Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has a soundtrack that’s hard to categorize. There’s so many different kinds of music going on here that it could feel at times random and disjointed, though if you’ve spent any time with the game, you’ll see how well this approach works. While not all-inclusive, I’ve found myself often saying that if you want to get an idea of the soundtrack’s variety, you simply need to listen to the initial three tracks in order, which is why I included samples of each.
Starting things off, Moonlight Serenade is a short piece highlighted by horns that feels like it came out of the 1940s, and despite the range of musical styles I mentioned, this ‘retro’ feel comes up several times throughout the album. Next up is Crystal Bearers Ramble, which is also punctuated prominently (yay for alliteration!) by horns and piano to create a fun jazz feel. You can’t help but smile a bit when listening to it, since it’s just a bit wacky, and feels like something that would be featured as music in an old silent film. Third, and most importantly to me, is The Sacred Haven. This slow, moody orchestral piece is the game’s title screen music, and is also used as the background music on the game’s official website. Trust me when I say it’s no exaggeration I’ve listened to the song hundreds of times–567 is my play count in iTunes right now. Prior to owning the soundtrack, I often would leave the website open in the background just to let the song loop, and it’s the primary reason I bought the soundtrack. It’s unfortunately short at under two minutes, but it’s damn beautiful. Similar in terms of mood is the Moogle Woods song on disc two, which is another favorite of mine.
Okay, enough gushing from obsessive me, let’s move on. To a certain extent, a handful of themes in the game are… shall we say, typical. The quiet, almost melancholy theme for Althea, the Ruins music which isn’t bad, but is sort of just what you expect from “ruins music” in an RPG. Then suddenly we get to one of the game’s several battle themes, and we feel like we’re in a crazy wild west locale–which makes sense, because in the game, you *are* in a crazy wild west locale, complete with laser and jetpack-equipped scarecrows (because, why not?). Going down the list, we soon get to a light, tropical and exotic theme used in Crystal Bearers’ surfing mini-game, and suddenly… elevator music! Well not really, it’s played on the game’s various trains, but it definitely has some elevator and smooth jazz to it and could put you to sleep if you’re not careful.
As both the soundtrack and game progresses, the battle music leans more and more towards a heavier rock sound, something that’s most prominent in the epic final battle music. Oh, but somewhere in the middle of that there’s also a light-hearted battle song that I can only describe as music that would play in a forest full of lush vegetation, fairies and moogles. I hope that makes sense to at least one person, as I have no better way of describing it.
There’s a handful of new arrangements on classic themes as well. Most notable to long-time Final Fantasy fans is the classic chocobo riding theme, presented here as–of course–a light, airy song with a bit of country-esque twang to it. While not accompanied by vocals this time, Moonless Starry Night makes an appearance, a nod to the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the GameCube. I didn’t expect to hear the song here, so that was a pleasant surprise.
This being an RPG, you might expect there to be a vocal song near the end, and you’d be right. Kuule tää unelmain is a re-arranged rendition of The Sacred Haven (you might have heard me mention that one) accompanied by the vocal stylings of Donna Burke. I have no idea what she’s saying, but I fell in love with her voice immediately upon hearing the original Moonless Starry Night, so having her back on this album was a perfect way to cap it off.
This whole review probably seems a little fragmented or disjointed. Or muddled. Possibly even wandering. Or even… sorry, having fun with the thesaurus. Just pick one of those adjectives and you’d probably be right. As I said earlier, the music goes so many different ways, I simply didn’t see how I was going to write a completely coherent review. Considering I played the game before listening to the soundtrack on its own, I found myself liking most of it, mainly because I understood all of this diversity fit perfectly with the game itself. It may be hard to tell any one person that they’ll definitely like the album as a whole, because of how all over the place it tends to be. By that same token though, it’s probably safe to say anyone can find at least something here they’d enjoy.