With Masashi Hamauzu having departed from Square Enix, it’s a bloody good thing he left a good swan song in the form of Final Fantasy XIII‘s soundtrack. Sure, it’s not as memorable as Final Fantasy VI or VII‘s soundtrack. But it’s solid. Contary to popular belief; Uematsu is no the only man on planet Earth who can deliver a solid Final Fantasy soundtrack, and Masashi has done a pretty good job from what I’ve heard of XIII‘s so far. But my favourite piece (aside from the awesome battle theme) is one of the character themes.
As is customary for Final Fantasy, each of the main characters has their own theme song. And whilst Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t have a collection of themes as memorable and as iconic as those from Final Fantasy VII. XIII‘s leading lady has a pretty damn good one. It’s great from the word go. The piano, the strings, the mood, everything. But once the melody from the battle theme kicks in, it’s just plain awesome.
It’s not the kind of theme you would expect a character like Lightning to have, going on early impressions of her doing nothing but laying smack downs and shooting people in the face. But from what we now know of her character, it sums her up really well.
Tekken 6 isn’t the series’ best soundtrack. I don’t think Namco are ever going to touch the awesomness that was Tekken 3‘s soundtrack. But 6 is certainly the most varied of the bunch sonically. Each piece is completely different in style and tone to the last. Many of them you wouldn’t associate with a Tekken game at all.
Amongst the various styles that the Namco sound team play with, “Fallen colony” is my pick of the bunch. It’s just a bad ass piece of music. Distinctly Japanesey, yet with many musical styles thrown into the mix. Live drums, kickin’ guitar solos, strings, chants, trumpets, percussions, drum ‘n bass, synths and several bars of awesome.
Dishing out cans of whoop ass to this song feels incredibly gratifying. More so if you manage to smash your sucker of a victim through the glass floor of the stage this music features on, and then juggle their arse up off the floor. Good times…good times.
One of my good friends is a Persona freak. He loves the games and owns every single PlayStation release of the series. A few days ago he’d got himself a copy of Persona 4. He was opening it as I was talking to him on the phone. “Oh, it comes with the soundtrack!” He put it on and as he skipped through the tracks, I caught a whiff of some J-Pop. “Stop. What song was that? Go back!” “My affection”. I have a soft spot for easy breezy J-Pop that are so sickly sweet and happy-go-lucky that it’s enough to make you sick and vomit an ice cream cone with a side of rainbow. And “My affection” has buckets of sweetness. All it took was the “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeeeaaah”‘s and I was on the song like a fly on shit. It’s just a really nice song. It isn’t a main theme or a major centerpiece song or anything. It just plays when you’re wandering around a town! I love it. I’ll probably get too sick of it eventually. But for now, it’s my pleasure that I’m not even guilty about. The entire Persona 4 soundtrack is pretty spiffy. In the realm of RPG’s, many tend to forget there are other hot composers other than Nobuo Uematsu.
Now if you’d excuse me whilst I go sing my shit. “Your affectioooooooon! Your affectioooooooon! Take it for coffeeeeeeee!”
Final Fantasy X-2‘s soundtrack got slated by pretty much everybody, their Grandma and their unborn child. And let’s not get started on the game itself. Despite having a love / hate relationship with Final Fantasy ever since VIII and really loathing X something chronic – I rather enjoyed X-2 for what it was. Soundtrack and all. Sure, the compositions were not anywhere near as memorable of some of Uematsu’s works on a bad day. But the soundtrack served its purpose and matched the new tone and direction of the game perfectly. But whilst most of the soundtrack was being tossed in the crapper by the masses, the game’s main instrumental theme “Eternity” got shown a lot of love. Probably because it was the only composition in X-2 that sounded like it was actually from a Final Fantasy game.
An alternate version of “Eternity” which has more instrumentations and an R&B vibe going on for it also featured in the game and on its soundtrack. If you aim for the 100% completion and get ‘the band’ back together, they treat you to a performance of this song in Guadaosalam, and you can hear it every time you go back there.
Jet Set Radio has to be one of my all time favourite games. There was very little if anything wrong with it. Hot graphics, addictive gameplay, and one bad ass soundtrack. To say the music in Jet Set Radio was eclectic would be an understatement. J-Rock, J-Pop, House, Dance, Techno, Hip-Hop. Everything cool and credible for you to rock to whilst you skate around and deface public property in Shibuya.
One of my fave tracks was the song “Electric tooth brush” from Toronto. I’ve not always been a fan of dance music. I certainly wasn’t around the time I used to murder Jet Set Radio every weekend. But “Electric tooth brush” just did it for me. It’s all about that bass. It always got me working a shoulder and adopting a bit of a bounce.
I was pretty shocked when I first checked out the playable demo of this game. Because what I had previously thought was the main theme to the game, turned out to be the battle theme!
It’s definitely a departure for the Final Fantasy series in terms of it’s sound. You’d never have thought when you first heard the piece play in the trailer a couple of years back that it’d get chucked into the game as a battle theme.
