A delightfully different and refreshing view of a typically dark series.
Reader review by Clint Morrow
The first time I turned on SaGa Frontier II in late 2000, I was expecting what I had come to know and love from the music of the series - your typical Squaresoft synth in most of the tracks, a soundtrack that consisted of mostly filler tracks, a few noteworthy pieces, and killer battle themes. What I got, however, was radically different and, as I listened more and more, quite a refreshing change of pace.
SaGa Frontier II marks the first game of the series to not be composed by Kenji Ito, whom I would have to say knows what he is doing. However, Masashi Hamauzu, with his lighter, more airy tones and heavy use of piano chords, has really outdone himself here. Instead of your obviously synthetic effects that we get from Ito (which work for battles quite well, in my opinion), we get more of a thematic effect. When you hear the first battle theme, "Feldschlact I", pay attention to the main theme in the background. You'll hear it all throughout the soundtrack, in various battles themes, several places as background music, and even the last two battle themes on the entire soundtrack.
Though the soundtrack is for the most part light, like the game itself, there are a few pieces that stand out as darker and heavier with intent than the others - "Unmacht", for example, with is dark overall theme and heavy use of strings. "Manifest", the track being played whenever your party makes a foray into a Megalith, would be another prime example of this .
Overall, I would say that this makes for very enjoyable listening, whether or not you have played the game itself. In most cases, I don't like the battles quite as much as Kenji Ito's (with the notable exception of "Todesengel", which I think is a master stroke of genius for this soundtrack), but the overall feel of it is much lighter and much more uplifting than many contemporary RPGs, and I think this is something that we should stop and enjoy once in a while. I would highly recommend this OST to anyone.