WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Project X Zone 2
One aspect I didn’t mention in the Project X Zone 2 review was its soundtrack. As a crossover of many gaming franchises, it naturally draws most of its music from those franchises and gives them fancy new remixes. The first game did the same thing but, due to licensing issues, a lot of tracks had to be replaced (and some just flat-out removed) for the Western release.
PXZ 2, however, managed to avoid this pitfall and we were gifted with an untouched, complete soundtrack (though Japan still got an exclusive pre-order that offered the original versions of the remixes which sucks but what are you gonna do?). So, to continue the trend of me pretending I know what I’m talking about when it comes to music, here’s a quick list of ten of my favourite music tracks from the game. And believe me when I say that this list was much harder to make than the last one. Seriously, this is a really good soundtrack.
Two rules: one music track per franchise and no music tracks that I put on the last list I did that also appear in this game. Sorry, Volcanic Rim Stage -Street Fighter IV-, Ultra Violet (Nelo Angelo Battle), Ride On Sea, Brave New World and Rising Stage; you’re new remixes are cool but you’re only getting a special mention in this article.
1. DESERTED CHATEAU (Darkstalkers 3)
When you have a character as sultry as the succubus Morrigan, you need a suitably fitting theme. This music track has accompanied her since the first Darkstalkers and it’s no surprise why every iteration of it is pretty much the same. If it worked the first time, why change it?
But this version of the track is probably my favourite. I don’t know why; maybe because it feels more energetic. Something about the way it’s been remixed makes it feel a little bit more intense, as if Morrigan is actually putting in all her effort for a change and truly intends to kick some ass. It still has that same allure to it though, with the combination of piano and violin adding some class as well.
It’s a pretty toe-tapping theme that not only continues to suit the character so well but also fit in with the more over-the-top nature of the game.
2. Funk Goes On (Yakuza)
If you listen to this track for only a second, you’ll realise how fitting its name is. It doesn’t feel like it should really fit either of the two Yakuza characters, Kiryu and Majima, yet it does, for some reason.
Maybe it’s because it quickly picks up the pace shortly after the track starts playing. Maybe because it feels a lot more grounded than some other music pieces. This isn’t the music you hear during some epic anime-style battle; this is what you hear in the streets and back-alleys. Except rather than be seedy or reek of danger, it’s confident; like it’s backing you up. It’s telling the opponent that they’re gonna get their ass handed to them.
While Yakuza is represented via its Dead Souls spin-off in PXZ 2, it’s great to see the series roots being incorporated in some way. Kiryu and Majima may be packing more heat than they normally would, but this music shows that while they may be dealing with zombies and demons, sometimes all they need is their own fists.
3. Jade Water (Nightshade)
I love it when I first listen to a piece of music and it instantly surprises me, like this one did. It begins with slow, ominous chanting (always a fave of mine) before immediately segueing into a much faster-paced and vigorous affair.
Unlike the themes associated with the ninjas Strider Hiryu and Hotsuma, Hibana’s music is not slow, solemn or sneaky. It’s the kind of music you’d hear during a raid; the time for staying quiet and sticking to the shadows is over. You need to just go in and fight.
I’ve said before that I love music that can affect your mood, and this is a good example of that. It gradually amps you up for the battle ahead and, by the midway point, you’re fully invested and confident that you’ll overcome whatever enemy is standing in your way.
4. Sega Saturn, Shiro!
Much like the character himself, Segata Sanshiro’s theme music has kind of become Internet famous. Any time he is mentioned, this music’s usually not far behind so it pretty much HAD to be included in PXZ 2, and while it may be hard to take seriously for some people simply due to association, it’s still a good piece of music, partly because of said association.
Segata is a goofy as hell character, and I feel the music accentuates that perfectly. Considering this was part of the Sega Saturn’s advertising, it feels more like a war chant than a commercial jingle. Even if you take the music at face value, it’s essentially backing music for Segata. It accentuates his stoic and serious nature; it alone tells you that he is not to be trifled. Hell, it repeatedly chants his name as if it’s a warning (even if it is a bit muted).
While it is a shame that it doesn’t contain the full lyrics (yes, there is an official version with lyrics), it’s still the same track that people fell in love with. And there’s nothing stopping you from joining in with your own cries of “SEGATA SANSHIRO!”
5. Angels with Burning Hearts (Burning Rangers)
Even though the Burning Rangers series doesn’t technically make an appearance in PXZ 2, it’s still really cool how it manages to get a bit of representation; specifically, with it’s main theme being used for one chapter where the party have to put out fires.
