Editor’s Note: according to the catalog number, one would think the collection would have eight discs, but indeed, there are seven. It is safe to say that SVWC-7157 refers to the collection of slime bottle caps that come with the box.
Oh Lord. That’s what I said to myself when I sat down to write this review. Those who know me know I am a huge Dragon Quest fan, and love Sugiyama’s compositions. So I had to get this box set when it came out. The slime bottle toppers didn’t hurt, mind you.
Symphonic Suite: Dragon Quest is compilation of all the orchestral arrangements from games 1-7, and is a must for collectors. Rather than break each album down in detail, though, I’ll be giving highlights from them, as there are a total of 7 discs.
First things first, though, if you’re not familiar with Dragon Quest music or its composer, Koichi Sugiyama, lemme give ya a little background. The Dragon Quest series has been repetitively and rather unoriginally entertaining millions of people, mostly Japanese, for the last 20+ years. Koichi Sugiyama is the series composer, and has composed every song for every game. It just so happens that, since the Japanese love Dragon Quest so much, they were receptive to Enix (now Square Enix) putting on live concerts of orchestrated Dragon Quest music, and Sugiyama-san was more than happy to arrange it all.
While stylistically, Sugiyama is definitely entrenched in the “Modern Classical” genre, his mixture of themes and good use of discordant melodies produce a sound that is distinctly Dragon Quest, and distinctly Sugiyama.
So, how are these discs broken up? Then answer is by theme. For example, Disc 1 is orchestral renditions of all the 7 games’ overtures. Yes, that’s right, all 7. They are very similar tracks, all being the same theme, and although I’m psychotic and listened to them all IN ORDER, you can skip past most of them. If you want a good one, choose either 4 or 7, but honestly, there’s only so many times you can listen to the same march. The second part of Disc 1 is taken up by various other “theme” music, such as Château Ladutorm (original’s castle music), Only Lonely Boy (2’s title character music), and Morning in Eden (7’s introduction music). Overall, Disc 1 has some of the best music in the compilation, and although I doubt you’ll find the discs separately, if you gotta have one, this is an excellent choice.
Zipping on to Disc 2, we’ve got Town themes. See, there’s method to the madness that is this mondo collection. Lots of happy here, including Happy Humming (from 6), Around the World (from 3), and my favorite, In a Town from 4. There’s also Melody of Love from 5, but that one’s kinda “meh.”
Disc 3 time, and here we have our main character setting out, so to speak. This disc collects all the overworld music, from the classic Unknown World from the original Dragon Quest to the stirring Adventure from 3, and the ever familiar Comrades and Homeland~Wagon Wheel March from 4. We’ve also got some sadness on this album, with tracks such as Days of Sadness and Saraband from 7. If you’ve ever played 7, by the way, it’ll tug at your heartstrings.
Disc 4 plunges us into dungeons and demons, with the various dungeon themes from all 7 games orchestrated and presented in chronological order. The rest of the disc is comprised of various requiems, for the discerning small shrine visitor. Maybe I’m playing favorites, but again, 4 shines with Elegy~Mysterious Shrine. So sad *whimpers* — that’s me trying to be sad.
Of course, what is a Dragon Quest game without various manners of conveyance, such as flight-based transportation? Okay, well it’s the original Dragon Quest, but still, for 2-7 we get to ride in ships, balloons, ride giant birds, and even fly in a bed! Disc 5 captures all the wonder of exotic methods of travel with orchestrations of such pieces as Magic Carpet~The Ocean from 5 and Flying Bed from 6. Guaranteed to lift your spirits and take you to new heights of adventure. Definitely another great disc here.
But if it’s one thing you do in Dragon Quest games, it’s FIGHT, and that’s where Disc 6 comes in. All the battle music from the games arranged, orchestrated, and laid bare. Feel the thumping bass drums, the discordant trumpets and strings, the ominous tremolo. It’s enough to make you want to don Erdrick’s (Roto’s) armor and whack a few slimes (not too hard, though, they’re really sweet.) Check out Orgo Demalia, 7’s boss music, and the fast paced Battle for Glory from 4 for the highlights.
Finally, every great game has a great ending, and the Dragon Quest games were no exceptions. They were usually pretty long, and had excellent accompanying music. You can find out on Disc 7, which is a compilation of not only the ending themes, but also special themes such as the Unknown Castle (Zenithia’s theme from 4), and Heaven (Zenethia’s theme from 5). In terms of ending themes, go for Into the Legend (3), Ending (4), and the ever popular Bridal Waltz (5). And don’t forget to check out a few of the direct-from-game pieces at the end of the disc. Apparently some tracks couldn’t be orchestrated, but were still considered awesome, so we have a few ditties from Dragon Quest 7 to round out the disc.
Whew, it’s tough to encapsulate 7 discs into just a handful of space, but hopefully I have whet your appetite for this definitive collection of Dragon Quest arranged music. While it may be hard to find, and expensive at that, do try to pick it up if you’re a Dragon Quest fan, or even if you just enjoy classically arranged music. The slimes will thank you.