I swear, all the right people are behind this Etrian Odyssey series. I love the art style, I love the super-hard retro dungeon-crawling, and I cannot stop talking about Yuzo Koshiro’s comeback, best represented in this series.
Etrian Odyssey 3 (that’s Sekaiju no MeiQ 3 in Japan) is coming to North America, but in the meantime, I’m digging into the music. Alongside the existence of an OST and a promotional “unreleased” disc, the Super Arrange Version was released in May 2010. Let’s get to talkin’ about it already!
First up, the arrangement staff. Though Hitoshi Sakimoto himself didn’t participate in the arrangement, he handled “supervision” of the project while other Basiscape staff did the arrangement proper. There are a bunch of individual arrangers for these 13 tracks, and though you may not recognize all the names, let me assure you that they are talented and they were the right people for the job. I’ve appreciated the work of past arrangers in the Etrian Odyssey series, particularly Norihiko Hibino. But this album really does some interesting stuff.
The album is basically a back and forth between Labyrinth (dungeon), Battle, and Town themes. All six of the Labyrinth pieces appear on this album (though III and IV got tossed together in one arrangement). I’m really glad all the Labyrinth tracks made it. Why? Because, frankly, I thought that on the OST they were a little weak and in need of a boost. Koshiro rarely writes boring melodies, but some of the Labyrinth tracks were lacking in production value, whether DS or retro sound source. All that changes on the SAV. The live instrumentation and arrangement decisions make the Labyrinth music fantastic. Of note, I thought Labyrinths I, II and V shone particularly bright.
Speaking of shining bright, check out “The First Campaign.” This is the standard battle theme in Etrian Odyssey 3, and holy crap, did they make it awesome for the SAV. There’s just no stopping the guitar vs. violin dueling solos. Ever since Falcom started doing this I’ve been hooked to the sound of guitar and violin together in a rock ‘n’ roll battle theme; the way it works on this album really takes that sound to the next level.
Also, big props to the saxophone and island/jazz fusion style found in track 7, which is another town theme. Good, good stuff.
As of the time I’m writing this, I’m on my fourth listen through the album. Every listen through I’ve changed my mind on which tracks I’d rank highest. I find something new to love every time. Some of the melodies are immediately accessible, while others are more enjoyable after you’ve learned the piece and can sing along in your head.
I’m really excited to play Etrian Odyssey 3. The whole ocean/water-centric theme to this game has made for excellent inspiration. Yuzo Koshiro as composer, and this group of incredible arrangers and performers, answered the call to match the quality of the series in general. I would urge Atlus to keep going strong with this series, and even though I know it’s overkill, I hope they do a I II III piano and strings album (even though they did a I & II piano strings album only a year or two ago). What can I say? I can’t get enough of this music. Fans of arranged VGM, I think this album is a 2010 “must-have,” or at least a “very much desired.”