Most of you have likely never heard of Legend of Xanadu, sometimes known as Dragon Slayer VIII. This is partly due to it never being released outside of Japan. I, personally, have never played Legend of Xanadu, but what I do know is that only a small fraction of the game’s tracks were actually redbook tracks, with the rest being generated by the PC-Engine’s soundchip (which, quite fairly, isn’t stellar.) Thankfully, Legend of Xanadu Super Arrange Version requires that you suffer through no soundchip-created songs. What you do get, however, is different from the usual Falcom sound.
Put plainly, Legend of Xanadu Super Arrange Version is as much jazz as the original Ys games were rock. There are definite funk vibes emanating from all the tracks on this album, some to greater or lesser degrees than one another. It also uses instruments in different ways than many other Falcom albums. “Dawn of Makria,” for instance, uses this awesome piano-synth that you can’t help but bop your head to, with guitar actually taking the background throughout most of the song, backing up the main melody instead of being the main melody. The funk vibe of the album, however, is most noticeable in “Black Light” and “Darku,” the former of which grooves along perfectly pleasantly while the latter has an almost reggae sound to it.
There are also, however, a few tracks on here that would be exactly what one would expect from Falcom’s classic power rock sound. “Silent Tower,” pushes the groove aspect of the rest of the album into the background while wailing guitars take the forefront to deliver an awesome tune. It also starts up in a rather unusual way, building up all the various background instruments before delivering the full power of the guitar. It does the same thing at the end of the track, only in reverse, with the guitar going first, then the various backup instruments. Also a necessity on a Falcom album, there is a bit of the well-known 80’s cheese music, coming in the form of “Like a Wind,” which honestly might fit well with lyrics by Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s also my favorite track on the album, for reasons that I can’t quite place. Perhaps I’m just a fan of that certain 80’s sound.
All in all, this album is quite excellent. If I had to make any particular gripe, it would be that very few of the songs actually come out and grab you. This is an album that you have to actively listen to, though perhaps this is a testament to more complex instrumentation. If you preferred the jazzier side of the Ys IV Perfect Collections or jazzier sides of most albums, then this super arrange version may be the right album for you. If you don’t, you may still enjoy this album, but just not quite as much as others. A recommended buy if you can find it, though be warned that its decreased availability has led to ludicrously high prices on eBay in recent years.