Wild Arms Alter Code:F Original Score


Review by · April 2, 2005

When I heard that Michiko Naruke was composing for Wild Arms Alter Code:F, I started bouncing off the walls. She has NEVER let me down with her solid compositions. Almost every song from the original Wild Arms is remixed here, some for the better, and some for the worst. That being said, I feel that this OST was not as sturdy as Wild Arms 3. Presentation-wise, it is much better than the last soundtrack, but the level of composition isn’t as high.

The first disc opens up with some of Naruke’s more mellow Wild West themes, like “Simple Living” which features some great banjo samples. The disc as a whole is very melodic and quite easy on the ears, and every track has that Wild West flare that Naruke is so famous for. In fact, this disc reminds me of the Wild Arms 3 soundtrack. Some of the most comparable tracks are “Facing the Ancient Ruins” and “A Mere Test of Ability” which remind me of “Overture” and “Wound Backward in Sand and Time” from the last Wild Arms outing.

The second disc is where things start to get mixed up, though. Opening with an arrangement of “Adlehyde Castle,” this disc instantly starts to take off in another direction. Every track is either full of action or despair, using dynamic chord changes to convey emotion, such as the depressing track, “Determination, and…” which gives you the feeling of ultimate sadness and loss. On the other hand, one of the more exciting tracks like “I Hate But Love” is just an all around great battle theme that doesn’t have to take itself too seriously for you to appreciate it. I also can’t forget to mention the classic town theme, “Row of Houses,” (called “Port Timney” on the original Wild Arms soundtrack) which is one of the best town themes I’ve ever heard from Michiko Naruke. If you enjoyed the original song, then you’re going to love the new version!

The third disc is where the album lags. It’s got some great songs (“Leave It To Me,” “Warrior’s Whistle,” “Steel Shiketsu”), there just aren’t enough to make up for the amount of bad ones. I never thought I’d say this, but a lot of the songs on this disc are just too abstract, and they come off as boring or uninspired. Songs like “Mad Poet” are definitely cool at first, but it just gets old after the first minute. I personally think that all of the songs on this disc should have been divided up amongst the other three discs, because there just weren’t enough songs on this disc to keep my interest. If you were a fan of the more abstract themes from Wild Arms 3, (“Black as Sin, Red as Blood,” “To the Star Ocean and Rushed Dreams”) then you may enjoy this disc more than I did.

The final disc gets better, but overall, it’s not much better than disc three. The crazy battle tracks, “Murdering Princess” and “Demon Spear” are some of the highlights of the album simply because of their innovation, but other than the vocal “Windward Birds,” I wasn’t too impressed with the rest of this disc. Again, I just didn’t feel what Naruke was trying to convey with some of these tracks, and they felt more like filler music. This disc left me with a sour taste in my mouth, and I expected much better.

Despite the negative opinion I had of the last two discs, I can’t stand to badmouth one of my favorite composers any longer. This album’s strong point is its sound quality. Compared to Wild Arms 3, every song here sounds fuller and more realistic. Tracks like “The Elw Dimension,” “Alone in the World,” and “Filgaia” will have you melting in your seat with their realism.

But as far as track composition goes, I believe very strongly in the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For this OST, Naruke remixed virtually every song from the original game, but they are more or less a mixed bag. While these remixes are cool, some of the songs didn’t need a complete overhaul—“The Power to Fight,” (known as “Critical Hit!” from the original OST), for example. This was one of my favorite songs on the original OST, but no matter how many times I listen to the new arrangement, I just can’t force myself to like it. But on the other hand, songs like “Warrior’s Whistle” surpass the level of the original in every way. And to add, the original Wild Arms OST was criticized for its lack of fan favorite tracks and short melodies, but you don’t have to worry about that here. Every original Wild Arms song is here in some shape or fashion, and melodies that were originally too short like “Victory” and “Steel Shiketsu” have been extended, which is a great treat.

The vocal track from the original OST has also been removed and replaced with two new fresh vocals, “Windward Birds” and “Footprints.” The latter didn’t impress me too much, but the former will remind you why you fell in love with Michiko Naruke in the first place. These vocals are simply unmatched in style and execution, and the only real problem with them is that they’re too short…I didn’t want them to end!

All in all, Wild Arms Alter Code:F is great album if you can get over some of its compositional flaws. I’m a huge fan of Michiko Naruke, and I enjoyed the album mainly because of the greatness of the first two discs. But, is it better than Wild Arms 3? No. Is it better than the original Wild Arms? Not by a long shot. But it’s still a great album and definitely worth your time for a listen, especially if you’re a fan of the series or want to hear something new.

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Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson

Mike was part of the reviews and RPGFan Music teams from 2005-2006. During his tenure, Mike bolstered our music review offerings by lending his unique voice and critique of the world of RPGs and VGM. His steadfast work helped maintain the quality of reviews RPGFan is known for.