Videogame music fans have a lot of reasons to buy the new piano arranged album called GAME by Michael Gluck. First of all, it’s an American-made arranged videogame album which isn’t all too common in the first place. Furthermore, it’s relatively cheap at only $9.99, and 20% of the profits are donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Michael Gluck, aka “Piano Squall”, has been playing and arranging videogame and anime music on the piano since he was a child. 4 years ago, he started giving concerts at various Anime and videogame conventions around the country. During this time, he was able to raise money for many different causes–but none more important to him than multiple sclerosis, as he watched his grandmother suffer from the disease in the last 10 years of her life.
For his debut album called GAME (short for Game & Anime Music Emotions), Michael Gluck is going to donate 20% of the profits to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and has partnered with EA who will also match his donation for the cause.
The album contains 18 tracks performed on the piano and includes many famous pieces of music such as a medley of many Final Fantasy battle themes, as well as songs from RPGs like Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Even non-RPG games like Super Mario World and Mega Man II are represented, as are popular anime, including Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop.
So, how good is the CD? Read on to find out.
Overall, I would have to say that the album is quite good but of course it isn’t perfect and the album could be great as much as it could be disappointing; it all depends on your taste in style of music. In this review I will concentrate mostly on the RPG themes of the soundtrack since this is what we cover on the website. I also won’t go into technical merits of the performance since I’m not a piano player and I don’t have the expertise to do so. All I can say is that I personally thought the performances were great. For a more technical review, check out Patrick Gann’s review.
The CD starts off with a rendition of Scars of Time from Chrono Cross and, although I really enjoyed the first minute of the song, I wasn’t a fan of the faster tempo that followed. Then again, this is hardly a problem with Gluck’s arrangement since that was my opinion of the original song in the first place and Michael simply stayed true to the original. Overall, a really nice start for the CD.
We then get 2 songs from Chrono Trigger in Frog’s Theme and Decisive Battle with Magus. The 2 tracks are very well done but lacked length. You get the feeling that Michael wanted to pack so many different songs into one CD that he had to cut a lot of songs short by playing them only for a minute or so. Of course that can be either good or bad depending on your point of view.
Next comes a rendition of Vamo’ alla Flamenco from Final Fantasy IX. Personally I found it a bit disappointing because of the fact that this song was already arranged for the piano in Final Fantasy IX Piano Collection so I was hoping for songs that had never been arranged for the piano in this CD. Nevertheless, the arrangement was pretty good and did not try to emulate the version from Piano Collection so they both have their own style.
The later portion of the CD consists mostly of Final Fantasy music since you get a series of 5 consecutive Final Fantasy songs in a row totaling over 20 minutes of music. 1000 Words from Final Fantasy X-2 and Kiss me Goodbye from Final Fantasy XII sounded really good to me…but since I didn’t play those games, they didn’t really stand out as much since I was unfamiliar with the original work. This is then followed by The Prelude from Final Fantasy and the Final Fantasy Ending Theme. Prelude is exactly what you would expect from a piano rendition and Ending Theme was a little too busy and bombastic for my taste. I personally would have preferred a more soothing sound for this song.
This brings us to the last RPG song on the CD, and it’s a big one. A medley of Final Fantasy battle themes from Final Fantasy IV all the way to Final Fantasy X. At almost 12 minutes long, there’s really not much I can say about it except for “Wow.” It’s not perfect, but a lot of work has been put into this medley and as such the performance is very enthusiastic and you can tell Michael had a blast putting this one together and playing it. As a fan of softer piano, it made me wish for a medley of Final Fantasy love songs. Oh well…maybe next time.
As for the rest of the CD, there are a couple of nostalgic songs from non-RPGs like Super Mario World, Tetris and Mega Man II which were enjoyable to listen to since they bring back a lot of memories. As for the Anime songs on the CD, since I don’t watch Anime, I can’t really comment on those. All I can say is that I wasn’t a fan of most of the songs, except maybe for Sadness and Sorrow which happens to be my kind of piano song (soft and slow).
Overall, I would have to say that GAME is a pretty good CD, especially for people who love piano and especially those who love the frantic and bombastic style of playing. As mentioned before, the CD is not perfect and even if I have a few minor gripes with it, at $9.99 with a portion of the money going to charity, you really can’t go wrong with this CD and it’s definitely a must buy for anybody who loves videogame or Anime music.