Wizardry is one of the oldest and most beloved computer RPG series. The impact Wizardry (along with the Might and Magic and Ultima series) had on RPGs both in the US and abroad should not be understated. Games such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and numerous others, were inspired by and emulated many ideas from Wizardry. In fact, games to this day, such as Etrain Odyssey (aka Sekaiju no Meikyu in Japan) pay homage to this classic series. Sadly, the developers (Sir-Tech) closed their doors for good in 2001. Their final gift was Wizardry 8.
So, this being the last Wizardry game, does the soundtrack do justice to the great series? The answer is a somewhat reluctant yes. While good, this soundtrack is not something I would recommend for most. Some of the pieces are hauntingly beautiful and rather unique, while most are “typical” fantasy fanfare. That is my primary criticism of the soundtrack, that many of the pieces are just “typical” and don’t really stand-out amongst the numerous other RPG soundtracks available. For instance, there are two pieces called “Normal Combat 1” and “Normal Combat 2.” While they capture the spirit and commotion of being in battle, and they are exciting pieces, they’re not anything you’re going to remember afterwards. On the other hand, the “Arnika Theme” is majestic and soothing, but short. That’s another problem. The album is a bit too short. In fact, the entire Wizardry soundtrack is about 30 minutes in length. However, you are also getting the Jagged Alliance 2 soundtrack along with the Wizardry 8 tracks. Furthermore, the soundtrack is not particularly expensive (at least here in the US) because it does not need to be imported from Japan. That being said, the music does leave you feeling a little hungry. There simply is not enough music, and what there is while good, is not particularly spectacular nor memorable.
If you are a fan of the series, then by all means this is not a bad soundtrack in any way. In fact, it’s a pretty good soundtrack, with some beautiful tracks. However, for those who have never played the series, chances are the soundtrack will come off as “typical.” There are other Wizardry soundtracks out there that I would highly recommend over this one. They were however only released in Japan, and can be difficult to find. In Japan, Wizardry was and still remains quite popular. The American releases were translated into Japanese, and did very well on the Famicom which at the time had little in the way of RPGs. The Famicom versions also incorporated some wonderful soundtracks. The Wizardry III suite (APCG-4003) is an arranged album performed by a full orchestra and sounds gorgeous! Other Wizardry albums such as We Love Wizardry and Wizardry V are also beautiful and will likely appeal to a far greater audience than the Wizardry 8 soundtrack.
Bottom Lines: The Wizardry 8 soundtrack is good, but not a stand-out album. It makes for some decent background music, and is recommended to fans of the series or those who love all RPG-related music. For everyone else, there are far better RPG soundtracks out there. For those interested, the CD is available for purchase from the composer’s official site.