Breath of Fire III Original Soundtrack
Breath of Fire III Original Soundtrack
September 19, 1997
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Of the Breath of Fire games that have been created, the third installment probably has the most atypical RPG soundtrack of the series. Rather than the archetypal orchestra music, Breath of Fire III radiates a jazzy, upbeat sound that is expertly delivered by Yoshino Aoki and Akari Kaida. The fact that nearly the entire album is comprised of jazz might have you wondering at how well it could possibly fit the atmosphere of the RPG genre, but I can tell you that it’s a more than welcome change. And to keep the score interesting, many of the related genres of contemporary jazz (such as big band, blues, Latin, funk, etc.) are exploited to expand the variety. The composers have taken standard jazz elements and used them to effectively impart a number of emotions, none of which is hindered by the genre’s carefree and lighthearted stereotype.
I’ll start by pointing out a very grievous injustice that this album was dealt: over half the music from the game was omitted, leaving out many classic tunes such as the forest theme, the victory fanfare, the Wyndia theme, the second overworld music, and even the final battle among many more. This aside, I can at least say that the selection includes many of the best tracks from the game, and therefore, is at least a partially redeeming quality to warrant the purchase of this CD. However, completists out there may wish to consider purchasing the Breath of Fire Original Soundtrack Special Box instead, featuring all three discs of Breath of Fire III‘s music.
The opening theme is calm and steady, presenting the main theme. The theme itself is not particularly strong, but allows it to subtly lend itself to a few scattered pieces throughout the album. “Without a Care” is the terrific first overworld music, sporting a great jazz groove with a fantastically sampled funk guitar rhythm. The battle theme is perfectly fitting and very easy to listen to over and over again (a feature not always present in RPG battle music). “Eden” is remarkably smooth and flowing for a synthesized piece of music from the PSX era, delivering a soothing ballad of electric piano, synth pad, flute, guitar, light percussion, and some nice background bird chirping to elaborate on the natural setting that the song accompanies. “My Favorite Trick” is delightfully enjoyable with a catchy and sprightly bell melody, and is easily among the highlights of the album. “Escape”, being action-oriented and fast-paced, is a good example of where the composers get creative with a normally standardized RPG scene. It’s full of all kinds of jazz elements, yet maintains the steady adrenaline thrill of escaping an enemy — something that you wouldn’t under normal circumstances attribute to this style of music.
Considering some further highlights, “The Insane Warriors” is an endlessly fun track, returning with the excellent funk guitar and a great hip-hop rhythm. “Life’s a Beach” is representative of a lot of the soundtrack for its joyful and optimistic tonality, and is one of the stronger pieces of the score. “Decisive Battle” starts out unassuming, then builds in tension until the section about forty seconds in when strings take the melody. A wonderfully clever rhythmic idea occurs here when in every second bar of the four-bar melodic phrase the snare drum breaks into a tactful triplet decrescendo which leaves the rest of the music for that measure suspended in a gliding, weightless motion. Compositional devices like this really keep the soundtrack interesting, and fortunately for the listener, show up all over the place. “Ending” is pleasant enough, though it could’ve been a lot longer to display more of the lovely piano, oboe, horn, and string phrases present in the fleeting one-and-a-half minutes the piece offers. Following the ending theme are arranged versions of “Escape” and “Fighting Man”, both of which reiterate their corresponding songs with enhanced samples and the typical electronic remix percussion. They could’ve been better, but something is better than nothing (and at least they chose two of the better pieces to arrange).
To wrap up the soundtrack, “Pure Again (Staff Roll)” is a hip-hop/funk/fusion piece with fairly decent Japanese vocals. While I have no outright complaints about the song itself, I feel it just doesn’t belong on a soundtrack full of intelligent jazz and otherwise above-average music. The last item on my list of gripes is the version of the boss battle, “Battle in the Coming Days ~SE Collection~”. As the title implies, this is a recording of the boss music with a string of obnoxious and evidently randomized battle sound effects playing throughout almost the entire track. This detestable perversion of “Battle in the Coming Days” was distasteful as well as just plain unwelcome… though I suppose I am biased, being particularly opposed to having any form of sound effect present on a game soundtrack.
Despite the minor problems I have with this soundtrack, I really feel it deserves a positive conclusion. This is one of the best RPG scores out there, as well as easily one of the better jazz soundtracks for any game. It is intelligent, clever, and thoroughly enjoyable, not to mention just as fantastic when playing the game. It’s really a shame to consider what this album could’ve been had the producers decided to expand it to a rightful triple disc set, but that’s not going to stop me from recommending this release for casual fans and hardcore listeners can check out the more complete, and more expensive, box set instead.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Joe Schwebke. Last modified on January 23, 2016.