The Tengai Makyou (Far East of Eden) series is one with deep roots, combining issues of “east meets west” conflicts and religious tension between the two sides. The traditional Asian sounds found in all installments of the series are thanks to composers such as Joe Hisaishi and Kouhei Tanaka, experts in orchestrating music that seamlessly blends ancient, traditional sounds with a modern orchestra setup.
This particular album, simply titled based on the second game in the series, includes 17 orchestral pieces and 40 original chiptunes.
The orchestral pieces are simply fantastic. They bespeak Hisaishi’s particular form of music, with certain tracks sounding similar to classic songs from Miyazaki’s films (Laputa, Mononoke, etc.). Surely they are the highlight of this classic album, and probably the big draw to purchase the album when it was originally released in 1992.
The rest of the album is far more “dated.” Even for 1992, this music doesn’t compare the superior Super Famicom chip and hence the OST for, say, Final Fantasy IV. These songs are, for the most part, composed by Fukuda-san. Despite the lack of quality in synth, the compositions are unapologetically fun. The samples provided give some idea of what kinds of music are found. Track 38 offers a tango-style dance theme, whereas track 56 has a Latin jazz feel to it. The “lightweight ground vehicle” music is fast-paced silliness to the extreme, as another example. These songs worked best on the old synth; the dramatic songs didn’t have the “dramatic” effect they were going for in the least. Fortunately, there are very few of those pieces on this album. The dramatic stuff is left where it’s meant to be: on the orchestra side.
The bad news, friends, is that you’ll be hard-pressed to ever find this album. The good news is that it’s not hard to find its two disc reprint, which includes the exact same orchestra music and a the entire OST with very well-done upgraded synth from Shigeki Hayashi (who has worked on Riviera, among other projects). Should you find yourself suddenly interested in one of Japan’s most memorable series of RPGs, Manjimaru is a great title to check out. The music is worthwhile, there’s no doubt about that.
Should you actually find this obscure piece of media, or any other Tengai Makyou album from the early 90s (almost all of them were printed by NEC Avenue), grab it and sell it for big yen on Y!J Auctions. That, or hold onto it and brag to someone who cares. One way or another, Western RPG fans ought to be exposed to this series, and this old treat is one of many ways in which a person could do so.