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All Sounds of Final Fantasy I • II

[back cover]
Catalog Number: H25X-20015 (reprint PSCR-5251)
Released On: February 28, 1989 (reprint March 25, 1994)
Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Nobuo Uematsu
Published By: DataM/Polystar (reprint NTT Publishing)
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 1 CD
Buy this CD from Otaku
Tracklist:

01 - Welcome to F.F.World (arrange) - Prelude~Opening Theme (I)~Main Theme (II)~Matoya's Cavern
Final Fantasy
02 - Prelude
03 - Opening Theme
04 - Cornelia Castle
05 - Main Theme
06 - Chaos Temple
07 - Matoya's Cavern
08 - Town
09 - Shop
10 - Ship
11 - Ocean Shrine
12 - Dungeon
13 - Menu Screen
14 - Floating Ship
15 - Gurg Volcano
16 - Floating Castle
17 - Battle Scene
18 - Victory!
19 - Ending Theme
20 - Dead Music
21 - Save Music
Final Fantasy II
22 - Prelude
23 - Battle Scene 1
24 - Resurrection Room
25 - Reunion
26 - Rebel Army's Theme
27 - Town
28 - Main Theme
29 - Pandemonium Castle
30 - Imperial Army's Theme
31 - Chocobo's Theme
32 - Sorcerer's Tower
33 - Escape!
34 - Old Castle
35 - Dungeon
36 - Emperor's Rebirth
37 - Battle Scene 2
38 - Victory!
39 - Finale
40 - Waltz
41 - The Queen's Lure
42 - Dead Music
43 - Fanfare
44 - Addition in Party
45 - Shop
46 - Airship
47 - Battle Scene 3
48 - Dungeon
49 - Farewell! F.F. World (arrange) - Chaos Temple~Battle Scene 2~Town (I)~Finale (II)
Total Time:
62'32"

Final Fantasy was the first RPG I ever played. Pokémon got me into the genre as a whole, but Square's early masterpiece was my introduction to it. Even then I had a special fondness for the game's music, although I never would have imagined it transforming my musical tastes entirely like it has. However, this is a fair review, and I will try to avoid the influence which that bias could conceivably wield over my judgment.

Final Fantasy was not Uematsu's first project for then unpopular game company Squaresoft. However, it was arguably his first notable achievement in becoming more than simply a sound programmer. The game itself had a clear purpose for its music: far from being just background noise, it created some sense of the setting which the game took place in. Its sequel, released the next year, had the style of linear plot which the series, and eventually the genre would later be shaped by.

Nobuo Uematsu's scores for these games are not overly ambitious. His melodies, although closely related stylistically to even his most modern compositions, are simplistic and undeveloped compared to his later work. Some last barely 20 seconds before looping, and even then really don't offer much. On top of that, this CD has some odd sound issues. Namely, in dividing up the stereo sound from the original mono mix, the main tones got relegated to the center-left, whereas the bass tones were put to the center-right. Through headphones, or a larger speaker system, this occasionally sounds awkward.

Final Fantasy's music, in particular, is constantly labeled with the term "classic." The classic battle music. The classic world map theme. The classic cavern theme. This label attempts to neutralize opposition by an assumed right of intrinsic worth asserted through nostalgia. Critics may wish to direct their assaults at the obvious flaws with this claim, and people speaking in defense will assert that there must be a reason for something to gain that fame in the first place.

In this case, there is indeed a good deal of worth to be found. The first version of the prelude, for example, differs slightly from those in the Famicom sequels. It is my favorite version of the piece until it was added to in IV and eventually completed in VII. The battle theme, with its trademark opening, is actually a very nice piece of music in a melodic and harmonic sense. The town and shop themes, however, suffer partially from the sound problems listed above, and also compositions that are too simple to even hold their own for a minute outside of the game. Probably the most unfortunate track on this CD, however, is the version of the game's opening music, the piece which eventually came to be known as "Final Fantasy." The balance between the bass and main tones sounds awful, and the track, important to the series' music as a whole, loses much of its value.

Final Fantasy II, Square's quickly released sequel, nevertheless showed that Uematsu had learned from his experiences with the first game. Although Uematsu's early attempts here at conveying emotion have mixed results, he is making an effort to expand his style. The tones used are occasionally given a sort of slurring effect to create a slightly different sound from the first. This is immediately recognizable by comparing the two versions of the victory theme on this disc.

The track from II that generally receives the most attention is "Theme of the Rebel Army." It is a very good track, with a sense of grandeur portrayed in spite of its sound limitations. Almost like a march, its strong melodic elements sound hopeful, yet strained. It is especially good to listen to it with "Reunion" as an introduction. The town theme is also a very good piece of music: it has a typical Uematsu sense of what peace should sound like in music, and the harmony tones play well off of the melody. The other track from II which gets quite a few arrangements is "Battle Scene II." Although it is not bad, it isn't as strong a composition as the first game's battle theme or even the unused "Battle Scene III" (included on this disc).

The two arranged tracks on here are nice bonuses that bookend the disc. Although the synthesizer is very dated, the recording quality sounds fine, and the arrangements themselves are good, although not spectacular. These tracks won't make or break the disc for anyone, but they are a nice bonus for people who enjoy the music. In addition, all of the sound problems which plague the body of the CD are completely absent from these tracks, due to the fact that they were recorded in stereo in the first place.

It may seem pointless to review such a work as this. It is very likely that you already have opinions about these soundtracks that I cannot change. However, if there is a person who responds to this review, perhaps listens to the CD again to see whether or not they agree with me, then I will have accomplished my goals. If they stop liking the music because they analyze it apart from its status as a "classic," that is fine too. However, it is my opinion that the music does have the same power today that it had 18 years ago.

Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer

This is the OST that, in my opinion, started the whole Japanese-soundtrack hype. Why? Because it's GOOD! Not only does it feature all music from two different games (and it is GOOD music), it also includes two incredibly amazing arranged tracks at the beginning and end of the CD. Such a find is what can brighten an "old-school gamer's" day. The nostalgia just rushes to you, through all the PCM and whatnot. My favorite tracks (since I couldn't sample them all) are Matoya's Cavern, both Preludes, both Towns, both Main Themes, the Ocean Shrine, Chocobo's Theme, and the Rebel Army's Theme.

Being older, even the reprint of this CD is hard to find (I somehow got lucky enough to get the first printing). But newer prints may be easier to find.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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