Final Fantasy IX Chips
Final Fantasy IX 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. Final Fantasy IX Chips is the mixed bag of the series, featuring a diverse cast of arranged, some more talented than others.
Things get off to an uninspiring start with “The Place I’ll Return to Someday”. Just like his contributions to Final Fantasy VII Chips, Sexy-Synthesizer takes a conservative approach and simply changes the ancient instruments of the original to chiptune sounds. What’s more, this remix isn’t even original, being released previously on the promotional albums for SQ Chips. The other arrangements to Final Fantasy IX Chips are all new ones. There are some notable omissions, such as “Vamo’ alla Flamenco” and “Frontier Village, Dali”. There is also some filler, such as yet more renditions of the “Prelude” and “Fanfare”. But most fan favourites like “Beyond That Hill”, “You’re Not Alone”, and “Assault of the Silver Dragons” make it here.
More than other albums in the series, Final Fantasy IX Chips reflects that the approach and quality of the arrangements of the series depends entirely on the arrangers. Responsible for three tracks here, ajiponn produces bold chiptune-pop remixes that are reminiscent of tracks on SQ Chips. With “Beyond That Hill”, he transforms the dreamy new age original into a buoyant chipcore remix that gets especially energetic around a minute in. A surprising but awesome interpretation of the game’s main theme. His rendition of “Gulug Volcano” is punctuated with similar beats and features especially eccentric leads, while the airship theme combines the ‘feel good’ vibe of the original with a glitch influence. Both tracks demonstrate how chiptunes can enhance originals if treated correctly.
By contrast, the three contributions by Xinon are easily the most uninspired additions to the Final Fantasy Chips series, which is really saying something. “Prima Vista Band” and “Rose of May” sound like the MIDI files that used to be distributed on fan sites a decade ago — the orchestra and piano lines of the originals have simply been downgraded to low-quality synth samples. These tracks lack any musical embellishment, don’t feature authentic 8-bit sounds, and cut off prematurely at the two minute mark. Xinon’s rendition of the ever-popular “You’re Not Alone” also disappoints for similar reasons. While some noise was added at the climax, it’s brief, dull, and amateurish. Square Enix really ought to have done more quality control here, as this arranger does not deserve a place on a commercial release.
Another remixer mochilon is responsible for two battle medleys in the album, one dedicated to the main battle themes, the other a ten minute epic dedicated to the final battle themes. In contrast to KLPECRAFT’s takes on Final Fantasy VIII‘s battle themes, most of these arrangements are quite tame and cutesy. But they’re also quite likeable, since they emphasise the catchy quality of Uematsu’s originals and feature plenty of creative touches. Without giving too much away, the transition between “Battle 1” and “Battle 2” is also a great way to break the fourth wall. Finally, the “Prelude” remix from Soichi Terada was somewhat unnecessary, but still provides a unique perspective on the theme using current approaches inspired by the chiptune scene.
Final Fantasy IX Chips provides a further testament that the Final Fantasy Chips albums were hastily made. The album is hugely inconsistent, featuring both the worst ‘demakes’ in the series and also some of the best, and little attention seems to have been paid to quality control. The highlights will make this one worthwhile for hardcore fans of the series, but most will be better saving their money for one of Square Enix’s better recently released albums.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.