Ys SEVEN is the latest in the long running Ys series, skipping the standard PC platform and instead launching on the PSP platform. While the game itself is a step forward in terms of innovation, displacing the single player character mechanic with a party system, the music is a step backwards. Stylistically, this soundtrack is more akin to the musical black sheep of the Ys lineage, Ys V. In essence, the music lacks any of the flair that drove the pulse pounding action and instead feels a bit more like emulation of a standard J-RPG and not nearly as action driven. XSEED released the Ys SEVEN Musical Selections with the Premium Edition of the localised version of the game. While it doesn't feature all the tracks from the soundtrack, it does at least provide most of the important and enjoyable tracks...
I'll start with the highlights, first with "Innocent Primeval Breaker", which punctuates the intro movie sequence and actually brought my spirits up. It sounds exactly what one should expect of an Ys soundtrack — simple high intensity power rock. However, in tradition of many of the recent arrangmeents by Yukihiro Jindo, a violin rather than guitar usually takes the lead. It may not be sophisticated in any sort of musical sense, but it is a fun and enjoyable start to the soundtrack.
Another strong track is "Mother Earth Altago", which is exactly what an area theme in a Ys game should sound like. It's a track to drive you forward. The use of the guitar at 1:23 breaks up the core theme quite nicely and gives the track a bit of a boost. "In the Busting Square" meanwhile has a good ethnic feel to it, conveying a coastal community quite well. Other area themes are a mixed bag. "Extensive Forest Green" is a bit hollow and sounds a bit derivative, while "Isolated Island Consigned to Oblivion" suffers from an overly ambient nature that plagues a number of other tracks in the full soundtrack release.
"Vacant Interference" is the first boss theme and it starts out with the right amount of gusto, though it does sound like a standard Jindo combination of electric guitars and an electric violin. Yes it is derivative and predictable, but if something works, why rock the boat? "Crossing Rage" unfortunately suffers from sounding a bit too much like generic rock from the 1980's, and doesn't develop a melody or an identity until two thirds of the way in. Likewise it's a shame that "Legend of the Five Great Dragons" doesn't really start to work really well until 0:35, the intro just lingers on a bit too long. The shear variety of sound and often conflicting musical phrases especially that odd guitar sequence that pops up at 2:26, which sticks out because the track is more or less absent heavy guitar laden riffs up until that point.
The last boss theme "Ancient Disputation" also doesn't really work. The musical ideas are all mushed together and don't seem to gel well. The album ends with the vocal theme for Ys SEVEN, "Rush Out", sung by Kanako Kotera. With its female vocals and trashy instrumentals, it is pretty similar to other manufactured J-Pop available today. However, it serves it job well in the game and has proven popular with fans. It is also worth noting that this song is currently exclusive to the Ys SEVEN Musical Selections and hasn't been released in full form anywhere else.
In short, the soundtrack is fairly average. It certainly has some tracks which feel right at home within the Ys setting and inject some of the flavour the new Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. offered on Ys Origin. However, overall is a comparatively weak entry to the series and doesn't really offer many creative compositions or compelling melodies. The Ys SEVEN Musical Selections lacks quite a lot of themes featured in the full two disc soundtrack. However, at least XSEED made sure the disc was jam-packed with the most important tracks on the game — amounting to a track time just short of the maximum 80 minutes — and included an exclusive vocal theme. It's a decent bonus for those intending to get the Premium Edition, but not really worth the hefty pricetag.