Ragnarok Online Original Soundtrack


Review by · June 14, 2005

Note: according to the CD’s packaging, disc two’s tracks are listed as if they continued from disc one (that is, they are tracks 26-50 instead of another 1-25). For the sake of consistency with the site rather than with the soundtrack itself, we have chosen to list the numbers as they would appear when sticking the CD in a CD player.

Allow me to preface this review by making the following statement: as of this point in time, I have never played an MMORPG. The way things are going in my life, I may never play an MMORPG. They are not appealing to me. I want a closed, linear storyline in a game, and MMORPGs are just too “open” for me. But watching someone play an MMORPG? I’ve done that. In fact, I have a friend back home that got pretty heavily involved in the Korean-developed RPG “Ragnarok Online” last year. I decided to watch him play it out of slight fascination. While he played, he was listening to some trashy American pop-rock band, and I asked him to turn that music off so I could hear what the music to “Ragnarok Online” sounded like. He dutifully did as I asked, and within minutes, I determined that I would someday soon purchase the Ragnarok Online OST.

That “someday” has passed, and I now have that OST in my hands. Did I make the right decision, basing an entire purchase over a few minutes of song I heard while watching my friend play the game? Yes. Yes I did. Let me tell you why.

I have always made a distinction in my mind between VGM for PC and VGM for consoles. Perhaps this is a false distinction, as console VGM is generally done by Japanese composers and PC VGM (that we are familiar with) is generally done by American composers. For me, this music sounds like some really good console VGM, not PC VGM in any way. Again, the distinction on my part may be wrong in the first place, but this was the first thing I thought after listening to the soundtrack.

There are a lot of “town” themes on this soundtrack (especially on disc 1), and they all have a gentle sound. Some include drum loops and synthesized percussion, making the song sound more “techno” (for example, “Theme of Prontera”); other songs will retain an acoustic feel, using more natural sounds (such as “Streamside”). The difference between these two example songs, besides the melody, shows that the composition has enough variety even among the softer songs to make the soundtrack much more rich.

I have noticed that disc 1 contains most of the slower, softer, “natural” pieces, whereas disc 2 thrives on powerhouse techno-rock that makes you want to dance around your room like an idiot (we’re all prone to doing that…right?). Take, for example, the first track of disc 2, “Everlasting Wanderers”. Even though it’s relying on major chords and “happier” sounds, the drum loop is wild enough to make you want to get up and dance. The jazzy feel in track 6, “Brassy Road”, does not diminish the feel of this disc; it stands in nice contrast with the rock-techno fusion as its own jazz-techno fusion piece. It’s reminiscent of FFX-2, but perhaps a higher quality composition than what I remember from X-2.

It’s a shame that the only acknowledgement given to us regarding the music is “SoundTeMP”: whoever they are (or whoever he/she is), they are making some really good music. It’s ambient, but it has solid melody. It’s got drive, but it can also cool you down. Overall, the soundtrack is balanced in a way that many other soundtracks these days are not. Whatever synthesizers used on this soundtrack are some of the most advanced in the field. I cannot make a single complaint about this whole soundtrack. That’s a good sign.

The soundtrack also came with a bonus disc entitled “Present Disc”, which appears to be a disc with the installation files for the game, as well as a free ten day trial card. Like I said, I am not interested in MMORPGs, so I’m not even going to use it; but it’s a nice bonus for anyone who’d like to check the game out alongside the music.

If the samples catch you off-guard, and you feel the same way I did the first time I heard the music, then maybe you should try and find this soundtrack. Since DigiCube went bankrupt just months after this soundtrack’s release, perhaps you should start looking for the soundtrack now before it becomes too hard to find or too expensive to purchase.

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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.