Final Fantasy VII Chips
Final Fantasy VII Chips
September 19, 2012
Buy at Official Site
Inspired by the commercial and critical success of SQ Chips, Square Enix commissioned a series of arrangement albums dedicated to the Final Fantasy titles of the Sony era. Each featured ten favourites from the original scores arranged as chiptune tracks. Despite being arranged by Sexy-Synthesizer and MJ & DJ OMKT, Final Fantasy VII Chips is one of the weaker albums in the series — filled with bland, conservative reductions that rarely compare to their originals.
Final Fantasy VII Chips stands out is for its solid, well-rounded track selections. There are plenty of fan favourites here, spanning classic battle themes like “Those Who Fight Further” and J-E-N-O-V-A”, to emotional centrepieces such as “Cosmo Canyon” and “Highwind Takes to the Skies”, to the full-length opening and ending themes. But with just ten tracks and a 37 minute playtime, this isn’t a fully-fledged tribute to the four disc soundtrack either. Not even “One-Winged Angel” makes an appearance here — perhaps Voices of the Lifestream was too worthy a rival!
As for the arrangements themselves, “Opening ~ Bombing Mission” reflects what listeners should expect from the album as a whole. It is essentially a reduction (or “demake”) of the original piece from synthetic orchestra to chiptune, following the original section-by-section, note-by-note. The end result is what Final Fantasy VII would have sounded like had it been made for the SNES instead. Though the interpretation is accessible, it is unlikely to appeal on a creative level like the renditions of SQ Chips did. This isn’t about presenting a new twist on the original with inspired arrangement choices and careful chiptune synthesis. Instead, it sounds like a plain resynth of the original’s MIDI files using samples that are neither as authentic nor expressive as the more artistically driven chiptune releases out there.
Only a few tracks here offer a fresh perspective on their originals. MJ & DJ OMKT “Crazy Motorcycle” makes a convincing transition into a rhythmically compelling chipcore track that is, in many respects, even more enjoyable than the original. Sexy-Synthesizer’s “J-E-N-O-V-A” and “Birth of a God” are also delightful takes, filled with energetic beats, heroic melodies, and brooding undertones. Aside from clumsy dynamic shifts, these tracks are also among the most convincingly rendered here. “Turks’ Theme” makes an obligatory shift away from the percussive approach of the original. In its place, listeners receive an urbanised chiptune take reminiscent of Double Dragon. It’s interesting, but quite repetitive and far too short, with a playtime of just 1:58.
The rest of the arrangements all fall in the mediocre range. The renditions of “Staff Roll”, “Those Who Fight Further”, and “Highwind Takes to the Skies” are faithful demakes that might inspire nostalgia, but don’t add anything to the originals. Saitone’s glitch take on the latter in SQ Chips 2 is far more interesting. In contrast to the other battle themes, “Those Who Fight” lacks the vivaciousness of the original, largely because of the aseptic synth work and limited timbral diversity. “Cosmo Canyon” also falls short due to its rendering — while the treble register sounds beautiful (aside from the misplaced violin sample), the bass department sounds utterly feeble. When listening to this, I feel obliged to switch the CD straight back to the original.
The most legendary game in the Final Fantasy series deserved more than this obvious cash-in. Most of the arrangements neglect what made SQ Chips so enjoyable in the first place — that the arrangements didn’t just ‘demake’ the originals, but transformed them into something fun, different, and special. This album is only recommended for passionate collectors — everyone else is better off enjoyable the Final Fantasy VII arrangements featured on SQ Chips and its sequel instead.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.