Tag Archives: RPG

Review: WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY Original Soundtrack

I haven’t been keeping close tabs on World of Final Fantasy as a game, but I have been greatly looking forward to the soundtrack, particularly after learning Final Fantasy XIII composer Masashi Hamauzu would be at the helm and after hearing the samples from the Tokyo Game Show sampler this year. The album doesn’t disappoint. There are wonderful melodies throughout, fantastic arrangements of songs from across the Final Fantasy series, and great production values.

It’s hard to call out just a handful of songs, but I’ll do my best here. The opening theme, “Innocent²,” is a beautiful vocal ballad with strong Celtic and pop vibes, reminding me of the infectiously upbeat Genki Rockets. It’s actually by Ryo Yamazaki, and it’s incredibly well done. “World of Beauty,” one of my favorite tracks, sports swelling strings and contemplative piano before moving into a triumphant and uplifting section that screams adventure. There’s Hamauzu’s signature strings and piano throughout with the playful “Lann’s Melody,” the glitchy futuristic electronic track “World of Nine Wood Hills” which sounds like an IMERUAT song complete with vocals presumably by Mina, and an upbeat orchestral rock tune with chugging bass and dancing piano called “World of Battle” which was previewed on the aforementioned TGS sampler. Other favorites include the dreamy lullaby, “Refreshing Melody,” the mesmerizing “Labyrinth of Dragons” with its repetitive layers, twirling piano, and Mina’s voice once again, the slow night variation of the main theme, “Moonlight Melody,” the tense espionage music in “Confrontation Melody,” the upbeat and folksy “World of Sunshine,” the spooky and ethereal “Labyrinth of Trees,” and the closing vocal track, “World Parade.”

And those arrangements I mentioned? They’re many in number, and some of my favorites include “Snow -F,” a very contemplative and slowed down version of the iconic Final Fantasy XIII theme, a lovely regal strings and harpsichord version of “Castle Cornelia” and a killer rock performance of “The Scene of Battle” from the original Final Fantasy, a super hero version of “Edgar” from Final Fantasy VI with rockin’ guitar, string stabs, and big brass, “Don’t be Afraid” from Final Fantasy VIII with a heavy electronic bass and surfer rock guitar, and “The Sending” from Final Fantasy X with its Japanese instrumentation worked in with glitchy electronics.

In all, this is one of the best Final Fantasy albums I’ve heard in some time. Hamauzu and team have done a wonderful job with the original tunes and the arrangements alike. I could even go for some arrangements of the original themes! Piano Collections, anyone?

Pick it up at CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: I am Setsuna Original Soundtrack

There’s been a lot of talk of Chrono series influences on Square Enix’s new RPG, I am Setsuna. That immediately had me interested in the game and its soundtrack, and upon learning that that the score would be recorded almost entirely on solo piano, my anticipation grew. The score features two discs of piano performances that touch on all the RPG trappings, including a bass-heavy and dangerous battle theme (“Deadly gamble”) and frightening dungeon theme (“Dark caves”) to the cute and whimsical “The warmth of life” and beautiful and serene ballad, “Hidden intentions.”

I was surprised at times just how versatile I am Setsuna is despite relying on a single instrument. I really love “No turning back” with its upbeat action and distinctly Asian vibe, “March of the brave” and its semi-serious approach that’s both playful and determined, the reflective and somber “Regal ruins,” the rapid staccato notes of “Endless crusade,” the mysterious “A secret passage,” the rambunctious “Rare,” and probably my favorite track on the album, “Silent snow,” which features twinkling piano notes that descend in a sorrowful fashion with just a tinge of beauty. I’ve noted that the soundtrack is “mainly” piano several times now, and that’s because tracks like the tense and lightning-fast “Relentless advance,” the energetic and wondrous “A fantastic encounter,” the determined “Out of time,” and the explosive “Hidden danger” also add in bass and percussion to great effect (you really notice the additions when none of the other tracks feature them). There’s also a little chiptune surprise in “Dreamer’s conclave” tucked away at the end of the album that is quite a treat.

In all, I really enjoyed my time with the I am Setsuna soundtrack. It offers icy atmospheres and beautiful ballads, perfect for a game that takes place in the snow, and does a lot with a single instrument. Grab it on CD Japan if you’re interested in giving it a listen.

