Final Fantasy XII didn’t get a fair shake when it was first released. Yes, the development was quite an ordeal and the game took a few hits as a result, but Final Fantasy XII was a pioneer in many ways, including with its grandiose orchestral soundtrack by Hitoshi Sakimoto. With the HD remake, dubbed The Zodiac Age, the entire score was re-recorded with the Video Game Orchestra, bringing all the music to life with live performances in addition to new original tracks just for the re-release, totaling a massive 102 tracks and clocking in at nearly six hours. Fans of Final Fantasy and especially Final Fantasy XII will want to give it a listen, and those who pick up the limited edition version also get an arrangement album by the team at Basiscape.
Those who’ve never heard the soundtrack before are in for a real treat right out of the gate with Sakimoto’s signature spin on the Final Fantasy theme, followed by the explosive “Boss Battle” theme and the sweeping fan-favorites “The Dalmasca Eastersand” and “Giza Plains.” “On the Riverbank” is adventurous yet sweet, “Eruyt Village” is soothing and full of mystery with its strings and woodwinds. There are other Sakimoto takes on Final Fantasy classicss such as the chocobo and Gilgamesh’s themes, exotic woodwinds in the desert-esque “The Stilshrine of Miriam,” and tribal percussion and beautiful piano and choir in “The Salikawood.” Rounding out some key themes that listeners will want to check out are “The Final Act” with its tense and decisive sound reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics, “Struggle for Freedom,” a new piece that is absolutely terrifying, and “The Zodiac Age,” a lovely cinematic piece. And don’t forget the beautiful harp-laden “Game Over,” which you’ll be hearing a lot!
As mentioned, the limited edition comes with a CD of arrangements, which includes a music box/dance hybrid of “The Zodiac Age” by Sakimoto himself, exotic bagpipes and woodwinds on “The Dalmascan Eastersand,” and an excellent piano solo of “The Barheim Passage.”
The limited edition is still available on CD Japan and belongs in every Final Fantasy fan’s collection.
Many fans were looking forward to getting the Protect Me Knight 2 (Gotta Protectors) soundtrack, and after SuperSweep released a collection of music from the game dubbed Volume 1, it was only a matter of time before Volume 2 surfaced.
This album is best thought of as an accompaniment album with alternate versions of many of the songs. You’ll find the adventurous beat-’em-up main theme, militaristic marches, comical battle themes, spooky atmospheres, and tons of tunes to pump you up courtesy of Yuzo Koshiro and the SuperSweep sound team. Included are up-tempo versions, long versions, then a smattering of FM (most of disc 1), MKIII, Famicom, Game Boy, and OPN versions of various themes from the game. There’s also a full production remix that brings in a cheesy big band and male vocals sounding like something from a variety show.
It’s available at CD Japan if you want to give it a spin.
SuperSweep is at it again, publishing obscure music that you won’t hear anywhere else. This time it’s the PlayStation Vita title, Omega Labyrinth featuring Daisuke Nakajima as the primary composer with a number of vocal anime-style themes thrown into the mix. The game itself is a challenging roguelike dungeon crawler with a story centered around the protagonist seeking out a grail in order to request a wish to increase her breast size.
In terms of the music, it follows the upbeat anime formula. The opening vocal theme, “Brave Heart,” offers sticky sweep pop rock with female vocals that are silly and energetic, followed by another vocal track that is more acoustic and folksy in nature. There’s everything here from cool ninja rock with shakuhachi and shamisen to classic J-rock with impressive guitar solos. You’ll find the usual suspects for this type of game: tense dungeons, epic boss battles with explosive rock, and a lovely sweeping orchestral pop tune to close out the game.
The album is available at CD Japan if you’re interested.
SuperSweep Records is at it again, bringing music you wouldn’t expect out on CD with the release of the soundtracks to the PlayStation Vita games Bullet Girls 1&2. The album features an eclectic selection of electronic, orchestral, and pop music composed by Masanori Hikichi, including the catchy J-rock title themes, “Faith” (Bullet Girls 1) and “One’s Bullet” (Bullet Girls 2), both featuring vocalist Tifan.
