Note: “Maou” was renamed “Magus” in the American release of the game. When you see “Maou” in the tracklist, know that it is synonymous with “Magus.”
Although he was originally hired by Squaresoft as a game music composer, Yasunori Mitsuda spent the first few years working there as a sound engineer and other various small jobs. Eventually, he grew tired of not having a chance to actually compose music and brought his complaint to the bigwigs of Square, who agreed to let him compose the soundtrack for their next big project. The result is the Chrono Trigger OSV, with a little help from Nobou Uematsu (I personally found that Uematsu’s eight contributions generally weren’t the best compositions here, with the exception being ‘Sealed Door’, Belthasar’s Theme.)
The Chrono Trigger OSV is three CDs (64 tracks) long, and even with its outdated sound, it still remains a favorite in my collection. Many of the tracks are simply memorable whether or not it’s because it coincides with a memorable scene from the game itself. Maybe it could be the game as well, but this album has a lot of charm and personality to it. The OSV even includes two unreleased tracks, “Battle 2” and “Mountain Song,” and to this day I don’t understand why they weren’t actually used in the game, especially “Mountain Song.” They’re two very awesome tracks just like the rest of the album, “Mountain Song” being one of my favorites.
Even though Mitsuda never originally intended to be a game music composer before joining Square, and Chrono Trigger’s didn’t exactly sound like typical game music at the time, the music still fits very well without going over the top. The title track is one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard in a game, and “Silent Light” just makes your ‘Game Over’ all the more depressing. The album has a perfect blend of simple, light-hearted tunes, (“Spekkio”), upbeat tracks (Lucca and Robo’s themes), sad themes (“At The Bottom of Night”), and darker themes (Magus’ Castle, Ocean Palace) – not to mention a few that can’t really fit into a category (Gato’s theme). Mitsuda even experimented with lesser-used instruments (“Time Circuits”, “Schala”), which turned out rather well, if not unforgettable. “Schala,” in particular, feels like a mix of sadness and mystery when you listen to it. The music seems to always fit the mood in the game, a very good example being, “Battle with Magus” (guess when that one plays).
The downside to Chrono Trigger is the less than great tracks, but what album doesn’t have these? “People Without a Hope” drifts without going anywhere, and the regular battle theme is less than motivating. Still, overall, that’s nothing compared to the rest of the album, which is still very well worth its price. I know most of you have this in your game music collection already, but if you don’t, what are you (still) waiting for?