Final Fantasy V -Dear Friends-
Final Fantasy V -Dear Friends-
N30D-017 (1st Edition); NTCP-5018 (2nd Edition)
March 25, 1993; October 1, 2004
Buy at CDJapan
Final Fantasy V was one of many games that many North American and other players missed out on when it was released on the Super Famicom (SNES) in 1992. Thankfully, the popularity of the Final Fantasy series in the late nineties led to Square’s release of the Final Fantasy Anthology package containing both Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI. Final Fantasy V is quite a challenging game and can honestly be quite frustrating at times. The famous “job system” was introduced in this game as well, though it led to the lack of character development in my opinion. Nevertheless, Nobuo Uematsu has composed a beautiful soundtrack for this game, often overlooked due to the obscurity or unpopularity of the game.
Final Fantasy V Dear Friends is wonderful collection of many great themes from the Final Fantasy V Original Soundtrack and is what Final Fantasy Celtic Moon or Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale was to their perspective games. Though Final Fantasy V Dear Friends is mainly uses synthesized instruments and is not fully orchestrated, the quality of the sound will still impress you. And like the other special albums, a cultural theme was integrated into these Final Fantasy V themes. Half of the tracks in Dear Friends were recorded in Finland where singers and instrumentalists lent their talent to give the pieces a genuine Scandinavian feel. The listener is immediately treated to a Saami chant on Track 1 (Saami is a rare language that is only spoken in parts of Finland, Sweden, and Norway) before a beautiful remixed version of the main theme is introduced. Other tracks feature very different music styles, and all are quite pleasing to the ear. The strength of the Final Fantasy V Original Soundtrack lies in the wide range of fascinating melodies, and this great arrangement, done by Nobuo Uematsu himself, only adds to their brilliance.
As mentioned in overview, the listener get an immediate taste of the Scandinavian culture with a quiet Saami chant. The chant fades out before the main Final Fantasy V theme erupts with all its glory. Though not orchestrated, the music has been remixed with a synthesizer and the result is quite the contrast to its original SNES version. An oboe-like instrument plays the theme without fear and is accompanied by beautiful background arpeggios and the familiar PSX quality base. A new idea is introduced as a bridge between the repeat of the chorus, and seems to add bits of new hope to an already happy and free melody.With “Lenna’s Theme”, an already beautiful melody is enhanced in its playing by a gentle flute, using vibrato on the longer notes to simulate a real instrumentalist. Other synthesized accompaniments do a good job in adding spice without taking too much attention away from the main melody.
Every Final Fantasy has its “peaceful town” music and Final Fantasy V is no exception. The melody of “Tenderness in the Airy” is typical and classic Uematsu, the tender, relaxing music that many us have grown to love while exploring through all those rustic villages. The arrangement primarily consists of a synthesized harpsichord playing the theme, though it is joined briefly by a xylophone and oboe in the last repeat. Not stunning but quite pleasant. The “Saami Waltz” is arranged quite elaborately and is performed with live musicians using instruments such as accordions, drums, flutes, and violins along with other stringed instruments. While the sound quality is richer than the rest of the album, the melody itself is not very interesting or memorable in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is dance music and was not written to be some epic standout theme.
“My Home, Sweet Home” is the definitive track of the Final Fantasy V Dear Friends album. Soft guitars introduce the track beautifully before a female singer sings the newly written lyrics of the first verse in English. She goes on to sing the second verse, this time in Saami. Verse by verse, the language is alternated while extra singers add a counter-melody. This all builds up to a newly composed chorus in which everyone sings together, after joining in one by one again. Absolutely gorgeous! The new piano introduction to “As I Feel, You Feel” is absolutely stunning and its mixture with the celesta chords creates a hopeful reminiscent feeling I cannot describe. The tune eventually slowly softens into the base line of the Final Fantasy V forest theme and an oboe-like instrument take over to sing the main melody. After a few repetitions, a boy suddenly begins to read out the verse lines like a poem. He speaks in Saami as female singers join in and sing soft notes and chants in the background. The effect it creates is remarkable and unlike anything I would have expected from video game music. Some might find the overall result a bit strange, but I loved every bit of it.
There is an intangible quality about “Pirates Ahoy” that makes it instantly recognizable and memorable to the gamer. The remix itself is not as well arranged as some tracks, but still great in its own right. Gongs and chants were inserted in the middle section, adding to the “hard-working gang” feel. Another interesting track, “Cripper Tripper Fritter!?” was obviously an experiment on the Mog’s Theme (which originated here in Final Fantasy V). Practically every sound possible on the synthesizer was used to remix it. The beginning is nothing special but things turn quite chaotic near the midpoint. A man laughing, dogs barking, a honky-tonk, wooden blocks, and cats meowing off tune are just some of the sounds used here. While some might praise the track for its creativity or its silliness, I found it a little overdone with the end result being quite confusing and unclear.
“The Land Unknown” is soft, sad, yet hopeful as it is played during the third overworld. The remixed arrangement was done very well, adding a flute to play the second-half phrase beautifully. New material is introduced after two repeats — a viola singing a sad tune that complements the original theme quite well. Though nothing fancy happens otherwise, the transition is very smooth, giving the track an overall relaxing feel to it. A wonderfully written dungeon theme, players heard “Fates of Haze” during the crystal tower climbs or through the misty underwater caverns. This is another synthesized remix and is done in the same gentle and soft manner as “The Land Unknown”. While I love the enhanced flute and oboe melodies accompanied by guitar, strings, and a shiny electric keyboard with timpani for the base, the exotic percussion that added the “underground river” feel to the Original Soundtrack is missing in the arrangement.
Harsh percussion and electric-like base whines with shrill strings greet the listener immediately in this amazing synthesized remix of the air fortress dungeon “Musica Machina”. Though the sound may seem a bit chaotic, the ambience it creates is ideal for a machine environment. It somehow relays a sense of shocking awe, one that the in-game characters would have felt as they witnessed the immense interior workings of a created mechanical monster. Midway through, the tune erupts into a courageous and bold piano melody not heard on the soundtrack. A powerful contrast, the piano slowly fades away and the music reverts back to its original state. It may not be a track that everyone will enjoy but it is quite a unique musical experience and an immense improvement over its monotone original.
As the title would suggest, “Music Box” is simply a gentle and simple reminiscent theme played on a music box. This was used in the game during one of the flashbacks. The music box is joined by soft strings after a repeat and remains for the newly composed bridge. A flute and a muted bagpipe jump in before the music box closes out the track slowly by itself. It is a short but very pleasant sounding arrangement for such a simple theme. The album closes with “Dear Friends”. Soft guitars play the first ending melody in this sad but hopeful theme. The sound is quite peaceful as the guitars perform solo for a while before a few flutes jump in with a lively but gentle counter melody. I enjoy the arrangement quite a bit although the theme itself for me personally is not that spectacular. Nevertheless, it was generally well received enough to be put on the 1989-1994 album and is the closing track that gave this album its name.
Overall, I was quite pleased with this album, both as an addition to the Final Fantasy V Original Soundtrack and as an addition to the Final Fantasy music library. My only nitpick about this album was that more themes were not included! Two themes I particularly loved from the original include the “Battle with Gilgamesh” sequence and the Hiryuu (Dragon) theme that was used extensively in the ending. I would love to see a remixed edition of those music pieces. Nevertheless, that should not prevent anyone from getting this excellent album. Unlike many of the other special albums, Nobuo Uematsu arranged this one himself and it certainly shows, with the all variety of music styles heard throughout. All in all, it is a great collection of beautiful melodies and musical themes.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Gilgamesh. Last modified on August 1, 2012.