I’ve listened to the Dragon Quest X Symphonic Suite every day for a month straight. I’ve been waiting for something profound to hit me so I can tell you, dear reader, all about it.
That time never came.
So then I thought I’d start the review with a quick overview of the series, explain how Koichi Sugiyama isn’t straying from his own boundaries on the DQ template, etc. Then I went and read my Dragon Quest IX Symphonic Suite review and realized I opened that review with that exact same explanation.
This leaves me with pretty much nothing left to say. If you know Sugiyama’s Dragon Quest work, you know how this album is going to sound. If you’re clueless about the soundscape, reading any other DQ Symphonic Suite review (and listening to the audio samples) will get you up to speed.
But, for the sake of getting into the nitty-gritty, I’d like to offer up some specific notes about the soundtrack.
For starters, as this is the soundtrack to an Online RPG, the settings for the music have changed. We find more specific character and environmental themes. We do not find separate sailing/flying themes; rather, they are one in the same. And we have a very special East Asian track amidst a sea of classical Western orchestral music (baroque, classical, and romantic). Track 10 allows Sugiyama to delve into that territory, which he briefly touches in Dragon Quest III, Shiren the Wanderer, and a handful of other scores.
Also worth noting: the tracklist provided here is the official English tracklist. On the back cover, you’ll see Japanese names and English names right under them. Though these are the official English titles, they are not equivalents. Even from the start, anyone can obviously see that track 1 is titled “(kanji) X” in Japanese, but then just “Overture” in English. Why doesn’t it say “Overture X” …? I have no idea. But anyway, the official English titles often miss the mark in terms of literal translation. If you want a literal translation, vgmdb offers a great one.
As a long-time fan of Sugiyama’s work, I very much enjoyed listening to this album. But then, I suspect I could’ve done without it, as I also enjoy listening to the other nine DQ Symphonic Suites. Some days I want the simplicity of the first one; other days I gravitate towards IV, VI, or VIII. Will a time come that I’d rather hear IX or X? That is unlikely, even after I’ve played those games. I think only with a larger span of time will I be drawn to individual melodies like “The Heavens” or “Weddie.”
Meanwhile, on a note about the series itself, I do personally think it is time for Dragon Quest to evolve. If they’re willing to dabble in the realm of MMOs for a numbered title in the series, perhaps it’s time for Sugiyama to step down and let someone else continue: still in the tradition of orchestra, but perhaps someone who’s willing to dabble in 20th century styles and techniques like impressionism or grandiose neo-romantic Rachmaninoff-esque compositions.