The latest Nintendo 64 soundtrack, from Nintendo's "Yoshi's Story", has beautiful artwork on the cover, the sleeve jackets, and the CD itself. There are even stickers inside the album, as with the Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64 Japanese CDs.
Unfortunately, these extra goodies cannot overcome some serious flaws in the music that really kill the album's potential. The music here seems to have a mind of its own. This is very noticeable on track 3, which starts out with great potential - a cutesy "walking along" melody - but then stops for a moment before picking up again. In the space in between are some awful chords. The theme itself is hardly original, it's basically the same thing over and over again with little variation. Although the other tracks are a little more varied and enjoyable than this one, they still sometimes tend to stop at the traffic light and wander off into space.
The music's biggest problem is the attempt to make the Yoshis sing. Their whiny, high pitched, unmelodic voices make the Munchkins from "The Wizard of Oz" sound enjoyable. Four tracks are unfortunately filled with those catterwauling voices making noise. Blech!
Even more unusal, the last track is an interview with the creators of Yoshi's Story, with a bossanova version of the irritating Yoshi's song playing in the backround. If you understand Japanese very well, you'll be able to make out what's going on, but for everyone else...
Flaws aside, Yoshi's Story Original Soundtrack is not at all bad. But neither does it match up to the other N64 soundtracks like Super Mario 64, Star Fox 64, and Wonder Project J 2. It seems to take a departure from the typical game music formula and attempts to be more experimental. If that is the case, then they should have hired a more renowned composer for the job, namely Koji Kondo (responsible for Super Mario 64 and Star Fox 64). The music instead was written by Kazumi Todaka of "Wave Race 64: Kawasaki Jet Ski", which was a much better effort.
Actually, there is one enjoyable track that has a hint of Wave Race. Track 13 may seem to have 8-bit quality sound, but at least it's lively for a change. In addition, "Yo-Yo-Yoshi!" is very nicely done. It has a great beat and rhythm, considering that this is Yoshi's version of rap. The vocals are performed by a deep voice that occasionally says, "Yo-SHI!" in a rather amusing manner. Track 31 sounds like "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, but in a darker, sinister manner (it's played in the Baby Bowser castle stages). These tracks are the highlights of the CD.
Children might get a kick out of this album, since that was the target audience the game itself was aimed for, but adults will be running from the room after the first few seconds of music. I eventually was able to enjoy this album in spite of its shortcomings, but most game music fans will probably have difficulty doing the same.