RPGFan Music

RPGFan Music of the Year 2022 ~ Editors’ Favorites: Sam-James Gordon

Music of the Year 2022 Featured

My two top picks for 2022 brought me a sense of nostalgia that only video game music can, yet for completely different reasons. Triangle Strategy is a brand new IP, drawing inspiration in its presentation from older games. Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered is originally from the PS2 era, but its personal connection to the Sam-James of yesteryear invoked quite a unique and profound personal reaction.

Triangle Strategy OST

The Triangle Strategy soundtrack does something to me that I haven’t felt since I was a teenager. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but music had a much more emotional impact on me when I was younger than it does now. I’m glad to know it’s just a less common experience rather than unique to youth, and I’d like to thank Triangle Strategy for teaching me that. The best way I can explain this effect is by saying it superimposes the context of a piece of music, for example, a specific environment or scenario, on top of a real-life equivalent situation. 

“Resolute Heart” begins with heavy strings, setting a fairly hopeless tone. This alone is a beautiful ambient piece, but about a minute into the track, a dirge of brass adds a whole new level. It elevates the piece to convey a struggle against the odds; the bonfire’s flame remains a stubborn ember despite the rain. In hindsight, the hopelessness was a naive misunderstanding of the depth of the situation, and now the army throws everything they have into the battle. And that is exactly how the scene played out in that particular part of the game. Game music that evokes an emotional reaction in me is rare these days, especially when its fictional setting inspires me to draw correlations with my own lived experiences.

Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered

There are three requirements to fully empathise with the following story. Firstly, you were a gamer during the 00s and owned a PlayStation 2. Secondly, you lived in a PAL territory. Thirdly, you remember the pain. You are still bitter about this pain. If you don’t check all those boxes, you may be wondering what I’m talking about. In answer, there were many, many games released in the PS2 era (and before) that never received a release in PAL territories. While US gamers might still hold a grudge for not getting Terranigma, it was a rarity for us to receive RPGs at all. This was the case for the original release of Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song-.

However, the internet still existed back then, and I often listened to game soundtracks even if they’d not been released over here. Minstrel Song has an outstanding OST, which was the only aspect of the game I’d experienced until this year. I even conveyed a message of pure joy to my fellow RPGFan staff when I encountered my first battle in Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered. A tear was shed. This soundtrack is timeless, and I urge anyone who enjoys orchestral rock to give it a listen. It stuck with me for 17 years.

Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James, AKA Sam, has been a fan of RPGs since childhood. He grew up on games like Final Fantasy VIII, Legend of Dragoon, Grandia and the Breath of Fire series. The PS2 was a golden era of gaming for Sam, before many of his favourite series became dormant, and is loving the modern resurgence with games like Eiyuden Chronicle, Penny Blood, and Armed Fantasia.