Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version
Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version
PSCN-5001/3 (1st Edition); NTCP-5001/3 (2nd Edition)
March 25, 1994; October 1, 2004
Buy at CDJapan
Hailed as one of the greatest video game soundtracks ever made, the Final Fantasy VI soundtrack is an amazing achievement on multiple levels. Uematsu definitely succeeds here in creating a memorable, appropriate, and often breathtaking score to an epic game. Unlike most of the other Final Fantasy scores, the soundtrack to the sixth installment contains very few filler tracks and presents an array of memorable and nostalgic melodies you’ll find yourself humming for days.
One of the defining aspects of Final Fantasy VI was its sheer number of characters. With each character comes a corresponding theme, and each one has its own personality that matches the character.
Perhaps the most well known of these themes is “Terra.” Utilizing a sweet and somber melody and appropriate instrumentation, the track soars. In the game, it is used as the overworld theme, and is actually quite effective. The melody laid over the adventurous and moving accompaniment works well together to form a suitable theme.
Some of the character themes are lighthearted and playful, such as the wily “Kefka” and the enigmatic “Gogo”. Both of themes have an appreciable humor to them, as well as fitting their respective characters like a glove.
“Relm,” “Celes,” and “Gau” are beautiful and nostalgic. The melodies are straight from the heart, and possess an uplifting beauty. Despite having similar qualities, they are each very different and distinctive from each other. “Gau” features a small, solo-based instrumentation. The cello sings with sorrow, and yet a glimmer of hope. “Celes” and “Relm” have expanded instrumentations, with lush strings providing accompaniment.
The character themes are some of the most enjoyable listens present on the album, and listening to each of them gives a perfect example of the sheer scope of both the soundtrack and the game.
Into the Battle
This soundtrack holds some pretty good war music. Though not as strong as later entries into the series, the battle tunes are all appropriate, catchy, but not overly annoying. The normal battle theme is pretty typical, as is the boss battle theme. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoyable; rather, they lack the distinction of other battle themes.
“The Fierce Battle” and “Dancing Mad” are the real gems when it comes to battle themes. Despite being short in length, “The Fierce Battle” is extremely intense and epic. Intimidating melodies combined with pulsing rhythms set the stage for what the title describes.
“Dancing Mad” is a different story. Clocking in at over seventeen minutes long, this is Uematsu’s longest battle theme. It consists of multiple sections, each representing a different stage of the final fight. The primary instrument he uses here is the pipe organ, and to great effect; it lends itself to a very gothic and dangerous tone. The organ work is obviously heavily inspired by baroque organ works, especially those of J.S. Bach. Complimenting the organ are various parts for chorus, percussion, and other orchestral instruments. The ensemble is utilized brilliantly.
Setting the Scenes
Scattered throughout the soundtrack are some of the most beautiful town and setting themes ever created. A few mysterious, some hectic, some peaceful, and most of them gorgeous.
My personal favorite of these themes is “The Magic House”. A simple instrumentation sets the stage for an enthralling and playful baroque work that works very well both within the game and for outside listening.
“Devil’s Lab” is a bit of an experiment. Dominated by mechanical sounds and synth backed by traditional orchestral instruments, it is very quirky and upbeat, and certainly different than the other themes Uematsu presents us with. The mystifying “Phantom Forest” and “Phantom Train” are unforgettable listens. These pieces compliment their scenes in the game like no other.
“Fanatics”, possibly the only major flaw of the soundtrack, is downright horrendous. Possessing no clear melody or harmony, it is simply dissonant garbage. This works decently in the game, but horribly on the soundtrack.
Overall, this soundtrack is an extremely strong entry into the Final Fantasy series and video game soundtracks as a whole. The startling variety of styles and melodies is almost certain to please any listener. Personally, I view this as Uematsu’s strongest, most coherent and complete work. There are very few filler tracks and nearly every piece holds very valid qualities. A favorite that will remain forever in the top echelon of musical achievements in my mind.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Jared Miller. Last modified on August 1, 2012.