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TearRingSaga OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: SCDC-00091/2
Released On: June 20, 2001
Composed By: 44.0, Minako Seki, Hitomi Tachibana, Seiichi Kyoda
Arranged By: Seiichi Kyoda
Published By: Scitron Discs
Recorded At: FK Studio, ASCII Studio, Pfeifer Broz Studio (LA)
Format: 2 CDs
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - Tapestry
02 - Warrior of Yutona
03 - Prelude to Battle
04 - Knight of Riselia
05 - Ruler of Darkness
06 - Trial
07 - Army of Darkness
08 - Endless Battle
09 - Sadness and Fright
10 - Tragic Decision
11 - Sorrowful Soldiers
12 - Oath of Victory
13 - Unknown Reality
14 - Revived Memories
15 - Reminiscence
16 - Dangerous Omen
17 - Crescent Hill
18 - Morning on the Battlefield
19 - A Smile
20 - Tea Time
21 - The Old Man at the Armory
22 - Summon Your Courage
23 - Unforgettable You
24 - Distant Thoughts
25 - Legend of Yutona
26 - The Night Before the Battle
27 - May Victory Find Us
28 - Sword Master
29 - Soldier of Granada 01
30 - The Great River Lieve
31 - Free World
32 - Village of Swordsmen
33 - Light of the City
34 - An Old Legend
35 - Colosseum
36 - Theme of the Battle Arena
37 - Riviah
38 - Assault!
39 - Pastorale
40 - Warm Sunlight
41 - Eternal Friendship
42 - Overlord
43 - Urgent Danger
44 - Dawn of Canaan
45 - Never Ending Dream ~Japanese Version~
Total Time:
62'30"

Disc Two
01 - Oppression
02 - Victory Song II
03 - Sword of the Oath
04 - Duel
05 - Siege
06 - Battlefield Storm
07 - Diversion
08 - Wounds of the Heart
09 - Warm Feelings
10 - Distant Memories
11 - Flag of the Blue Dragon
12 - Ocean, Holmes' Theme
13 - Marlene
14 - Search in the Darkness
15 - Conspiracy
16 - Altar of the Dark God
17 - Maiden Redda
18 - Beneath Warm Waves
19 - Wish
20 - The Dotards
21 - Red Mercenary
22 - Dark Fingers
23 - Windy Field
24 - The Northern Continent
25 - Broad Knight
26 - The Great Drum
27 - Proof of Bravery
28 - In the Tiny Village
29 - Sorrowful Parting
30 - Dark Heart
31 - Mysterious Underground Palace
32 - Light and Darkness
33 - Corps #4
34 - Courage of Canaan
35 - For Whom
36 - Departing
37 - Uneasy Afternoon
38 - Gathering of Heroes
39 - Across the World
40 - Terror of Gharzel
41 - Nightraid
42 - Final Battle
43 - Leciida II
44 - Never Ending Dream ~Instrumental~
45 - Never Ending Dream ~English Version~
Total Time:
65'46"

TearRingSaga (or, if you prefer it, Tear Ring Saga, or TearRing Saga...the spacing changes on different products) is, I'm told, one of the better strategy RPGs for the PS1, rivaling the standard-setting Final Fantasy Tactics. However, the game would be more rightly compared to the Fire Emblem series (the game was originally scheduled to be titled "Emblem Saga", and was developed by key members of previous Fire Emblem titles for Super Famicom). Nonetheless, this tactical RPG sported a two disc soundtrack from composers that I, personally, had never heard of in my life.

(As an aside, the "44.0" listed in the credits is a pseudonymous "artist name" for some composer who clearly prefers being identified as a number.)

What kind of music will you find on the two-disc OST? Well, for starters, you'll find a lot of short songs. Putting 90 tracks into two discs is always a risky procedure, and I feel as though the result made the soundtrack lose its sense of grandeur.

Stylistically, I felt that this soundtrack expanded well beyond the boundaries set up by Sakimoto and crew in other strategy RPG soundtracks. For example, listen to disc 1, tracks 26 and 34. The former is a great "battle prep" theme, with the piano hitting a rhythmic low note to simulate the pulsation of one's own racing heart as a group of men scramble to put together a last-second strategy to face the impending army. Then, in track 34, soft electronic synths contrast a crisp and clean piano that startles the simple beat and structure of the soothing background. This music is great for when one has to sit and read those lengthy historical accounts that are necessary for any game with depth.

If you're looking to find some "Sakimoto style" on a soundtrack that lacks Sakimoto, you can hear some harp in track 12 of disc 2, and the classic battle music in "Duel" (disc 2 track 4) will also suffice for that craving. Nonetheless, you can hear a melodic run here or there that sounds nothing like Final Fantasy Tactics: some parts of "Ocean, Holmes' Theme" are very reminiscent of something you'd hear in a Seiken Densetsu game (my apologies for turning to Square soundtracks, but in my mind, they have set the standard in so many ways).

All the other tracks sampled are, in my opinion, some wonderful and catchy songs. However, there are plenty of songs that I didn't sample because they were the bland and mediocre junk you expect to find on an album with 90 songs. Yeah, I'll just leave it at that: more filler tracks.

And what PS1 RPG could be complete without a vocal theme?! TearRingSaga goes above and beyond the call of duty and offers both Japanese and English versions of the end theme. The Japanese version is performed by three vocalists (I believe they were voice actors for the game), and the result is not so great. It immediately reminded me of some other poorly-produced image albums, proving that not all voice actors are also singers. The English version, however, goes too far in the other direction. The performer, Liz Constantine, goes over the top in her performance. At the end of the day, "Never Ending Dream" is a solid ballad in nearly every regard: it's the sort of thing you could use to audition on American Idol (and, if given the chance, I would!). However, I feel that this song just doesn't fit in with the rest of the game. To look for a vocal track that fits the game's soundtrack, go to Stella Deus.

Also, take note of the release date for this soundtrack. PS2 games were in full force by 2001, and while I know this soundtrack was released after the game, the game hadn't been released too far behind. One would expect some incredible use of the PlayStation's sound capabilities in this soundtrack: yet, it's no better than things I heard in 1998. This is a bit of a drawback in my mind.

This game was highly overlooked in the US (so much so that, as of this review's being written, RPGFan has no other content on the game other than a few news stories). But a cult following in Japan has secured its place, and a sequel entitled "Berwick Saga" has come forth for PS2. That said, let's be glad that we have this two disc set to use when we hear Berwick Saga's music, so we don't have to make the tired comparisons to Squaresoft titles.

I recommend the TearRingSaga OST without reservation to anyone looking for a fresh take on the "tactical RPG soundtrack" style. There is plenty of filler, but the occasional stroke of genius (which I believe I captured well in the audio samples) will help you to appreciate this fine soundtrack. Keep an eye out: it's out of print, but not too hard to find.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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