Less than three minutes of new music. And really, it’s the oldest music of all. That’s what I found on this CD.
Granted, I wasn’t the target audience of an 8th anniversay “best of” CD. Considering I’m a huge FFXI fan and have collected all the other CDs, I don’t know what else I’d be expecting from a “best of.” But, since we’re on the topic, let me tell you what I was expecting.
Because FFXI has very gradual content update cycles, Naoshi Mizuta is adding new music all the time: one song here, two songs there. The “Crusaders of Altana” (Wings of the Goddess) original soundtrack is now behind by at least 3 or 4 songs. And then there were the three “add-on” packs: Crystalline Prophecy, Moogle Kupo d’Etat, Shantotto Ascension. Each of those add-ons got two new songs. So that’s six songs right there. And guess what? They’re really good songs! The battle themes, especially, shocked me. Could there not be room for them on this album?
Apparently not. This 27-track album goes to nearly 80 minutes. They chose not to cut the loops on lengthy tracks like “Ronfaure,” “Jeweled Boughs,” or “The Sanctuary of Zi’Tah.” Great songs they are, yes, but very long (5-ish minutes) for no reason other than to loop the track.
Now, even though I may have had unrealistic hopes in seeing the aforementioned new music on this album, there’s still plenty of old music missing. You know of what I speak. Noriko Matsueda wrote all of the music that can be found within the PlayOnline menu. And there are many songs in that menu-based environment: upwards of five, I am sure of that. When I heard rumors that said music would appear on this disc, that was reason enough for me to buy the disc. So I did.
What did I get? the “Opening” song (something found only in trailers now; it doesn’t appear in the current version of POL) which runs at just under a minute, and the standard “POL Window” music (a little under 2 minutes). There are plenty of other POL tracks: more impressive tracks, tracks that show Matsueda’s talent. Not on this disc though!
It would seem Square Enix thinks precious little of Matsueda. I say this because they didn’t even bother listing her in the album credits that came with this CD’s packaging (though, interestingly, they did remember to mention her on the Square Enix Music official page for this CD). I know Matsueda quit game music after FFX-2, and yes, that sucks for everyone who liked her work. But it’d be nice to get a more complete picture of some of her lesser-known work, and POL certainly counts toward that.
Alright, I think I’ve done enough complaining. The tracklist for all but the POL tracks were determined based on a vote by Square Enix members (primarily Japanese members). The tracks I expected near the top were there: Awakening, Ragnarok, Distant Worlds, Ronfaure, Gustaberg. These are the classic works among the vast piles of music for FFXI. Good stuff. Had I made a best-of list on my own, I would’ve included the Chocobo music from the Zilart expansion, the Promyvion music from Chains of Promathia, and would not have included any of the Vana’diel March tracks. But that’s personal preference.
If you fit the target market for this CD (casually interested in the music, but have not collected most of the OSTs in this series yet) this is probably a CD worth owning. But if you’re a collector like me, or if you have no interest in the series, you’ve fallen outside the target market and probably shouldn’t bother picking up this CD. I love the music here, sure, but I love it more in the context of my ridiculous 7 disc box set (and the WotG OST which fell outside that box). I’m perfectly capable of building a custom playlist without paying $20 for it.