Tenchi Sozo, also known as Terranigma, was Quintet Studio's last game for the Super Famicom, and is considered the third in a "trilogy" of action RPGs. The first two games are Soul Blader (or Soul Blazer) and Illusion of Gaia (sometimes called Illusion of Time). These games shared similar gameplay mechanics and graphical style, and even somewhat of the same overarching theme, but took place in very different worlds. Among the three, I consider Tenchi Sozo to be out-and-out the best on all levels.
However, I'm not writing a game review; I am merely talking about the soundtrack. Fortunately, this game has some of the most splendid music I've heard on the Super Famicom. The style of music here, I cannot describe it, but perhaps would best equate it to the sort of music one might find on the Alundra OST or Treasure Hunter G OST. Making full use of the Super Famicom's chip in its later years (Terranigma was one of the last SNES games created), Hikichi and Kobayashi (the latter of which has also worked on some Atelier games) have made some music that is sweet to the ears.
Though the arranged tracks come at the beginning of the album, I wish to begin by describing the original tracks. I will come back to the arranged tracks later.
The original soundtrack to this game is comprised of 27 tracks. This low number leads me to believe that perhaps this release is not a "complete" soundtrack release, and that there are perhaps some "missing tracks" that somehow did not find their way onto the disc. Then again, I have played the game, and many areas did use the same songs, so I could be wrong. Maybe this score, while having outstanding quality, is just lacking in quantity.
I could talk about every one of these songs individually. It was difficult for me to decide which tracks to sample; it is interesting to recognize that many of the songs I sampled in the "original" section were also found in the "arranged" section. Clearly the composers knew which songs were more immediately "catchy" when they chose which songs to arrange.
"A Place to Call Home" is one of the best town themes the Super Famicom has ever been fortunate enough to have. Listen in the sample for the unique use of guitar, percussion, and high-pitched woodwinds. I haven't heard many songs sound that good under such audio limitations.
Two other songs that showcase this excellent soundtrack are "Zoo" and "Overcoming Everything." The former is a song played in the African jungles, and is definitely the most upbeat song on the soundtrack. The latter is the last battle theme, and in the midst of all the dark booming drones of sound, there springs out of nowhere this heroic melody that is just what the doctor ordered in a one-on-one last battle.
So here's the deal with the arranged tracks: they aren't good enough. The original versions are already of a quite high quality, so the arranged tracks would have to be nothing short of live performance to be worth any arrangement. These arrangements are just "higher quality" synth; the sounds are less harsh, which may or may not be a good thing. In the case of "Zoo", especially, the arrangement just sounds softer. I didn't appreciate this at all.
The one track I found to be agreeable in the arranged section is track five: this boss battle theme is arranged to feature some nice instrumental solos. If it weren't for this, it too would be an overall bland arrangement of an otherwise fine song.
Let's recap: the original tracks are solid, but I wish there were more; the arranged tracks aren't very impressive, if only because the OST tracks are already quite good. Don't expect to own this soundtrack unless it miraculously got reprinted. As it stands, many people have to pay over $100 for this soundtrack nowadays.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann