Orchestral rearrangements are by far my favorite reinterpretation of video game music. They render a depth in melodic variation that enhances the tunes by leaps and bounds. Naturally, I had high hopes for Sean Schafianski’s remastering of Final Fantasy VI. One more soundtrack to the ever growing list of Final Fantasy music remakes, but do the songs surpass the originals?
First, I must state that the main difference between the original orchestral and this remastered version lies in the use of actual recordings for the original and a remixing program for the rearrangement. Perhaps this might not matter to most, but I find the music delivered by the program rather flat due to the lack of vibration and rounding off of the notes. The effect is most glaring in long, drawn out melodies, but mostly undetectable in the staccatos. Regardless, this is hardly grounds for chucking a great remix aside.
Locke’s Theme starts out strongly, with a heavy string melody and some accompanying brass for support and bass. In contrast, the original has a horn holding the top notes with strings as support and brass for bass. As a result, the remake reminds me of soaring across the overworld in the airship, with nary a care but for adventure.
Edgar and Mash bursts in with bright trumpets and a solid bass line that ramps up the grandiosity of Figaro castle. Sean seems to have a soft spot for strings, as they show up almost everywhere, lending a smoothness that binds the pieces together. If a live orchestral version of this existed, I would be willing to fly across the world for it.
The strong brass and percussion bass in Wild West gives it a menacing beat as the accented strings chime in, reminiscent of the hostile Veldt where Gau lives. A lone flute occasionally pops in, like a glimpse of a bird flying across the sky. Needless to say, this is another keeper.
Overall, the remastering carries a lighter and smoother feel due to the strings and toned down bass. Although some songs seem quite similar to the original, such as The Phantom Forest and Celes, there are enough unique gems to warrant picking up a copy. Final Fantasy VI fans should definitely not miss out.