The Music of Final Fantasy
While waiting to get my hands (or ears) on the Final Fantasy XIII Piano Collection, I’ve decided to briefly talk about the past 23 years of Final Fantasy Music. Somehow the games were always just out of reach until about 7 years ago where I started to catch up on all the missed Final Fantasies. The first thing that struck me when I played FF7 was how catchy the music was, and once I was allowed free access to decent ADSL internet, listening to the soundtracks became easier. Uematsu Nobuo’s compositions, from the very first Final Fantasy through to his last full ost in FF9, remain legendary even though other great composers such as Eguchi Matsueda (FFX) and Hitoshi Sakamoto (Ivalice Alliance) have now taken over in composing the more recent games. I’ve decided to put up concert arrangements of the older game tracks to achieve a consistent sound quality across the board, although for those of the hardcore disposition, feel free to youtube the originals. Anyway, to spice things up, I will be giving out arbitrary awards to exceptional soundtracks.
Final Fantasy Symphonic Suite
This is where it all started, back in 1987 – the same year I was born in and therefore Final Fantasy and I are practically the same age. The main theme song from this game has been replayed over and over, making its way into a majority of later games, but never losing its epicness no matter how many times I hear it. Also, the unmistakable Chocobo theme song originated from here. Most Memorable Main Theme.
Final Fantasy II Symphonic Suite
Sadly, FF2’s soundtrack is nothing to rave about although there are one or two gems that are worth listening to such as this GRAND castle bgm. Most Powerful Indoor BGM.
Pretty much, “Water Maiden” is the only track that I remember from FF3. Not having been able to play this game at length probably had something to do with how little impact it has made on me.
Theme of Love
FF4’s ost is chock full of serene, touching tracks which are let down by the poor midi-ish type sound output of the consoles back then. What orchestral and piano arrangements that can be found will be sure to please.
Clash of the Big Bridge
”Clash of the Big Bridge” is the most memorable track in FF4 for me. The whimsical and catchy tune puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. BTW the song I’ve included is the FF12 rearranged version. Best Lighthearted Combat Music.
FF6 marks the first of Square’s rpgs which can be enjoyed by a vastly wider audience. An engaging plot coupled with much better direction and storytelling was a winning combination in drawing the crowds. FF6 is probably the first Final Fantasy that I played right through to the end and enjoyed every bit of it. Not only was gameplay fun, but the music reached a level I wouldn’t have imagined hearing through the archaic sound output of the SNES. Most awesome Boss Battle music award goes to FF6.
Opening- Bombing Mission
Those Who Fight
Those Who Fight Further
One Winged Angel
FF7 is likely the most famous and most reminisced of all the Final Fantasies that Square has released to date. Although many an rpg fan uses this game as a ‘gold standard’, I wasn’t that blown away by it. Storytelling is on par with FF6 while the graphics (at the time) was phenomenal. I did not understand the plot at all unfortunately and it took a long time to get used to the box hands. However, when it comes to music, FF7 shines as the best compilation I have ever heard from the Final Fantasy series. Best Random Encounter Theme and Best Final Boss Theme.
Great graphics, poor story, pretty girl – these are the things that most people say about FF8. I had alot of fun playing FF8 though, partly due to the fact that the story is actually understandable and the combat system was so exploitable. Didn’t hurt that there was eyecandy. FF8 happens to be the first to feature an insert song which is “Eyes on Me” which reached legendary status amongst the gaming circle. The soundtrack is of good quality but pales in comparison to that of FF7 – that being said, it does its job quite well and has a distinctly more contemporary feel to it. It was extremely difficult picking only 2 or 3 songs to upload because the soundtrack is so consistently good. Most Eerie Final Boss Theme, Best Intro Sequence Song.
The Place I’ll Return to Someday
Behind the Door
Ah FF9, the fairytale of the Final Fantasy Universe (excluding those of the Ivalice Alliance). The hordes and bandwagons loathe FF9 and call it the worst Final Fantasy EVER and FOREVER until they met FF13 and from then on it was FF9 is the crappy game from long ago and FF13 is NOT WORTHY OF FF. Ranting aside, if you sit down and play FF9 with an open mind, you will find that it is extremely enjoyable. Sure, the main character is a monkey, and everyone is cute with their big heads and small bodies but doesn’t this art style remind you of some other extremely popular game? (think Blizzard) FF9 takes you on a light hearted adventure through a colourful world, introducing a myriad of interesting characters as you go along so do give it a try. Best Ending Sequence Music.
FFX is the first Final Fantasy on the ps2 and is hailed as having graphics far ahead of its time which I am inclined to agree. However, I was disappointed by the lack of depth in terms of gameplay. Combat is basically a Rock Paper Scissors game, with each character being armor piercing, accurate or anti-air to combat the monsters which are armored, quick, or flying. Graphics are decidedly breathtaking and is probably the only thing that pushed me to finish the game. Best Insert Song and Best Piano Sequence.
Symphonic Poem HOPE
Fight to the Death
It pains me every time I read a post where FF12 is portrayed as ‘rubbish’ or having a ‘soundtrack not worth mentioning’ because it just goes to show that the game had barely been touched by that person. On the surface, FF12’s battle system is overly simplistic and far too untraditional for the hordes and bandwagons but the truth is that the game introduces elements slowly as you progress to give you time to master all of the intricacies of gameplay. Storytelling is strong and engaging if you are able to forgive the apparent “nuisance” of the main character which isn’t as bad as people would have you think. Also, the world of Ivalice as portrayed in FF12 has by far the most depth of all Final Fantasies (yes, FF7’s world is like a drop of water in the oceans of Ivalice) and you would be hard pressed to explore every aspect and unlock every item in FF12. Music is by Hitoshi Sakamoto who has composed all of the Ivalice Alliance’s soundtracks which have all been epic (to me anyway), FF12’s being no different. Maybe it all depends on taste but there are four whole discs of Hitoshi Sakamoto goodness right there. Most colourful soundtrack.