Tag Archives: SaGa

Review: SaGa SCARLET GRACE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

I’ve admittedly not completed a single game in the SaGa series, but that hasn’t stopped me from appreciating Kenji Ito’s sweeping and majestic orchestral scores. In fact, I’ve reviewed a number of them and their arrangements on this very blog. After hearing a sample on the Square Enix Music sampler last year, I was looking forward to the Scarlet Grace soundtrack in particular, and I’m not disappointing upon hearing it now. There’s all the wondrous orchestral beauty, chugging metal, and more that you’ve come to expect, and then some.

Starting with sweeping and joyous overture and the contemplative and regal and uplifting “Scarlet Dark Star,” it’s then on to the spunky guitar and string ballad, “When Flowers Bloom ~ Urpina Theme,” the upbeat rock battle, “Trampling Petals ~ Urpina Battle,” and the swaying lullaby-esque “In a Quiet Forest ~ When Hearts Are Tested.” “That’s Cute, Right” is an infectious bubbly electronic track, “Graveyard ~ Siegfrey’s Theme” is dark and ominous, and “Devil – The Fallen One” is epic synth rock in classic SaGa fashion.

Some of my favorites include “Guardian of Martial Arts ~ Divine Star Marigan,” a determined march with rolling snares and a regal tone, “Ever Near to Sorrow,” a somber and tragic piece with harp and slow strings, “Quietly ~ Taria Theme,” a fantasy pop ballad with woodwinds, strings, and bells, and “Grassland ~ The Wind and One Who Presses Forward,” a hybrid Western/Asian-flavored track with spunky Western bass and galloping percussion. The album closes with all the explosive vigor you’d expect, with wailing guitars, rock organ, romantic violins, and epic strings.

In all, Kenji Ito has done another wonderful job, showing once again that he may be the man to take up the Dragon Quest mantle someday. His orchestral work is getting that good.

Pick up the album on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: The Orchestral SaGa -Legend of Music-

The SaGa series has been around since 1989 and is much beloved, particularly in Japan. Given that several of the games in the series didn’t make it outside of Japan, it’s not as well known as say Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but it has a strong musical heritage featuring some of the best composers and music that JRPGs have had to offer. This live orchestral arrangement album is the latest reminder of just how great this music is, and JRPG fans ought to take note if they haven’t already.

The two-disc album opens with a 12-minute-long SaGa series medley that touches on the lovely main theme from the Game Boy SaGa titles as well as the more widely-known Romancing SaGa main theme, and everything in between and after. This is a perfect showcase of the majesty and energy of the SaGa series soundtracks. The album presents various medleys of two or more tracks, visiting numerous sets of battle themes for which the series has come to be known (see our reviews of the SaGa battle arrange albums). There’s a little bit of everything including the subdued final dungeon medley from Romancing SaGa, the sweet and fluttering opening medley from SaGa Frontier 2 that sounds like Christmas morning, and the playful Feldschlacht medley also from SaGa Frontier 2 that elevates the fairly well-known theme to a more serious level with an added drum set and jazzy vibe. There’s exotic and bombastic with the Asellus medley from SaGa Frontier, and finally, epic rock percussion and guitar in a battle medley from Romancing SaGa that ends things with a bang.

If you haven’t given SaGa music a chance yet, here’s your opportunity. It’s not going to get much better than the live orchestral treatment, and true to what series fans would want, the heavy focus on battle themes should get you caught up in no time. The album’s available on CD Japan (standard version), and you can even order the bonus Square Enix shop version that includes an extra disc with a couple piano arrangements on special order.

Review: Imperial SaGa Original Soundtrack

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!

Review: Re:Birth II -Ren- “SaGa” BATTLE ARRANGE

Square Enix’s Re:Birth series featuring Kenji Ito and several jdk band alums has been immensely popular. What was meant to be a single album paying tribute to the battle themes from across the SaGa series turned into a second album, which was even more amazing, and has now resulted in a third albym. They must be getting close to being out of battle themes to arrange at this point, but I’m not complaining!

Expect more authentic metal with chugging, shredding, and wailing guitars, rock organs, laser-like synth leads, and explosive percussion. There are also several exotic female vocal performances throughout. I love the retro synth sounds in the opening track from SaGa 2, the back-and-forth between guitar and synth in a track from SaGa 3, the hugely epic synth strings and choir in a track from Imperial SaGa, the softer Romancing SaGa 3 track, the additional of vocals to several SaGa Frontier tracks, and the romantic flamenco-flavored tracks from Minstrel Song. In the final track, each performer gets their own solo section, which is nice.

If you liked the first two Re:Birth rock albums, you’ll probably like this one too. I was less familiar with the track selections this time around, but still enjoyed the album from start to finish. You can grab it on CD Japan if you want more!

Review: Re:Birth II / Romancing SaGa Battle Arrange -Sen-

Square Enix’s Re:Birth series pays tribute to Kenji Ito’s classic scores, with the first Re:Birth album paying homage to Seiken Densetsu. The second, Re:Birth II, took on the SaGa franchise and went in a different direction, bringing serious synth rock in a fashion not seen since the glory days of the JDK Band, and was very well received.

The album was so well received that it’s getting a follow-up album with ten new arrangements, finally visiting the core SaGa series and SaGa Frontier. But does it live up to the success of the first Re:Birth II CD? Continue reading Review: Re:Birth II / Romancing SaGa Battle Arrange -Sen-