Does Square Enix release a Final Fantasy IV soundtrack for every rerelease of the game? A question we best not consider here perhaps, but we can examine if this soundtrack is worth buying, particularly if you have all the others. For the FFIV fanatics (a legion if the numerous iterations of the game are any evidence), the answer is predetermined. For all others, we resort to critiques, and this one happens to come from an unbiased source, from one who has no allegiance to FFIV.
The collection begins with a good song: the opening track for The After Years on PSP. This is almost on par with the stuff that made Nobuo Uematsu a known and respected entity. The second track, “Mysterious Girl,” also displays the classic Final Fantasy music virtues of atmosphere and balance between complexity and simplicity. The next several tracks are less inspired, however, and sound comparatively ordinary. Some are too tame to be memorable (“True Moon”) while others are overly bombastic and slightly abrasive (“Straying from Evolution”). They are neither melodic nor atmospheric, resulting in something decidedly inferior to Uematsu’s work on the core game.
Not until tracks 10 and 11 does the soundtrack pick up again. Both “Epilogues” are above average, particularly the second one, with its soft beginning, build up, and use of a classic Final Fantasy theme. The “Finale” is fairly good and sufficiently broad for its purpose. Track 13 is a longer version of the opening, a thoughtful inclusion. The final track from The After Years is the “Theme of Love,” which channels a theme from the original game to great effect. Of course, most of the credit must be given to the original composer.
The last five tracks were chosen by poll in Japan, all selections from the original game. Not surprisingly, they’re significantly better than those that precede them. FFIV is the first game in the series memorable for its soundtrack, and thus these classic compositions have received a reputation as groundbreaking. My favorite of the five here is “Troian Beauty.” (Editor’s note: this is the bonus track)
Those that adored The After Years and those that collect Final Fantasy IV stuff should obtain this soundtrack, but it has limited value otherwise. The best tracks can be heard elsewhere, and some in better form. The After Years’ music ranges from above average to mediocre, however, and those without a game and memories to connect the music to may be left wanting.