Note: this is the domestic release of the Final Fantasy VI OST. With exception to packaging, this is the exact same soundtrack. The domestic version is now much harder to find compared to the import release, which still has reprints circulating through most online stores.
Some argue that the first RPG to really pull in a mainstream audience was Final Fantasy VII, but I think of Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan) as the real start of it all. Packed with great gameplay, interesting characters, a killer plot and, of course, a Soundtrack that has gone down in history as one of the classics of all time, FF III was the most logical choice for Square to release an American OST (even though Secret of Mana’s was released first). I’m pleased to say that Square certainly sold me on what they entitled Kefka’s Domain.
Spanning three discs, Kefka’s Domain is rife with everyone’s favorite tracks: “Terra”, “Celes”, “Aria De Mezzo Carattere”, and, of course “Kefka”. The discs generally move chronologically through the game with Disc 1 covering the first third of the game, Disc 2 covering the second third, and Disc 3 containing the final portion. This gives the soundtrack a nice flow, and those who have played the game will be able to follow it as if they were progressing through the game.
Uematsu’s genius shines forth in all of the pieces, and he makes great use of echo and the stereo capabilities of the SNES in “Celes” and “The Phantom Forest”. The mournful cello in “Gau” was truly tear jerking, while the ragtime piano in “Spinach Rag” would have made Scott Joplin proud. I can’t say that there are any tracks that I didn’t enjoy; I had a mixed reaction to “Techno De Chocobo,” though the ominous laugh was a throwback to the Doom Gaze in FFIV, which I thought was a nice touch.
Any fault in the soundtrack is made up for, amazingly, in the Opera scene, which spans the “Overture,” “Aria De Mezzo Carattere,” “The Wedding,” and “Grand Finale?” That we get to see an opera (known as the Dream Oath: Maria and Draku) performed during the course of the game, even with the odd “singing” is very impressive and goes down in history as one of the defining moments of any RPG soundtrack.
Having been digitally remastered, the tracks all sound crisp and clear with no distortion at all. Though I’ve had the pleasure of hearing many arranged versions of parts of this soundtrack, from piano to techno/synth there’s just something about the original renditions that manages to impress. Perhaps it’s the fact that so much complexity was achieved with such comparatively primitive hardware, or maybe it’s just nostalgia, but as far as OSTs for 16-bit RPGs go, Kefka’s Domain is sure to wow you.