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Ashley Winchester Mar 26, 2017

I recently picked up Vol.1 of this due to a few key tracks I remembered from when I played the game (back when the game came out; interestingly last game I ever pre-ordered) and I was presently surprised.

Yes, I still like the tracks I remembered (that battle theme and fanfare!) but I completely forgot that the bulk of the material on this volume is subdued, which reminded me of the more somber moments on the first volume of the Star Ocean 3 OST - which i greatly enjoy.

However, I have a question. I am unfamiliar with the first VP (which kind of worked in my favor with the second game given it's a prequel) but from what I read I'm assuming it has more prog pieces? I know that OST has a rather big following, but given that do fans of that soundtrack dislike this one? In my case I probably like VP2 more since I think Sakuraba's prog stylings can get out of control at times.

Also, I'm not going to say what the twists are, but while I had a fun enough time with VP2 as a game, I think a part of me was really let down because I saw the first two twists coming from a mile away. I don't know if I just picked up on something before the reveals or if the twists were just that damn obvious, but I wish I had been more surprised.

Amazingu Mar 27, 2017

The original VP is one of my favorite games EVER, but I thought VP2 was hugely disappointing, both in terms of gameplay and music. Compared to VP2 and SO3, the original VP sounds a bit rougher around the edges what with it being a humble PSX game, but the compositions are great. You should definitely give both the game and the OST a try.

Ashley Winchester Mar 27, 2017

Amazingu wrote:

You should definitely give both the game and the OST a try.

I'd be more than willing to give the music a listen, but playing the game probably isn't in the cards. I narrowed my game collection from 500+ games down to the essential 50-60 a few years ago and I don't even play those games much. Seriously, I can't even remember the last game I played; I always feel guilty when people ask me what I'm currently playing because the answer is always nothing.

I'm seriously glad I snapped/dropped out of that hobby, I was heading down the wrong path.

Music (and soundtracks) seem to be the better option. For example, I had a copy of SO3 for the PS2 I wanted to replay for years to see if it stacked up to my memories. NEVER "got around to it." On the other hand I bought the SO3 soundtracks afterward and I listen to that music all the time.

Nothing against those who like to play games but that seems to be over for me. It's not due to some stupid reason like "gaming is for children" or what-have you - it's just that I'd rather listen to a game and the memories the music inspires is just as great as playing the game in the past was for me.

Sorry, didn't mean to go off on a tangent there. That said, I know given that most of us are 20-30 we probably don't have the right to feel so nostalgic, but hell, how many companies are pumping out products these days that cater to that very desire? Never underestimate a company's will to draw in those with expendable income.

I know that VP would be a new experience, but I can't just can hack away at a game like I use to. Hour here, hour there - and it's not from lack of time.

Amazingu Mar 27, 2017

Fair enough!
I certainly don't think it's necessary to play games in order to enjoy their music.

Ashley Winchester Mar 27, 2017

Amazingu wrote:

Fair enough!
I certainly don't think it's necessary to play games in order to enjoy their music.

Well, I'll be honest. Playing a game does help me appreciate the music more - I won't deny that seeing/hearing the context does help. Still, like I said above (again, sorry for going on a tangent) I just haven't felt like playing (a) game for the longest time. I seriously envy those (anyone) that can.

student41269 Mar 30, 2017

I think both soundtracks are pretty great. You could play Valkyrie Profile just for a few hours (past, say, the first two dungeons) and get a good sense of the part music plays in this game, then just enjoy the soundtrack. There's something weird about the sound production on this one, like it's all buried under a blanket of reverb, but over time that's become part of its charm, for me. It has some excellently spooky medieval stuff as well as blistering techno-rock, and yes it gets pretty heavy on the latter on disc two with several headache-inducers back to back. Also consider the Arrange Album, which has most of the best bits in expanded form.

layzee Mar 30, 2017

I loved Valkyrie Profile so much that I went through the trouble of writing a review for it 15 years ago (I have long since forgotten that account's password). Slight cringe of re-reading my old writings aside, for the most part, my opinion is still the same. The things I would disagree with old me are:

1) "a tad disappointing in the plot department" - I think this is a misstatement. The plot is not a tad disappointing. It's more, the way the plot is delivered that could be considered disappointing (e.g. requires a walkthrough).
2) Any references to "translation" being good or not - Without understanding and reading the original Japanese script, I or old me would not be in any position to judge whether the translation is good or not.
3) "I could care less about..." - Incorrect grammar. That should be "I couldn't care less". If "I could care less" about something, then that means I still have the bare minimum of care of said thing.
4) "To me FMVs are a waste of CD/DVD space." - Not true. Even if a game has no FMVs, it's not like that space would be filled by anything else anyway so you might as well inflate it with high quality eye-candy movies.