MASAYA GAME MUSIC COLLECTION VOL.1 ~LANGRISSER I-II-III~ (SRIN-1129)

Noriyuki Iwadare fans rejoice! SuperSweep Records has done it again. While publishing rare and and sometimes never-before-released soundtracks has been the norm for Shinji Hosoe’s SuperSweep Records, fans of the strategy RPG series Langrisser (the original was released as Warsong in North America) will be pleased with this six-disc collection. It starts with the original Mega Drive version of the first Langrisser, and is followed by the beefier PC-Engine port that will likely be the highlight for many. It’s then on to Langrisser II, where listeners can take their pick from the Mega Drive or Super Famicom versions. There’s also a presentation of the music of Langrisser and Langrisser II as it appeared in the PlayStation remake, which spans two discs, and includes bonus tracks. Fans of Iwadare’s 32-bit era work on Lunar and Grandia will find this version much to their liking. The final disc features the Langrisser III soundtrack in its original previously-released form.

While various ports were handled by different artists, Iwadare’s thumbprint can be heard throughout. Wonderful synth work and driving rock tunes reign supreme, from the bold and adventurous “Story” and the guitar chugging “Knights errant” to the regal and sweeping “The Legend of Sword” and the prehistoric cave man rock in “Enemy 3 – Morgan” (one of my personal favorites). There’s a lot of great material here.

Fans of Iwadare, SRPGs, and specifically Langrisser will want to import the collection from CD Japan.

Review: KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 1.5 ReMIX- Original Soundtrack

While I’ll admit I never really delved into the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack, I was as excited as anyone for this HD 1.5 ReMIX version. Upgraded sounds, live recordings, and more abound, and what better way to revisit Yoko Shimomura’s beloved classic than with a new coat of paint that has pleased event hardcore fans. For me, hearing these melodies for the first time, I finally understand why this music is so special to so many people.

“Dearly Beloved,” the iconic theme of the series, is presented in all its simplistic beauty here. I love the orchestral rendition of the vocal theme, “Hikaru,” and the funky remix with amazing production values and fantastic bass line. Some of my favorites from the score include the dark and ominous “Dive Into The Heart,” the upbeat tropical tune, “Destiny Island,” the tropical rock with woodwinds in “Bustin Up on the Beach,” and the infectiously happy “Mickey Mouse Club.” Kairi’s themes are probably my favorites on the entire album, in all of their various renditions, and I love the killer bass and percussion in “Night of Fate,” the dreamy and jazzy “Traverse Town,” the energetic “To Our Surprise,” the regal and triumphant “Olympus Colliseum,” and the exotic “Holy Bananas!” The second disc features some amazing themes as well with the bubbly and cute “O-Rama,” the desert-themed “A Day in Agrabah,” the sweet piano and strings of “Friends in my Heart,” the angelic “Never Land Sky,” the gothic orchestral “Forze de Male,” foreboding “End of the World,” and all the amazing classical arrangements that come in at the end. Finally, “Lord of the Castle” offers a decisive and epic final adventure while “Musique pour la tristesse de Xion” gets heart wrenching strings and piano. We get romance with “At Dusk, I Will Think of You…” and tragedy in “Vector to the Heavens.”

I have to say this is the definitive version of the soundtrack for anyone out there who, like me, hadn’t heard it all the way through. Those people are likely pretty rare at this point. But I suggest grabbing it on CD Japan if you’d like. We’ll also take a look at 2.5 in the coming weeks, which is even more amazing!

Review: Kaku-San-Sei Million Arthur Original Soundtrack

Last week we looked at Kenji Ito’s battle themes from the Million Arthur series. I referred to producer Hyadain’s original soundtrack, which we’ll take a look at now. The mysterious Hyadain had made a name for himself in the doujin scene producing excellent music and arrangements, and was later revealed to be artist Kenichi Maeyamada. His production values come through strongly in this album, featuring a blend of pop, rock, and fantasy goodness.

The first track, “Faction Selection” starts right in with some wonderfully produced J-rock and a descending bell tone melody that offers something unique. “Footsteps to Fortune” is a laid back overworld-esque theme that starts off strictly fantasy before introducing electronic elements and percussion to lend the track a cool edge. “Round Table Congregation,” one of my favorite tracks, opts for intense militaristic electronics, percussion, and strings, while “Welcome Back, Lord Arthur!” is a super cute and upbeat pop tune with Rhodes and strings that sounds like it ought to have vocals. I also love the octave-jumping bass in “Faerie Sighted!,” the ominous dungeon-sounding theme, “Wait, Could it be?,” the dark and sinister “D-O-U-B-T,” the regal and beautiful “God Save the King” with its melancholy harpsichord, swelling strings, and bell tolls, and the silly “Pumpkin Soup” with wood block and chip tones. “Sadness Shall Someday Fade” is the obligatory sad theme, “Morgan Fay” offers catchy gothic rock, and “Won’t Say Goodbye” is a glitchy upbeat electronic outro that ends on a positive note.