Between military marches, smooth synth pop, funk, and pop rock, there’s something for everyone with this release. There’s sweeping orchestral, spooky trip hop, and even dance music. It’s all wonderfully produced, and even some of the darker tracks maintain an upbeat atmosphere. They also include a number of jingles from the game and the instrumental versions of the vocal tracks.
Bullet Girls 1&2 Soundtrack can be imported from CD Japan if you’re interested.
It’s been awhile since Hitoshi Sakimoto’s Basicape Records put out some music. The tail end of 2016 saw the release of the soundtrack to the PC game Oh! Samurai Girls! A Music Collection with the return of composer Azusa Chiba and Yoshimi Kudo to follow up 2012’s “S” collection. You’re in for an eclectic winter-flavored soundtrack with strong Japanese influences.
From the sweet and magical opener to the mix of upbeat and playful to funky and cool tracks that follow, there’s something here for everyone. There’s epic orchestra, tender ballads, swaggering jazz, ninja rock, and even an appearance by J.S. Bach with a Christmas version of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” There are breakbeats, lullabies, and crashing metal along with traditional Japanese instruments, exotic desert music, and even folk. The album closes it with a series of heavy metal tracks complete with chugging bass and wailing guitars.
The two-disc album can be picked up on CD Japan if you’re interested.
This one may have slid by your radar earlier this year, but you’ll want to check it out. SuperSweep Records looks back at this PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita title offering a cool blend of electronic music with traditional Japanese instruments by Patapon and LocoRoco composer Kemmei Adachi.
You’re in store for some really amazing atmospheres, starting out of the gate with the opening track, which features pumping electronics and the addition of Japanese koto, shakuhachi, and vocals. There’s plenty of funk throughout, tense stealth espionage cues, a hauntingly beautiful ambient piece with sound effects and siren-like female vocals, a lounge track with flamenco-like guitar and koto, what I’m calling ninja dance music with bumpin’ bass, crunchy and glitchy electronic offerings, and an amazing 90s dance track that will get the nostalgia flowing.
Pick Ukiyo no Shishi/Ukiyo no Roushi up on CD Japan if you want to try something different. There’s not a whole lot of music like this out there.
More Tekken! SuperSweep is at it again, with both Tekken 7 and Tekken Revolution having recently been released. Expect more dubstep and electronic action from the Bandai Namco team and friends, including tracks from SuperSweep’s own Shinji Hosoe and Ayako Saso in addition to Yuu Miyake, Nobuyoshi Sano, and the rest of the gang. Taku Inoue handles the bulk of the music this time around, and as such, there’s a little pop mixed in with this dubstep.
He opens with the grungy rock/electronic “New World Order” with anthemic male vocals, and moves into industrial with “Blood, Sweat, and Fists.” There are laser-like synths in “Everlasting Heaven” and a distorted and searing soundscape present in “Self Destruct.” Yuu Miyake delivers “El Condor,” a trippy electronic track with an ethereal atmosphere and lots of reverb. There’s the dancey “Lunar fringe theory,” the pumping “Chopper” with its crazy slap bass, and even some flamenco flavor in “Bassamenco” and “Françoise’s Bassline.” Vocoder vocals are found in “Brasil evolution,” clean acoustic guitar in “lost in a station,” and Inoue’s uplifting rock in “Night rises” and “Kodama Starship,” the latter of which almost sounds like something out of Katamari Damacy with its vocal work.
Tekken Revolution is published by SuperSweep Records and is available for import from CD Japan if you’re interested.
Fans of SRPGs and Basiscape should be pleased to see the release of the three-disc Grand Kingdom Original Soundtrack. It blends catchy fantasy themes with Hitoshi Sakimoto’s signature orchestral sound with exotic instrumentation similar to other projects the team has worked on like Muramasa. There are also strong Celtic influences throughout and prominent use of accordion to reflect the game’s mercenary setting.
