As of today, I have owned approximately 175 videogame soundtracks. That’s meager compared to the collection of a few other people; to others, that is a ridiculous amount of money spent. Indeed, it was. Of the 175 I’ve owned, I now have held onto only four (all the others were sold for college, car money, etc). Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collections is one of the four that I did not let go of.
Though I have not fully listened to Final Fantasy X Piano, I am still willing to claim VIII’s PC as my favorite of the six that are currently available. IV and V are somewhat simplistic in style and arrangement…VI is wonderful, but still leaves something of a bittersweet taste in my musical mouth (which is my ear, I guess). IX has some upbeat, fun tracks, but the slow songs can become quite boring. Not so with VIII. Whether the song be fast, slow, or in-between, these arrangements are beautiful, much like the OST and orchestra albums.
FF VIII Piano starts off with “Blue Fields”, the most ingenious world map music Final Fantasy has e’er seen (or…heard). In my studies as a piano student, this has been one of my favorites to learn. Next up is “Eyes on Me”…probably my least favorite track on the album, but an enjoyable piece none-the-less. The CD slows down a bit for the next 3 tracks, then picks right on up with “Shuffle or Boogie”, the Triple Triad theme song. This song is classic, people.
Track 7, “Find Your Way”, was MEANT for a piano arrangement from day 1. This piece is so beautiful, and so simple and complex all in one…I absolutely love it. Wow, what a great piece! “The Oath” doesn’t work as well on piano as it does in its original orchestrated state, so it doesn’t do the song justice. However, I probably would’ve complained had this song not made it onto the PC, so I’ll just shut my mouth.
“Silence in Motion” has some wonderfully intricate things going on in its arrangement. In my attempts to personally perform this piece, I have just barely been able to make it sound like it does on the CD. This song took some skill to perform, I promise you. The song comes in two halves, and the last half is a lot of fun, following an interesting progression. If that performance level wasn’t high enough for you, however, may I recommend “The Castle”, which is definitely the most difficult piece on the album, and also one of my favorites. This song comes (like the OST version) in five distinct sections: a baroque intro, the “main section”, a 20-second transition section (which is my FAVORITE 20 seconds on the whole album), a very modern “jumpy” section, and finally the “main section” repeated. The skill needed to perform this piece is somewhat mind-boggling to me, even though I have seen a number of piano performance grad. students do much harder during my days at the university. This song is just brilliant though. I can’t get enough of it.
The next 2 tracks both take place at the end of the game, and they have a lot of wonderful and interesting things going on inside of them. The “Ending Theme” starts with the classic Final Fantasy Main Theme, and moves into a whole new ending credits theme that feels somewhat militaristic, but works beautifully. Then, just to throw us a curve, the very last track is a cutesy little ragtime piece that is fun to play and fun to listen to. It’s short (less than 2 minutes), it’s sweet, and it’s catchy. Check it out!
Overall, a wonderful album. Hamaguchi did a wonderful arrangement, and I have always preferred VIII’s tunes to other Final Fantasy melodies.