Michiko Naruke returns to give us more of that Western flavored music she does so well. Her soundtrack to the original Wild Arms was a huge hit because of its guitar-flute-harmonica Wild West feel, but when it was released on CD, only about half of the tracks were on it. Thankfully, this problem has been mended for the sequel's score... sort of.
When you first pop in disc 1 of the two disc set, you'll notice a few things. First off, there are quite a few tracks on the first disc - 75, to be exact. I know what you're thinking, and it's true. The tracks play through once, then fade away. That's not nearly enough for these songs because most of the 106 tracks are under a minute long. Just when you start to get into one of Naruke's excellent dungeon tracks, it fades away. Why the publisher didn't make this a three or four CD set is beyond me, but I do know it's a damn shame.
If you can get past this problem, then you can get to the good stuff. Track 1 on the first disc perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the soundtrack with its guitar, flute, and strings. Even though it's just a short title screen tune, fans of the first Wild Arms will think they've died and gone to heaven (as I thought when I first heard it in the game). Track 2 is a vocal song for the opening anime movie; it's a typical "pop" song I guess, but with horns, flutes, guitars, etc.
After listening to the CD for a while, you'll start to notice a couple more things. For one, many of the tracks fall short of others. While this is true for all soundtracks, this CD has the same flaw as Suikoden 2's soundtrack - it has numerous filler tracks on it. Some songs in WA2 are extraordinary (overworld theme, dungeon themes, town themes, etc.), but there are event themes which are kind of ambient and are best heard in the game.
The other thing you'll notice is a different style in the composition. It's hard to put my finger on it, but after much thought I've decided that it's a poppy/jazzy/fusion style in the chords and overall feel. I could be wrong in the description, but it's definitely different than the first. Not "bad different" though. The way Naruke uses it in her songs is what really makes this soundtrack shine. Dungeon themes are more exciting. Town themes are better. This isn't true for all tracks of course, but the tracks with this quality stand tall above the rest.
There are also many battle songs in this soundtrack. The normal battle and boss tracks sound very similar to the original Wild Arms' and should be recognizeable to fans of it. As for the other battle/boss tracks, there isn't anything that spectacular but they are pretty cool.
The sound quality in the songs is very good, but not as good as the first game's score. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but personally I would have liked about 60 of the best tracks with excellent sound quality, spread over three discs instead of what we have here. But that's just me.
A final track I should mention is the last track on disc 2. This track is a non-stop symphonic arrangement of some of the game's best songs, all done by a real orchestra. I hope there's an arranged CD done in this fashion in the near future.
Overall, I can safely say that this CD is worth picking up. Even with its problems (filler tracks, short track length), it is a great soundtrack that not only fans of the original Wild Arms can enjoy.