It was over 15 years ago that I got my hands on the CD Theater albums for Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II. I knew precious little about drama CDs back then, so I don’t think I totally understood that what I had in my hands was special. Not only did these “CD Theater” albums come with beautiful artbooks, but they included newly-arranged music by Koichi Sugiyama’s de facto protégé, Hayato Matsuo. Sadly, you will never find this music isolated outside of the dialogue and sound effects of these drama CDs, though some tracks on these albums do offer unmitigated sections of music, particularly in the first and last tracks of each album. Nonetheless, as a poor monolingual English-speaker, I almost wish someone would “fansub” these drama albums so I could read in English what I’m hearing in Japanese.
Enix apparently decided to stop producing these high-end drama CDs, complete with artbooks and great music arranged by Hayato Matsuo, after DQVI. This two-volume set is the end of the line. I find it strange in some ways. I know that Enix and Sugiyama cut back on a lot of the extra music stuff starting with Dragon Quest VII (Electone, Brass, and other albums stopped at VI, and VII was the last game to get a piano arrangement). But the producers of these CD Theater albums were really hitting their stride by this point, and you can tell. It’s in the little things: the timing of music fading in and out, the better balance of audio between voice/SFX/music, and artbooks that have an almost perfect ratio of track time to page number across the full disc. The Dragon Quest VI CD Theaters did everything right, and yet they stopped making the albums after this point.
There’s a lot of great music to enjoy in DQVI Vol.1. “Moon Mirror Tower” offers up unique BGM, as well as some more of the classic castle/chateau music. “Dahma” utilizes overworld BGM for a lengthy period of time, and “Arcbolt” puts some somber/pensive music against what sounds like a raging battle, which is an interesting choice on the producer’s part.
There’s not much else to say. Well, there is this one thing to say: in my adventures trying to procure all of the Dragon Quest CD Theater albums, it may have taken me the longest to find the three volumes for DQV, but it cost me the most money to get the two volumes for DQVI. Fair warning.