Estpolis Biography II
Even though I haven't finished Lufia II yet (or tried out the original Lufia), I still must say that this score is surprisingly superior, considering that it isn't a Square or Enix soundtrack. This album is also a double treat for big Lufia fans. Don't let the album cover title fool you, as this isn't just the music from Lufia II; the music from the original Lufia is also on this album. Strangely though, they have Lufia II's music before the original's. But then again, Lufia II was actually a prequel, not a sequel.
The music from Lufia II is downright superb. It ranges from soothing and relaxing to modestly furious and exciting. The music also occasionally takes on a pop-like feel while staying true to the feel of the game, which works well in "The Earth" and "Theme Of Port Town".
The only two major drawbacks with this score is that the album's three battle themes aren't as great as they should be. The problem isn't that they don't recapture the feeling of danger, but that they aren't furious or grandiose enough, compared to the battle themes from Final Fantasy for instance. Also, the game ending (at least from what I've heard) ends sadly, and the "Ending" piece could have been a little sadder, like "Eternal Lullaby" from Dragon Quest VI. But such criticisms seem laughable since the music is just so well done and enjoyable.
Now, onto the music for the original Lufia. It lacks the sophistication of its follower and the music is much simpler, but it is still very good in its own right. It's even nice to hear occasional earlier versions of "Pulifia", "The Earth", "The Sorrow Of Parting", and others, even if they aren't in full quality.
Overall, the music for Lufia is an excellent addition to your collection, period. Even if you are not a big Lufia fan, you still might want to get this music. However, I'd recommend the score's reprint in Game Sound Legend Consumer Series Estpolis Biography Soundtrack rather than this version, since it's in-print and also includes the music to Lufia: The Legend Returns for the Game Boy Advance.
Estpolis is known in America as Lufia. This two CD set contains the soundtrack to Lufia & The Fortress of Doom and Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals for the Super Nintendo. It is now out-of-print, so this review is intended for reference purposes rather than to recommend a purchase. However, a four disc score featuring these scores and the Game Boy Color's Lufia: The Legend Returns is in-print and cheap. I recommend you read my Game Sound Legend Consumer Series Estpolis Biography Soundtrack for more information.
When one thinks of all the great RPGs out there, only a few would include the Lufia series. Overshadowed by the SNES Square games, Lufia & The Fortress of Doom had some tough competition when it came out. Nonetheless the game gathered a following that continues to hope for future releases. Lufia's music has never really been considered a "must have," but still copies of the first two game's out of print soundtracks are highly sought after (and highly paid for).
The first Lufia was released in 1993, and it sounds like it. Each piece is simple, quick, and devoid of any in-depth emotion. I hate to say that this soundtrack follows all the early RPG music clichés, but that's the best way to describe it. Any fan of RPG music will be able to pick out which of the tracks are town, caves, battle, and world map themes whether they've played this game or not. With all that said, Lufia & The Fortress of Doom isn't a bad soundtrack by any means, but it is a fairly mediocre one.
The album begins with "Departure," which does exactly what it says it will do; sets up the journey. Close your eyes and you can easily see four young heroes packing up their weapons and supplies to set off to save the world. The piece brings the feeling of fun into adventuring, something newer games seem to avoid. The next few tracks lose the fun, and bring feelings of necessity and pain in a simplistic way. "99 Years Later" then lets you know the journey has officially started, similar to the first Final Fantasy after you defeat Garland and fix the bridge. Everything before was the prelude, and now it's time to get started it seems.
"Town," "Village," and "Port City" are nothing you haven't heard before, but they serve their purpose of conveying a peaceful, busy place. "Village" is the better of the three, but that's not saying much. "Purifia Flowers" is a simple piece, but does nothing to move the album forward. "The Earth" and "Battle #1" are catchy, but only until you hear them for 100 times; as the world and battle theme respectively, this would happen quickly were you playing the game. "Battle #2" is much better at setting the "we're fighting for our lives" feeling and you really feel the depth of battle. "Battle #3" takes a step back though, and tries too hard for the epic feel.
"Door to the Journey" is good, and in 45 seconds shows the sadder aspects of RPG adventures. "The Underground Shop" would be good if it did something different after fifteen seconds. The airship theme "To the Skies" establishes itself early, but also fails to deliver any excitement. You're flying in an airship, act like it!
The album ends much differently than you expect; it's actually pretty good. "Field Motif," I'm guessing is the piece immediately after the final boss fight, does exactly what it should do; it's relieving that the journey is over, and yet sad that you must say goodbye. "Reunion. And Then..." expands on the goodbye feeling, and I imagine at this point the player would be upset that this is the end. The last track, "End of the Journey," is a catchy, fun piece that makes you immediately want to restart the album, and the game as well if you were playing it.
Though it is simplistic in every way, Lufia & The Fortress of Doom is a decent ride. If you're a fan of video game music, you're not going to hear anything new or different here. It does offer a fun, short trip though if you don't expect too much.
