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Review: Distant Worlds III: more music from Final Fantasy

Distant Worlds has always been exceptional, from the live concerts to the album recordings. I figured after the first two albums and the live Blu-ray concert recordings, however, that we wouldn’t be seeing more from the series. Then came along Distant Worlds III with a mixture of new arrangements and old ones that have been hard to come by.

Can Distant Worlds do it a third time? Read more below.

I will say that Distant Worlds III will sound familiar to those who have followed the tour since its inception. That’s because most of the arrangements, including the emotional and beautiful “You’re Not Alone” from Final Fantasy IX, the short and measured “Fabula Nova Crystallis” and “Blinded by Light” from Final Fantasy XIII, the playful “Chocobo Medley 2012,” the ominous “Primal Judgment” with big choir and metal hits from Final Fantasy XIV, the “Battle & Victory Theme Medley” (which contains “Clash on the Big Bridge,” “Seymour,” and Final Fantasy VII’s “Fighting”), and the powerful vocal theme “Answers” from Final Fantasy XIV have been featured on past Blu-ray/DVD releases, but have been harder to come by on CD.

Since I am familiar with most of these past arrangements, I gravitated to the music that was new to me. “Song of Prayer ~ Farplane Sending” from Final Fantasy X is a track I never cared for in-game, but the sparseness of the arrangement really stuck out, working with solo vocal performers and a lone bell before it finally begins to build towards the end. Susan Calloway’s powerful voice singing Final Fantasy XII’s “Kiss Me Goodbye” (my favorite Final Fantasy vocal theme) was also a treat, although the lack of percussion took the poppy edge out of the piece and focused more on an orchestral styling. There’s a medley of character themes from Final Fantasy VI that touches on Terra, Kefka, Celes, and Locke that I enjoyed, as well as a short take on the Final Fantasy VI ending that I wish was longer. Given that the Final Fantasy VI ending theme incorporated all the character themes, the two pieces could have been merged and expanded.

In all, however, this is a solid collection of music. If you’re like me and own the Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy The Celebration concert Blu-ray, but missed the limited CD release at the Square Enix Music shop at Tokyo Game Show last year, this album will fill in those gaps. I also own the Returning Home concert DVD, which fortunately came with the music on CD, and several of those arrangements are presented here as well. Even then, the new arrangements offer something for even the most ardent Distant Worlds fan.

You can pick up Distant Worlds III: more music from Final Fantasy from CD Japan.

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