I love the composition. I did from day one. It’s grand. It’s catchy and brilliantly arranged. It really does convey the feeling of being part of a big epic adventure. But as a battle theme!? I’m not too sure. It has a sound about it that I wouldn’t necessarily associate with a battle theme. It’s sound fits, yet doesn’t at the same time: in a good and bad way. Plus, hearing it every single time you fight a battle throughout the game – it would get annoying and wear thin after a while. I’m hoping Square Enix either re-arrange it to keep it in line with other Final Fantasy battle themes and feature more of a kick, or that they’ll have different battle themes for different locations and situations.
But I do love it though. It’s a great piece of music. The sound, the sweeping strings, the mix of edgy guitars with operatic style strings and brass sections. It’s hard not to like it for what it is: a stunning bit of music. Although for a game that Square Enix claimed would not be your typical, pigeon holed J-RPG, they gave the game a very Japanesey style battle theme. All its missing is a koto and a shakuhachi.
Tekken used to be known for its awesome soundtracks. Take note of the words ‘used to’. Tekken 1 and 2 had great soundtracks. Tekken 3′s was a bloody masterpiece. And then shit went horrendously wrong with Tekken 4. I’m not sure whether key players of the Tekken 3 soundtrack were fired, or if they had mid life crisis’ which head shot their creativity. But something went seriously wrong with Tekken 4′s soundtrack. Game 5 brought things back a little. It was still far from the greatness of what Namco had brought to the table before – but the soundtrack did yield some gems.
One song in particular caught my ear in Tekken 5′s soundtrack, and that was the theme for the Moonlit wilderness stage. It was funky, it was epic and full of awesome. One of the most grandiose and melodic pieces to grace a Tekken game. Fitting, given that it featured on what I felt was one of the series’ best and most ominous looking stages.
I have my fingers crossed that Tekken 6′s soundtrack see’s the audio on top form. I’ve played the game in arcade, but I can barely hear anything. You lot know what it’s like.
I was a bit taken a back when I first booted up Street Fighter IV and heard a guy start singing “I can feel it coming over me” as Ken and Ryu went at it. Street Fighter games and theme songs with vocals have been long estranged, so it’s both odd and refreshing that Capcom opted to change things with their latest Street Fighter game.
More often than not when games get themes sung by Japanese artists and said themes get translated into and performed in english, I opt for the Japanese version. But in Street Fighter IV’s case, I’m in preference of the English theme. The lyrics and timing suit the music better, where-as in the Japanese version certain parts of the song don’t sound right. Almost makes me wonder if the song was written in English first and then re-worked into Japanese. Both versions are performed by Japanese boy band EXILE, and their English is perfect. No Engrish to the ears here! Okay…so there’s a little. But cleverly, the engrish is masked by loud guitars and synths. As a cool in-game option you can set whether you’re greeted with either the Japanese or English version of the song – so everybody wins!
I love this theme. I’d always avoided EXILE’s music like the plague, because frankly: Japanese boy bands suck. But I may check out more of their stuff as a result of their contribution to Street Fighter IV.
I think Soul Calibur IV is a bloody awful game. But it was an awful game with kick arse graphics and also a pretty decent soundtrack. The soul series’ soundtrack has a patchy history. They’ve definitely fallen off a little with each new game. Soul edge‘s soundtrack was a masterpiece which I will forever hold in high regard and every now and then am partial to listening to. But the sequels featured soundtracks which were mundane and forgettable, save for the odd one or two stand out pieces.
Whilst Soul Calibur IV’s soundtrack isn’t amazing, it is solid and probably one of the more grandiose and atmospheric soundtracks of the bunch. My favourite piece from the soundtrack has to be “Immaculate pledge” – hands down. It’s dramatic, melodic, memorable and captures the partial essence of what made Soul edge’s soundtrack so brilliant. The piece also has a sense of familiarity about it. Every time I listen to it I keep trying to rack my brain on which other Soul Calibur piece it reminds me of.
Ridge racer type 4 was one of only 2 games in the Ridge racer series I actually liked and played extensively – the first being Rage racer. Believe it or not it was not the allure of short haired, big eyed, mini skirt donning Reiko Nagase that hooked me. But a mix of the cool game play and kick ass soundtracks. Seeing as I’ve mentioned Reiko, I may as well re-cap the short ‘n sweet intro to R4 for those who don’t remember it: Reiko waking up in a hot sweat, turning up her stereo, walking to work, stumbling in a tunnel as her heel breaks and then hitching a ride off of an anonymous man in a really fast car. Gotta love that her!
Then there was the theme song: with a well produced dance beat, a decent vocal, a little Japanesey mid section and the full song clocking in at under 2 minutes – it was more than enough for me to love. The whole of Ridge racer type 4′s soundtrack was pretty top notch. But I couldn’t sing along to any of the other songs, which is why “Urban fragments” ranked out on top.
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