Listeners will likely take note of the epic fantasy main theme, “Resonail: Land of Endless War,” the whimsical yet rugged “The Guild: Base Camp,” the gritty “Mercenary Trade Show,” the decisive and folksy “The White Wolf Mercenaries,” the uplifting and sometimes tense “‘A first campaign should not be fought recklessly,'” and the classic JRPG-style battle theme, “Let’s Get ‘em, Boss!” There’s the slowly-building “Determination,” the bouncy and playful “Worthy Foe,” and the angelic and mysterious “Away From Prying Eyes (Fiel’s Theme).” “Target the Enemy Leader” is a triumphant blend of rock and orchestra, “Don’t Leave Me” is melancholy and sweepingly beautiful, “Endless Forest” is dangerous with big bass and a Western vibe, “Pure Blood, Pure Knights (Landerth’s Audience Chamber)” is regal and restful, “Hurry!” is tense but fun, “In the Wake of Destruction” is an energetic battle theme that touches on progressive rock, and “Prayers of War” closes things out with a sweet ethereal vocal theme.
Whether you played the game or not, there’s some fantastic fantasy RPG music here, and it may be some of Basiscape’s best work to date. Best of all, it’s available on iTunes and Amazon in the United States in addition to physically from CD Japan.
If you’re a fan of Yoko Shimomura (you are), then you’ll likely want to check out the V.D. -VANISHMENT DAY- SOUNDTRACK. The game is a mobile/web strategy RPG with anime-inspired visuals, and the soundtrack offers up classic Yoko Shimomura with elegant orchestral and piano work over an upbeat action-oriented electronic foundation. SuperSweep Records has published the soundtrack, which features a number of great moments.
From the opening notes of “Departure,” you’ll think you’re listening to Shimomura’s counterpart to Hitoshi Sakimoto’s Valkyria Chronicles score with its militaristic march that seemingly prepares you for battle. From there, though, there’s nothing too serious. All of the combat tracks are tinged with a playfulness that ensures an upbeat listening experience. Both “Built a Fire” and “Sortie!” sport cool and sleek electronic backings, with “Sortie!” bringing in a nice woodwind melody. “Rock on the Heavens” brings in explosive drum ‘n’ bass percussion with a big orchestral sound and romantic piano sections that are classic Shimomura. There’s the tense and ominous “Just Beat That Which Lies Ahead of the Road,” the tragic “con fuoco,” the beautiful sweeping “At Night Where Scarlet Flowers Bloom,” the pumping and driving “Nervous Vision,” the chaotic “The Tempest” with its melancholy breaks, the decisive “The Brave Force,” the triumphant “Our Truth,” the tense and mysterious “Instability,” and the heartbreaking piano and strings closer, “No One Knows the Answer,” which hints at something dark and unsettling.
In all, this is solid work from Shimomura, and there aren’t any duds to be found across the album’s 40+ minutes. It’s available at CD Japan for only $20 USD if you’re interested.
While I’m pretty terrible at fighting games, Tekken is the only franchise I attempt to play. I’ve been with it since the first game, a launch title for the original PlayStation, and while I’ve been out of the game for a while, I’ve kept up with the music. SuperSweep has published a number of recent Tekken albums, and Tekken 7 is no different, bringing a selection of well-produced electronic music from Bandai Namco’s usual cast of composers.
This time around, each stage gets two variations. There’s lots of dubstep to be heard throughout, and the second variation of each stage tends be be heavier. Fans can look forward to the searing opening theme, “Heat Haze Shadow” with its hard-hitting electronics and robotic vocals. For stage themes, the Japanese flavored “Dojo” should be an immediate hit, along with the dancey “Equator Line,” the chilly “Arctic Snowfall,” the mysterious and melodic “The day before the glass matrix,” the epic choir and electric guitar of “Volcano,” and the grungy electronic-rock hybrid of “Devil Kazumi.” The album ends with a lovely vocal duet that combines acoustic guitar and glitchy dubstep in “The Long Goodbye.”
Tekken fans will want to give this album a spin. It’s available on CD Japan, and in typical SuperSweep fashion, buying directly from SuperSweep Records snags you a bonus DJ mix disc full of music from Tekken 7 and other Tekken titles, and CD Japan also has you covered there for an additional cost.