I’ve always had a slight fondness for upbeat jazz music and this track scratches that itch nicely. It’s also got a bit of a superhero vibe to it. Like, it’s meant to be an anthem of sorts, which makes sense since the Burning Rangers are firefighters; you can’t get more heroic than that. It’s meant to be uplifting; maybe even inspiring. It gives you that extra push to succeed because it makes you believe that you can do it.
While it would’ve been nice to have the lyrical version as well, I think it’s one-scene-wonder status is still welcome and I’m sure fans of Burning Rangers would’ve been pleased to hear this track come out of nowhere.
6. Burning (TEKKEN6 BR Opening) (Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion)
This list has mostly consisted of some fast-paced music, but it’s mostly been rather up-beat and peppy. Here we have a track that has that same vigor but feels much darker and slightly edgier, which I think suits the pairing of Jin and Kazuya from Tekken really well.
Despite being father and son, these two hate each other and aren’t shy about showing it. Hell, when they first appear, they’re about to kill each other before the plot gets in the way and they find themselves on the same side. They spend the entirety of the game sniping at one another and barely getting along. They even hit each other during certain attacks.
I feel like the music helps put this feeling across. It’s a heavy track that has all the intensity you’d expect for a battle theme but carries an underlying level of dislike and conflict. Jin and Kazuya may be fighting as a pair, but their hatred for each other is still on the surface, and this music is kind of putting it on full display.
7. Ring a Bell (Tales of Vesperia)
Funnily enough, this was one of the music tracks that was cut from the Western release of the first game. While that was a shame, I think its appearance here makes up for it; mostly because, well, it’s just really good.
It’s so happy and joy-filled that you wouldn’t think it would work as battle music, but the use of guitars and drums help give it a more passionate vibe. It’s innocent but not naive; despite it’s slightly more whimsical feel, it still suits the backdrop of beating down enemies.
You could say it perfectly fits the character of Estelle in that regard. She may be one of the nicest girls you’ll ever meet and be as sweet as sugar, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to whoop your ass six ways from Sunday, and this music accentuates that. It’s perfect for sunny strolls and awesome fight scenes.
8. No Way Back (God Eater)
I don’t think I’ve ever known a piece of music to have no build-up; it just jumps straight into sounding awesome from the first second. I was never fond of the God Eater music from the first PXZ so hearing this theme for the first time was like a shock to the system and it immediately became a favourite.
This is also one of those instances where my attempts to sound more profound and intelligent when writing about music fail me. There’s nothing I can say except that it’s awesome and I love it. It’s just a medley of guitars and every second of it is a joy to my ears. I almost wish fights lasted longer just to hear more of it.
The only downsides are that it’s quite short and (again) we didn’t get the one with lyrics. Seriously, videogame music with lyrics are always good. Otherwise, this is a surprisingly rocking track for a series set after the apocalypse.
9. Stairs of Time (.hack//Link)
Much like Morrigan’s theme at the beginning of the list, this is a track that was included in the last game but I didn’t really think much of. It was decent but nothing about it resonated with me; not until I heard this remix of it.
From what little I know of the .hack// series, despite it taking place in an advanced online videogame, it seems to have some level of fantasy. You get the sense that there’s more to it than just code and data; there’s something mystical about it. That’s the feeling I get when I listen to this track.
There’s something almost heavenly about it, like it could be played in a church or something. But then it picks up, getting slightly more dynamic as if our heroes are rising up and getting their second wind against their foes. While certainly not as intense as other pieces on this list, it’s great battle music in a different way and makes it stand out amongst all the guitar riffs.
10. All The World’s A Stage Orchestral Version
You want to know a great way to make people instantly fall in love with a final boss theme? Make it an orchestral cover of the game’s main theme. Seriously, that shit hypes me up every time without fail. So when the final battle with Byaku Shin began and this began to emanate through my earphones, the biggest grin spread across my face.
All The World’s A Stage is a great song as well, perfectly capturing the joy I felt seeing all these characters and worlds cross over with one another but it was very much a pop song. By slowing it down and using what sound like real instruments like drums and horns, it makes it more grandiose and (for lack of a better word) epic.
It just fits so well. You’re battling a giant, would-be god on some strange island floating between worlds, with a dark, purple sky looming above you. It’s a common theme for final bosses but it works so well; all the odds are against you but you’re turning things around and you will ultimately triumph. That’s what the music’s telling you and it helps make your victory all the more satisfying.