Falcom Special Box ’97 was the last of Falcom’s well-known “boxes,” as they were running into financial troubles (and lack of inspiration) after 1997. Other than the revival of the special box (in the form of Falcom Special Box 2004), this was the end. Was it because Falcom didn’t have enough material to release another box? Probably. Was it also because this Special Box was the second to fall flat on its face in terms of quality? I think that may be the case.
The previous Falcom release, Special Box ’96, featured two drama discs and one album of music. This condition improves (for Gaijin listeners, anyway) as this box only features one drama disc. How it is that the plots of Legend of Heroes III and Brandish VT intersect is beyond me…or maybe it’s just the music that intersects as they focus on the plot of one game. I wouldn’t know, because I don’t know enough Japanese. Listening through these tracks, I have heard people refer to “Jurio and Chris” (well-known characters from Legend of Heroes III), and I have heard music from Brandish and Legend of Heroes III play in the background of these tracks. The production value is solid, and if I knew Japanese, I know I would enjoy this disc a fair bit. As it stands, it has no worth to the import collector who has yet to master the language.
The second disc, by far the best of the three in this collection, is a MIDI version of the Brandish VT soundtrack. With the exception of the occasional ear-grating song, this collection of music is nowhere near as bland as I had assumed it would be before hearing it. I am actually quite impressed with the soundtrack, to the point where I wonder why it had not been released as a stand-alone soundtrack. The opening track is especially impressive; it is a three minute romp through all the best sounds MIDI can make. The melody is also worth mentioning; whoever composed this soundtrack deserves a fair measure of praise. And with four ending themes, each a treat to behold, who could hold back from wanting such a fine soundtrack?
Midori Kawana Sings Ys…as a result, ears are bleeding.
Okay, so the third disc isn’t too horrible. The instrumental arrangements are enjoyable, though some are just direct ports of older arrangements, such as the Feena track. Kawana’s voice is the real problem. It oftens comes off as simply annoying. These arrangements are novel, and that novelty can be seen as a positive. The samples provided should give you an idea as to what I mean. There are some creative things happening, and you may enjoy it. It took me some “getting used to” to actually care for these songs at all: and even then, I’d prefer just about any other Falcom vocal to Midori Kawana.
Overall, I have to restate the obvious: this Special Box is nothing special. It may be slightly better than ’96, but that’s about it. I can’t really recommend this to anyone that isn’t a serious Falcom collector. Don’t trouble yourself over finding this one on the vast world of online auctions and marketplace message boards.