Final Fantasy is 30 years old! Square Enix celebrated the year in style with a number of Final Fantasy soundtrack releases, but one of the promotional items they put out was this composer’s selection disc featuring picks from Final Fantasy composers past and present. The greatest thing about this release is that the commentary from each composer is provided in both English and Japanese, which is a nice touch.
Nobuo Uematsu leads the way with his sweeping piano and string ballad from Final Fantasy X, “Zanarkand.” Junya Nakano picks one of my favorite tracks from Final Fantasy X, the lullaby-esque “Yuna’s Decision.” Naoshi Mizuta is a hero among men for picking my favorite Final Fantasy composition, the whimsical “Troian Beauty” from Final Fantasy IV. Kumi Tanioka goes with the adventurous main theme from Final Fantasy IV, and has a nice story about watching her siblings play through the game to go with it. Hitoshi Sakimoto goes for the original “Final Fantasy” theme that started it all, and from the original Final Fantasy, no less. Masashi Hamauzu’s pick is the dreamy and healing “Sulyaa Springs” from Final Fantasy XIII, one of my personal favorites as well. Masayoshi Soken picks the epic “Torn from the Heavens” from Final Fantasy XIV, which incorporates the series prelude in a clever way. Finally, Yoko Shimomura offers up “APOCALYPSIS NOCTIS,” the bombastic orchestral battle theme from Final Fantasy XV.
I love this album solely to get a sense of the musical tastes of each of these composers who I’ve enjoyed so much over the years. The commentary is the star, here, though, so if you can get your hands on one of these discs, go for it!
I have a soft spot for Christmas music, and obviously game music. I generally break out the Christmas music on the ride home from Thanksgiving, and I have a playlist that contains lots of winter-themed game tracks to fit the mood. Square Enix has made finding game music to listen to for the holidays even easier with their annual X’mas albums, with two previous entries coming as compilations, and a surprise announcement this year: an entire album of remixes from Bravely Default arranged for the holidays.
The album is fantastic, and even more, Square Enix fans will appreciate guest arrangements by Junya Nakano, Motoi Sakuraba, and Yuzo Koshiro. The addition of bells, lots of reverb, and jingle bells could be viewed by some as gimmicky, but I certainly appreciate the effort. I particularly enjoy the bubbly opener, “Land of Beginnings,” the moving choir and piano in “Under a Hollow Moon,” and the majestic Christmas adventure, “Horizon of Light and Shadow.” There are a few picks that are more gamey and electronic in nature, such as “Baby Bird” with its quirky vocals, and overall, I couldn’t be more happy with this album and think it’s a perfect addition to any holiday play list. It’s out now on CD Japan, and here are links to the first and second X’mas albums from Square Enix if you want to dig deeper (Yuzo Koshiro’s arrangement of “Rydia” from Final Fantasy IV on the second album is my favorite).
I admit that I never gave the Final Fantasy X soundtrack much of a chance back when it was released. I played through the game, and to this day, it’s one of my least favorite games in the series, so it makes sense that I didn’t come back to the soundtrack very often. However, the re-release of the soundtrack in an upgraded “remaster” version to celebrate the game’s HD re-release has given me the opportunity to really dig into the music and appreciate it as a stand-alone product, and I must say that I actually like it a lot after listening.
Hit the jump for full impressions. Continue reading Review: Final Fantasy X HD Remaster OST