Originally released in 1993, reprinted (with two other Ogre albums) in 2000, “All Sounds of Ogre Battle” is a double-treatment to the 23 songs that comprise the original soundtrack to the Super Famicom title. Much like many future releases from Sakimoto and crew, we are given the chance to hear the songs in their original context as well as in an improved MIDI format. This album starts us off with the good stuff (the MIDI), and then lets the history buffs hear the original.
One thing that surprised me is that the original music isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s quite good. We can chalk this up to the Super Famicom sound chip and the sound programmers. The point is that I was impressed; I was expecting very little from the “original” half. Take a listen to tracks 30 and 40 to get a feel for how these standard battle themes sounded within the game. Not bad, eh? I’m with you there. Of course, these three men of genius had a lot to do with that as well.
While Matsuo doesn’t always get in on the strategy-RPG action, Sakimoto and Iwata have been working together on these types of titles for years (and they are best known for Final Fantasy Tactics here in the US). However, this is one of their earliest titles together, if not the earliest. So, it’s a pleasant surprise to discover that they’ve always been good at writing these intense orchestral themes.
Of course, the real treat to this soundtrack is the MIDI arrangements. While they’re not as incredible as, say, a live orchestral performance (found on “Ogre ~ Grand Repeat” for instance), they certainly get the job done. They are inspiring, and the softer songs can move you to tears, even if you aren’t familiar with the plot of the “Ogre” titles. The stuff in the middle can become monotonous, as it is just a mix of many similar battle themes, but the opening and ending songs are simply glorious. I have taken a real liking to “Beginning of the Tale” and “Neo-Overture.” I suspect most of you readers will enjoy these songs as well. These songs have their upbeat moments, and then they have their soft interludes that take you away into a whole new realm of beauty and relaxation.
One of my favorite battle themes in the MIDI section appears early on the disc: “Revolt.” It’s a good song, particulary because it doesn’t overwhelm the listener with bangs, crashes, and jumpy chord changes (such is the case with other songs, such as track 20). Revolt sounds much like a John Williams score, but with a more prominent and less repetitive melody. Think “rebel alliance battle theme”, but in a fantasy medieval setting.
It is unfortunate that both the first print and the reprint are now quite difficult to locate (I believe the reprint run must have been small, because even they disappeared in a matter of months). If you can locate this soundtrack, I’d say it’s worth the hefty price the seller would charge you. This is the soundtrack that “started it all” for the Ogre series, and it is certainly a beautiful one. I recommend it to you unconditionally.