Sengoku Basara: Chronicle Heroes is the second PSP instalment of Capcom's hack 'n' slash titles, set in feudal Japan. Once again, a team from T's Music led by Rei Kondoh handled most of the score and hybridised traditional Japanese instruments with orchestral and contemporary elements throughout. While they produce an effective score, it doesn't match the Wii's Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes in either quantity or quality.
Straight from "The End of the Beginning", Rei Kondoh asserts that the series' hybridised sound is back. Expressive shakuhachi melodies resonate against epic string ostinati and gritty guitar riffs, reflecting a modern take on a traditional conflict. This hybridised approach is further explored in conjunction with darker orchestration on "Looking for the Final Dwelling Place" and military motifs on "The Thoughts of Two Rivals", both of which have parallels in the Sengoku Basara: Battle Heroes soundtracks. These compositions aren't quite as exuberantly produced as those on the Wii's Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes and would have benefited from traditional instrumental soloists. Nevertheless, their expressive samples and balanced mixing ensure that they are effective and satisfying compositions.
For the most part, the tracks on Sengoku Basara: Chronicle Heroes don't quite pull the same melodic punches as their predecessors. Tracks such as "Spinning Bonds" and "Veteran" seem to aspire to an anthemic rock-orchestral sound, but don't have the same rich shapes or extensive development as classics such as "Unification of the Land". Yasutaka Hatade's "Burning Soul", in contrast, sounds like it comes straight from his dating simulator scores with its cheery guitar leads and punchy cadences. While fans of old-school rock will love this one, it seems out-of-place with the darker, grittier sounds pioneered by Masahiro Aoki, among others, elsewhere in the series. The likes of "Now to the Fated Battle" and "Small Body, Big Heart" sound equally out-of-place for a series set in feudal Japan.
After such missteps, a few compositions prove outstanding on a stand-alone basis. Aoki himself makes a remarkable guest contribution on "The Sun", combining that sense of rhythm and lyricism that he asserted on Sengoku Basara 3 with a more moody and scenic focus. "Glory Eternal" is one of the few tracks that intrigues throughout its entire development, while "Full Throttle" provides that perfect blend of moody yet groovy. Yet this is not enough to really rescue the score from mediocrity. The climax of the score is rather erratic with the interludes of "Red Thirst" feeling unrelated to the main subject and the body of "Ravaging Red" failing to make the most of the gothic introduction and the ending themes are all brief and stereotypical affairs despite their decent production values.
Also noteworthy is T.M. Revolution's opening theme for the game, "Flags". This is a pretty typical example of modern J-Pop, combining uplifting vocal melodies with pumping electronic beats and guitar riffs. Nevertheless, vocalist Takanori Nishikawa brings the melody to life with his energetic performance, just as he did with earlier theme songs for the series. Note that this is only the shortened opening version of the song and those desiring the full version or Do As Infinity's ending theme for that matter will have to purchase singles separately. Those who purchased the limited edition of the soundtrack can also enjoy a bonus DVD featuring promotion videos from the game set to music.
Put simply, the Sengoku Basara: Chronicle Heroes is a pale imitator. Compared to other instalments of the series, it lacks novel stylings, memorable melodies, cutting-edge production, or a dramatic arch. Instead, it's just another soundtrack that sets the feudal scene and pumps listeners through combat. There's little bad here, but the lack of excellent or novel material damages it as a stand-alone product. It's better to purchase the incredible soundtrack for Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes instead.