I've given it four or five listens now. It's a respectable effort but definitely a couple large steps below the first SQ Chips. More along the lines of what my expectations were for that album following the early SQ releases (Chill, More, Love SQ) and before its samples came out. Some overall observations:
The synth programming doesn't impress quite as much. It's still a very accessible sound for the most part - coming from someone like myself who doesn't have a specific interest in chiptunes - and it's nice hearing similar sounds from the first album pop up, but a lot of tracks settle for simple bleeps and bloops whereas in SQ Chips 1 there'd be all sorts of crazy cascades and interesting things going on.
The dancey quality isn't quite as pervasive though it's certainly there in some tracks.
We have two or three cinematic-type tracks this time around that don't translate very well into 8-bit (particularly when they don't do anything really ambitious with the synth).
It's still a decent album that leads with a couple fun tracks and finishes strong, but there's a good bit of bleh in between. Not the euphoric bit of joy in a jewel case that was the first one.
Track by track comments for those who are interested:
FF Tactics "Prologue Movie" - I don't see the point in this one. It sounds like a straight translation of the original in 8-bit, with no adjustments to make it really suit the style. As the BGM to an NES style version of the opening movie on YouTube it would be novel but doesn't stand on it's own as a piece of music.
FFV "Battle on the Big Bridge" - This is more like it. Both the synth and the added drum and bass beat are well suited to this high energy theme. Would be better if the edit were rearranged to better sustained the energy of the piece. (I plan to try my own tweaked edit once I get the chance).
Parasite Eve "Primal Eyes" - Has some cinematic elements like the Tactics track but more often is a sort of chiptuned hardcore rock electronica. The melody doesn't do much for me and though there are a couple interesting synth bits they're not enough to make the track stand out.
Tobal No1 "Tobal No1 ~ Hills of Jugon" - One of the immediate standouts and as someone who's never heard Tobal a very nice surprise! A down home bit of blues with spunky lead harmonica and bass, some very cool synth bits and a few quirky vocal samples. As in SQC1 there's a bit of "cheating" on the synth but it makes for a damn fun track.
Chrono Cross "The Girl Who Stole the Stars ~ Fragments of a Dream" - Neither of these themes does much for me (the latter in particular - standard Mitsuda sentimentality without any of the drama) and the synth is a straight-up 8-bit translation that doesn't add anything new.
FFVII "Highwind Takes to the Skies" - The great disappointment of the album. Not only was the original version one of the best pieces of the OST, as both an airship theme and a reprise of the main theme it was exactly along the lines of two of the most exhilarating, delightful arrangements in SQC1 (FFIII "Sailing Enterprise" and the FF ending medley). Sadly instead they've given it a stuttering "glitch" style arrangement that completely saps the excitement from the piece.
Vagrant Story "Graylands Incident Climax " - Another chiptune translation of a cinematic-type piece taking several different directions. There's maybe a bit more of interest in the synth than in the FF Tactics arrangements but still more an 8-bit novelty than a enjoyable piece of music.
FFX "Seymour Battle" - I always considered the original version of this a joke - the dancey quality and old school FF musical style and synth didn't fit in the FFX OST at all - but as a chiptune rendition in the context of this album it works. Still not a standout favorite personally but fans of the original should like it.
Dissidia FF "The Order That Must be Protected" - High energy, upbeat piece though not quite dancey like many of the SQC1 arrangements. Listenable but easily forgettable.
Bahamut Lagoon "Mid Boss Battle" - A busy arrangement with a high-tempo one-two beat, constantly rising and falling synth, and not much of a steady melody. "Obnoxious noise" wouldn't be much of a stretch but as an experiment on the album it's forgivable I suppose.
Xenogears "Flight" - About SQC1 I wrote how impressed I was to hear a chiptune rendition of "The Wind Calls to Shevat in the Blue Sky" and not feel like it was losing any complexity from the orchestral version. No such luck here - a standard 8-bit rendition of the original.
Legend of Mana "Hometown Domina" - An instantly endearing town theme in an upbeat, slightly bouncy arrangement. One of the borrowed samples from SQC1 is a bit out of place, but good fun in any case.
Final Fantasy "Opening Theme" - A happy, doo-wop style arrangement in agreeable 8-bit synth. I can only get so excited about yet another FF main theme arrangement but it's nice as a sort of bonus.
Live a Live "Live for Live" - A lengthy ending theme extravaganza in the same vein as SQC1's closing FF ending medley and by the same arranger. Has a similar upbeat, dancey groove and a nostalgic '80s optimism though not the quite the same euphoric energy. It's a little vexing to hear the most dramatic part of the piece cut short only to shift to the arrangement's sole off-tempo segment, though that may have its roots in the original version. Still a fun track - I like it and I'm sure Live a Live fans will love it.