Orchestral Game Concert 5


Review by · April 1, 2001

The fifth and final CD in the rare, highly-desired OGC series is quite an exception to all of the others. Here are a few examples: Every OGC before this one had the CD released in the same last-digit year of the CD number (OGC1 in ’91, OGC3 in ’93…OGC5 in ’96!); OGC5 is the only OGC to not feature work by Yoko Kanno, one of the biggest names in great orchestrated VGM; the packaging to OGC5 is the only one to not feature the clay-figurine style, with instead having pictures of the actual orchestra on the cover. The list goes on.

Like the other reviews, I shall now review the CD, track-by-track, starting with the first two tracks developed by Nintendo themselves. The Kirby medley starts slow, and builds into a tense, mid-to-fast-paced song – take heed, this song is VERY catchy! Listen to it more than once and you will be at a loss of conscious thought, you will only be able to sing this song to yourself over and over. The next track, a soothing Yoshi’s Island song, features some serious “50s orchestra” instruments (this feeling can be found in many OGC tracks, but it really stands out on this track). If you need something light-hearted, this is the track for you.

Track 3 is the best non-RPG song on here, and in my opinion 2nd-best track overall. The track consists of the Donkey Kong Country main theme (which is ultra-big-band-jazz fun), then a wonderfully-performed slow track which is the “Water Music” (this part starts soft and builds with each repetition of the melody), and the song then repeats the beginning main theme. You get two great styles, or rather two great examples of different styles in one awesome track.

The Fire Emblem theme is the longest track on the disc, clocking in at 6 1/2 minutes. While I do thoroughly enjoy the song, it is somewhat bland. It’s well-composed, definitely suited for orchestra…but, there’s nothing too striking about this piece. Plus, I personally have no attachment to the music having never been given the chance to play a Fire Emblem game (how I wish they’d localize this whole series…).

No Orchestral Game Concert can escape the re-hashing of Dragon Quest music, thanks to Sugiyama. While I like Dragon Quest music, it is so easy for a person to get their hands on a symphonic suite that I feel putting the tracks on an OGC is a waste of time that could’ve been spent on arranging other tracks (*coughs* more FFVI). If you want to hear my opinion on the DQ VI music overall, check out my review of the game’s Symphonic Suite.

Tracks 7-10 are more of those “unlocalized games Americans have never heard of” tracks. Honestly, I’m not too impressed with any one of them. Track 7 is bland like track 4 was…track 8 I enjoyed because it is music from Lennus 2 (“Lennus” was known in America as “Paladin’s Quest” for Super Nintendo, the sequel was never released domestically). Kouhei Tanaka did the music for Lennus 2, which makes me very fond of the music in general (Tanaka also being known for composing music for Alundra and Sakura Taisen). Track 9 is a very epic track, and doesn’t have that same “bland” feeling I got from tracks 4 and 7. Then, track 10, from a game whose name I could never pronounce no matter how hard I tried, is a BEAUTIFUL track with a melancholy melody and light-hearted trill of background instruments (mostly strings and woodwinds).

Following suit with all other OGCs (except OGC3), the Squaresoft tracks are placed at the end. In the liner notes, it turns out that the Seiken Densetsu 3 track incorporates music from John Williams’ Theme to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” used with permission. This song produces a fine intro to one of SD3’s best tunes. The song builds to a very dramatic climax, with slower parts in the middle; this song takes the 3rd-place spot in my list of favorites on the CD.

The final track, a stunning rendition of the Chrono Trigger theme, is one of the biggest reasons to buy the CD. While it is 5 minutes, it does basically repeat itself. The first two minutes are the main theme, which is an orchestral masterpiece. The main theme then takes a break for the classic slow song “To Good Friends” for about one minute, and then repeats the main theme with little to no change. The theme is awesome, and everyone knows it; people who were dissappointed in “The Brink of Time” for not being an orchestral CD can sit down and listen to this awesome work, which takes 1st place in my list of favorite tracks on the CD.

Even though the entire OGC series is very rare, OGC5 is definitely the least rare of them. While all other OGCs sell for around $200 on message boards and auction sites, OGC5 usually goes for between $80-$100. This is likely due to the fact that until very recently, it was not too hard to get your hands on this CD by special-ordering at online stores. Today, there are virtually no copies left through major online retailers, so expect to purchase this CD through direct contact (may I suggest the Soundtrack Central marketplace message boards for such a transaction).

NOTES: To learn about the history of all of the OGCs, read the OGC1 review! Also, while not as rare as other CDs, due to the rarity of this CD we have sampled 6 tracks instead of the standard 5, and the samples last for more than one minute.

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.