Anyway, it is true that VP's music is a bit rough to listen to - I certainly wouldn't it play it at 100% volume unless you want to irritate your ears. Also for an RPG, VP is unique in that once you get access to the world map after the very long introduction scenes (close to an hour), you can basically skip the whole game so you can easily listen to most of the music in context (e.g. the towns and dungeons that are unlocked in each new chapter).

As for VP2's music, I haven't heard Motoi Sakuraba's entire (massive) discography, but so far, VP2 is for me his magnum opus. As you mentioned, VP2's normal battle theme is really something both in terms of personal listening enjoyment and in context (Norse gods battlin'). And as you also mentioned, VP2 does indeed have a generally lower profile (pun unintended) subdued sound (no problems raising the speakers to 100% here). VP2 also has the honour of having one of, if not the most fun and addictive RPG battle systems (the battle theme helps too).

Here are my 5/5 tracks:

Divine View
A Motion of Finishing Blow (perfect battle theme)
Sank Memories, More Deep
Raid The Mighty Force (good example of a subdued track, considering it's played in a Volcano context)
Disturb The Doubtful Sleep (plays in the only dungeon that is also in the prequel)
Junk Modulation (more subdueness, this time in a battle context)
Dancing Without Malice or Mercy
Unrestrained Struggle

My ratings logic:
0/5 - Little to no musical value, technically or subjectively.
1/5 - I understand the artist's intentions with this song but it's not for me.
2/5 - Might give it a chance every once in a while or it's a bit of an acquired taste.
3/5 - Fairly average, it's not overly amazing, but not bad either, mainly just background music or non-active listening.
4/5 - A pretty special song and will revisit and relisten often.
5/5 - Can't stop listening.

Ashley Winchester Mar 31, 2017

I checked out the VP soundtrack and yeah, I pretty much agree with everything that was said from all the above posts. I'll have to pick it up next time I buy some albums. I'd buy it now but I just picked up a slew of stuff, one of them being the VP and Star Ocean concert. The version of "Cutting Edge of Notion" on there simply blows away the in-game version which grew thin with me considering how much I played the game.

The only thing I will say is when I listened to it I didn't really forge any immediate favorites (well, again, the main battle theme) but it was really the bulk experience that caught my ear. I'm sure I'd forge favorites the more I listened to it.

The only question I have is there a difference between the synth on the original print and the Lenneth re-print?

Ashley Winchester Mar 31, 2017

layzee wrote:

2) Any references to "translation" being good or not - Without understanding and reading the original Japanese script, I or old me would not be in any position to judge whether the translation is good or not.

It's funny you bring this up, because it really reminds me of SO2. I grew up with the PS1 game (obviously) but when I played the PSP version I was turned off by the new translation. I have a feeling the new translation was more accurate, but I was just so attuned to the way things where said/spelled originally.

That said, was VP re-translated when it came to the PSP, or was it left alone? I think it be the former, right? The PS1 original didn't have VO?

student41269 Mar 31, 2017

Ashley Winchester wrote:

The only question I have is there a difference between the synth on the original print and the Lenneth re-print?

I only own the original soundtrack pressing, but I played the Lenneth version on PSP and the music sounded identical. There's a comment on VGMdb that the soundtrack reprint is remastered but I would wager any difference/improvement is barely noticable.

Ashley Winchester wrote:

That said, was VP re-translated when it came to the PSP, or was it left alone? I think it be the former, right? The PS1 original didn't have VO?

Nope, the original had the voiceovers too. The main difference is that the anime cutscenes were replaced with CG FMVs for the PSP version.

layzee Mar 31, 2017

student41269 wrote:
Ashley Winchester wrote:

That said, was VP re-translated when it came to the PSP, or was it left alone? I think it be the former, right? The PS1 original didn't have VO?

Nope, the original had the voiceovers too. The main difference is that the anime cutscenes were replaced with CG FMVs for the PSP version.

I can't comment on the script changes (if any) but one other noticeable difference is that the PSP version of VP is based on the Japanese PS1 version of the game, and that includes the English version PSP VP. In other words, in the original JP PS1 version, you can't use the shoulder buttons to swap between characters in a convenient manner (i.e. you can do it on Eng ver. PS1 VP but not Eng ver. PSP VP). Seems like a pretty major oversight considering Final Fantasy V could do it many years before.

Ashley Winchester Apr 3, 2017

I've been watching a let's play of this game on youtube. The first VP honestly looks like something I would have loved if I'd played it in it's heyday. This is not to say I couldn't appreciate it now, but I'll be honest, I had the PSP version on my shelf for a few years and never got around to it. So if it didn't happen then it's probably not going to happen now. That said, a few things I noticed: Spoliers are covered.

1) Sakuraba's score seems to fit this game like a glove. Watching the let's play has really helped in this regard.

