SuperSweep was tapped to provide a remixed BGM mode for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 shmup, ESP Ra.De. Ψ. Given Hosoe-san and SuperSweep’s history with this game genre, you can bet they knew just want to do. The album features two discs, the first of which are in the in-game remixes, and the second of which are extended mixes of ten of the tracks. There’s also a non-stop mix available as a bonus disc for anyone order from the SuperSweep store.
The soundtrack featured original music by Masahiro Kusunoki and Tetsuya Mizoguchi, but the entire SuperSweep team and several friends contribute remixes to the remixed BGM mode. The album opens with the dreamy “ESP Person” before the pumping and fittingly titled “”DESPERATE SCHOOL” and fast-paced “NIGHTMARE” come in. Each artist on the album takes a crack at “RAGING DEICIDE,” a synth-heavy anthem that is featured no less than six times, all by different arrangers. Takahiro Eguchi’s version is drum-heavy and glitchy, Ayako Saso’s applies less emphasis on synths and adds shredding electric guitar and octave-jumping bass, Fumihisa Tanaka’s version is more driving with epic pads and arpeggiated bass, and Atomic’s remix is searing with an increased tempo and layered synths. It’s interesting to hear so many different takes on the same theme. “ACT IN JUDGE” is more bubbly and upbeat while “WANGAN RAPID LINE 2nd” glides with some nice electric piano work. I love the Metroid-esque “FAIRIES FEAR” with guttural bass and sparse percussion, and the three-part sequence starting with the surprisingly chill “RAGE” with dreamy pads and measured drums, which morphs into “WING” with added epic choir, which again morphs into “MADNESS” with added distorted choir and screams and screeching in the background. The closing track, “SNOW ILLUSION,” brings soothing bells and closes out on a reflective note.
The album is available for import from CD Japan, and the bonus disc is available from purchasing direct from the SuperSweep shop in Japan only.
I’m a huge fan of jazz music in videogames. Brink of Time, the Chrono Trigger jazz arrange album, is still on heavy rotation in my household, and is a must own in any game music fan’s collection. That’s why I’m so excited about this album and, even more, the title of this album. Will this be a series? I think it just might, and given that Square Enix has provided all the text in the booklet in both Japanese and English, I’m guessing they’re looking to make this an international favorite as well.
But how’s the music? Simply put, it’s everything I wanted it to be. You may have heard the “Blinded by Light” (from Final Fantasy XIII) track on the Tokyo Game Show sampler, but in case you didn’t, it’s both spunky and funky with a fresh big band sound, starting things off right. Over the course of the next 11 tracks, you’ll hear everything from soothing to upbeat, vocal to sound effect solo, and the entire array of jazz instrumentation with flute, drum, and saxophone solos. There’s smooth and laid back with Final Fantasy III’s “Eternal Wind,” which gets xylophone and electric guitar, urgent with Final Fantasy IV’s “Battle with the Four Fiends,” which sports a lovely flute breakdown and a killer sax solo, and swanky with Final Fantasy’s II “Revel Army,” which would be right home in a jazz lounge. The loose take on “Big Bridge” also is home to what I’m calling an extremely quirky “sound effect solo,” which is a series of sound effects dueling it out, while the contemplative “Sarah’s Theme” from Final Fantasy XIII, the lively “Searching Friends” from Final Fantasy VI, and the swingin’ “You Are Not Alone” from Final Fantasy IX are my absolute favorites. Rounding out the album are the exotic and flamenco-flavored “Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X, the extremely elegant piano-laiden “Love Grows” from Final Fantasy VIII, and the uplifting and Christmas-like Final Fantasy “Main Theme” with its twinkling piano work.
SQUARE ENIX JAZZ -FINAL FANTASY- is a fantastic album, and should have all of us wondering which Square Enix franchise will be next. The album is out on November 22 in Japan, and can be pre-ordered from CD Japan if you want to get your hands on a physical copy out of the gate. It’s not currently listed on the North America merchandise store, but I have a feeling it’ll end up there as well as on iTunes international.
This album has been a long time in the making. Over the years I’ve talked to Yasunori Mitsuda about his progress, and it always seemed to be right around the corner. It attained something of a myth-like status, as fans started thinking it’d never see the light of day, but it’s finally here.
It’s hard to live up to nearly ten years (or more?) of hype, but I think Chrono fans will be pleased not only with the music, but also the presentation and Mitsuda’s attempt to tie together Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross musically. The offerings are actually somewhat eclectic in presentation with a heavy emphasis on orchestral arrangement and vocals throughout, which may initially put some people off, but I can promise you that all the performances are top notch.
Plants vs. Zombies composer Laura Shigihara, who I imagine was invited to participate because her brilliant and beautiful arrangement of “Corridors of Time” on YouTube (which is recorded with glorious orchestra and live instruments on this album), is also featured on “Schala’s Theme,” for which she sings in a made up language that fits the vibe of the piece perfectly, and “On the Other Side,” a heartwarming take on the “Crono & Marle” theme. In contrast to Shigihara’s sweet and lighthearted voice, vocalist Sarah Alainn offers a heavier ballad-based style with both “Raidcal Dreamers” and “To Far Away Times,” the latter of which reminds me a bit of the Xenogears vocal theme, “SMALL OF TWO PIECES.”
Other tracks include a rather ambient Celtic take on “Marbule,” a lush and gorgeous “Wind Scene” (easily my favorite track on the album), a warm and lovely “The Bend of Time” (which has been released elsewhere in the past), a melancholy strings version of “The Frozen Flame,” and a surprising performance of “Time’s Scar” that gets an ascending guitar riff that sounds a lot like the iconic “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. This is certainly my favorite version of “Time’s Scar.”
The music is fantastic and encompasses a lot of different ideas and styles, and the artwork and presentation in a slim cardboard case is all spot on. Any and all Chrono music fans will appreciate this album.
Grab it on CD Japan if you’re interested.