If you always wanted Final Fantasy VII to begin with the sound of a synthetic cricket, this album is for you.
FFVII’s original soundtrack ranks almost objectively among the greatest video game soundtracks. To attempt an arrangement album is to tamper with Uematsu’s finest. To turn that work into 8-bit chiptunes might seem a minor heresy, but the result is about as classy as can be. Fans of both the SQ Chips series of soundtracks and Final Fantasy VII (I imagine quite a bit of crossover there) should capture a copy of FFVII Chips immediately.
On the wings of some electronic insect, we’re taken from the ominous, yet slightly magical opening straight into a faithful and surprisingly modern-sounding “Bombing Mission.” This straightforward arrangement wouldn’t seem out of place in an FFVII remake, and that’s probably one of the reasons I like it so much. This isn’t a radical departure from the original track like some of the others. With only ten tracks to spare, this soundtrack would be incomplete without the battle theme, which playfully concludes with “Fanfare,” always my favorite incarnation of the victory theme. This one is just as smooth as the previous track: something I could listen to daily.
The “Turks’ Theme” seems like an oddball track among some of the classics, and this is also where we start to truly depart from the original material. While it’s not the strongest on the album, “Turks’ Theme” sounds like a solid track from a memorable NES game like Dragon Spirit. The appearance of “Crazy Motorcycle” should be no surprise and certainly makes its presence known. “Cosmo Canyon” seems a little boring compared to some of the others, but “Fight On!” makes up for it. This has always been one of my favorite battle tracks (which FFVII battle theme isn’t great?), and to hear it in crisp, yet archaic sounds is not only fun, but rousing.
After a perhaps-too-faithful rendition of “The Highwind Takes to the Skies,” a bass-pumping “J-E-N-O-V-A” enters. Perhaps one of the most powerful boss themes ever, this one is given new life. Sublime, from its prevailing tone of darkness to its bouts of optimism. While lesser, “Birth of a God” still manages to send a little shiver down the spine. The final song, “Staff Roll,” is one that really embraces its 8-bit-hood. With a marked graininess, this one sounds like it’s coming from an NES attached to puny CRT TV speakers. Unfortunately, this is probably my second least favorite track, but it’s appropriate to conclude here.
Some of the tracks on Final Fantasy VII Chips are almost better than the originals, if only because of their clarity and crispness. A remastered FFVII OST might be superior to Chips, but this is nevertheless something every Final Fantasy and chiptune fan should own. Just try not to blow out all your speakers.