Rhapsodia Original Soundtrack


Review by · October 19, 2005

Suikoden has had a massive pouring out of awesomeness as of late. Beginning with the scans of Suikoden V suddenly blazing across the internet, hype and speculation for the series is at an all time high. The madness of TGS, the incredible Suikoden V trailers, the announcement of I & II on the PSP, the Japanese release of Rhapsodia, and now the OST, with a Rhapsoida release due stateside (as Suikoden Tactics) just over the horizon, and reports of Suikoden V being unleashed as soon as this Winter. It’s been crazy.

Rhapsodia’s OST is incredible. Norikazu Miura, who was in part responsible for the solid Suikoden IV OST, is responsible for this fine piece of art. He’s written a massive amount of brand-new songs, as well as picked out some surprising and delightful surprises, mostly from Suikoden II and IV, and tactfully brought them back to life. Seriously, I almost peed my pants this is so good. Don’t tell anyone else…

Starting out with a game-size version of “Another World,” the OST kicks your butt and doesn’t let down. Rhapsodia’s is a fairly dark story, taking place before and after the events of Suikoden IV and the Rune of Punishment. The music complements this image very well, with just the right mix of upbeat and cheerful tunes, bold and strong battle tunes, and dark, brooding string swells.

For the most part, disc 1 is lighter in nature, saving the really creepy stuff for the other half of the album. “Long Ago in the Town of Razril” is a strong march, and the victory music following is fitting. “Loss of Strength” is a very interesting song, sounding very similar to one of Suikoden II’s main themes, “Reminiscence.” This won’t be the last time this OST makes references to Suikoden II’s score.

“King of the Open Sea” starts out upbeat and energetic, and moves into a more hopeful segment at 0:35. “Decisive Battle with Steele” brings back the duel theme from Suikoden IV in full glory, and “Things Lost” brings back the “Reminiscence” sound again.

The next track is a special treat. “Rune of Punishment” was used for the Suikoden IV trailers, and simply beautiful. Suikoden IV’s OST had a short version as a bonus track, but here it is, full and uncut. The continuation of the song is excellent, with the live piano and violin getting more emotional as the song goes on. Thank you, Konami, for finally giving us the full song! You can hear a sample of this song on the Suikoden IV OST review page.

“A Certain Port Town” is the remake of port town Razril’s theme from Suikoden IV, and sounds really awesome. “Oh, Sparking Sea! Oh, Sky” has been toned town, but still sounds magnificent. “Steadfast Determination!” was used in the Rhapsodia trailers quite a bit, but is still fresh and bold as the first listen. “Training the Other Self” is an overly cheerful version of the main theme from Suikoden 1, but my favorite comeback is “The Inn.” At first it just sounds like your standard Middleport-esque music…but then the flutes come in. It’s Nanami’s theme song from Suikoden II! I almost cried! This was a huge surprise, and it brought back all sorts of good memories from that fine game. *sniff*

“Theme of Narcissism” is back, of course. This wouldn’t be Suikoden without some self-loving, gaudily dressed man with a European name. This brings back memories too, but of a different, less pleasant nature than that of Nanami waking me up in the morning. “A Match with Rita” is Rita’s theme song from Suikoden IV, but turned half-battle theme. For those who didn’t play Suikoden IV, Rita is a character who has a mini-game you either love or hate, and she also has a slight crush on the hero. The song does a good job of conveying her slightly goofy but cute character.

Befitting of its name, “Sitting Around the Swaying Fire” pleasantly soothes the listener. The song is used in the game for campfires, where characters can talk to each other, and the player can learn more about them and develop relationships. A perfect tune for telling stories. Following a cool battle theme, “Just a Young Man” is the home base anthem from Suikoden IV…a lovely, warm song. Head over to the Rhapsodia Special Music Collection review to hear a sample of it. I love this song. “War of the Rune Cannons,” known as the rally theme from Suikoden IV, has been given a full makeover, and actually gets to repeat this time. Aside from one track, the remaining songs are area and town themes from Suikoden IV, all sounding substantially better than they did before. The other song is “What Mystery the Ruins Hide.” This is another surprise – Suikoden II’s dungeon music, “PENPE 2”! Except it’s creepier than before, with dissonant pads and those creepy ‘buzz’ sound effects from Suikoden IV’s final battle scene. Awesome.

Disc 2 begins with an incredibly eeire, solitary voice chanting, setting the darker tone to follow. “Into the Quiet Fortress”‘s ethereal choirs and piano tinklings are reminiscent of the final area of Suikoden IV – this is, after all, the same place, but after the war detailed in the previous game. “Streets Upon a Canal” is a nice 2/3 tune, giving imagery of a town on water. “Offense and Defense on the Great Plains” is a grand upbeat battle song, with a catchy trumpet fanfare and a solid beat.

“At One Time, Dearest Friends” while short, is a rousing, uplifting rendition of Suikoden IV’s lovely home base song. The original song it’s based off of, to me, exhibited a feeling of belonging and friendship, since it is the base theme after all, and this version is no different. “True Feelings” is even better. Beautiful, soothing and gentle. Not much more to be said; it’s a great track.

The next couple tracks have a very dark sound, mixed with Middle Eastern sounding instrumentation similar to something from Breath of Fire IV. Then there’s “Matters of the Opposing Land” and “Quake in the Imperial Capital”, two ominous battle songs. “Secret of the Empire” is a really freaky song, consisting of chanting, percussion and a thick synth arpeggio in the background. “Bourne of the Wicked Eye” and “Strange World” are even *more* creepy. “Strange World” in particular is incredibly disturbing. I can’t really describe it, just listen to the samples. This is some really well-made music.

Afterwards, the listener is treated to a series of ending themes, all very, very beautiful. I’m having a hard time picking which ones to include as samples, because they are all really, really, dang good. “The Malice Disappears” sounds like Sakimoto’s gentler songs, and equally moving is “A Letter from the Girl.” “Another Finale” begins sounding a lot like the dramatic 108 Star Epilogue theme from Suikoden IV, but then takes off in its own beautiful direction with the main Rhapsodia theme taking over. In true Suikoden fashion, the song is a moving and sweeping grand finale.

The last few songs are short extras from the game, but don’t interrupt the flow like bonus tracks sometimes do. “Triumph Before Your Very Eyes” is a cheerful victory tune, and “Once a Hero” is a fresh take on the classic name input motif from the series. The final track, titled simply “Victory” is the war theme from Suikoden 1, and is a fitting conclusion to this amazing soundtrack.

Of special note are the cool extras you get with the album. The second disc can be read by any computer to access wallpapers and icons. Not only are the wallpapers absolutely gorgeous paintings, but the icons are full size, scalable icons like those in Windows XP and Mac OS X. I’m happy to see Konami doing something with the extra space at the end of the CD. Speaking of which, both discs are full to the max. Even without the bonus material, this is a true two disc album. Thanks, Konami! The packaging for the album is very pretty, styled like an old, worn book; lots of shades of dark brown, maroon and cream, reminiscent of autumn. I personally like Suikoden IV’s blues and whites more, but this is still a very attractive package. The cover artwork is particularly touching.

Get this album now. Please. This is by a long shot the best Suikoden original soundtrack to come out since Suikoden II’s. That’s saying a LOT, since III’s was pretty good and IV’s was fantastic. This album is available widely from almost all retailers online. The music will take you through a wide array of emotions and leave you coming back for more; it’s a treasure to hold on to.

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