Orchestral Game Concert: The first of a 5-CD series that made groundbreaking efforts in videogame music, and is now considered to be five of the rarest CDs in the VGM market. What is there to learn of this CD? Plenty.
Before the review, some history. The Orchestral Game Concert series started with this one, and one after that the next year, and then one the next year, and two more those two years to follow. On the third one, the publisher changed from Warner Music Japan to Sony Records. The Orchestral Game Concert CDs are, in essence, orchestrated tracks (some new, some found on other CDs such as every Dragon Quest track) from many games released on Nintendo Systems such as Famicom (NES), Super Famicom (SNES), and GameBoy, as the CDs were produced with Nintendo as well. The main symphonic arrangers to all of these CDs were Yoko Kanno and Koichi Sugiyama (of Dragon Quest). Class is over! Now to the review…
I couldn’t think of any way to do this besides track-by-track…So here we go. Track 1 is from Wizardry, a very old Famicom RPG. This track is a great opening, very…well, pompous is the word I suppose. The melody is also quite enjoyable. The next track is from Wizardry III…This is BY FAR one of the best tracks on the CD…Never before has inn music been this good, or this long anyway. The song builds up to very dramatic points, and I’m sure you’ll know what I mean by listening to the samples.
The next two tracks are basically the same as tracks from Dragon Quest IV Symphonic Suite…Always impressive, but very common. Not much to say on them except that track 4 is pretty emotional. The next tracks technically do not fall into this site’s realm of coverage…But we’ll make an exception for OGC. Super Mario Brothers main theme, as a medley that mixes in to the “swimming” music, and then into the “dungeon music” (but no castle music! WAHH!!) and then back to the castle theme. This song is so well-done, it’s actually found AGAIN on OGC4! Then is the theme to Super Mario World, a very 50s-big-band sort of feel to this fine track.
NEXT UP are, in my opinion, the BEST tracks on the CD. They beat Wizardry III, they beat FF4…They are ZELDA TRACKS! Track 7 is the Hyrule Castle theme from the Super Famicom’s Zelda: Triforce of the Gods (A Link to the Past in America): This dark-fanfare-like track is filled with completely proper instrumentation that takes the track far. Not only that, but it’ll bring in some serious nostalgia. But not as much nostalgia as the next track, which is the Zelda Main Theme (DA DA…DA dadadada DAAA!). An awesome rendition of the piece, featuring a slower section in the middle, makes this my personal favorite track on the CD!
The next two tracks are from Populous…These tracks are so-so…Track 9 is probably my least favorite track on the CD. However, even the worst tracks on this CD are pretty good. And track 10 is pretty exciting, with lots of neat melodies throughout…But track 9 just stinks relative to the rest of the CD. Then come Romance of the 3 Kingdoms tracks, which are always nice, but nothing special. They do round out the CD well though, but because those games aren’t in RPGFan’s realm of coverage, I won’t say anymore.
Final Fantasy IV’s tracks are the usual reason as to why fans are willing to pay so much for the CD. Nowhere else will you find pure orchestrated FF4 goodness. Track 13 is a pretty straight (BUT ORCHESTRATED) version of Red Wings…The famous military-march-type music that plays at the beginning of the game. After this is a very…”happy” version of Theme of Love…I personally enjoy FF4 Piano’s “Practice Track” (which was also orchestrated) more than this version, but I still enjoyed this track. The real big coupe de grace on the CD for most is the FF4 Ending. An awesome medley featuring a trumpet (or maybe it’s a cornet…) solo of the world map music at the beginning, and then the good old FF “Prologue” Main Theme, and much much more on this seven minute track (the longest track on the CD)!
The last track, a well-known song from Dragon Quest III, ends the CD very nicely. It isn’t the best song on earth, but it ranks up there among the other tracks, and I enjoy this one much more than the DQ4 songs.
Overall, a fine, fine disc. However, owning this CD authentic costs a pretty penny. It isn’t around much, and when it is around, it’s usually around on eBay and it usually goes up to $200, sometimes more!
NOTES: The actual translation of this CD’s title varies…The English title on OGCs 3-5 lists the CD as “Game Music Concert – Live Best Selection”…However, because these CDs are most commonly known as “Orchestral Game Concert” in American audiences, this is the title that RPGFan will use to list the CDs. Also, because of the extreme rarity of this CD, it is our policy to allow samples from more than 5 tracks, and have those sample lengths be longer than one minute. I even took the liberty of giving you all of tracks 7 and 8. So, enjoy all the samples!