The Best of Final Fantasy 1994-1999: A Musical Tribute

[back cover]
Catalog Number: EAZ-4032
Released On: September 26, 2000
Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Sherman F. Heinig
Published By: Big Ear Music
Recorded At: Sherman Records
Format: 1 CD

Final Fantasy VI - 1994
01 - Opening Theme
02 - Tina
03 - New Continent
Final Fantasy VII - 1997
04 - Prelude
05 - Main Theme
06 - Cosmo Canyon
07 - Shinra Army Wages A Full-Scale Attack
Final Fantasy VIII - 1999
08 - Liberi Fatali
09 - My Mind
10 - The Spy
11 - Mods De Chocobo
Total Time:

What a disappointment. I was so eager to pop this in and listen to it upon its purchase that words can't describe the bad taste in my mouth at the utter lack of enjoyment from this CD. Performed by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Electric Sound Ensemble, I was expecting a more professional and upbeat collection. Instead, there are 11 tracks from 3 of my favorite Final Fantasy's. There is no new orchestration, very little remix and the compatible MIDI sounds have been replaced with a synthesized orchestra.

The questionable "Best of" tracks include 3 from Final Fantasy 6 and four each from Final Fantasy's 7 and 8. The CD begins with Final Fantasy 6's "Opening Theme", it started well with the pyramid perfect fourths played on the organ before the synthesized, lackluster female voices came in to push the resolution. There are times when this theme is done well, but sadly the bad completely outweighs the good. "Tina" has long been one of my favorite Final Fantasy 6 pieces and I thought it impossible for me to ever find a version I didn't like. Well, this CD wins the prize. The instrument used to play the grandiose melody is heavy, choppy and laughable. The staccato background is not as driving as it should be and the horn chords are muffled and unclear in change. The pieces saving grace is good use of middle string for the second melody. "New Continent" is an abominable representation of the original; sounding comical and diminishing, rather then serious as the original scene portrayed.

Final Fantasy 7's selections were easier on the ear, but maybe by then I was desensitized to the awful technological instrumentation. "Prelude" was actually pretty nice, if not for the campy harp and trumpet. "Main Theme" was also enjoyable, though not as good as the orchestral version. "Cosmo Canyon" was a boring shade of the original with a terrible wood pipe sound and empty percussion. "Shinra Army Wages A Full-Scale Attack" is a decent representation of the original with electric brass sounds leading into the higher woodwinds of the march.

Final Fantasy 8 started with the fan favorite "Liberi Fatali". The sound of the first four calls "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" are undistinguishable and well, for lack of a better word, awful. The synthesized voices throughout the piece are hollow, scary and haunting, rather then full and intense. The brass and woodwinds are generally good until their climatic finish where they seem to fizzle out when they should be the most present. What I DID like about this piece was the never before heard piano playing the chord tones as the song reached finale. "My Mind" and "The Spy" were more rehashes using questionable instrumentations and the grand finale of the CD was "Mods De Chocobo" where the melody (played on a…pipe organ) was completely overshadowed by a too loud drum set and aggravatingly repetitive guitar and bass.

Still, as a collector, I couldn't say no to this item, but it is seriously worth the purchase to only enhance the better versions.

Reviewed by: Daniel Space

The U.S. release of a Final Fantasy CD in popular music stores could be enough for any fan, casual or hardcore, to run out and buy it. But with a soundtrack such as this one, buyers beware.

This arrangement contains selected tracks from Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy VIII with a grand total of 11 pieces of music (the tracks were selected very NON-randomly: the first track of each disc of all the OSTs in order...the best of? I think not!). There are some real instrumental parts in some songs, but the majority of sounds are synthesized. The quality ranges from somewhat enjoyable to just plain awful.

The soundtrack starts out with the FFVI opening theme, which wasn't an impressive beginning to the soundtrack. The synthesized flute and trumpet sounds managed to provide a few sour sounds here and there. The same problems were prevalent in "Tina" as well.

"New Continent" started with the notes going up and down the scale as they should, but they're sluggish and not on the beat. After a rough beginning, the song continues, retaining little excitement found in the original.

For FFVII tracks, they opted to begin with "Prelude". This track is actually quite nice. It matches the style used for the FFVII rendition of this tune and the syth is well matched. They even added what seems to be real trumpet sounds, which is definitely a plus.

One of the best tracks on the CD would have to be "Main Theme," which features the FFVII overworld music. The song sounded better in its official orchestration in the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks, but it's still nice.

"Cosmo Canyon" brought little new to the table, except for an obnoxious flute sound, which fails to stay on the rather nice beat carried throughout the song.

The Shinra Army attack song has a good solid march sound to it and is enjoyable to hear. No complaints here. This track has more dynamic contrast than any of the others too.

However, when the FFVIII tracks start, things get ugly. They picked "Liberi Fatali" as the opening song. The opening chanting was performed by soprano Tamara Woodman, who has a nice opera-style voice. She wasn't singing the actual lyrics found in the real song, but that didn't ruin the it. What did ruin the song was the addition of synth voices, similar to those found in FFVI's opera scene. Not only did it sound terrible, but they were behind the beat every time. It's too bad, since the music accompaniment wasn't half bad.

"My Mind" with its sad remix of the "Eyes on Me" tune was another one of the better tracks, featuring appropriate sounds and the right notes.

"The Spy" is probably the best FFVIII track on the soundtrack, representing this funk tune quite well. At times it sounds like something from Shaft!

The soundtrack ends as it began with a tone of mediocrity. The unique chocobo music in FFVIII was fun to listen to in the game, but not on this soundtrack. "Mods De Chocobo" starts out well with a nice beat, but it fizzles when you hear the oooo's and how they're (you guessed it) synthesized and barely audible.

Two things that stood out in almost every track. First of all, very little remixing ever happens. They just took songs, tried to perform them as they originally were in the games, and even simplified a few tracks. Why they would simplify songs from their 16 and 32-bit console counterparts when they have huge potential to expand on the songs is beyond me. The second annoyance is that vibrato (wavering of tone on long notes) was extremely overused and not used in a musical fashion since the vibrato was synthesized.

If all the good and bad aspects are factored into one word, it would be 'average.' After all, this was made by a company with no support from Nobuo Uematsu or Square. Such quality can be expected in these circumstances. Still, it may be worth the ten-dollar price tag to some. Others will be better suited to shell out money for the original import soundtracks. This CD can be found online at usual domestic retailers: CD Now, Amazon, and others. It also may be found in music stores near you.

Reviewed by: StahnMahn