I’ll admit it, I am a Suikoden freak. I love it to no end. But there are a lot of good reasons to love the series. Besides excellent artwork, deep characters, an exhaustive history and backstory, and plots with more drama than you know what to do with, there’s great music.
The newest installation to the series, Rhapsodia, is no different. Known in the west under the name Suikoden Tactics, the game has a blend of brand new songs and favorites from the past. Along with the game, a special soundtrack CD was included for fans in Japan, and reportedly one will show up with the worldwide release as well.
This special disc starts out with a 30 second track that is the motif used in the soundtrack. It is truly beautiful, and the vocals are perfect. A full version is avaiable elsewhere – this is just a short teaser. But watch out for it when the full song is unleashed, because it’s going to be a hit.
Following up ‘Another World,’ the symphonic style that is prevalent in the series starts right away. ‘The Beginning of the Battle’ is a short, uplifting tune that has the low brass playing the aforementioned Rhapsodia motif. Light and flowing, it’s a great song. ‘Studying the Battle’ is a song that is heard in the many Rhapsodia trailers around the internet, and another great tune. There are hints of Suikoden I and II’s climbing brass parts (like at 0:58) and the whole song has that ever familiar bass current, very similar to the name input music for Suikoden I, II and IV.
‘Offense and Defense on the Great Plains’ has an almost cheery sound to it, and continues with the bright and uplifting feel of the album so far (of course, this being Suikoden, don’t expect the happy tunes to last for long!) Around one minute into the track, a simple but effective beat comes in to compliment the quick pace of the strings and brass.
‘A Place to Rest During the Journey’ is an instrumental, symphonic version of the main Rhapsodia theme using the PS2’s synth. Not as pretty as the vocalist, but still very nice, and remarkably relaxing. ‘Quest Guild’ is a rearrange of the treasure hunting mini-game song from Suikoden IV, and a little to happy-go-lucky for me, but it’s well-made and sounds very nice.
Now for the good stuff – rearranged tunes from all four previous Suikoden games! Starting off is ‘Theme of a Moonlit Night’, one of Suikoden’s most loved and well-known songs. It’s beautiful as ever. It doesn’t take the song in any new, exciting directions, but why would you want it to? It’s just right. I hope and pray someday this gets performed by a live orchestra…I’d weep.
‘Theme of Narcissism’ is up next, and is found in EVERY Suikoden game. It’s goofy as usual, and is a bit sparse on the arrangement. ‘Theme of the Beginning’ is the name input music I mentioned earlier, and is another Suikoden staple. The song diverges into some interesting chord changes as it repeats, but is otherwise very similar to the versions found in the previous games (that’s ok with me.)
‘Rescue Drama’ is QUITE an interesting little track. Almost the entire song is a remake of Suikoden I’s army victory march song, but they replaced the main theme of Suikoden I that plays during the first part of the song with the theme of Suikoden II (the one that the Warsaw Philharmonic plays at the very beginning of the Suikoden II soundtrack.) The rest of the song is mostly unchanged, but it was cool to hear the songs cross over. ‘Frigid Land’ is a great song on the Suikoden III OST, and is pretty cool here too. Besides one annoying synth that only last for a few seconds, this is pretty solid, and the light beat goes surprisingly well with the 3/4 feel of the song.
‘The Base’ is from Suikoden IV, and I love this new version even more than the one from the OST. Starting out almost eerily, the harp is reminiscient of Suikoden II’s home base music. One the melody starts, more light percussion joins the strings and echo-heavy pads. The song just has a really nice, warm, uplifting feel to it, especially at 1:12 when the strings fade, and the oboe takes the melody alongside the lovely choir pads. By a long shot my favorite on the disc.
Lastly, there is a very interesting track for the fans. Titled ‘Castle of Dawn’, it’s listed as an unpublished song. However, this was likely pressed before the announcement of Suikoden V, because Konami lists it on their website as a Suikoden V track! YES! Prior to seeing this, many fans have speculated that beyond the Sun Rune, Suikoden V would also feature the Rune of Dawn. This does a lot to help push that idea along. What’s cooler is that the song is actually a rough take of the theme that appears on the Suikoden V website, as well in some of the trailers. It’s not nearly as nice as what you’ll hear in the trailers, but it’s still good, and it’s really cool to see it show up on the bonus disc.
This disc is currently only available upon buying Rhapsodia itself in Japan. While I’d love to tell you all to run to an importer and get it, wait around for the worldwide release of the game, or buy the Rhapsodia OST which just recently hit the shelves. Whatever you do, enjoy the samples, and be excited for the very bright future of the Suikoden series.