Thousand Arms Soundtrack & Multimedia CD

 

Review by · August 9, 2002

When I got Thousand Arms, there was no doubt in my mind that I would send in that card and the $2 for postage/handling for the soundtrack/multimedia CD. I had seen the intro movie on RPGfan before the game came out, and I fell in love with Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Depend on You,” the song that kicks off the game and the CD. And while the rest of Atlus’s soundtrack doesn’t match up to Hamasaki-san’s strong opening, the music is terrific in its own right. The vibe I got from the game was “an unabashed sense of cartoony fun.” This unabashed sense of cartoony fun would not have been present without this bubbly soundtrack.

The CD has 40 tracks, which is by no means a complete soundtrack, and each track only plays to completion one time. I lament that my favorite piece of music in the game wasn’t on here. Said piece of music is the one that plays during Thousand Arms’ mini-games.

However, the recording was done in Redbook, I believe, so many of the songs have greater clarity than in the game and one can hear the more subtle nuances in the compositions. Track 24 (“Battle 1”) is a good example of this. On the CD, I could hear the bassline quite clearly and the electric guitar of the main melody also had greater clarity. I could hear effects like reverb that I couldn’t hear during battles in the game itself.

After Ayumi Hamasaki’s contributions, the character themes start off the soundtrack. I always favored soundtracks with character themes, and this one’s no exception. Each character theme fits the respective character perfectly. “Hold it Right There, DUDE” for example fits Muza perfectly. It’s heroic sounding, Muza being a soldier and all, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously given that Muza is a rather comical character. My favorite character theme is “The Dress Master” (Nelsha’s theme) with its playful melody and use of whistles.

As one can easily tell, my favorite pieces were the comical ones. Track 17 (“The Gadget MIX”) never ceases to make me chuckle. And Track 28 (“Peaceful Days”) with its jaunty hook and multilayered instrumentation quickly became a favorite town theme. Sure there are slightly darker or more emotional themes such as Track 19 (“Wish”) or Track 21 (“Anxiety”), but even then it’s more in that cartoony melodrama. No matter what, the unabashed sense of fun pervades the soundtrack and I feel like it never takes itself too seriously.

I also really like the diversity of the soundtrack. Tracks like “The Station” (Track 33) have an exaggerated country-Western vibe, with layered instrumentation and a lot of twangy ‘wah’ sounds while others like Track 20 (“The Ancient Land) emply different styles. “The Ancient Land” has a very pretty blend of a simple piano melody with some synth in the background to add sparkle. Again, like in the rest of the game, the musical styles are often exaggerated in a cartoony way.

Along with the soundtrack, the CD is crammed with lots of cool stuff for your computer. There’s wallpapers, a desktop theme, links to various sites (such as RPGfan) and some WAV files. But the real fun comes if you right-click the CD drive icon in the “My Computer” folder where you have access to a multitude of WAV files, many of which are outtakes. Some of the outtakes are absolutely hilarious.

All in all, I’d say this CD was well worth the $2. I got more than I bargained for. While I could lament the lack of my favorite music pieces (like the aforementioned mini-game music or the boss battle themes), I shall not because the positives outweigh the negatives here. While Thousand Arms’ soundtrack doesn’t have the majesty of, say, Yasunori Mitsuda’s Xenogears soundtrack, it does have that…say it with me…unabashed sense of fun from such comedic anime soundtracks like those in Ranma 1/2. I enjoy listening to this soundtrack and I listen to it whenever I’m in one of my more lighthearted or silly moods, which is fairly often.

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Neal Chandran

Neal Chandran

Neal is the PR manager at RPGFan but also finds time to write occasional game or music reviews and do other assorted tasks for the site. When not schmoozing with various companies on behalf of RPGFan or booking/scheduling appointments for press events, he is an educator, musician, voiceover artist, cyclist, gym rat, and bookworm.