Square Enix put out a neat little compilation album of chocobo themes a few years ago at the Tokyo Game Show. Spanning two CDs, the album includes nearly every iteration of the chocobo theme from Final Fantasy II through XIV in addition to selections from Seiken Densetsu, Chocobo’s Dungeon, Final Fantasy spin-off titles, Final Fantasy remakes, and even a few from arrangement albums. Meant to serve mainly as a reference album to pick out your desired chocobo theme, I can’t say this album is so enjoyable when listening to it from start to finish, but I think most will be impressed with the breadth of chocobo arrangements that have been created over the years.
I’ll call out a few of my favorites, including the surfer rock “Electric de Chocobo” from Final Fantasy VII, the rockin’ “Mods de Chocobo” from Final Fantasy VIII, the soothing “Ukelele de Chocobo” from Final Fantasy IX, the big band “Brass de Chocobo” from Final Fantasy X, the smooth and funky “Circuit de Chocobo” from Final Fantasy XI, the Sakimoto-flavored orchestral chocobo themes from Final Fantasy XII, the hardcore metal “Crazy Chocobo” from Final Fantasy XIII-2, the dreamy and laid back “Chocobo!” from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers, and the countless brilliant ways they’re able to work the theme into the various Chocobo games, with music box, Christmas, and even battle arrangements that are all fantastic. There’s also a hidden “wark!” sound effect at the end.
This is really a wonderful collection that shows off just how creative so many composers have been with reworking this iconic theme. The packaging is spot on, too, with some custom artwork and a nice color scheme throughout. It’s unfortunate that the collection will quickly become obsolete as new chocobo tunes are released, but it’s a great reference in any event!
The World Ends With You and Crisis Crisis: Final Fantasy VII composer Takeharu Ishimoto is back with his live band featuring female vocalist Stephanie and a standard rock ensemble. While the group has performed music from The World Ends With You in the past, this album revisits all sorts of Ishimoto material, including tracks form Final Fantasy Type-0, Dissidia Final Fantasy, The World Ends With You, and both Before Crisis and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII along with some original tracks.
There are excellent vocals throughout, with catchy chorus sections and some lovely orchestral-infused ’90s rock and grunge and ’80s-style synth work. There’s a nice aesthetic across the board, from the dark and moody opening track from Type-0 and the catchy guitar riffs and synth strings from Dissidia 012’s “God in Fire” to several tracks from The World Ends With You including “Revelation” with its ’80s atmosphere mixed with grunge vocals, two versions of “Hybrid” with glitchy grunge and Japanese acoustic takes, and a super-slow reverberating version of “Calling” which is my favorite version of the song yet.
The original tracks are also fantastic, with the haunting vocals of “DOO,” the dancey “MUSIC,” the industrial “Strange days” (my favorite track) with chugging pistons and aggressive layered guitars, the Nirvana-esque “Bubbles” with its weird and memorable lyrics, and several others.
Fans of ’90s alternative rock and grunge should appreciate this album. The arrangements of Ishimoto’s compositions are fantastic, and there’s lots to love from the originals as well. Stephanie is a very effective vocalist with a lot of range, and should provide adequate entertainment throughout.
Pick the album up at CD Japan if you’re interested.
While we’ve grown accustomed to Naoshi Mizuta scoring many of the smaller spin-off Final Fantasy titles over the past several years, Final Fantasy Explorers opts instead for composer Tsuyoshi Sekito, who’s probably best known for his rock-oriented work on The Last Remnant and various contributions to many Square Enix titles.
He delivers a fairly impressive mix of sweeping orchestral themes with the JRPG-standard rock-flavored battle music, which plays to his strengths. The regal orchestral main theme is big and bombastic, and is worked throughout many of the tracms, and there are a few Final Fantasy series references featured throughout in addition to the battle themes from Final Fantasy IV through IX tucked away at the end of the album.
There are playful marches, adventurous suites, droning ambiance, flamenco, accordion-laden Western, and tense espionage themes. The rocking metal take on the chocobo’s theme is a lot of fun, and one of my favorite tracks comes as an exotic piece with an unusual oboe melody that stuck with me. The then there’s epic rock throughout, particularly in the final battle theme, that should please fans of the epic battle themes of yore.
In all, Sekito delivers a fairly fun and upbeat Final Fantasy score that should please JRPG enthusiasts. It’s been a while since we’ve heard an entire score from Tsuyoshi Sekito, so his fans will definitely want to check this out. It’s available on CD Japan.
I’m probably not the only person who thought this album was going to be a brass album. It’s called Brass de Bravo, after all. What you’re going to get, however, is more along the lines of a small ensemble with, yes, a fleshed out brass section, performing mainly orchestral arrangements. Apparently there was a live performance featuring a brass group in conjunction with the Siena Wind Orchestra, which explains this sound. Fortunately the fun selection of arrangements and suites make up for the confusing album title, so let’s dig in. Continue reading Review: BRA★BRA FINAL FANTASY BRASS de BRAVO
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. Continue reading Review: Distant Worlds III: more music from Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has garnered a lot of praise as a reboot of what–according to soundtrack nomenclature–is called the Before Meteor version of Eorzea. The Before Meteor soundtrack was good, but having heard great things about the new A Realm Reborn material, I was excited to dig in.
Then I realized that the Blu-ray disc that houses the soundtrack contains over eight hours of music. So I thought to myself, why not review this eight-plus hours of music, and review the piano and rock arrangement album at the same time? What’s another hour of music at that point?
Does the new music live up to expectations? Read more below. Continue reading Review: Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn & From Astral to Umbral
Square Enix is keeping their SQ arrangement series alive, this time with what is supposed to be a swing-flavored edition. Like many of their past efforts, I can’t say the music here conforms to the style of the album’s namesake save for a few tracks, but I really do love the jazz and lounge arrangements presented here.
Read more below. Continue reading Review: SQ Swing
Each year for the past several years, Square Enix has released a sampler CD at their Tokyo Game Show, given to customers who make large purchases. This sampler has been used to preview upcoming releases, and more excitingly, announce albums that had not previously been announced. This year was no different, as Square Enix released their ninth such sampler.
This year’s sampler may be one of the best yet. So let’s dig right in to see what Square Enix Music is cooking! Continue reading Review: Square Enix Music Sampler CD Vol. 9
Theatrhythm is one of the most exciting things to happen to Final Fantasy or rhythm games in the past several years. It was the sort of idea that I could imagine throwing around with friends and never expecting to be made, but here it is. I loved Theatrhythm, and even dabbled in some DLC on my mobile phone, so I was again surprised and excited to see that it had done well enough to warrant a sequel of sorts.
Curtain Call brings more of the same, or rather, a whole lot more. There are some great additions to the music roster, which boasts over 210 songs, and a lot more to see and do, so check out my brief review below. Continue reading Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call and Remix Selections
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