Final Fantasy VIII Chips
Final Fantasy VIII 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. Arranged by KPLECRAFT and BOKKADENcI, Final Fantasy VIII Chips is considerably better than Final Fantasy VII Chips, but is it enough to justify a purchase?
Just looking at the track listings, it’s clear that more work was put into Final Fantasy VIII Chips than its predecessor. While the 54 minute album features just ten tracks, all of them span a solid length and there are even a few medleys here. The track choices are also superb, including most battle themes from the game and iconic tracks such as “Liberi Fatali”, “Fisherman’s Horizon”, “The Castle”, and, incorporating “Eyes on Me”, the 13 minute ending theme as well. Almost all the fan favourites from Final Fantasy VIII are here.
In terms of the arrangements themselves, though few are as extravagant as the material of SQ Chips, most still show considerable artistry. Looking at one of the most conservative renditions, KPLECRAFT’s “Blue Fields” adheres closely to the melodies and harmonies of the original, while presenting them as chiptunes. Rather than use cheap MIDI samples like Final Fantasy VII Chips does, the experienced unit employs authentic 8-bit sounds here. And perhaps more interestingly, they arrange and balance them in such a way that the beauty and worldliness of Uematsu’s composition is preserved. As someone who was unhappy with the synthesizer operation of the original, a fresh 8-bit rendering is more than welcome. It pushes few boundaries, but it is convincingly done.
The most enjoyable tracks on this release are the battle themes. BOKKADENcI’s battle medley is delightful, shifting from a crisp punchy rendition of normal battle theme into a fast-paced exhilarating boss battle remix. KPLECRAFT also works his magic on “The Man with the Machine Gun”, “Maybe I’m a Lion”, and “The Extreme”. Much like his acclaimed remix on SQ Chips 2, these tracks show that the Nobuo Uematsu’s battle themes can sound amazing whatever the format, provided they’re implemented well. Among other tracks, the version of “Ride On” inspires pleasant memories of past airship themes in the series, particularly “Searching for Friends”, while the polyphonic 8-bit arrangement of “The Castle” still captures the grand scope and haunting feel of the organ-based original.
As for the vocal tracks, these are likely to prove mixed reactions among audiences. While remixers seem to have a habit of botching “Liberi Fatali”, BOKKADENcI someone makes the piece work on chiptunes, conveying every dramatic twist while continually building the energy. This is not easy, given the original featured a full orchestra and chorus, though it’s likely that the original version will continue to rule supreme. Less appealing is “FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC”, which maintains the ritualistic feel of the original, but is a little screechy and laborous. The rendition of “Eyes on Me” in the “Ending Theme” is also likely to prove more divisive, combining a lolita vocaloid voice with elaborate synth decorations. Some will find it cute, others annoying, but it’ll go down as a novelty rather than a definitive arrangement.
Final Fantasy VIII Chips provides a proof-of-concept that almost every Final Fantasy piece can be convincingly presented on chiptunes, provided there is an experienced arranger behind them. That said, while the majority of the arrangements are well done, some are likely to lack long-term appeal compared to the original versions. Cautiously recommended.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.