Review: Final Fantasy XI Musicbox Adventures

The music box, or orgel as it’s known in Japan, is quite a lovely sound. While I’ve always appreciated the chromatic tones, I’ve to this day not fully understood just why it’s so popular in Japan, but I’ve tended not to question it as many of favorite game soundtracks have benefited from a music box arrangement now and then.

This album continues that tradition, as was given away as a pre-order bonus for a Final Fantasy XI collection in Japan. So how does Final Fantasy XI’s music transition into the orgel format? Find out below. Continue reading Review: Final Fantasy XI Musicbox Adventures

Review: A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy

As a huge fan of music from Final Fantasy and the Distant Worlds tour, I was immediately interested in their A New World event, which is meant to be a much smaller, intimate ensemble-based affair. Their live performances were held too far away for me to attend, but I patiently awaited the release of an album so I could get in on the action, and that’s finally here.

What we have is a live recording from their London performance, which features the aforementioned ensemble complete with pianist Benyamin Nuss. Does the concert and recording live up to past efforts from the Distant Worlds team?

Read our review below. Continue reading Review: A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy

Review: A Composer’s Guide to Game Music

If you’re reading this blog, then it’s likely you have more than a passing interest in game music. It’s therefore likely that you’ve heard of Winifred Phillips, who’s worked on projects ranging from God of War and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation to Speed Racer and SimAnimals.

Through this new book, Phillips walks aspiring composers through the many practical and technical considerations that go into everything from picking out gear and finding your first job to how to compose great themes and create interactive music. While the target audience is aspiring composers, anyone with an interest in videogames and/or game audio should give A Composer’s Guide to Game Music a look.

Read our review below. Continue reading Review: A Composer’s Guide to Game Music

Review: Turrican Soundtrack Anthology

I never had the pleasure of playing many of the games that Chris Huelsbeck became world renowned for during my childhood. Most of my experience with his work has been through his original compositions, all of which I’ve loved. That’s why the Turrican Soundtrack Anthology was such a great opportunity for me to go back and enjoy all the Turrican classics that I missed as a young gamer, and I now understand why people have always been so enamored with these soundtracks.

The Turrican Soundtrack Anthology takes music from across the Turrican series and re-imagines it with upgraded sounds. But don’t let that scare tried and true fans of the classic Turrican scores, as these new renditions are still retro to the core with their catchy melodies intact, fantastic bass synths, and rocking electronic hybrids that are a retro game music fan’s dream.

Read below for more. Continue reading Review: Turrican Soundtrack Anthology

Review: LIGHTNING RETURNS:FINAL FANTASY XIII OST PLUS

I quite enjoyed the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII OST. While it didn’t feature the catchy pop music that made Final Fantasy XIII-2 so endearing, it did sport its own unique blend of electronic ambiance that provided for a great listen.

As has been customary for the Final Fantasy XIII soundtracks, Square Enix released an additional disc of trailer music, instrumental versions, cut tracks, and variations on themes presented on this PLUS album. Is it worth picking up?

Read our review below. Continue reading Review: LIGHTNING RETURNS:FINAL FANTASY XIII OST PLUS

Review: PIANO OPERA FINAL FANTASY VII/VIII/IX

We waited a long time to get a piano collections album for Final Fantasy I – III. It then came as a bigger surprise that Square Enix was taking the Piano Opera concept and making it a series, revisiting Final Fantasy titles that had already enjoyed Piano Collections albums in the past. This installment covers the next three games in the series, Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX.

Read our impressions below. Continue reading Review: PIANO OPERA FINAL FANTASY VII/VIII/IX

Review: Mario Kart 8 Soundtrack

I always figured that Mario Kart would be the last hold out from Nintendo, doomed to host cheesy synth sounds for its soundtracks for all eternity. We’ve seen Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda get the orchestral treatment, but Mario Kart is a party game, so when Mario Kart 8 was announced, I didn’t expect anything new on the sound front.

I was mistaken, however, as Nintendo has really gone all out once again for this score. Given the time and attention that the large sound team at Nintendo put into the game, including contributions from Shiho Fujii, Atsuko Asahi, Ryo Nagamatsu, Yasuaki Iwata, and direction by Kenta Nagata, I thought we should dig in and take a look at what they’ve accomplished.

Read impressions below. Continue reading Review: Mario Kart 8 Soundtrack

Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

I had the opportunity to review the original Diablo III soundtrack, and I noted that while it was great in its own right, it didn’t feel like it belonged to the Diablo universe. More so, it felt like the world of Diablo told through the musical stylings of World of Warcraft. Diablo III: Repear of Souls takes a different direction, with composer Derek Duke acting as audio lead, allowing for a new soundscape to unfold.

Does this change have a lasting impact on the score? Read our full review below. Continue reading Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight

Nippon Ichi Software’s Tenpei Sato returns with another zany RPG score in line with a lot of his past works. This time, we get a playfully dark atmosphere with a strong western vibe that goes quite well together. There are two discs to dig into if you managed to pick up the limited edition, and a single disc sampler if you grab the standard edition on the NISA store.

What drew my attention to the score initially was a contribution by NieR vocalist Emi Evans. Does her track and the rest make for a memorable experience? Read more below. Continue reading Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight

Unboxing: Tecmo Arcade Game Chronicle

SuperSweep has released an 11-disc collection of music and gameplay footage of Tecmo’s early arcade works, including Rygar, Ninja Gaiden, Tecmo Bowl, and others. Some of the music hasn’t been released before, and full composer credits have been included as well. Seven discs feature music, while others are dedicated to a composer round-table interview, extreme gameplay videos, and data files from Tecmo’s archives.

In this unboxing video, we take a look at the disc housing, booklet, and bonus disc for those who purchase via SuperSweep’s online store. Fans outside of Japan can buy it on CD Japan without the bonus disc. Check it out below.

Continue reading Unboxing: Tecmo Arcade Game Chronicle