Hyadain didn’t disappoint, and I’d love to hear more collaborations between the artist and Square Enix in the future. If you want to pick up the soundtrack, it’s available on CD Japan.

Review: BEFORE THE FALL: FINAL FANTASY XIV Original Soundtrack

Square Enix has released another massive collection of music from Final Fantasy XIV, this time from several recent content updates. Fans were impressed with the initial soundtrack offering some months back, so it’s a bit of a surprise to get another collection totaling over four hours of music so soon. But who can complain when the new music composed mostly by Masayoshi Soken is so good!

There isn’t as diverse of a range presented on this album: it’s mainly darker and more ominous than the previous album release, but there’s a lot to love. Many of my favorites include the rock tracks that were performed by The Primals on their From Astral to Umbral arrange album, including the contemplative “Thunder Rolls” and the grungy rock “Oblivion.” Other favorites include the melancholy choir piece, “A Light in the Storm,” the exotic and ambient “The Edge,” the atmospheric and dreamy “The Warrens,” a dark organ and choir version of the vocal theme “Answers,” and the explosive orchestral track “Hamartomania,” which sounds like something out of Metal Gear Solid. That’s in addition to several references to classic Final Fantasy tunes that fans of the series will enjoy.

My favorite thing about this soundtrack, which is presented on Blu-ray disc, is that it hosts some bonus content, including live performances of piano and The Primals sets from this year’s Final Fantasy XIV festival in Japan. The footage is quite substantial, and includes some interesting moments, including Soken himself creating makeshift percussion out of cardboard boxes while he plays a track on piano and performing a duo on one piano for another.

Final Fantasy XIV fans will want to check this out. There is over four hours of music to enjoy in addition to the fantastic concert footage. Pick it up on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: LORD of VERMILION III Original Soundtrack

While I’ve never had the pleasure of playing Lord of Vermilion, I have been on top of their multiple soundtrack releases. The series itself is interesting in that it’s an arcade card-based title with some beautiful artwork from a number of contributing artists, and likewise, the music has been handled by a number of composers, with Nobuo Uematsu on the first game, Hitoshi Sakimoto and Basiscape on the second, and now electronic artist Tachytelic on the third.

I can’t say I know a whole lot about Tachytelic, but if you’re a fan of electronic music, dubstep, and electronic-orchestral hybrids, this album may be for you. The opening theme is the original by Uematsu redone with a trip-hop drum beat, exotic vocals, and dubstep stylings. A few of my favorites include “Elder Tower” which combines dubstep elements and epic fantasy orchestral with a cool ascending brass and string melody, “Red String Break,” which sports ominous pads and break beats on top of some lovely string work, and the trailer-esque “Over the Pride,” with its slow build and intense climax. “ANGER Z E N N O” is a heavy drum ‘n’ bass track with angry flaring synth lines that almost sound like guttural speech, “Tentacle Dread Hot Beat” (probably my favorite track) with its epic descending string line, and the cinematic tracks that include the emotional “Tear,” the spooky “Another Space,” and “Worry.” There are two ending themes that combine electronic and orchestral elements. I love the choral elements in “Red Flamers” and the killer bass and piano work in “Wind to Wind.”

In all, the Lord of Vermilion III OST offers a new sound that makes a great addition to the eclectic franchise. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Tachytelic in the future. You can grab the album from CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: Arcadia no Aoki Miko ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

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

Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

I had the opportunity to review the original Diablo III soundtrack, and I noted that while it was great in its own right, it didn’t feel like it belonged to the Diablo universe. More so, it felt like the world of Diablo told through the musical stylings of World of Warcraft. Diablo III: Repear of Souls takes a different direction, with composer Derek Duke acting as audio lead, allowing for a new soundscape to unfold.

Does this change have a lasting impact on the score? Read our full review below. Continue reading Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight

Nippon Ichi Software’s Tenpei Sato returns with another zany RPG score in line with a lot of his past works. This time, we get a playfully dark atmosphere with a strong western vibe that goes quite well together. There are two discs to dig into if you managed to pick up the limited edition, and a single disc sampler if you grab the standard edition on the NISA store.

What drew my attention to the score initially was a contribution by NieR vocalist Emi Evans. Does her track and the rest make for a memorable experience? Read more below. Continue reading Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight