Final Fantasy VIII OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: SSCX-10028 (reprint SQEX-10005~8)
Released On: March 10, 1999 (reprint May 10, 2004)
Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Nobuo Uematsu, Shiro Hamaguchi
Published By: DigiCube (reprint Square Enix)
Recorded At: Sound City, Tokyo
Format: 4 CDs
Buy this album from CDJapan

Disc One
01 - Liberi Fatali
02 - Balamb GARDEN
03 - Blue Fields
04 - Don't be Afraid
05 - The Winner
06 - Find Your Way
07 - SeeD
08 - The Landing
09 - Starting Up
10 - Force Your Way
11 - The Loser
12 - Never Look Back
13 - Dead End
14 - Breezy
15 - Shuffle or Boogie
16 - Waltz for the Moon
17 - Tell Me
18 - Fear
19 - The Man with the Machine Gun
20 - Julia
21 - Roses and Wine
22 - Junction
23 - Timber Owls
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - My Mind
02 - The Mission
03 - Martial Law
04 - Cactus Jack (Galbadian Anthem)
05 - Only a Plank Between One and Perdition
07 - Galbadia GARDEN
08 - Unrest
09 - Under Her Control
10 - The Stage is Set
11 - A Sacrifice
13 - Intruders
14 - Premonition
15 - Wounded
16 - Fragments of Memories
17 - Jailed
18 - Rivals
19 - Ami
Total Time:

Disc Three
01 - The Spy
02 - Retaliation
03 - Movin'
04 - Blue Sky
05 - Drifting
06 - Heresy
07 - Fisherman's Horizon
08 - ODEKA ke Chocobo
09 - Where I Belong
10 - The Oath
11 - Slide Show Part1
12 - Slide Show Part2
13 - Love Grows
14 - The Salt Flats
15 - Trust Me
16 - Silence and Motion
17 - Dance with the Balamb-fish
18 - Tears of the Moon
19 - Residents
20 - Eyes On Me
Total Time:

Disc Four
01 - Mods de Chocobo (featuring N's Telecaster)
02 - Ride On
03 - Truth
04 - Lunatic Pandora
05 - Compression of Time
06 - The Castle
07 - The Legendary Beast
08 - Maybe I'm a Lion
09 - The Extreme
10 - The Successor
11 - Ending Theme
12 - Overture
Total Time:

[back cover]
The limited edition first print used this book-style packaging, but this cover is often recognized/associated with the SonMay and Ever Anime bootlegs.

Final Fantasy VIII was an experiment in every sense. Fresh off of the massive international success of Final Fantasy VII (the first one in the series to be released in Europe) the best marketing strategy would be to immediately use the formulas and storyline archetypes of VII to make their next game. They didn't. VII had a bizarre, sci-fi/fantasy hybrid world created by the philosophy character designer and co-story writer Tetsuya Nomura describes as "anything goes." Its plot was based on conflict between a hero and a villain, and the threat of impending world destruction. On the other hand, VIII takes place in a modern-day like setting infused with fantasy elements. Its characters are figuratively smaller, less heroic people. The villain is an indistinct force, and the main events are less centered on traditional hero/villain conflict.

That's a lengthy preface to a review of the game's soundtrack, but it is necessary to understand those changes, changes in image, in order to understand Uematsu's radically different compositions for Final Fantasy VIII. Orchestras, more electronic influence than even VII had, some chanting, and a pop song: there's a lot here that didn't seem to be in the series before. However, the main flavor of Uematsu's compositions, his melodic style, remains consistent, and more importantly, consistently good.

Final Fantasy VIII, and its soundtrack as well, may be considered anomalies. Continuing that sting, the prelude does not make a self-contained appearance here. It does, however, appear twice: once in the game over theme, "The Loser," and once in the ending. The game over theme itself is very good, despite its length. Starting off with some strings playing a minor-key version of the Final Fantasy theme, it then fades into a synth harp playing the basic notes of the prelude, and a synth "ahhh" sound crescendos in the background for about a second at the end, until the basic prelude tune finishes on a triangle sound that is fascinatingly hopeful. It's barely 80 seconds long, but it is a fine example of Uematsu's ingenuity.

The opening, "Liberi Fatali" is another anomaly in the series pre-'99: a choral piece with a full orchestra. This marks the first use of a real orchestra in a Final Fantasy game, although it is not the first track in the series to have a recording used. The piece itself is important to FFVIII, musically and plot wise. Its name is Latin for "Fated Children," possibly to be attributed of the game's protagonists. A particular string of 16 notes, 8 and 8 "call and response" seems to describe the heroes, while its opening words, "Fithos lusec wecos vinosec" are used for describing the antagonistic force of the "witches." These strains appear throughout the soundtrack, although there are really no full "arranged" versions of the track used. Although this technique was used in FFVII as well, with the many tracks using bits of the main theme and Sephiroth's theme, it is integrated more subtly here, I feel.

