Final Fantasy VI is one of my favourite games in the series, and to this day has some of the best music. If you’ve read any of the recent Final Fantasy news stories I’ve posted, you may have noticed my hopes that VI will one day see a re-release on a modern system. In the meantime, I’ll take chances like this to listen to and review one of the remastered soundtracks. That said, I use the word “remastered” loosely, because the changes here are minor and barely noticeable.
The Opening Theme kicks the album off on a high note. It’s dramatic and sets the scene for the rest of the game and music. It also features a part of Terra’s (Tina in Japan) theme, which is done throughout many pieces in the soundtrack. The sombre mood continues through Narshe and Awakening, so the cheery music found in Locke’s theme is a welcome change of pace. In fact, Character themes are some of the best music found on the CDs. Kefka’s theme reflects his mischievous and mysterious nature, and Gau’s and Relm’s respective music are peaceful and elegant. Shadow has lone ranger-style music, while Gogo has a quirky, whimsical feel. When Edgar and Sabin’s theme played, I didn’t recognise it immediately, but did think to myself how royal sounding it was. Well played, Uematsu-san.
Terra (Tina) and Celes are the standout character themes. Celes’ music is beautiful, and one of my favourites on the album. It has a relaxed, almost lullaby-like tone to it, but it sounds like a farewell too. I hadn’t noticed it before, but it has moments that sound similar to Aerith’s theme from Final Fantasy VII. Even though it is also melancholic in tone, Terra sounds more like a hopeful beginning rather than an end. Considering their relationship and role in the game, their music balances each other perfectly.
The order of tracks in the album matches their appearance in Final Fantasy VI. This is a benefit for those hoping to relive their memories of the game, though certain songs next to others are jarring at times. Techno De Chocobo is a fun, upbeat piece, but seems out of place surrounded by songs such as the delicate, saddening Forever Rachel. The same can be said for the grating Slam Shuffle that follows it. Much of disc 2 suffers from this issue. Of course, if you’re planning to burn the music onto your computer, then you can re-arrange the tracks however you like.
Music from the in-game opera is featured on disc 2 as well. Overture is a grand piece, marred by odd-sounding vocals that begin around the middle. Aria De Mezzo Carattere has the same problem, though the upbeat Grand Finale at the end is a joy to listen to. From there, the album continues to the jazz-styled Johnny C Bad and the oddly-titled “??” that features a catchy xylophone tune. The Empire Gestahl is immediately recognisable as a Final Fantasy piece with its slow, foreboding and dramatic sounds. Likewise, Blackjack channels classic Final Fantasy airship music.
The battle music stands among the best tracks found in the game. Battle Theme, The Unforgiven and The Decisive Battle create an air of tension and excitement, even if you’re just listening to the music. The Fierce Battle takes them all a step further with a hectic and intense score. Wrap them all up with a victory fanfare, and VI stands out in the series with brilliant combat music. And let’s not forget the memorable Dancing Mad and its crazy pipe organ. Outside of battle, travel music such as The Last Dungeon and Mt. Coltz sound more generic on their own.
Pieces that surround important moments in the plot such as Returners tell the story through the music. The Day After has uplifting moments that reflect victory, but still remains cautious, knowing that there is more to come. The same can be said for Save Them, which is an awesome, upbeat piece that is equal parts heroic and intense.
Final Fantasy VI Original Soundtrack Remaster Version doesn’t tread any new ground, but the music is still just as great as it always was. For casual listeners or owners of previous FFVI albums, it’s probably not worth revisiting. Yet, even with that in mind, it’s hard to resist Celes or Terra. Oh, and nothing relating to Final Fantasy VI is complete without a suplex and a train.