Ah, Falcom. Always throwing in those amazing extras.
Not about to dissapoint us, Ys - The Oath in Felghana,
a comprehensive remake of the classic Ys III, came
with a nice box full of Ys III music from the past 16
years or so.
The main draw to this set, besides a huge catalog of
probably every officially pressed song from Ys III, is
the new "Pre-Arrange" album. Basically, these are
working versions of the music, most likely used to
accompany the game as it was being worked on and
tested. As Falcom coined it, these are less polished,
but still very enjoyable.
I would say it's somewhat enjoyable, but certainly not
...save for one track. Remember that.
One thing that should be noted, is since these are
working versions of the songs, for the most part
(aside from the one track I mentioned above) the synth
quality is kind of low. Sometimes really low, like
mid-90's Falcom MIDI low. But that didn't stop
Falcom's early Windows games from stinking, and it's
not going to hurt too much here, altough after hearing
the spectacular OST of Felghana, it's a tough switch.
Starting off with the utility anthem, "Dancing on the
Road," things get started a little slow. Happy and
cheerful as always, we move on to "= Styx = A
Premotition" which is just a lower quality version of
the hauntingly beautiful version from the in-game
Moving through the mostly throw-away shop themes (I
know...Falcom usually makes AWESOME shop music) comes
"Prelude to the Adventure." Again, it's mostly just a
crappy version of the mind-bendingly good OST version.
I mean, seriously - from the game's original
soundtrack, we get a jaw-dropping, bed-wettingly good
song, but here it's shortened to 50 seconds and sounds
like it came from my MIDI keyboard I had as a kid in
"The Boy's Got Wings," one of the variants of "Theme
of Adol," comes out sounding better than the last few
songs. Still very bland compared to the butt-kicking
OST version (are you seeing the trend yet?) it's not
terrible, but you could do better with almost any
other version. There's just not much to say about it,
which is sad for such a classic tune. On the bright
side, the synths are nice, and the song still has that
undeniable lonely, sad, yet adventuresome feel to it.
"Be Careful" sounds pretty terrible, aside from a neat
guitar sample that reminds me of Grandia II. "Dark
Beasts as Black as Night" gets a semi breakbeat
makeover, which works well, but you still can't help
but want to throw the disc out and jam to the OST.
"Illvern Ruins." Such a good song. How will it fare?
'...Meh.' That's about it. Again, we're talking
typical MIDI sound versus the sickeningly good dance
version on the OST. Same goes for "A Searing Struggle"
- a classic rock tune turned boring MIDI.
"Snare of Darkness" ....we won't even go there.
"Shock of the Death God" actually rocks! Cool dancey
beat with plenty of tight synth and some nice organ
work makes a winner. "Quickening Dream" is nice with
it's soothing DX-7 keyboard sound, and it reminds me
of Chrono Cross' "Song of Feeling." Good.
More unremarkable work, including a decent, but mostly
bland version of everyone's favorite song, "Valestein
Castle." I mean, there is no way this song could
ever sound poor, but it's just rather uninspired
when being pushed out a MIDI card. Same goes for
"Sealed Time" yet another song that fares better on
the OST as a cracking dance tune.
"Tower of Fate" is a bit different, with some cool
mechanical noises, drum programming and echoed
piano/synth combo. But not as good as the OST.
(chuckles) "Behold!" is also above average, too bad
it's so short.
"The Strongest Foe" - one of the hardest, coolest,
downright killer songs known to man, but again - is
turned MIDI. Think of it like this:
TurboGrafx version = A rollercoaster that people fall
Oath in Felghana version = A really, really fast car
Genesis version = Your daddy's car
X68000 version = Your mommy's car
Pre-Arrange version = A crappy old motorcycle
SNES version = A bicycle going down a hill
PC-98 version = A tire rolling down a hill
NES version = A pea sitting on a plate
So I guess it's not too bad...but you could do a lot
Honestly, that really goes for the entire CD, aside
from some cool songs here and there, and a very nice
version of "Theme of Chester" (another song you could
never truly ruin.) Always a fan favorite, Chester's
song gets a nice synthy dance feel, with a whole new
interlude that really rocks.
Ok, so remember at the beginning I said there was one
track that stood out from the rest? Meet "Decendant of
Genos." Yes, my friends, this song rocks. It's
just...wow. Falcom ditches the crap MIDI for some REAL
sound like the Felghana OST and kicks you in the butt
a million times with this rocker.
Right from the start we're hit with a blast of synth
and guitar, which quickly fades to uncover the
piano...then slams us again with total mayhem, a
smattering of heavy synth and distorted rhythm guitar.
Yes. This is Falcom.
Coming to the main theme of the song at exactly 1:12,
the piano takes over again, shimmering elegantly above
all the crazy, energetic power synth, drums and
guitar, and it's brilliant. This is the Falcom we knew
and loved back in the early 90s, but newer, fresher
and bolder (and less mullets involved).
Buy this CD for that song alone. Too bad it isn't that
simple, eh? Right now, the only way to purchase this
album is to order the admittedly spectacular limited
edition of the game, "Ys - The Oath in Felghana". To
me, it was well worth it, because the game itself is
really a work of art, but if you don't have the cash
to blow on a 80 dollar game/music set, you might want
to hold off for the upcoming "Perfect Collection Ys -
The Oath in Felghana," which likely will have
"Decendant of Genos" in one form or another.
You simply MUST hunt down the Perfect Collection when
it comes out because it will contain the entire OST to
Oath in Felghana, which is arguably the best VGM of
2005, and possibly Falcom's best OST to date. I kid
you not. Save your money now.
Reviewed by: Connary