Square Enix has a few treats for SaGa fans for the franchise’s 25th anniversary. One such treat is Imperial SaGa, a free-to-play title for PC that pays homage to the entirety of the series. While I admit that I haven’t really dug in deep into the SaGa series, I’ve always been a fan of the music. Kenji Ito reprises his role as series composer, accompanied to Tsutomu Narita, Yoshitaka Hirota, Hiroyuki Nakamura, and others, to give SaGa fans a heavy dose of classic JRPG goodness.
The soundtrack is arranged to feature what amounts to four variations on the same set of themes. After a grand orchestral main theme that references the classic SaGa theme, which is a nice touch, we get into the first set, which offers a nice blend of retro synth and rock stylings reminiscent of Ito’s recent SaGa rock arrange albums. “Battle ~ Adel” is probably my favorite track on the album, reviving the SNES-era rock with cheesy brass, bell tones, and a very catchy chorus section drawing heavily from early SaGa titles. “Decisive Battle ~ Adel” gets laser-like synths and wailing electric guitars, more in the style of the rock arrange, while “Decisive Battle ~ Adel” gets choir and bell tolls. After a cool victory fanfare, “Strategic Failure…” sports super cools ’80s-esque contemporary jazz with a funky bass line and spacey pads and bell tones. There are serious references to Final Fantasy Tactics in “Advance ~ HEROES,” another favorite of mine, and on to the variations I mentioned, with a electronic version of the battle theme with a super funky sax. The Lazareth/Iris variations opt for a big orchestral sound, while the final Ivan/Olga set goes for a spooky vibe with twangy guitars and layered bells. Some of tracks in this final set, including the mysterious and magical “Once Beyond the Darkness” which contains a cool reference to the main theme and the pop rock, Castlevania-esque “The Woven Era,” are some of my favorites as well. The album ends with a silly and comical vocal theme arranged in various ways.
In all, these soundtrack presents some solid and very familiar themes. You’ll feel like you’re in the heyday of the 16-bit era once again. The variations offer upgrades and different takes, all of which have their own merit, and are a treat to hear. I particularly enjoyed the Final Fantasy Tactics references.
I highly recommend picking this one up at CD Japan if you’re a fan of 16-bit RPG music!