoi Sakuraba usually produces an arrange album to accompany the original soundtrack. His earlier works, such as the Star Ocean The Second Story Arrange Album, were a bit more creative in their approach, given the limited sound capabilities of the earlier consoles. His later arrange albums, mainly for the PlayStation 2, were considered by many to be mere expansions of the original soundtrack. Last autumn, Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume was released for the Nintendo DS and, given the limited sound capabilities, the arrange album that accompanied it elaborated upon the originals more so than his Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria arrange album. Given the sound capabilities of current generation systems, many feared that the Star Ocean The Last Hope Arrange Soundtrack would tread in the same steps as its predecessor, Star Ocean Till the End of Time Arrange Album. Is this album an improvement over the last Star Ocean arrange album?


One of the many things that hindered the Star Ocean Till the End of Time Arrange Album has, in my opinion, been addressed here. The biggest issue with that soundtrack, in my opinion, was the three versions of "So Alone, Be Sorrow". While each one did have elements that differed from one another, the end result was pretty indistinguishable in terms of overall execution of the melody. While this album features two "Cosmic Voyagers" arrangements, each one is significantly different from one another as well as the original soundtrack version. The first, "Cosmic Voyagers (Rhodes Version)," offers a subtle electronic arrangement that provides a nice mellow soundscape with an almost ethereal sound. The second version, "Cosmic Voyagers (Piano Version)," provides a nice solo piano arrangement of the original that offers some very nice sweeping piano passages and a bit of improvisation. They seem appropriate for their different positions on the album — the former more of a spacey interlude, the latter a subtle fade-out.

The rest of the album is split between orchestral and progressive rock arrangements. The orchestral arrangements, for the most part, definitely intensify the emotions heard in the original, mainly through additional sections or re-envisioning the piece. "Ruin and Creation" keeps the despair and hope heard in the original; however, Sakuraba included "Sacrificial Lamb" to bridge the two sections of "Ruin and Creation" giving the overall sound of the track more of a darkness than heard in the original. I think it's a great addition and improves the piece quite a bit. "Tears in the Sun Make a Rainbow" is another interesting arrangement. While it stays more true to the original, the emphasis on the dramatic choir makes this a much darker and somber piece.

The final boss theme, "Maelstrom's Clutches" is also improved over the original due to the addition of some piano and string passages in the introduction and throughout the piece, while retaining the sinister nature of the original. In the same vein, "Hour of Judgement" adds some additional piano into the mix, but I find it to be one of the weaker orchestral arrangements on the soundtrack. Fortunately, the remaining two orchestral pieces are quite exquisite. The heavy percussion added to "Yin and Yang" makes the string ensemble sound much more exquisite and the addition of some synth brings a nice fusion to the table. It's nothing overbearing and gives the original some nice contrast. The last piece, "Worlds Yet Unexplored," is probably the best of the orchestral arrangements. Sakuraba opts to focus less on the choir and more on the ethereal nature heard in the "We Form In Crystals" portion of the piece. In fact, much of the piece focuses on this passage rather than the original portions of the piece.

The progressive rock side of things is also quite interesting. Choosing some of my favorite themes, much of what he does is expected, but for the most part, he improves upon the original. I'm beginning to think that "Night of the Chase" is Sakuraba's favorite theme from this game. Not only did he choose it for the special soundtrack bundled with the Japanese release of the game, but it's also the craziest of his progressive rock arrangements. It features a ton of improv on both keyboard and piano and is leaps and bounds better than the original, but I'm also a fan of his improvisations. On the other hand, there are a few arrangements of my favorite original pieces that were a bit lacking. The arrangement of "Brilliant Rose," while enjoyable, is a bit less than what I expected. In addition to making it more synthy, Sakuraba also added some woodwind accents, but for the most part, there is very little improvisation or variation in the theme. "Seeker" is an arrangement that I think takes away from the power of the original. Rather than having an electric guitar lead, it's masked by dominance in the synth line. It's still an enjoyable piece, with a very nice piano interlude, but I think it's a weaker version.

"Blood on the Keys" is a piano based arrangement that adds drums and a bit of bass. Some people might say that it lacks the power of the original, but I like it more than the original. I find that the improvisations sound a bit darker than in the original and are more in line with the dark sound of the original. Lastly, "The Incarnation of Devil" makes another appearance in the Star Ocean universe. Now, considering this piece as been arranged numerous times, upon learning the tracklisting, I thought that it really didn't need to be done again. Upon listening, however, I discovered, in my opinion, the best arrangement of the theme to date. It manages to keep the pseudo-orchestral progressive rock feel of the version in the original soundtrack but at the same time, it takes elements from the Star Ocean Till the End of Time Original Soundtrack and the Motoi Sakuraba Live Concert Star Ocean & Valkyrie Profile versions and makes them even more cohesive. Throw in the inclusion of "Arrhythmia" from the original soundtrack and you have a upbeat, yet sinister, version of the original with some interesting improvisation and an marked improvement over past versions and the original soundtrack version.


In the end, the Star Ocean The Last Hope Arrange Soundtrack has some beautiful pieces of music. While not every piece is the strongest nor varies much in certain cases, for the most part, the arranged album is definitely worth picking up. The orchestral pieces are all improved and most of the progressive rock themes are also improved, in my opinion. If you are a fan of the soundtrack, you might consider picking this up as it does feature some exquisite workk. At the same time, those who are looking a more expansive arrange album, such as the Sekaiju no MeiQ Super Arrange Version, may want to save their money for another album and stick with the original soundtrack, as the sound quality is the same for both.

Overall Score: 8/10