Notice the difference in the way "Liberi Fatali" is used as a basis for both "SeeD" and "The Landing" which occur right next to each other on the soundtrack. "SeeD" is a decent track with pseudo militaristic overtones. Although its treatment of the theme is interesting, the track as a whole is somewhat ponderous in its pacing, and ultimately falls flat. "The Landing," on the other hand, uses its few notes of "Liberi Fatali" in its own call-and-response section, producing a dual call-and-response structure.

The second major theme of the soundtrack relates to the main theme of the game itself: its love story. The first form of this appears when the main two protagonists meet, "Waltz for the Moon." The track here doesn't exactly fit the nature of the waltz, but keeps the general sound, which works well in the game, and well enough on the soundtrack. It shows up again in the game's parallel love story, in the track "Julia." The theme is here played by a solo piano, and it is pleasant, but it is short, and incomplete. A few versions later, "Love Grows" fits its name by using the theme again: this time, however, it is softer, and yet more rich and fully developed. This theme is completed in the pop song "Eyes on Me."

"Eyes on Me," sung by Faye Wong, is a pop ballad. However, unlike its successors in later Final Fantasy games, this song fits in directly with the storyline of the game, supposedly being written and performed by a major character. Wong's English is decent, but the lyrics of the song are painfully sappy. The composition is good enough, though, and her voice is good for this style of song.

Yes, Final Fantasy VIII is very much thematic. But this is a 4 hour long score, and there are a lot of independent compositions not covered by major themes. Some of these are very good, some of these are the most mediocre of Uematsu's contributions to the series. Compare, for example, the wonderfully fluid sound of "Find Your Way" to the very bland and boring "Jailed." Also, the oddly comic yet pleasingly melodic "Timber Owls" and the also very odd yet not as interesting "Silence and Motion."

Once again, the battle themes here are all very strong pieces. "Don't Be Afraid" uses a similar structure to VII's main battle theme, but with a more brass flavored melody. "Force Your Way" somehow fuses techno rhythm, electric guitar, and some orchestral elements for a very eclectic, very exciting sound. "The Man With the Machine Gun" is also techno flavored, although it is not as innovative or enjoyable as "Force Your Way." "The Extreme," the final battle theme, is a very good track, sometimes overlooked, as it lies in the shadow of both "Dancing Mad" and "One Winged Angel," both of which were better. It blends a techno styled beat version of the classic Final Fantasy battle opening notes with synth, percussion, and in its last and intro sections, even a piano and synth chorus.

Unfortunately, as implied above, there is a lot of blandness in FFVIII. This is where I feel the soundtrack meets the same fate as the game it was created for. They are both partially failed experiments. Some of Uematsu's attempts at creating mood through minimalism fail badly; of especial note are "Fear," "Unrest," and "Rivals." Luckily, however, there is one very good example in "Drifting," which is entirely composed of strings. Interestingly enough, Uematsu uses actual silence in between sections of the piece, the same way Mitsuda's "Prisoners of Fate" did, although for a somewhat different effect. It should also be noted that Uematsu's incidental music for FMV scenes is at least marginally better than it was in VII.

"The Castle," however, is one of my favorite pieces of music from Final Fantasy in general. It begins with higher-register organ as an introduction, then proceeds to the type of deep organ chords that are associated with old horror movies. This moves into a lighter harpsichord-organ section, using baroque instrumention, but without the sound of baroque music (don't misunderstand: I love baroque music, especially Bach). The composition is strong throughout, the style is distinct, and it's just plain unique.

It is odd, now that I think about it. I have taken a very middle-of-the-road position on a soundtrack that appears to divide people completely. Interestingly enough, the same thing occurred with Final Fantasy X-2's controversial score: I loved parts of it, hated others, and came out in the middle. With VIII, a 'partial failure,' the parts I love, I love to an extent that the rest of the soundtrack becomes an extension of the metaphorical amoeba, giving the work a cohesiveness which Uematsu seems able to create easily, and out of very disparate elements. So perhaps, in spite of its glaring faults, I love FFVIII's score. I only wish that I could have written a more comprehensive review.

Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer

The Final Fantasy series has always been one to steal our hearts and capture our imaginations. The tradition continues with the release of Square's Final Fantasy 8. The game itself is truly something special on its own. However, add in the music and you get one dynamite game! Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, the Final Fantasy 8 soundtrack lets loose a huge arrary of sound from the lower orchestral strings and lower brass. This keeps a great beat to the music at a fast pace. Most of the music runs at a faster tempo (Andante I would guess) with a lot of dynamic changes from forte to messo piano.

The soundtrack offers a great deal of artwork in the packaging as well. Including words from Nobuo Uematsu on the composition, as well as lyrics to the vocal songs in Japanese and Latin. Also packaged with the game were several stickers of Laguna and Squall to go on your memory card or put in your locker.

With all this cool stuff and awesome music you can't go wrong! I'm sure you'll enjoy the Final Fantasy VIII OST.

For the record, "Waltz For The Moon" and "Ending Theme" are my favorite tracks in the soundtrack. Enjoy!

Reviewed by: ArchAngel