The U.S. release of a Final Fantasy CD in popular music stores could be enough for any fan, casual or hardcore, to run out and buy it. But with a soundtrack such as this one, buyers beware.
This arrangement contains selected tracks from Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy VIII with a grand total of 11 pieces of music (the tracks were selected very NON-randomly: the first track of each disc of all the OSTs in order…the best of? I think not!). There are some real instrumental parts in some songs, but the majority of sounds are synthesized. The quality ranges from somewhat enjoyable to just plain awful.
The soundtrack starts out with the FFVI opening theme, which wasn’t an impressive beginning to the soundtrack. The synthesized flute and trumpet sounds managed to provide a few sour sounds here and there. The same problems were prevalent in “Tina” as well.
“New Continent” started with the notes going up and down the scale as they should, but they’re sluggish and not on the beat. After a rough beginning, the song continues, retaining little excitement found in the original.
For FFVII tracks, they opted to begin with “Prelude”. This track is actually quite nice. It matches the style used for the FFVII rendition of this tune and the syth is well matched. They even added what seems to be real trumpet sounds, which is definitely a plus.
One of the best tracks on the CD would have to be “Main Theme,” which features the FFVII overworld music. The song sounded better in its official orchestration in the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks, but it’s still nice.
“Cosmo Canyon” brought little new to the table, except for an obnoxious flute sound, which fails to stay on the rather nice beat carried throughout the song.
The Shinra Army attack song has a good solid march sound to it and is enjoyable to hear. No complaints here. This track has more dynamic contrast than any of the others too.
However, when the FFVIII tracks start, things get ugly. They picked “Liberi Fatali” as the opening song. The opening chanting was performed by soprano Tamara Woodman, who has a nice opera-style voice. She wasn’t singing the actual lyrics found in the real song, but that didn’t ruin the it. What did ruin the song was the addition of synth voices, similar to those found in FFVI’s opera scene. Not only did it sound terrible, but they were behind the beat every time. It’s too bad, since the music accompaniment wasn’t half bad.
“My Mind” with its sad remix of the “Eyes on Me” tune was another one of the better tracks, featuring appropriate sounds and the right notes.
“The Spy” is probably the best FFVIII track on the soundtrack, representing this funk tune quite well. At times it sounds like something from Shaft!
The soundtrack ends as it began with a tone of mediocrity. The unique chocobo music in FFVIII was fun to listen to in the game, but not on this soundtrack. “Mods De Chocobo” starts out well with a nice beat, but it fizzles when you hear the oooo’s and how they’re (you guessed it) synthesized and barely audible.
Two things that stood out in almost every track. First of all, very little remixing ever happens. They just took songs, tried to perform them as they originally were in the games, and even simplified a few tracks. Why they would simplify songs from their 16 and 32-bit console counterparts when they have huge potential to expand on the songs is beyond me. The second annoyance is that vibrato (wavering of tone on long notes) was extremely overused and not used in a musical fashion since the vibrato was synthesized.
If all the good and bad aspects are factored into one word, it would be ‘average.’ After all, this was made by a company with no support from Nobuo Uematsu or Square. Such quality can be expected in these circumstances. Still, it may be worth the ten-dollar price tag to some. Others will be better suited to shell out money for the original import soundtracks. This CD can be found online at usual domestic retailers: CD Now, Amazon, and others. It also may be found in music stores near you.