Despite the fact that many people derived little to no amusement from Suikoden IV, I am sure that all Suikofans will agree that the advent of Suikoden IV has at least one good quality, that being the official merchandise brought over with its release. Even though Japan has been blessed with official Suikoden merchandise from almost day one, America has had to wait until the fourth installment to see anything official brought overseas. First came the Suikoden Art Book, which was a special pre-order bonus from Gamestop and Electronics Boutique. Then, after Suikoden IV’s launch, a new contest of sorts was announced on Suikoden IV’s webpage. The objective: hunt for special passwords located in various places, and receive official swag in return. The prizes included: a coin, a wallscroll and, that’s right, a special CD entitled “The Music of Suikoden” featuring tracks from all four games.
Being that this CD was created for the release of Suikoden IV, the majority of the tracks within are, obviously, from Suikoden IV. Unfortunately, these tracks, for the most part, happen to be either very short, or very mediocre. The soundtrack starts off with the obligatory “Name Entry” track, which really doesn’t deviate much from game to game, but it helps make each game feel like its predecessors. Subsequent tracks continue the “early game” trend present in the Suikoden IV section of the CD. The listener, unfortunately, does not get to hear the later-game, arguably better tracks, and the tracks that are present on the CD are much too short to get a feel for them. Two in particular, “Battle Result” and “Rune of Punishment” are both under a minute in duration. The underlying problem with the Suikoden IV tracks are that they were not looped twice, but instead only played once through, so their impact was dramatically lessened.
When approaching the set of tracks from the previous Suikodens, one must note that, in typical Suikoden fashion, there is a printing error on the CD’s sleeve. Track 10, which is printed as “People of Great Pride”, the dwarf village theme from Suikoden, is actually “Reminiscence ~ Ensemble Version” from Suikoden II. Why this error was made is beyond my comprehension, but having heard both songs previously, I can say that “People of Great Pride” probably would have been a better choice. Reminiscence is the obligatory tragic-sounding track from Suikoden II, with a very slow, melancholy progression. In contrast, People of Great Pride is characteristically dwarven, a perfect melody for the hub of industry that is Dwarf Village in Suikoden. Also contained within this CD is “We Will Always Be” the lengthy ending theme of Suikoden II. This track is a compilation of sorts, which is fitting since it plays while the player is finding out the fates of the individual Stars of Destiny. It is quite varied as well, with music alternating from an upbeat, majestic tone, to a more solemn one. This song in particular was a fine choice to include on the CD.
Though I personally think Suikoden III has the worst soundtrack out of all four games, I was quite pleased to find that Konami included my personal favorite track from the game on this CD as well. “Bright Farm Village” is the theme for the pacifistic Chisha Village, and is an incredibly upbeat, sunny tune, featuring a melodic woodwind sound, making it very pleasing to the ear. The other track from Suikoden III, “Old Castle by the Lake” is a calm tune, perfectly suited to the old mansion that is Budehuc Castle. Though a nice song, it’s placidity dug it deeper into the pit of mediocrity, so it’s not a personal favorite of mine, since it really doesn’t have the capacity to shine. All in all, this CD is good, but not great. The songs chosen could have easily been replaced with better tracks (this pertains mostly to the tracks in the Suikoden IV section, but also partially to the other sections) and the ones used could have certainly been longer. As it is, “The Music of Suikoden” is a nice catch for casual fans of Suikoden, but unless one feels the need to collect every piece of official Suikoden merchandise, this is not necessarily a must have. However, for a free CD, and a possible precursor to more official merchandise in America, it is a very nice start indeed.