A worthy sequel.
Reader review by TerraEpon
The original Sakura Wars was one of my favorite games ever, and the wonderful music that accompanied it helped this as much as anything else. So I had high expectations for the second game, and I was not disappointed in the least.
The actual soundtrack release to the first game, however, was not contructed correctly, having only 20 minutes on the first disc, and completely leaving out the mini-game (character theme) musics, as well as the "Game Size" version of the main theme song. Also, grouping all of the similar FMV music rather than spreading it out made this even worse. Luckily, the soundtrack to the second game is a much better buy, at a cheaper cost, even if it still has a few flaws.
First, the FMV music is spread out over the two discs, rather than all lumped together. It creates a much better sense of story progression, and allows far less monotiny. Second, while the mini-game musics are still not included, this is not as much of a problem as they are the same melodies as all the character themes, which are included. Also included are all three of the "Game Size" versions of the main theme song (same arrangment, but sung by Sakura, Sumire, and Maria respectively). And they are spread out over the soundtrack to again eliminate monotiny. The only true problem with the soundtrack is that some of the pieces are looped and others aren't.
Now, all this wouldn't matter if the music itself wasn't good, but suffice it to say, the music is nothing short of excellent. There is not one track that is subpar, and there are many great, memorable melodies.
I won't go into detail about every track, but I'll hit some of the highlights. Tracks 1-1, 2-1, and 2-28 are the three vocal versions of the main theme song, slightly remixed from the first game, and very well done. The eight character themes all are on disc 1. Every one of these has a great melody, and they cover a variety of styles. My favorite is Kanna's theme, track 8, a rock-esque piece with a Vibes playing the melody. The "3 Sisters" also have their own theme, track 2-12, a great big band tune. One of my other favorite pieces from the adventure part is track 2-25, quite possibly one of the happiest melodies I've ever heard.
Some of the best music of the first game was in the form of battle music. The second game falls somewhat short on this respect, with two exceptions. The first disc standard battle theme, track 1-19, has the happy and motivating quality that the first disc battle theme had in the first game. And then there's the final battle theme, track 2-21. That music is the number one reason I bought this soundtrack. It's a fast-paced piece for piano and orchestra, sounding like something from the late 19th century, and worthy to be put in the same league as the piano concertos of Saint Saens, Rachmoninoff, and Tchaikovsky. Unfortunately, it's also the only battle music on the soundtrack not looped.
The FMV music in the game keeps the grand style of the first, and on track 2-23 includes a full orchestra cut of the main theme, excellently done.
Overall, this is one of my favortie soundtracks. I wholeheartedly recommend it to any fan of the series, whether or not they've played the game, as well to anyone that just likes good tuneful game music.