[back cover]
Catalog Number: KDSD-00264/5
Released On: February 25, 2009
Composed By: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata, Kimihiro Abe (1-21, 2-02), Michiko Naruke (1-01, 2-11, 2-16)
Arranged By: Michiko Naruke (1-01, 2-16), Sachiko Miyano (1-01, 2-16), Kimihiro Abe (2-11)
Published By: Team Entertainment
Recorded At: Basiscape
Format: 2 CDs
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Disc One
02 - Let's Go to a Magical World
03 - The Calm Before the Storm
04 - Blown Away in the Storm
05 - Far Above
06 - Bewitch
07 - Oz's Advice
08 - Yellow Brick Road
09 - Left? Right? Battle!
10 - Victorious Time
11 - Nekozukin's Anxiety
12 - Yesterday's Enemies Could Be Today's Friends
13 - Where the Scarecrow Points
14 - Castle of Oz
15 - Time of Determination
16 - Map of Magic
17 - A Snowstorm of Cherry Blossoms
18 - Flower Palace
19 - Regain the Egg!
20 - Sandy Beach of Star Fragments
21 - Villa of Everlasting Summer
22 - Deene's Banquet
23 - Looking Up at the Night Sky
24 - Do you really want to return?
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - RIZ-ZOAWD Main Theme
02 - Rapids of Clear Autumn Water
03 - A Mansion with Welcoming Fire
04 - Egg Get!
05 - Old Dragon
06 - Back to Square One
07 - Frozen Ancient Castle
08 - Furious Sunon
09 - Decisive Battle! The Great Witch
10 - Seasons
11 - If You Follow the Brick Road ~RIZ-ZOAWD!Arrange~
12 - Green Decisive Battle
13 - Red Last Decisive Battle
14 - Naked King
15 - A Happy End for Dorothy
16 - My Home on the Hills
Total Time:

The newest, coolest Wizard of Oz-based game is on the market now (at least in Japan). RIZ-ZOAWD (an anagram for "Wizard Oz") was developed by Media.Vision, the same people who do the Wild Arms series. As such, they brought on Michiko Naruke to do composition. But Naruke only composed the opening and ending themes, both performed by vocalist Kaori Asoh; thus, you have Wild Arms-esque bookends on this soundtrack.

But the rest is done by the Basiscape team. And it's not a whole pile of different guys you've never heard of. It's the main two: Sakimoto and Iwata. In fact, only one other Basiscape member worked on the soundtrack at all, Kimihiro Abe contributed three tracks (and his contributions are worthwhile, mind you).

So it's Wild Arms bookends, and then the rest of this Oz-inspired soundtrack sounds like Final Fantasy Tactics. But there's plenty of whim and silliness found on this two disc, 40 track set of music. In this sense, it sounds more like Tactics Advance, but it's in a better context. After all, fans of Tactics loved the gravity of the plot and the music accompanying it. But then in Tactics Advance, instead of a deep church/state conspiracy with demons and family betrayals, you get a Neverending-Story-clone with a girl whose greatest difficulty in life is managing the color of her hair. The music fit the context of the game, but the game itself didn't fit gamers' expectations for the franchise.

But when you start talking about Oz, with Dorothy, her dog, her friends, the Wizard himself, and the Wicked Witch of the West, there's plenty of room for the bright and vibrant side of Sakimoto and Iwata's compositions. And so we have it. Even the battle themes (composed exclusively by Iwata) are less intense than what you'd expect from the Basiscape team. Again, "whimsical" is the key word.

Sakimoto's piano-centric pieces are better than ever. Disc 2 track 10, "Seasons," sounds distinctly like music from Tori Amos' early career, or the softer music from the band Mae's second album, "The Everglow." Other songs remind me of Sakimoto's beautiful piano themes from Vagrant Story and Stella Deus. It's just good, relaxing stuff. But Sakimoto doesn't limit himself there. There are other, string-heavy, epic pieces that stand out as well. Indeed, even though it's a short track (90 seconds), "A Happy Ending for Dorthy" is simply fantastic. Sections of it rival the end staff roll from FF Tactics. Yes, it's that good.

Even with the stellar grouping of musicians announced, I was skeptical of RIZ-ZOAWD's soundtrack at first. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so to speak. And I was immediately captivated by this one. It is truly an inspired work. Regardless of whatever revision-ism went into creating the game itself, the music is wonderful, and quite fitting for a JRPG of this type.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann