Three years after the first Wizardry, and its first soundtrack, Haneda returns for the third soundtrack in the game's series. This installment, the "Knight of Diamonds," features what I believe is the best music of the original trilogy (the "Llylgamyn" saga). By this time, Haneda's style had become a staple of the game's soundscape. But Haneda also matured, perhaps learning from inferior compositional entries in the past (in my opinion, most of these are found on Suite Wizardry II).
It's no surprise that the main musical genre is classical, and the sound setup is orchestral/symphonic in nature. However, it is in this soundtrack that Haneda first introduces electric guitars and other modern instruments to add some diversity. Though some may disagree, I believe it is just this inclusion that makes his dungeon and battle themes greater than ever before.
The tracklist comes with few surprises, as Haneda patterned his soundtracks to the second and third games entirely off of the first (this was due to the style of the game...there was only so much content to place a score alongside). But, these installments are clearly the best of the three. Adventurer's Inn III was in instant classic; it was one of the few Wizardry pieces chosen for arrangement in the prestigious "Game Music Concert" series. As an instrumental ballad, it is absolutely brilliant.
Haneda also continued the tradition of using quirky instruments and melodic themes for "Gilgamesh's Tavern" and "Boltac's Trading Post." Though these are less impressive than Adventurer's Inn III, they too stand out as great pieces.
Did I mention that I love the Knight of Diamonds Opening Theme? I absolutely adore it. It is, in essence, little more than a "variations on a theme" piece based on the original opening from the first Wizardry. Nonetheless, it's done quite well. Contrast this to the happy pop-rock sound of the ending theme, and it's clear which ought to be considered the winner. I wasn't fond of this album's ending; modern instruments were working, but some modern styles just didn't fit the scheme of the album.
If I were faced with a choice, and I could only buy one album among the first three Apollon printed in the Wizardry series, I'd pick this one without having any second thoughts or regrets. It's a fantastic album, one that truly shows what it is that Haneda brought to VGM at the time.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann