龍が如く Ryu ga Gotoku: THE BEST Original Sound Track Album Review

by

Date Released: June 30, 2011
Date Reviewed: August 7, 2011
Genre: Rock, Jazz, Classical, Orchestral, Pop, Synthpop and others
Media Format: 2 CD Set
Length: Disc 1: 73:12, Disc 2: 44:37, Overall: 117:49
Regions of Release: Japan Only
Release Price: 4410 JPY, 56 USD, 39 EUR, 34 GBP

Ryu ga Gotoku THE BEST Original Sound Track is a compilation album of an assortment of music found throughout the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 Ryu ga Gotoku series of games known as Yakuza in English language regions. Almost the entire series of games is represented, with the PlayStation Portable spinoff Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku being notably absent, along with the licensed songs featured in the introductions for the Japanese versions of Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!, Yakuza 3 and Yakuza 4. Regardless, the album retains a well balanced blend of genres and features much of the best known and loved music from the franchise with only a few weak inclusions.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Ryu ga Gotoku/Yakuza franchise, they are a series of role playing action ‘beat em up’ games based around the Japanese crime world. Although the series takes place in present times, the musical influences are more styled around arcade games from the 1980s and 1990s with many similarities to various SEGA’s games and music titles instead of hip-hop or rap.

Disc 1

Starting off with “Amazing Grace” and “Silent Night, Holy Night” two of the most recognized and loved songs of all time, the first disc eases the listener into a calming state. These arrangements suffer from “Engrish” vocals and may become distracting for some, but are entirely respectful of the source material. Most of the songs after this do not feature lyrics of any kind, but the ones that do are usually exclusively in Japanese, such as “Recieve You” and “As A Man, As A Brother” the theme songs for the first and second games, respectfully.

The rest of the first disc is some of the most recognizable battle music from the first three games in the main series. Some tracks such as “Lyricism Without Tears”, “A Scattered Moment” and “Clay Doll On The Cradle” represent Kazuma Kiryu the main character of the series wonderfully in how they are themed around his positive outlook and personal struggles with a dark world, but still retain the hard-hitting action and pacing the series is known so well for.

As most of the first disc is songs used from battles scenes, the ones that are not stand out more than they should. “Let’s Produce The No.1 Hostess!” in particular is a softer pop song that was originally used for when the player is creating hostesses for their bars in Yakuza 3, 4 and OF THE END. However, it has it’s own great style that is extremely reminiscent of many of SEGA’s games on the Saturn console, such as Sonic R. The same cannot be said for “ADAM’s Champaign Call” which is not a song at all, but a random group of people shouting from a hidden cutscene in Yakuza 2, “TAKUMI 2009” is a similarly wasted slot. These are easily the worst inclusions of the entire album, but due to their brief length they are fairly easy to ignore. It is also worth noting that they may have been added specifically because of their small size.

[Yakuza 3’s English language release features a shorter version of the song “Fly” for the introductory video]

Disc 2

The second disc as a whole is especially bizarre as all of the titles represented in it are departures from the first three games in the main series. Yakuza 4 added more character plots and playable characters, Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! is a spinoff that takes place in 1600s Japan and Ryu ga Gotoku OF THE END is another spinoff, but takes place during a zombie outbreak. Conceptually the styles of music is very similar, but different instruments are used to hold a different feel to better represent the setting or different character the player is using.

The themes throughout this disc are incredibly diverse. “Baile con la mariposa”, the first track is the sole song in the entire album to feature Spanish influences, but does so wonderfully. Although the majority of Yakuza 4‘s soundtrack is very similar to the first three main series titles, the new playable characters of Taiga Saejima, Shun Akiyama and Masayoshi Tanimura all bring their own styles to the mix with good results. The last few songs have a much more chaotic nature to them due to the setting in OF THE END, some tracks even sound as if they are straight from The House of the Dead series.

The second disc is also fairly disappointing in that the majority of the tracks come from OF THE END. It is notable that OF THE END was released around the same time, so it might have been for marketing purposes. Whatever the case might have been, the second disc certainly suffers from it and even becomes a bit dull near the end, with some very good tracks placed right before it all ends to even it out.

