Final Fantasy -Dissidia- Original Soundtrack
Final Fantasy -Dissidia- Original Soundtrack
December 24, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
Square Enix has exhibited a tendency to exploit the Latin language — their new marketing campaign consists of utilizing such words in their compiliations and productions. But by attaching the Latin word “Dissidia”, meaning “conflict” or “disagreement”, to the well-known Final Fantasy brand, Square Enix emphasizes the mythological depth of the game’s plotline, as well as its genre-bending status as a “Dynamic Progressive Action Role-Playing Game”. “Dissidia”, a game developed in celebration of the Final Fantasy saga’s 20th anniversary, features extremely high production values, and by revisiting characters and music from throughout the series, the game feels tightly linked to the entire Final Fantasy heritage. These aspects have led to a warm reception in the Japanese market; it was ranked fifth place in the all-time ranking of most purchased PSP games in Japan — not a small feat! If we add the two disc original soundtrack, influenced by the creative minds of ex-Square-icons like Nobuo Uematsu or Hitoshi Sakimoto, it becomes evident that this title is well-rounded in almost every aspect.
Due to the game’s aforementioned nature, the Final Fantasy -Dissidia- Original Soundtrack is filled with new arrangements and original versions of pieces, mainly battle themes, that come from every released part of main Final Fantasy series (so unfortunately, the themes from Final Fantasy Tactics are nonexistent here). Of course, brand new compositions are present as well, but they’re definitely in the minority. Takeharu Ishimoto, the soundtrack’s main composer and arranger, gained a lot of respect for his work on a soundtrack for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Other significant Square Enix employees Mitsuto Suzuki and Tsuyoshi Sekito lend their talents to the music as well. Suzuki is currently working with Masashi Hamauzu on Final Fantasy XIII while Sekito has arranged Final Fantasy music for The Black Mages’ studio albums and the Final Fantasy II remake soundrack. It would seem that such a strong team simply could not let the fans down. While the album is by no means a failure, one’s opinion of the work is strictly dependent on subjective inclinations and personal expectations. Additionally, one’s view may vary depending on the music’s context — the soundtrack’s function in-game is vastly different from the feelings evoked when listening to the soundtrack as a separate album.
The Final Fantasy -Dissidia- Original Soundtrack starts out as dramatically as the game itself. The work of percussion and violins in “Dissidia -opening” is an admirable musical illustration of the game’s opening cutscene. Due to its splendor and power of expression, that intro has become one of the best opening movies ever created for any PSP game. The musical themes within this piece, featuring an epic clash of good and evil forces, will be audible many times in the various game menus. Despite the fact that not all of them keep the same high level of intensity (for example, the kettledrums in “Quickening” disturb, instead of supporting the main melodic line), Takeharu Ishimoto has met expectations in his composition of new works.
Additionally, the new arrangements of themes from the first six parts of Final Fantasy on the first disc were not a problem for Ishimoto or his co-arrangers. The First Final Fantasy titles were created for the NES or SNES platforms; neither the five channel mono system of the first nor the eight channel sound card of the latter allowed for modern compositions. Generally speaking, arrangements were made of these themes since their soundtracks couldn’t be used in its original form. Suzuki’s characteristic style is shown in his calm and electronic “Prelude -menu-“. Sekito follows his steps in the soothing interpretation of FII’s “Main Theme”. Ishimoto’s track, FFV’s “Clash on the Big Bridge,” is arranged in a characteristic rock style. It’s nice to hear many of these old melodies in a new form; however, they definitely are better in-game, as themes linked to particular Dissidia characters. On the soundtrack, they are disassociated from these characters, which limits the meaning and power of the themes.
Exploring the second disc of the Final Fantasy -Dissidia- Original Soundtrack, there are more original compositions transferred directly to the game from another six Final Fantasy parts — beginning from VII and ending on XII. These tracks play strongly on players’ emotions, but for soundtrack collectors, this kind of recycling detracts from Dissidia’s value. For example, even though Hitoshi Sakimoto’s great “Boss Battle” theme from FFXII perfectly works as a pompous musical illustration for in-game battles, fans will still wonder how Ishimoto, Suzuki, or Sekito would have rearranged the piece. For consolation, we get Suzuki’s interpretation of FFIX’s “Battle 1”, in which trance rhythms are skillfully enhanced by the prominent sound of trumpet. Final Fantasy VIII fans will certainly be pleased with Sekito’s “Don’t be Afraid” which could easily fit on an album from The Black Mages. All in all, the second disc is a bit weaker than the first; most of its tracks are recycled music, while the new arrangements are not the composers’ best work.
The high points of the soundtrack are the themes that feature invited guests. Shiro Hamaguchi’s great orchestration of the well-known Final Fantasy VII track “One Winged Angel” is included from the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks. Kazuhiko Toyama amazes with his “Dissidia -ending-” theme. At almost nine minutes long, this piece contains fragments of every ending theme from all ten Final Fantasy parts, creating an astonishing effect. It is also worthy to add for that all game promotion singles were recorded by the little-known Canadian emo-group Your Favorite Enemies. I highly recommend “Cosmos,” a characteristic song which showcases the angelic voice of their female singer.
To sum it all up, the Final Fantasy -Dissidia- Original Soundtrack is a project that elicits mixed feelings. The Japanese version of the game proves that the music by Ishimoto, Sekito, and Suzuki fullfils its role, but if you concentrate on the album compositions, you’ll notice that most of the pieces lack something. Perhaps it’s because Uematsu and Sakimoto, during their work for Square, set the bar so high that their successors have difficulty achieving a similar level. Alternatively, maybe soundtracks mixed for handheld games are simply neglected due to the limited budget and restricted hardware capabilities. For the verdict of the game, we need to wait until the world premiere (taking place in June, exactly 22 years after first Final Fantasy RPG appeared in the American region). The soundtrack, however, should be purchased only if you have heard and enjoy internet samples of its piece. Otherwise, it may be too risky to buy it.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Kamil Rojek. Last modified on August 1, 2012.