Hailed as Sony’s rival to Square’s Final Fantasy VIII, when Legend of Dragoon was first released I was intrigued to say the least. The visuals alone looked spectacular, so it had to be an excellent game, right? Well, after reading review after review, I’d realized that it was merely a mediocre attempt by Sony to draw in slews of players with pretty visuals. But, that didn’t mean the soundtrack to the game had to be bad too, did it? For good or for worse, I swallowed my pride and decided to give the album a chance.
Legend of Dragoon isn’t a horrible soundtrack. After listening through it a few times I can honestly say that there are some nice tracks here. But it’s not great either. The biggest problem I see, aside from some boring compositions, is that much of the music doesn’t sound like it would come from an RPG. Takao Miratsu, whose composing credits include the two PSX Jumping Flash games, which are also from SCE, is co-contributor to the music here, which isn’t surprising. Like Jumping Flash, many of the themes have a funkier, more futuristic sound than what one would expect from an RPG. I’m not saying that this cannot be done, though, because there have been numerous games that were able to pull it off, most notably the Phantasy Star Series. However, the compositions have to be catchy and enjoyable in of themselves, and although there are quite a few pieces that are indeed enjoyable, for the most part the album is unimaginative and lacking in the vibrant and colorful compositions that make an RPG soundtrack memorable.
None of the pieces, not even the vocal theme, immediately jumped out and grabbed me at first. The music just seemed to be missing something; both the Oriental “Village of Tragedy” and Arabian styled “City of Commerce, Lohan” sound generic, and most other pieces despite trying to be stylistically different come off bland. Aside from all of that, I felt the biggest disappointment were the battle themes. With 11 battle tracks total, you would think I’d be able to find at least one worthy piece among them. Unfortunately, not a single one of these high energy, “metal” inspired tracks managed to spark my attention.
Of the few interesting pieces on the CD is “Ruined Celes” with its creative mix of piano, resounding percussion, and whistle-like electronic synth, which together gives the piece a bit of a seedy undertone. “Dart’s Theme” although very good, sounds more befitting a Capcom fighting game rather than an RPG. My favorite instrumental piece on the CD is “Grassy Plains.” I found it very unique how the composers were able to create the feel of a calm, grassy area using non-conventional, futuristic sounding samples.
Curiously, instead of ending the album like most soundtracks do, Legend of Dragoon’s vocal theme, “If You Still Believe” opens up the disc, and does so on a pleasant note. The song isn’t phenomenal compared to other game vocals, and may take some time to grow on you, but it’s still quite good. I often found myself singing the melody (it’s in English) without realizing it. However, I’m not quite convinced the song alone is worth the price of the album.
On the whole, Legend of Dragoon is a passable CD if you give it a chance to sink in, but compared to most of the game music that is released these days, it really is no competition. Those who have played the game will no doubt find themselves fonder of the music than the rest, and I direct my recommendation towards them. However, if you’ve never played the game nor heard its music, and are looking for the next great RPG soundtrack, I advise looking elsewhere. Although this is a decent attempt by Takao Miratsu and Dennis Martin, as overhyped as the game was, it lives nowhere close to expectations. If you’re willing to be adventurous, though, you can find a copy at many online retailers.