The album comes to a conclusion with an all new remix of “Receive You”, the theme song from the first game in the series. Although the execution is not as incredible as it could have been, it brings the soundtrack full circle and really leaves the listener satisfied.

 

[The installation screen is the only section of Ryu ga Gotoku OF THE END to feature the song “Start OF THE END”]

Closing Thoughts

There is clear favoritism to later releases in the series. OF THE END in particular has 12 tracks while Kenzan! has only 3. The only disappointing exclusions I found were “Unrest” and “Intelligence For Violence” from the first game and “Material Delights” from Yakuza 4, but otherwise the overall pacing and choices for the games are very solid. I have actually become more appreciative of some of the tracks when listening to them outside of the context of the games.

A great collection of songs from a great series. Although probably not a priority purchase for fans, it is a great representation of the franchise to present to potential fans and a wonderful collector’s item with it’s high quality packaging. Not necessarily ‘THE BEST’, but more like ‘Really great album’.

Song list

Disc 1:

1- Yakuza- Amazing Grace ~Qualtet Arrange~
2- Yakuza 2- Silent Night, Holy Night ~Arrange Version~
3- Yakuza- Receive You
4- Yakuza- Funk Goes On
5- Yakuza- Scarlet Scar
6- Yakuza- The End Of The Drama
7- Yakuza- Turning Point
8- Yakuza- For Whose Sake
9- Yakuza 2- ADAM’s Champagne Call
10- Yakuza 2- Outlaw’s Lullaby
11- Yakuza 2- Blaze
12- Yakuza 2- Bad Fortune Flower
13- Yakuza 2- A Scattered Moment
14- Yakuza 2- As a man, As a brother
15- Yakuza 3- Let’s Produce the No.1 Hostess!
16- Yakuza 3- Ryu-Kyu Humming
17- Yakuza 3- D2A
18- Yakuza 3- TAKUMI 2009
19- Yakuza 3- End Point
20- Yakuza 3- Clay Doll On The Cradle
21- Yakuza 3- Lyricism Without Tears
22- Yakuza 3- Fly ~ In-Game Version~
23- (Bonus Track)- Tears Of Father ~Overseas Edition~

Disc 2: nongamereviews

1- Kenzan!- baile con la mariposa
2- Kenzan!- Dance Music from Ancient Japan
3- Kenzan!- The Melody Played by a Patriot
4- Yakuza 4- Hymn of lingerie
5- Yakuza 4- For Faith
6- Yakuza 4- Whiskey & Rhapsody
7- Yakuza 4- Rebellions
8- Yakuza 4- Speed Star
9- Yakuza 4- Massive Fire
10- Yakuza 4- Infinite Handcuffs
11- Yakuza 4- The Myth
12- Yakuza 4- For Face
13- OF THE END- Start OF THE END
14- OF THE END- Akiyama “Battle Theme”
15- OF THE END- Gary’s Boot Camp
16- OF THE END- ”JeweL” OF THE END
17- OF THE END- Majima “Battle Theme”
18- OF THE END- Assailed from All Sides
19- OF THE END- Rest For A Moment
20- OF THE END- Kiryu “Battle Theme”
21- OF THE END- A Flying Swallow
22- OF THE END- Long Battle
23- OF THE END- Cry…
24- OF THE END- I Won’t Forget
25- (Bonus Track)- Receive You ~龍が如く THE BEST REMIX~

Personal Favorites

10. Yakuza- For Whose Sake
9. Kenzan!- Dance Music From Ancient Japan
8. Yakuza 4- Whiskey & Rhapsody
7. Yakuza 2- Silent Night, Holy Night ~Arrange Version~
6. Yakuza 3- Fly ~In-Game Version~
5. Yakuza 3- Lyricism Without Tears
4. Yakuza 4- Speed Star
3. Yakuza 3- Clay Doll On The Cradle
2. Yakuza 2- Outlaw’s Lullaby
1. Yakuza 4- For Faith

Composers

Franz Gruber, Hidenori Shoji, Keitaro Hanada, Sachio Ogawa, Norihiko Hibino, Takahiro Izutani, Love Sound System, Yuri Fukuda, Mitsuharu Fukuyama, Yasuhiro Takagi, Yuichi Kanatani, Chihiro Aoki, Takeshi Isozaki

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