I was excited for World of Final Fantasy when the first trailer was released. Beyond the cute characters and celebration of Final Fantasy as a whole, what had my attention the most was the music. I couldn’t wait to see how Masashi Hamauzu would use his style on the remixed versions of classic Final Fantasy songs. I grabbed a copy of the original soundtrack when it was announced, and am pleased to say that minus a few bumps, the music of World of Final Fantasy met my expectations, and then some.
The album starts off strong with “Innocent2,” with lyrics by Mizuki. The song serves as the game’s main theme and holds a crisp, airy feel to it, that then drops on the listener with rock drums at the chorus. It then ends with a few notes on the flute that is a primary motif in many of the tracks later on. “World of Grymoire” follows, with a beautiful piano intro that flows into a fantastic violin lead. The swelling notes midway through the song elicit a melancholy mood that I’m a big fan of in quiet music like this. Afterward comes “World of Beauty.” This was a song used in one of the trailers of the game, and for good reason. The addictive motif mentioned previously shows up again, and the triumphant background drums give off the feeling of a grand adventure. Lann and Reynn’s melodies come next, and each do a good job of representing their characters, with Lann’s upbeat theme, and Reynn’s more mellow tone. “Happy Melody” feels like signature Hamauzu, and wouldn’t be out of place as a track in Final Fantasy XIII. “World of Nine Wood Hills” comes with a bit of a tonal shift, with an interesting guitar riff and techno feel. These aspects, combined with the distorted lyrics, are just great.
If you take a look at the tracklist, the songs I’ve mentioned come one after the other. I tend to avoid consecutively referencing large libraries of songs like this when reviewing music, but World of Final Fantasy’s first seven tracks are just that good. Unfortunately, the rest of the first disc doesn’t carry as strong of an identity as the opening songs. This includes “World of Battle” and “Victory Melody,” sadly enough. It’s disappointing when a song as important as a JRPG’s battle theme ends up only being serviceable. The same can be said of the second disc as well. “Moonlight Melody” is a favorite of mine on this section of the album, as it carries that strong motif, and the piano/violin combination once again. The same can be said of “World of Sunshine” — in case it hasn’t been made clear yet, I really love this melody every time it’s used. “Joyride Melody” is also an entertaining track, with a flamenco and drums to give it a distinctive flair. But that’s essentially it in regards to memorable second disc tracks.
Luckily, the third disc looks at its brethren, shouts “I got this!” and proceeds to deliver on the musical front with aplomb. This is because the remixed Final Fantasy tracks begin showing up here, and they’re all fantastic. “Town” and “Castle of Cornelia” provide the rustic feeling one would expect from them, and “The Scene of Battle” combines violin with electric guitar to merge the old with the new and create something awesome. “Eternal Wind” comes with great violin as well, while “Battle 1” feels almost Latin-flavored with the way it incorporates castanets in the background. “Clash on the Big Bridge” is where things take a temporary stumble, in that there are three versions of this song. I love “Clash on the Big Bridge” as much as anyone, but even I have to draw the line at three different forms of the song.
“Chocobo” feels like the type of song you’d listen to while driving down the streets of Hollywood, with its bombastic instruments and xylophone usage. “Tifa” comes with the same relaxed, “cruising'” feeling to it, with a jazzy drum beat, while “Those Who Fight” uses a techno intro and strong piano to make the song feel both new and familiar all at once. That said, “Mako Reactor” feels weaker to its original counterpart, with no aspect of it coming across as particularly striking.
The fourth disc continues the remix fun with “Don’t Be Afraid,” a fast-paced, techno-infused version of this song that I quite like. “Festival of the Hunt” is also heavy on the techno-influence, but ends up being an entertaining remix — which I am especially thankful for, with Final Fantasy IX being my favorite in the series. My only wish is that there were more Final Fantasy IX songs to enjoy. Of the three Final Fantasy X songs present on the album, “Blitz Off! / Zanarkand” is not only my favorite of the three but one of my favorite songs on this album, period. I had no idea what to expect listening to this song at first, considering each piece’s tonal differences, but it deftly blends the two individual tracks with instrumentation that complements them both. “Blinded by Light,” from Final Fantasy XIII is also understandably great, seeing as that game’s soundtrack was made by Hamauzu himself. This version of the song feels breezier than the original, allowing it to shine in a new way.
With that, the remixes end. The back half of disc four makes way for original music once again. “Ex World of Battle” and “Last World of Battle” serve to redeem the weakness of the original music on the second disc. The latter track especially is incredible in its execution, weaving a multitude of the game’s melodies and motifs to form a track epic enough for a “Last Boss” theme. “Silent World,” meanwhile, is sung by one of the characters in the game, and ends up being adorable as a result. The final track in the game, “World of Parade,” is an appropriate blend of joyful and catchy, signaling the end of both the soundtrack, and the journey in the game itself.
World of Final Fantasy’s soundtrack is hands down one of my favorites to come out of Square Enix in the past few years. While some of the original tracks could stand to be a bit more impactful, and the remixes are a bit too short, both shortcomings are made up by the sheer excitement you’ll feel listening to your favorite Final Fantasy songs in refreshing new ways. In much the same way that World of Final Fantasy is meant to be a celebration of Final Fantasy games that came before it, so too is its soundtrack a celebration of what makes Final Fantasy’s music so great.