Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skie~ Synthesizer & Original Soundtrack


Review by · September 30, 2009

I’ll start by saying that I am a huge Dragon Quest fan, and anyone who has read any of my other DQ soundtrack reviews knows how much I appreciate the game and the music. However, a lot of my love for the music comes from my love of the games, all of which I had played before reviewing the soundtracks. This is the first time I’m reviewing a DQ soundtrack without having played the game, and I figure this is a good thing; I can evaluate its merits without nostalgia clouding my judgment.

That being said I find this album to be extremely derivative of Sugiyama’s other work. This should come as no surprise, as the hallmark of the series is consistency — changing as little as possible — and this extends to the music in the games as well. Read on to find out more.

The first surprise I had was in the “Overture IX” itself, which adds a little flair to the beginning of the well-known opening theme. It was a nice change, and seemed promising, until we move on to the rest of the soundtrack.

Most of the game’s tracks sound as if they were copied from other Dragon Quest games. Tracks such as “Oboe Palace,” “A Tragic Prologue,” and the battle theme, “I Won’t Lose” all smack of the particular synthesized music and discordant harmonies found in the sixth installment of the series, while “Over the Fields and Mountains” feels as if it was pulled from either Dragon Quest VIII or Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, both of which did similar things with their overworld themes.

Swirling Desire, is reminiscent of every boss battle theme from DQV on, as is Decisive Battle, however aside from Decisive Battle, they’re not as up-tempo as you’d probably expect from a boss theme.

This is not to say that Dragon Quest IX doesn’t bring anything new to the table; just like the series itself, there’s always one or two tweaks, and the soundtrack is no exception. “Put Polka” sounds almost as if it would fit in a Shining Force/in the Darkness game, and “Cave Waltz”‘s slow tempo and haunting melody are just different enough to feel original, without straying too far from Sugiyama’s themes.

The last theme that I found to be on the novel side was “Protectors of the Starry Sky,” which happens to be the ending theme. It felt different, maybe because of the opening which evoked feelings of a boss fight, or possibly the middle which incorporated almost a sad town theme and a field theme into the mix. Whatever the reason, it mixed the variety of themes of an RPG into itself, and I suppose that’s as good a way as any to end a game.

A quick mention needs to go out to the differences between the two discs in the album. The first is the synthesizer tracks, as arranged by Sugiyama himself, while the second is the OST from the game. Honestly, the biggest difference is that the synthesized “arrangements” seem more subdued and acoustic, while the original game versions are a bit more harsh and tinny, which given the medium is no surprise. Otherwise there is no significant difference that the non-audiophile will be able to detect. Also, the second disc has some more tracks, though those exclusive tracks are actually lifted directly from previous DQ titles (as noted in the tracklist).

So, in the final analysis, this is a Dragon Quest soundtrack, and you’re going to get a very familiar feeling from it. Whether you’ll experience that as comfort or boredom is really a matter of personal taste, but frankly, you know if you’re going to get it right now anyway, so for that one person on the fence; spend your money elsewhere.

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Damian Thomas

Damian Thomas

Some of us change avatars often at RPGFan, but not Damian, aka Sensei Phoenix. He began his RPGFan career as The Flaming Featherduster (oh, also, a key reviewer), and ended as the same featherduster years later.