Most of you have never heard of the game Hundred Swords, and probably for good reason. While it did make an appearance on these shores, it was PC only and not well publicized at all. It also didn’t have much in the fun department, being a rather awkward strategy title. Well, like damn near every PS game that came out around that time, its level of sucktasticness didn’t prevent it from getting its own soundtrack release.
The first things listeners will discover about the Hundred Swords soundtrack is that there are no particularly emotionally powerful compositions in any direction. If I could identify the main problem, it would most likely be in the recording, rather than the composition (though composition suffers as well). The soundtrack sets out to be epic, but whatever method was used to record the tracks left them feeling shallow, minimalist, and anything but robust.
For example, take “Dragon Cavalry Forward!” which should feel more intense than it actually winds up being, from a composition standpoint. The resulting track feels listless, as if you were listening to it on the radio in a TV show. The same goes for “Investigating the Recurrence of the Ice Age” which should wind up being more mysterious and ominous that it actually is. It’s a very difficult thing to explain if you haven’t listened to the soundtrack.
Of course, if it’s actually not the recording method that winds up being the problem, then the issue definitely lies with the lack of soul put into these tracks. Form without substance would best categorize tracks such as the generic happy “Papaya Papaya” and the solemn “Song of Past Experience ~Blessing~.” The overall soundtrack comes off seeming empty or hollow, but this brings me to an interesting point.
Having listened to the soundtrack, one thing that strikes me even from the beginning is that this soundtrack requires game-related nostalgia to have any impact. While I’ve only played the first few missions in the game, I get a strong feeling that this is an album that is unable to stand on its own merits, but would be a prized possession in the collection of someone who enjoyed the game. I can see themes such as “Lover Ring” and “Song of Past Experience” evoking fond memories from those who have played through the game. I’d have to play the game through to truly know, however, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
All in all, if you liked Hundred Swords, get this album, but there’s little reason for anyone else to.