I loved this game back on the Sega CD. It was one of the best strategy games of the time, right up there with the Shining Force and Langrisser series. One of the reasons this game was so fantastic was the symphonic soundtrack, performed by the Dark Wizard Sound Team, and most likely recorded in Redbook Audio format. Though all the pieces were short, they were definitely NOT simple; all the characters had wonderfully complex themes to go with the wonderfully complex nature of their stories.
It is no surprise, then, that once I heard about an arranged album for the game, I searched high and low to find it. When I eventually did, I immediately popped it into my CD player and was slightly surprised. To my disappointment, I didn't find this soundtrack as fulfilling as I had hoped it would be, but it's still a decent album.
The reason I say that the album disappointed me is because my expectations were way too high. This is a soundtrack that I exaggerated in my mind to be more than it was, and the reality couldn't possibly match up. However, Dark Wizard Symphony is still a wonderful album that any fan of the genre could enjoy.
What the album does is takes the brief character and enemy themes and then expounds upon them after a play through. The tracks aren't very long; aside from the nearly 6 minute opening track, no other piece on the album reaches even 4 minutes. However, length isn't a concern: all the tracks have their foundation in solid, timeless melodies, and the exposition on the tracks does not detract from that in the slightest.
Amongst my favorite tracks are "Beast of the Earth Da Hang" for its excellent use of clarinet and strings, and the fast-paced "Beast of the Water Hitasupa", though trying to narrow down my favorite tracks on this album is very difficult. Everything is SO solid and SO well done, that I'd be hard pressed to find a poor showing here.
My favorite part about this CD is the sound quality. Compared to full orchestra performances like the Orchestral Game Concert compilations, this is a smaller, yet quite impressive symphonic production. There is also the unconventional use of electronic instruments, such as keyboard and guitar, but it's infrequent and is included to great effect: it never seems out of place. Considering that all of the tracks work beautifully simply as extensions of what was present on the Sega CD game is another testament to the soundtrack's quality.
If you can find a copy of this soundtrack in a second-hand store or on e-bay, I say get it: you will not be disappointed. And if you're a fan of the music from Dark Wizard, you have no excuse to not pick up this soundtrack.
Reviewed by: Damian Thomas