The first Dragon Quest soundtrack, as we all should know, only had eight songs: opening, castle, town, field, battle, dungeon, final battle, and ending. These eight themes have been expanded and built upon in every subsequent DQ title, but they are the foundation for Sugiyama’s career. One problem, however, is that the full score only takes up 25~30 minutes. The score doesn’t seem to warrant its own album release, and is usually paired with the soundtrack to Dragon Quest II.
So on this, the most recent printing of the Dragon Quest I Symphonic Suite (re-recorded by the Tokyo Philharmonic), Sugiyama did something very interesting. Every little sound effect, jingle, etc, that was put in any DQ game (I through VIII) was arranged and recorded with the orchestra, and placed on this disc. To my knowledge, this has never been done before by anyone! Conceptually, I loved the idea.
These ME (Music Effect) tracks last anywhere from five seconds to one minute. The various instruments found in the Tokyo Philharmonic are used in unique, non-traditional ways to capture many of these sound effects. I would love to see a remake of a DQ game that used these live recordings in place of computerized sound effects. That would really make my day.
As for the eight original songs, they are the same as usual. Which is to say, they are beautiful. “Across the Wide Plain” continues to be one of my all-time favorite Sugiyama compositions. Some people have complained about the quality of the audio recording in the Tokyo Philharmonic series, but personally, I think it sounds pretty good. It’s definitely a different type of recording than the older Symphonic Suite releases, so if you’re a super-completionist who wants every album, know that you’re at least hearing something slightly different this time around.
The album is still available in retail outlets. Be sure to pick it up, especially for the sound effects portion!