Ah, Falcom. Always throwing in those amazing extras. Not about to dissapoint us, Ys – The Oath in Felghana, a comprehensive remake of the classic Ys III, came with a nice box full of Ys III music from the past 16 years or so.
The main draw to this set, besides a huge catalog of probably every officially pressed song from Ys III, is the new “Pre-Arrange” album. Basically, these are working versions of the music, most likely used to accompany the game as it was being worked on and tested. As Falcom coined it, these are less polished, but still very enjoyable.
I would say it’s somewhat enjoyable, but certainly not Falcom’s best…
…save for one track. Remember that.
One thing that should be noted, is since these are working versions of the songs, for the most part (aside from the one track I mentioned above) the synth quality is kind of low. Sometimes really low, like mid-90’s Falcom MIDI low. But that didn’t stop Falcom’s early Windows games from stinking, and it’s not going to hurt too much here, altough after hearing the spectacular OST of Felghana, it’s a tough switch.
Starting off with the utility anthem, “Dancing on the Road,” things get started a little slow. Happy and cheerful as always, we move on to “= Styx = A Premotition” which is just a lower quality version of the hauntingly beautiful version from the in-game music.
Moving through the mostly throw-away shop themes (I know…Falcom usually makes AWESOME shop music) comes “Prelude to the Adventure.” Again, it’s mostly just a crappy version of the mind-bendingly good OST version. I mean, seriously – from the game’s original soundtrack, we get a jaw-dropping, bed-wettingly good song, but here it’s shortened to 50 seconds and sounds like it came from my MIDI keyboard I had as a kid in ’96. Poo.
“The Boy’s Got Wings,” one of the variants of “Theme of Adol,” comes out sounding better than the last few songs. Still very bland compared to the butt-kicking OST version (are you seeing the trend yet?) it’s not terrible, but you could do better with almost any other version. There’s just not much to say about it, which is sad for such a classic tune. On the bright side, the synths are nice, and the song still has that undeniable lonely, sad, yet adventuresome feel to it.
“Be Careful” sounds pretty terrible, aside from a neat guitar sample that reminds me of Grandia II. “Dark Beasts as Black as Night” gets a semi breakbeat makeover, which works well, but you still can’t help but want to throw the disc out and jam to the OST. “Illvern Ruins.” Such a good song. How will it fare? ‘…Meh.’ That’s about it. Again, we’re talking typical MIDI sound versus the sickeningly good dance version on the OST. Same goes for “A Searing Struggle” – a classic rock tune turned boring MIDI.
“Snare of Darkness” ….we won’t even go there.
“Shock of the Death God” actually rocks! Cool dancey beat with plenty of tight synth and some nice organ work makes a winner. “Quickening Dream” is nice with it’s soothing DX-7 keyboard sound, and it reminds me of Chrono Cross’ “Song of Feeling.” Good.
More unremarkable work, including a decent, but mostly bland version of everyone’s favorite song, “Valestein Castle.” I mean, there is no way this song could ever sound poor, but it’s just rather uninspired when being pushed out a MIDI card. Same goes for “Sealed Time” yet another song that fares better on the OST as a cracking dance tune.
“Tower of Fate” is a bit different, with some cool mechanical noises, drum programming and echoed piano/synth combo. But not as good as the OST. (chuckles) “Behold!” is also above average, too bad it’s so short.
“The Strongest Foe” – one of the hardest, coolest, downright killer songs known to man, but again – is turned MIDI. Think of it like this:
TurboGrafx version = A rollercoaster that people fall off of
Oath in Felghana version = A really, really fast car
Genesis version = Your daddy’s car
X68000 version = Your mommy’s car
Pre-Arrange version = A crappy old motorcycle
SNES version = A bicycle going down a hill
PC-98 version = A tire rolling down a hill
NES version = A pea sitting on a plate
So I guess it’s not too bad…but you could do a lot better.
Honestly, that really goes for the entire CD, aside from some cool songs here and there, and a very nice version of “Theme of Chester” (another song you could never truly ruin.) Always a fan favorite, Chester’s song gets a nice synthy dance feel, with a whole new interlude that really rocks.
Ok, so remember at the beginning I said there was one track that stood out from the rest? Meet “Decendant of Genos.” Yes, my friends, this song rocks. It’s just…wow. Falcom ditches the crap MIDI for some REAL sound like the Felghana OST and kicks you in the butt a million times with this rocker.
Right from the start we’re hit with a blast of synth and guitar, which quickly fades to uncover the piano…then slams us again with total mayhem, a smattering of heavy synth and distorted rhythm guitar. Yes. This is Falcom.
Coming to the main theme of the song at exactly 1:12, the piano takes over again, shimmering elegantly above all the crazy, energetic power synth, drums and guitar, and it’s brilliant. This is the Falcom we knew and loved back in the early 90s, but newer, fresher and bolder (and less mullets involved).
Buy this CD for that song alone. Too bad it isn’t that simple, eh? Right now, the only way to purchase this album is to order the admittedly spectacular limited edition of the game, “Ys – The Oath in Felghana”. To me, it was well worth it, because the game itself is really a work of art, but if you don’t have the cash to blow on a 80 dollar game/music set, you might want to hold off for the upcoming “Perfect Collection Ys – The Oath in Felghana,” which likely will have “Decendant of Genos” in one form or another.
You simply MUST hunt down the Perfect Collection when it comes out because it will contain the entire OST to Oath in Felghana, which is arguably the best VGM of 2005, and possibly Falcom’s best OST to date. I kid you not. Save your money now.