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Front Mission 2 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Z-Freak

Front Mission 2 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Front Mission 2 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: NTT Publishing
Catalog No.: SSCX-10011
Release Date: September 21, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


One of Square's most underrated and often overlooked composers Noriko Matsueda started her career at Square in 1995 composing for the Square/G-Craft strategy-RPG Front Mission, along with the highly talented Yoko Shimomura. Shimomura mostly handled the fast-paced themes, while Matsueda took care of the 'mood' tracks. Although the game may have been a success in Japan, it was never released in North America. Matsueda's next job was to compose one of the boss themes to Chrono Trigger, only to have it arranged by Nobuo Uematsu. In late 1995 and early 1996, Matsueda finally received her first solo project: Bahamut Lagoon. While the game itself was never popular, it allowed Matsueda to polish her skills as a composer. A year later, Matsueda was presented with a challenging task: to write the score to the sequel of Front Mission on her own. Not only does she succeed flawlessly in making an excellent soundtrack, but she also manages to keep the feel of the prequel. Later in her career, she composed for Racing Lagoon, The Bouncer, and Final Fantasy X-2.


The score to Front Mission 2 is still quite different from its prequel, in which Matsueda incorporates an atmospheric, airy sound to most of her tracks, while retaining the epic feel of the first, mostly in the event and battle themes. You can hear this in "Silence," a gripping ambient theme. "Shock" will most likely surprise many, as it is a wonderfully updated version of Front Mission's "Terrible Density," in which it conveys the epic feel of battle perfectly. "Sorrow" starts off eerily, but then a quiet but saddening melody takes place, something Matsueda really exceeds in getting through.

An interesting note I want to mention is that Yoshitaka Hirota (yes, the same Hirota whom is mostly responsible for the Shadow Hearts scores) is accredited as sound effect creator in the liner notes. This is one of the few soundtracks in which he contributed some of his works directly into the music; the only other soundtrack that he played a part in to my knowledge was Final Fantasy VII. You can hear Hirota's stuff in "Enemy Battle (Swift Attack)," which mostly sounds like a voice effect (at one point you hear a yell in the music). I find that quite amusing, although it does make that one track stand out from the rest.

Of course, the battle themes remain serious and epic. "Arena" begins with some organ and percussions and carries that airy feel in the music, which I find very enjoyable. Another of the updated Front Mission tracks found here is the jazzy "Counter Bar," which stays true to "Shop" of the prequel. "World Map" is another of the atmospheric tracks; you can easily imagine the wind blowing into your face as the Wanzers travel through Huffman's Island while listening to the music. One track I insist on mentioning is "Hatred." It is mostly an ambient piece with some eerie but painful sounding effects. This track is probably the successor to Front Mission's "Destructive Logic." While Shimomura got the eerie bit going with the organ in the prequel, the screams used here inspire the same feelings.


All in all, I think Matsueda has done very well here. I can easily listen to this without needing to skip any tracks. Bottom line is, if you enjoyed the soundtracks to Front Mission and Bahamut Lagoon, then you'll like this more, if not just as much. Okay, now you're probably interested in getting this CD right? I'm sorry, but Front Mission 2, like most of Matsueda's major early works, is VERY (insert # of times you wish to repeat this) difficult to come across. I guess it was just a stroke of luck when I bumped onto it on eBay; you can try eBay, but chances are it may never show up there again. If you'd like, try to special order it from Otaku and pray (yes, pray a lot) that they find it. This is easily one of the rarest out-of-print soundtracks I've ever heard, so best of luck in your hunt. This is a must have for any Square/Front Mission/Matsueda fan, and you will not be disappointed in any way from getting this CD.