I have always considered myself "open-minded": one who is able to listen to all music, in whatever quality instrumentation it is presented. I was especially fond of early Game Boy synth, which was some of the most limited VGM to which one can listen.
For some reason, the Game Boy Advance (GBA) has seemed to suffer in the sound department in a way that is quite unexpected. People expected it to be a solid handheld system, but its audio department seems to fail in almost every regard. Such is the case with Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon.
This GBA remake of the original Sega Genesis classic "Shining Force" features a much-needed soundtrack, as no official "original soundtrack" was released the first time around. Hence, we are treated to hearing these original melodies in an original context, and they are certainly a treat as far as compositional value goes. I am convinced that with the proper instrumentation, they would sound wonderfully epic.
But that's the problem: the quality of the synthesizers are so low, and also inconsistent (some things sound decent, others sound downright grainy and horrible!), there is no hope in really enjoying this soundtrack outside the context of the game. In fact, even in the context of the game, I bet it would be more worthwhile to turn down that music and listen to some orchestral music in its place.
The compositions are fairly lengthy, and each track loops each song once, so that explains how 33 tracks quickly turns to 70 minutes, even with jingles taking up a quarter of the tracklist. Again, these compositions are noteworthy, and I cannot fault the composers: but I cannot stand to listen to the music at this low quality.
For example, take a listen to the last track: in 3/4, every other measure's 2nd beat contains a high-pitched run: "deeebleeep!" It sounds horrendous. I feel as though even Game Boy music refused to stoop to such a degrading level of synth.
I don't feel there's any need to go into further detail, you should get the summary of my review by now: good attempt at music, bad synth ruins the overall feel. That, and some of the main themes are overused: we could've seen some more tracks, but since it's a remake, there isn't much room to expand.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann