Falcom’s third special box, like the two before it, is the ultimate “mixed bag.” Four discs: vocal arrangements, jazz/rock/fusion arrangements, original synthesized tracks, and even a music video! To mix things up even more, the vocal disc contains different vocalists and arrangers, so even the vocal tracks have widely varying styles.
With so many different options, there has to be something for everyone to love in this box, right? Well, maybe not.
Of the four discs, my favorite is without a doubt the vocal disc. Falcom vocals are always charming and fun, especially their earlier vocal tracks (from ’89 to ’93, I’d say). “Long Long Time Ago” is bouncy and catchy, “Dream Dreamer” has a notable use of vocal harmonies in the chorus, “Wind’s Monologue” is sophisticated and enigmatic. The only song I don’t like is “Starshine Lullaby,” namely because it’s too slow and drawn out for my tastes. However, all of these vocals can also be found, split up, between Falcom Vocal Collections I and II: so if the vocal tracks were the only tracks you liked, you wouldn’t have any need for Special Box ’91.
The second disc, for me, was fairly disappointing. This FSB’s successor, ’92, had one of the best “Super Arrange Versions” Falcom has ever released. On this disc, jazzy arrangements are made of the unknown/unreleased tracks on the “original version” disc of the same box (disc 3). Besides some very well-performed solos (especially on track 5, for which we have no audio sample), there is little for me to praise. Standard, almost contrived jazz and rock come together to take some already boring melodies and turn them into something that is not much more than mediocre. I was not impressed by these arrangements, and I wish they had either chosen better original pieces or gotten someone else to do the arrangement.
The third disc again re-defines the “mixed bag” status of SB ’91: original tracks from Ys, Ys II, Dragon Slayer, Dragon Slayer Family, and Xanadu! All I can say about this disc is that it’s like owning a piece of history: it has some interesting stuff, but nothing extraordinary. Listen to the samples yourself: they’re good, but in this context, they aren’t very special. And considering each track is usually no more than a minute, they aren’t substantial on their own.
Finally, an interesting choice indeed, Falcom released a “video single disc” for the song “To Make the End of Battle.” This video features clips from a live JDK Band performance, as well as scenes from the animated feature “Ys: Heaven’s Sanctuary.” Beyond the two minutes provided above by RPGFan, there are also a few scenes presented from Ys and Ys II (in-game cutscenes, that is). Like the vocal disc, this video can be found elsewhere through Falcom products, namely through the reprint of Falcom JDK Band 1: “JDK Band.” I believe the disc works like that of a VCD, but I just ran the AVI file on my computer to watch it.
The song is from the JDK Band arrangement, and it is indeed a catchy song. Featuring a new opening and ending riff, as well as a softer “breakdown” in the middle, the five minute arrangement fits well with the image one is exposed to while watching this hip video that reeks of 80s style and flair.
of all the Special Boxes I’ve reviewed up to this point, this one might be my least favorite. The vocals are solid, but I can get them from other sources (as I’ve previously stated). The arranged disc is bland, and the original synth work isn’t anything I desire. This collection is not too hot, and I wouldn’t recommend the reader spend any large amount of time, effort, or money in purchasing this collection (unless, of course, you’re a “collector”, in which case my review shouldn’t even matter). If you really want a good taste of Falcom, get Special Box ’92.