2) The first two chapters are bloody brilliant with some great scenes.

3) I'm kind of confused about chapter 2 however, VP2 is a prequel, right? Isn't Arngrim in both games or that just a different guy with a long sword? If it is the same guy I don't understand how he gets from where he is in VP2 to where he is in VP.

4) I have to admit there are some gutsy gameplay design choices. Some of the ways you can get a game over, I can see this annoying some people.

GoldfishX Apr 3, 2017

At its heart, VP1 is a dungeon crawler, splashed with individual scenarios. The storyline mostly remains in the background, unless you uncover certain events that bring it to the forefront (and you REALLY need a guide of some sort to do this...it's kind of cheap, to be honest). Luckily, I found the game worthwhile enough in the gameplay department and character variety (I discovered how powerful Lawfer was on my second go-around) that starting over fresh to get the good ending was kind of a blessing in disguise. Also helps that there is an element of 2D platforming in the game and this was sorely lacking during the time the game was fresh.

The soundtrack is like a hard punch to the face most of the time. It's a bit much to take in at once, but it fits so well with the action and voice acting. I almost don't recommend it as a standalone experience, it requires the game to get the full effect.

VP2...I spent about 5 hours with it and I could just tell I wasn't going to stick with it. Memory-wise, I barely remember this one, but I've gone back to the music several times and it's never left an impression. I remember I was sick of the main battle theme VERY early on, which wasn't the case with the VP1 theme.

Amazingu Apr 3, 2017

One of the things I love most about the original is that it had 3 difficulty levels, which was already pretty unusual for an RPG at that time, and each difficulty level was actually notably different.
Each difficulty has its own unique dungeons and characters (there's a lot of overlap too of course, but still), and the dungeons on Hard could be a real b*tch, not just in terms of combat, but puzzles as well. I don't know of any other game that does this.

If I had to level one complaint at VP1, it's that the opening sequence takes waaaaay too long (45 minutes or so?) and nothing can be skipped, so you have to go through this boring slog every time you want to replay the game.

GoldfishX wrote:

VP2...I spent about 5 hours with it and I could just tell I wasn't going to stick with it. Memory-wise, I barely remember this one, but I've gone back to the music several times and it's never left an impression. I remember I was sick of the main battle theme VERY early on, which wasn't the case with the VP1 theme.

Same here.
The sequel just didn't click with me AT ALL.

I didn't like how, when you touched an enemy symbol, you had to run around a 3D arena first before actually starting the encounter, and it was just way too hard (not to mention it threw selectable difficulties out the window).
The Sealstone system was kind of cool though.

Ashley Winchester Apr 3, 2017

I don't know. After reading all these comments I'm kind of glad I played the second game first. I liked the combat system yet could see how someone could dislike it. Again, most of my gripes were with the story, which wasn't bad but was a little too practicable.

Still, I think I'll keep an eye out for both games. I kind of want to play them now.

Ashley Winchester Apr 4, 2017

student41269 wrote:

Also consider the Arrange Album, which has most of the best bits in expanded form.

This. I'm going to have to pick this up along with some other Sakuraba arrange albums. I gave this a listen I though it was solid.

Zane Apr 5, 2017

Ashley Winchester wrote:

I'm going to have to pick this up along with some other Sakuraba arrange albums.

The first Live Concert album is one of my favorite rock/VGM albums of all time. There are some vids on Youtube that show how insane his setup is (that's like 9 keyboards or something). Great album!

Ashley Winchester Apr 5, 2017

Zane wrote:
Ashley Winchester wrote:

I'm going to have to pick this up along with some other Sakuraba arrange albums.

The first Live Concert album is one of my favorite rock/VGM albums of all time. There are some vids on Youtube that show how insane his setup is (that's like 9 keyboards or something). Great album!

I think I mentioned it up above, but I did nab the VP and SO concert set off of CD Japan - so you don't have to tell me twice. I LOVE the rendition of "Cutting Edge of Notion" (sick of the in game version) and there are many other great tracks on there like "Reflective Moon" and the VP battle theme. I've seen the videos and they are great.

Ashley Winchester Apr 5, 2017 (edited Apr 5, 2017)

student41269 wrote:

several headache-inducers back to back.

I think that's the thing with this soundtrack. After watching a complete let's play there are several tracks I heard that I thought were annoying... but they fit in with their context in the game regardless. However, there were several emotional themes that I though were perfect (e.g. "Behave Irrationally").

However (again)...

I know there are plenty of tracks on the OST, and I may rub some feathers wrong with this statement. but I couldn't help but feel some tracks got stretched thin, almost like in Xenogears, but Xenogears has much less music so it's kind of expected in that case given how long that game is.

I kind of grew tired of hearing "Turn over a new leaf" before nearly every boss battle though.

