Being a more-than-casual soundtrack enthusiast, I believe I know what it is that other soundtrack enthusiasts want. Furthermore, I know what common complaints are floating around about the state of videogame music, as well as the soundtracks that bring the music directly to us. One common complaint is that some games (in fact, many games) have never had an original soundtrack printed alongside of the game. Off the top of my head, a few names do come to mind: Langrisser IV, Ys IV, Breath of Fire, Illusion of Gaia, and Radical Dreamers. Another common problem is that a soundtrack claiming to be a "full" or "complete" original score will end up lacking many songs used in the game: among these culprits are Wild ARMs and Breath of Fire III, just to name a few.
The Legend of Xanadu never got an original soundtrack during the time of its release: instead, it got a "Super Arrange Version" and a "JDK Special" (which is close to an OST based on sound quality, but is not entirely the same thing as an OST).
Ten years later, the whiny VGM fanatic that wants to have everything is given the prize of the century: an absolutely complete, three disc set that contains the entirety of Legend of Xanadu music, as it existed in its original form. Isn't it exciting?!?
Oh, but wait: the music sounds terrible, because it's a good ten years old. Is it worth anything more than the label "for collectors only"? I'm not sure.
I was very excited about purchasing this three disc set because I was under the (false) impression that the music had been updated along with the game. I couldn't have been more wrong. This three disc set is the complete OST to a game that is not only a decade old, but one that also did not get treated to the high quality redbook audio that other Falcom games of its time had been given. As a result, what we find here is some pretty bland music.
Not only that: we also discover that many of these songs are the sort of "filler tracks" people like me are prone to complaining about. You may not recognize it, as I deliberately chose not to sample those sorts of songs: but trust me, they're there. Not only are they there: they are numerous, and they are irritating.
The songs that do stand out are, for the most part, songs that we have seen arranged numerous times. This means that even the better songs on this collection are found elsewhere, and where they are found elsewhere, they sound much better than what is found here.
The notable exceptions to these patterns have been sampled. I was able to find a few diamonds in the rough, including a couple of lengthy (four to five minute) tracks on disc three. Both "Dardandis" and "Wings of Darkness" are phenomenal battle themes that I have somehow failed to notice on other Legend of Xanadu albums. Could it be that no decent arrangement exists for these songs? I wouldn't know, as I have not followed this series as closely as I have with other Falcom games.
Though this soundtrack did ship as a part of Falcom Special Box 2004, it also sold separately on Falcom's site as its own item: hence the separate review. I wouldn't recommend searching for it outside of the Special Box, but if you come across it, maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did. Honestly, it is some of the worst music from Falcom I've heard in a long time: sometimes because of the synths, sometimes because of poor composition, always because there are better Falcom CDs to enjoy.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann