OutRun 2 Soundtracks is the soundtrack to the Arcade version of the recent official racing game sequel OutRun 2. While a significant innovation in the franchise, it remained close to its roots both in terms of gameplay and music. Led by Hiroshi Yamaguchi, a team at Sega AM2 offered both remixes of classic themes from OutRun and brand new rock and vocal racing themes. The results were packaged into a comprehensive but jumbled commercial soundtrack release...
The soundtrack is headlined by four new in-game remixes of the classic OutRun. These remixes take a relatively conventional approach compared to Richard Jacques' Xbox versions although the sound quality is still high. "Splash Wave" is a retro rock remix exhibiting Hiroshi Yamaguchi's characteristic electric guitar work while "Passing Breeze" is a fairly typical jazz fusion theme. However, perhaps the most enjoyable track is "Magical Sound Shower" with its soprano saxophone lead and solid samba and funk backing. The end of the album also features the four original versions of the OutRun themes. Given they're been on so many releases already, this inclusion just adds to the redundancy of the series' discography, but perhaps new fans to the series will welcome these tracks. They're certainly solid both technically and musically for their time, just misplaced here.
The four original stage themes are easily the jewels of this release. "Risky Ride" is probably the best hard rock theme in the series' discography. It is dominated by a flashy electric guitar lead that generates that captures all the emotions of racing although the accompaniment is nicely done too. Meanwhile "Shiny World" hearkens back to the style of the "Magical Sound Shower" remix with an utterly evocative electric guitar solo and bouncy piano support. There are also two high quality vocal themes, "Night Flight" and "Life Was A Bore", written in a rock style. The English lyrics about driving are a little contrived, but well done overall, while the female vocalists give passionate and heartfelt performances. The latter is especially enjoyable with its ironic twists and integration of jazz styles. They're both easily among the best vocal themes to feature in a racing game.
Following the original stage themes, there are a series of ending themes. While they're all short, they each glimmer with the high production values of Sega's sound team. For example, "Ending A" features a passionate Spanish guitar performances while "Ending B" and "Ending C" respectively offer upbeat and soothing jazz piano work. There's even a dash of rock 'n roll in "Ending D" while "Ending E" expresses triumph and relief at the end of the game with a rousing electric guitar anthem. The high score theme is a faithful rendition of OutRun's "Last Wave" with high quality synth. In testament to the screwed track order, the original section ends with the hard rock opening theme. Although these tracks aren't big selling points, at least they're enjoyable to listen to.
The OutRun 2 Soundtracks is undoubtedly a high achievement both musically and technologically. The two rock themes and two vocal themes are especially stunning while the nods to OutRun are pleasant too. The main limitation is that the core of the soundtrack is pretty much eight themes — four remixes and four new racing themes — while the rest is superfluous. Although the quality is impressive, the quantity is potentially underwhelming and the soundtrack would have definitely benefited from the extra tracks in the Xbox promotional release. Another problem is the jumbled track order, which is resolved in the OutRun 20th Anniversary Box. Still, this is a good purchase for those looking for the highlights and not intending to collect more albums in the series.