I'm going to nab this one, but at the same time I can't say it's flawless. At times the score is a mess which makes me feel the entire thing is "a beautiful mess."

Zane Apr 5, 2017

Ashley Winchester wrote:

I think I mentioned it up above, but I did nab the VP and SO concert set off of CD Japan - so you don't have to tell me twice. I LOVE the rendition of "Cutting Edge of Notion" (sick of the in game version) and there are many other great tracks on there like "Reflective Moon" and the VP battle theme. I've seen the videos and they are great.

Sorry! Didn't catch that part.

Ashley Winchester Apr 5, 2017 (edited Apr 5, 2017)

Zane wrote:

Sorry! Didn't catch that part.

np. It is kind of buried up there. Still, thanks for the recommendation.

Edit:

Okay, I keep listening to the rip of the VP OST on YouTube and I can't freaking stop. I'm pretty sure that means I made the right choice. Watching that let's play really freaking helped.

Ashley Winchester Apr 11, 2017

A few things I been thinking about:

VP2: Town Themes
Am I the only one that's not really entranced with the town themes on Vol.1? None of them are bad, they just seem so disposable to me and I think it's because out of all the areas in VP2 towns see the least action.

VP vs SO2 (Overall)
I can't help but shake this feeling ever since watching the let's play of VP that VP is the better game and that my memories of SO2 (game and OST) aren't as rosy as I thought they were. I don't know if it's fair to pit them against one other, but I can definitely think of some problems with SO2. I'm sure I'll find some problems with VP1 when I get around to getting a copy and playing it.

VP vs SO2 (Emotional Tracks)
Some people may feel very differently than me, but I can't help but feel over the years that I'm not that big of a fan of "Theme of Rena." It's not a bad track and I don't feel it's overused in the game but I just don't particularly care for the four to five versions when they crop up on the OST. However, in contrast, when "Tomorrow," "Through a thin Haze" and "Behave Irrationally" play on the VP OST I just ****ing love them even though they are somewhat similar. I can't help but feel VP's emotional moments are deafening and tug at your heart strings while SO2 does on a lower level. Again that may be to the whole old vs new/played vs not played thing.

VP vs SO2 (The Prog Battle Themes)
I think one of the hardest to digest parts of the SO2 soundtrack is the final stretch of battle themes on disc 2. I know some will say this style of track is telegraphed with the standard battle theme "Stab the Sword of Justice" but I can't help but feel that VP's segway into its battle themes is more telegraphed because there more "progyness" in many of the non-battle specific pieces like dungeon themes.

Sakuraba: Original vs Remake
Is it weird that I like the VP version of "Confidence in the Domination" more than most future remakes? I can't help but feel most of the time when Sakuraba revisits something with a more defined instrument set (for example VP1 vs SO3 "Confidence in the Domination" or SO2 vs SO4 "Stab the Sword of Justice") I just like the remake a lot less than the original.

student41269 Apr 12, 2017

Ashley Winchester wrote:

Is it weird that I like the VP version of "Confidence in the Domination" more than most future remakes?

Nope, I would say the original Confidence In The Domination is the definitive version. The synths are more interesting, it's faster, Sakuraba goes mad with the pitch bends (a feature of the up tempo tracks on this soundtrack in general) and the rising key changes towards the end of the loop build the tension nicely. With the future arrangements he simplified the chord sequence a bit and homogenised the sound with hammond organ lead.

I love little touches like the slightly off choral harmonies in Valhalla or the tricky rest in every other bar of Soon Visiting Shadow And Light... tells you there's something twisted and not quite right, matching the whole world of this game.

GoldfishX Apr 12, 2017

Agreed. Newer versions clean the original up somewhat, but at the expense of the chaos and intensity of the original. Anyone who's played VP in any type of underleveled state can probably appreciate that theme in context. This is one of the glaring omissions from the original VP Arrange album. But again, that is the story of VP as a whole...It ain't pretty and it's downright ugly in some areas, but as a whole everything works.

SO2 is a traditional RPG, VP is a dungeon crawler with a loose, over-arching storyline that is easy to completely miss. I think the soundtracks reflect that pretty well.

Ashley Winchester Apr 17, 2017

GoldfishX wrote:

SO2 is a traditional RPG, VP is a dungeon crawler with a loose, over-arching storyline that is easy to completely miss. I think the soundtracks reflect that pretty well.

Yeah, I guess it's not fair to compare the two games.

However, when you talk of VP's storyline, I can't help but feel one needs to make note there are two kinds of stories going on (main character vs those of the various einheriar) and it's the main character's that's the easiest to miss. That said, this may be weird but I though both (kinds) of stories were important. I thought the game was maybe a little too good at tugging the emotional heartstrings, lol! j/k

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