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!
Final Fantasy XI has enjoyed quite a run! It launched in 2002, and it was only this year that Square Enix issued the final major update. This Blu-ray release includes the final pieces of music written for the game as well as a few other surprises. The video content in particular adds a lot as it relates to the title of this release, offering a lengthy series of video footage from the many areas of Vana’diel with musical accompaniment. As somebody who didn’t get very far in Final Fantasy XI, it was nice to see some of the world of Vana’diel and listen to the corresponding music, finally lending the themes some context. A breakdown of what’s featured throughout the seven videos can be found on VGMdb.
In terms of new music, there are 16 tracks total. “Forever Today” is a sweet vocal ballad presented in three different forms, including the opening instrumental that takes a sweet and slow approach, an EP version with Rhodes piano and female vocals, and the original version with a more traditional orchestral backing. From there, “Worlds Away” offers ethereal bells and piano, “Monstrosity” presents upbeat electronic rock reminiscent of Final Fantasy XIII, and “Clouds Over Ulbuka” is a tense orchestral piece. “The Price” is determined and decisive, while “The Serpentine Labyrinth” is dark and foreboding with string stabs, droning pads, and distant percussion. “The Divine” is also somewhat foreboding with its droning pads and metallic percussive hits in the background, conjuring up a ghostly atmosphere. “Distant Worlds” gets a lovely instrumental version, while “Iroha” sports dreamy bell tones that are sleep-inducing and lovely, “The Boundless Black” is ominous with its dissonant pads and industrial percussion, “Isle of the Gods” is majestic yet terrifying, and “Wail of the Void” is contemplative and enveloping with thick strings and beautiful piano melody. The final track, the powerful ballad “Rhapsodies of Vana’diel,” is presented twice, once with more Rhodes and female vocals and another that features a choir comprised voices of players of Final Fantasy XI. The track is intended to be tender and reflective of all the experiences that have been enjoyed by players over the years, wrapping things up with heavy references to the opening “Vana’diel March” and giving fans some closure.
In all, this is a well thought out release. I love the grandeur of the final pieces added to the game, and the various versions of the vocal themes are different enough to warrant their release. The video footage is also a nice touch, and will likely be treasured by longtime residents of the world of Vana’diel.
You can pick up the Blu-ray release at CD Japan if you’re interested.
We unfortunately don’t see a lot of mobile games that are coming out in Japan. One such game from Square Enix, Arcadia no Aoki Miko, remains a mystery to me, but Square Enix has released a soundtrack album featuring music by Naoshi Mizuta, and I think RPG fans may be surprised by what they hear.
Check out some impressions if this somewhat brief album below. Continue reading Review: Arcadia no Aoki Miko ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
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
I quite enjoyed the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII OST. While it didn’t feature the catchy pop music that made Final Fantasy XIII-2 so endearing, it did sport its own unique blend of electronic ambiance that provided for a great listen.
As has been customary for the Final Fantasy XIII soundtracks, Square Enix released an additional disc of trailer music, instrumental versions, cut tracks, and variations on themes presented on this PLUS album. Is it worth picking up?
Read our review below. Continue reading Review: LIGHTNING RETURNS:FINAL FANTASY XIII OST PLUS