The 7th Saga Soundtrack Composer’s Edition


Review by · May 4, 2024

Of all the soundtracks to go without publication and finally see the light of day 30 years later, I never would have guessed The 7th Saga. The mere fact that this album exists is noteworthy. In this review, I devote equal attention to this soundtrack’s unlikely existence and the quality of the music itself.


To know the story of the soundtrack, it may be useful to know the game’s developer. To that end, I refer you to Episode 89 of RPGFan’s podcast Retro Encounter, entitled “Fresh Produce!” Produce is the name of the small development studio that created The 7th Saga (known as Elnard in Japan) alongside a handful of other RPGs—of note, the only other one with a published soundtrack is the Japan-only Super Famicom title Mystic Ark. The composer for Mystic Ark, Akihiko Mori, was fortunate to see his score published by the label Kitty Records. Sadly, year after year, decade after decade, The 7th Saga faded into obscurity.

Then, out of the blue in 2023, a Bandcamp account called Bosatsu Beat arrives with a smattering of original tracks, some 7th Saga arranged tracks, and a full 7th Saga OST called The 7th Saga Soundtrack Composer’s Edition. With a brief listen, I could tell that these tracks sounded like the in-game audio but with some notable differences in tonal quality. In the notes for the album, we learn that “Bosatsu Beat” is an artist name for composer Norihiko Yamanuki, and that the album contains “original music re-recorded by the composer with the original data.”

This left me with a couple of burning questions. How exactly did the music come together again? Is there a copyright reason preventing Yamanuki from publishing the original Super Famicom audio as one might hear it from a game rip? And, as some fans have noted over at VGMdb, why are the English track titles by the composer the same as those created by someone who actually did a game rip?

To get answers, I went to two sources: (1) the composer himself, and (2) a subject matter expert. These conversations led to some great insight not only as to the self-publishing of this album, but what it might take for more composers to publish soundtracks for music sitting ignored or abandoned by the publisher.

Yamanuki confirmed for me that he holds the composition rights for The 7th Saga (Elnard in Japan), which would have been negotiated with Enix either at the time the game was developed, or at some point in the future. However, as I suspected, Yamanuki does not hold the rights to the audio as it is mastered/recorded in the game (what we would hear as the “game rip” audio output). This is why he chose to re-record it. But, how did he get the audio so close to the original without being the same?

Yamanuki told me that he was utilizing PreSonus’ Studio One as his DAW (digital audio workstation). He also stated that the tools he used when first creating this OST all the way back in the ’90s were on a proprietary platform, so while he had records of the sequenced music, reproducing it faithfully would be a challenge. His exact words were, “I had the rare experience of listening to a sound that I had produced myself and then producing it again in exactly the same way.”

As for the track titles, Yamanuki noted that he had not given the songs titles prior to this, and he felt the titles used by fans on the Internet were as good as anything, especially as the track titles were relevant to the game’s characters, towns, etc.

Then, it would seem that Yamanuki’s “Composer’s Edition” is a sort of “Taylor’s Version” reworking of the source material, yes? How, then, does a track like “Lux Tizer” sound so similar between the Composer’s Edition and the game rip? Take a listen to both forms. The composer’s edition doesn’t sound as compressed and is heavy on the reverb, but the sequenced instruments (sound fonts) are spot-on with the original game audio. I spoke with someone far more well-versed than I am with game rips from the Super Famicom era who preferred to remain unnamed. This source told me that when he listened to the two forms, he was convinced that the “Composer’s Edition” was just the SPC set (game rip audio) with some reverb and other effects added during the mastering stage. When I ran by this individual what I had learned from Yamanuki, he struggled to accept the narrative, wondering if or how there would be existing sound fonts that track so closely with the original audio, or if it would be possible to custom-craft each instrument by sampling, thus reverse-engineering, the SPC audio.

And, much like my childhood playthrough of The 7th Saga via a single rental from Blockbuster, my investigation ended earlier than desired and with much left uncovered. But I provide this information because I think it promotes understanding the context of what the listener hears, as well as what it might take for other composers to release their music from this time when they only have half the rights (composition/songwriter yes, recording/mastering no). I wish I better understood how one gets from point A to point B like Yamanuki did, but whatever the path, the result is impressively faithful to the original.


Now, let’s talk about The 7th Saga‘s soundtrack itself. Is it a good thing that the Composer’s Edition is faithful to the original? Are the source compositions interesting regardless of sound font used? These are worthwhile questions.

This soundtrack is an instant winner for people who delved deep into this game in their youth. There are some great town and environment themes that can really stick with you. I mentioned “Lux Tizer” already, and I think “Kamil Dowonna” and “World Map” are also mesmerizing. Even in my brief stint playing this game in my youth, I remember these songs fondly and am happy to be hearing them again.

It is worth noting that in the production of this game, a young and upcoming game music composer worked under him for sound design and programming. That individual was (wait for it) Yasunori Mitsuda. Yes, before Mitsuda’s debut as a composer on Chrono Trigger, he did a handful of sound design jobs with the once-separate Square and Enix. On the Square side, he worked on Romancing SaGa 2 and Hanjuku Hero. To my knowledge, The 7th Saga may be one of his earliest jobs. But when you consider those sounds, the way those synths ring and then smooth out on “Lux Tizer” or the intensity of the brass and percussion on “Battle in a World of Light,” it’s like a flash of lightning. It makes so much sense to me, hearing it now, that Yamanuki had the support of a young Mitsuda on this project! But, again, for the Composer’s Edition, Yamanuki would have to find a way to emulate these sounds, and the results are pristine.

Not every song maintains the enigmatic Aeolian style that I cherish most about this soundtrack. Some more “traditional RPG” tunes in the soundtrack hearken back to the likes of Dragon Quest. The waltz-like “How to Cross an Ocean” fits a lot of traditional sailing tunes in RPGs of this era, and “Equipment On Sale” definitely has some Ys shop-keep vibes.

Even if I put the question of preservation aside (and yes, of course, I am thrilled to see music from the early ’90s published now!), I admit I do have a fondness for this soundtrack despite its relative simplicity compared to its peers (such as Final Fantasy V and Secret of Mana). I also appreciate how exhaustive the soundtrack is, with the digital release including jingles—and, even if you buy the physical CD through Bandcamp, you get the full digital release immediately. One other notable difference between the physical CD and the digital release is that the physical CD utilizes the more highly arranged versions of the first two tracks, which are actually separate digital purchases on Bandcamp.

If you want to support Norihiko “Bosatsu Beat” Yamanuki, you can pick up The 7th Saga Soundtracks Composer’s Edition via the Bosatsu Beat Bandcamp listing or stream for free from Bandcamp. With any luck, more composers will take up the same challenge as Yamanuki, and find a way to share their early work with others!

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.