In 1995 the second Lufia game was released as a prequel to Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. Being one of the last RPGs for the SNES, you would expect the music and sound quality to be at the top of its game. The sound quality is certainly better than before, but every time the music takes a step forward from Lufia I, the next track seems to bring it down.
Lufia II begins with "The Time of Judgement," which is a typical dark and moody piece that usually accompanies the title screen for RPGs. Next up is the opening theme "Rumbling." Being six minutes long, this piece starts to get annoying half way through as little is added or changed in terms of melody. "Setting Off" follows, but fails to deliver the excitement of adventuring that Lufia I's "Departure" preformed.
The town themes are no better here than before and with the same names as well. "Town," "Village," and "Port City" all make new appearances, but this time "Port City" beats the competition. This album's "The Earth" is much better than before, as Yasunori Shiono brings the familiar sound of previous game's versions of the over world theme and then makes it his own. Sadly, "Cave" follows but doesn't offer anything new as this is like every other game's cave theme. "Labyrinth" makes up for the crappy cave theme soon afterwards though and we finally get a spooky theme that delivers the confidence of the heroes as they explore.
Three main battle themes also return, again with the same names. "Battle #1" and "Battle #2" are, like most other tracks on this album, typical RPG music. Strangely enough "Battle #3" made it into this game and actually does something different. This piece feels like a mix between Kenji Ito's battle themes and the old NES game Crystalis. Yasunori Shiono delivers an epic fight using a slight technology feel. "Final Battle" starts off as nothing new, but 15 seconds in and you'll hear the piece change for the better. Mr. Shiono does his best when he stops trying to do the typical themes we've all heard, and that is shown here.
One of the pieces I should point out is the victory theme, which surprisingly is named "Victory." Personal bias showing, but I consider this to be one of the best victory themes in any RPG. It's simple and delivers triumph in a short period of time. Though this piece is almost identical to Lufia I's version, the updated sound quality really does it justice.
"Castle" has a nice melody, and repeats it creativity throughout the minute. "The World's Great Heist" is the goofy theme, similar to "??" from Final Fantasy VI. It's similar, yet vastly inferior. "Parting" is supposed to be sad, though it feels more like a goodbye that you know will be short. "Wedding Bell" and "After the Ceremony" give you exactly what they say they will, so don't expect anything new there. The album then takes us through "Spring," "Summer," "Autumn," and "Winter." I wish I remembered what these pieces correlate to during the game because they're great. Each one gives you the feeling of living and interacting during its respectable seasons. Finally something this soundtrack offers that isn't heard elsewhere.
If "Beyond the Blue Skies" is the airship theme, then it's done better than the first game. The piece's not nearly as epic as I'd like, but it is closer than before. "A Distant, Enchanted World" follows well, and as one of the few tracks over 1:30 seconds, it doesn't lose your attention with its moody atmosphere. "Doom Island" has an interesting "oriental dojo" feel which seems to come from nowhere, but Mr. Shiono pulls this off.
The album finishes like its predecessor and is quite good. "Grief" is nothing special but "The One Who will Save the Earth" and "To the Future" are both excellent. The former follows the last boss fight and delivers to the audience the message that this fight isn't over yet. The ending theme "To the Future" does what Lufia I's "End of the Journey" did and makes the listener more sad than pleased that the journey is over. The album's last track is a remix of "Purifia Flowers," but like "The Final Decisive Battle" offers nothing new from its previous incarnation.
The sound quality is certainly better in this album than in the first. Yasunori Shiono had more tracks and more experience to make this soundtrack, and it shows. While Lufia & The Temple of Doom is a mediocre score, I would say Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals is good. Unfortunately, this CD is nothing that video game music fans haven't heard by now.
There are two types of listeners who should consider these score. The first camp is those who are huge Lufia fans. Lufia fans already know what to expect from the music, and should make the purchase it if they enjoy it. The other type of listeners who should pick this set up is the hard core video game music fans. This is far from a bad soundtrack is a fairly mediocre one. You have to really enjoy game music to get the most of this album. Given the time, it will shine and you'll get something out of it. But SNES and Game Boy Color sound quality is something that you must be into, or at least be able to tolerate.
As this particular album is out-of-print and expensive at auction, I again recommend the recently produced Game Sound Legend Consumer Series Estpolis Biography Soundtrack, which also features the excellent score to Lufia: The Legend Returns for the Game Boy Color.
Estpolis: Opening Motif
Theme of Town
Theme of Cave
Battle Theme #1
Key Treasure ~ Comradeship ~ Skill Item ~ Treasure
Theme of Village
Battle Theme #2
The Mystery Lady
Theme of Castle
Jimmy and Tommy
Theme of Labyrinth
Theme of Tower
Gate of Journey
Theme of Shrine
The Sorrow of Parting
Theme of Port Town
Theme of Mons
One Hand Gambler ~ The Game ~ Got It