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Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: DPCX-5203~5
Released On: August 1, 1999
Composed By: Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata, Hitoshi Sakimoto
Arranged By: Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata
Published By: DataM/Polystar
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 3 CDs
Tracklist:

Disc One
Original Soundtracks
01 - Overture
02 - Premonition
03 - Entrance Parade
04 - Blessed Memory
05 - Fortune Teller 2
06 - Sally Forth
07 - Island Atlas
08 - Warren Report
09 - Overhang
10 - Stepping
11 - Glory
12 - A Color of Chaos
13 - War Situation
14 - Revolt
15 - Accretion Disk
16 - The Sensational World
17 - Over the World
18 - The World of Today
19 - Under the World
20 - The Bloody World
21 - The World for the People
22 - Decisive
23 - Deliverance
24 - Rrrowf
25 - Billow of the Dark
26 - Distortion
27 - Courageous
28 - Gracious
29 - Hopeful Future
30 - Winter Morning
31 - Vague
32 - Thrilling
33 - Fact of Shock
34 - Notice of Death
35 - Diana
36 - Will
37 - The Funeral
38 - The Fatty Rat
39 - Wobble
40 - Deathrattle
41 - Amazing Grace
42 - Revolted
43 - Far Away
44 - Theme of the Priest
45 - Prayer
46 - Agitation
47 - Insincerity
48 - Religious Precepts
49 - Footsteps From Darkness
50 - Fog of Phantom
51 - Blazing
52 - Deathagony
53 - Homage
54 - Loki
55 - Ebb Tide
56 - World-Shaking
57 - Graceful
58 - Alone
59 - Terminally
60 - The Lingering Imagery
61 - After Words
Total Time:
71'00"

Disc Two
MIDI Arrange Version
01 - Overture
02 - Premonition
03 - Entrance Parade
04 - Blessed Memory
05 - Fortune Teller 2
06 - Sally Forth
07 - Island Atlas
08 - Warren Report
09 - Overhang
10 - Stepping
11 - Glory
12 - A Color of Chaos
13 - War Situation
14 - Revolt
15 - Accretion Disk
16 - The Sensational World
17 - Over the World
18 - The World of Today
19 - Under the World
20 - The Bloody World
21 - The World for the People
22 - Decisive
23 - Deliverance
24 - Rrrowf
25 - Billow of the Dark
26 - Distortion
27 - Courageous
28 - Gracious
29 - Hopeful Future
30 - Winter Morning
31 - Vague
Total Time:
57'11"

Disc Three
MIDI Arrange Version
01 - Thrilling
02 - Fact of Shock
03 - Notice of Death
04 - Diana
05 - Will
06 - The Funeral
07 - The Fatty Rat
08 - Wobble
09 - Deathrattle
10 - Amazing Grace
11 - Revolted
12 - Far Away
13 - Theme of the Priest
14 - Prayer
15 - Agitation
16 - Insincerity
17 - Religious Precepts
18 - Footsteps From Darkness
19 - Fog of Phantom
20 - Blazing
21 - Deathagony
22 - Homage
23 - Loki
24 - Ebb Tide
25 - World-Shaking
26 - Graceful
27 - Alone
28 - Terminally
29 - The Lingering Imagery
30 - After Words
Total Time:
57'25"

The outer slipcase.

The Nintendo 64 sound chip became obsolete quickly compared to the quality of sound in PlayStation games, because of the limited space in a cartridge. It basically has the sound of a slightly updated MIDI processor. However, despite this, some games on the system were able to either surpass the sound chip's normal capabilities, or make up for it with compositional quality. Ogre Battle 64's sound track does each of these things to a degree, but neither superbly.

The synthesizer quality on this soundtrack is very good. The orchestral feel of the music is put forth well by the excellent range of instruments that can be heard here: woodwinds, strings, brass of many kinds, and even some dissonant (purposefully, like in Shiro Sagisu's "Interference of Others" from End of Evangelion) piano. The instruments produce very distinct tones, and the synth choir used here even sounds good. However, the disc has a slightly muted sound to it on the whole, which makes it seem worse than it is.

The main composer on the project was Hayato Matsuo, and it often resembles his work on Front Mission 3, sans electronic influences. Here we find orchestral music with the ubiquitous Strategy RPG militaristic marches and a general feel not far removed from other games of the genre, such as Final Fantasy Tactics (which also had Iwata and Sakimoto as composers). A hint of dissonance appears in most of his work: just enough to create an unsettling feeling with tense moments, but not to overwhelm the melodic elements entirely. Tracks such as "World-Shaking," "The World of Today," and the oddly titled "Rrrowf" exemplify this. Also of note are Matsuo's re-arranged versions of "Revolt" and "Accretion Disc," "Revolted" and "Far Away." I prefer "Revolted" myself, but they are both very good.

There are a number of sad or reflective themes that get away from that element, however--most of the ending music, the mournful yet not melodramatic "The Funeral," and the synth choral track "Amazing Grace" (no relation to the hymn). Matsuo is as skilled at manipulating music for a darker mood as a lighter one. Interestingly enough, the first few notes of "The Lingering Imagery" are the same as the opening of "Jema's Realization" from Seiken Densetsu.

Masaharu Iwata and Hitoshi Sakimoto make some significant contributions as well, although quite a few of them are taken from Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre. Ogre Battle standbys such as "Overture" and "Revolt" are given slight re-arrangement here, not to mention a full synth upgrade. Sakimoto also writes some new material such as the short yet compelling "War Situation" and the ominous "Notice of Death." Iwata contributed more than Sakimoto, but still not as much as Matsuo. The main battle theme "Decisive," although short, works very well both inside and outside the game, and themes such as "Vague" and my personal favorite "Fog of Phantom" give the soundtrack a darker edge.

The soundtrack takes up a single disc, which has 61 tracks on it. The obvious conclusion is that none of them are looped. Sometimes, this makes the shorter tracks feel excessively brief, and the longer tracks feel incomplete. It isn't as much of a problem when the average track is longer than 2 minutes, but when nearly all of them are shorter than that, a run through of the CD feels like listening to only track clips at times.

The other two discs include, per Ogre Battle tradition, MIDI arrangements of every single track on the OST disc. These are looped. The advantage to MIDI is an obvious improvement in clarity. The OST disc can sound slightly muffled at times, but every single instrument in MIDI is clear as a bell: which, with MIDI, isn't always a great thing. Some instruments, such as most percussion and short horn bursts, sound fine in MIDI, but others, such as sustained brass and synthesized voice, sound awful. Also, the volume balance between instruments doesn't seem as fine tuned. If the soundtrack were to have a Super Famicom-synth disc to compare, having the MIDI disc would be an obvious advantage, but with the higher quality of the N64, the advantage becomes dubious. I would actually prefer it if the OST took up two discs, and the MIDI arrangements took up the other, and I wouldn't mind too much if they were left off entirely. Perhaps it would be better if the discs sounded more like the "Full Sound Disc" on Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's OST. The discs certainly aren't bad, however, and some of the arrangements sound fine. Those ones are really nice of which to have a looped version.

Is it as good as the Final Fantasy Tactics OST? No. Is it as good as Front Mission 3? No. While it is not by any means a masterpiece, nor highly unique, Ogre Battle 64 is a very good soundtrack that fans of Iwata, Matsuo, and Sakimoto will appreciate. Unfortunately, it has been out of print for a few years, and GMO has stopped carrying it. I was lucky enough to find a still-sealed copy on eBay, so if you're interested, look there. It may not be worth the price you would pay, but for fans of the game it's a good deal if you can find it for under $55.

Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer



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