Final Fantasy -Dissidia Arcade Edition- Original Soundtrack
Final Fantasy -Dissidia Arcade Edition- Original Soundtrack (Dissidia Final Fantasy -Arcade- Original Soundtrack)
Square Enix Music
April 27, 2016
Buy at CDJapan
In late 2015, Square Enix brought their crossover fighting series Dissidia: Final Fantasy to Japanese arcades with a whole-new title. As with past entries in the series, the soundtrack blended rock-focused remixes of Final Fantasy battle themes with a range of original compositions from Takeharu Ishimoto, and was eventually released as a two-disc set in April 2016. After fairly solid predecessors, the latest soundtrack for the series completely fails to deliver…
As with Dissidia’s console-based entries, this soundtrack is dominated by arrangements of tracks from the numbered Final Fantasy series by Ishimoto, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and Keiji Kawamori. Plenty of fan favourites are featured the way, spanning all the way from Final Fantasy‘s “Main Theme” through to Final Fantasy XIV‘s “Torn from the Heavens”. Hardcore Final Fantasy collectors will be pleased to learn that all the tracks this time are covers without a single original in sight. But the bad news is that there are just 22 arrangements this time round (plus the “Prelude”) in contrast to 30+ from each of the previous soundtracks. And whereas Dissidia’s console titles featured a handful of great arrangements, the arrangements this time round range from mediocre to diabolical. Even before the stage themes begin, listeners are presented with a 10-minute medley featuring 30-second snippets of each theme. It’s a jarring listen made worse by its awkward, spoilery placement at the start rather than end of the soundtrack.
Sekito sets the standard for the arrangements with FFII’s “Rebel Army Theme” and FFIII’s “Eternal Wind”. In both arrangements, the arrangement invigorates the fan favourite melodies of the originals with his trademark electric guitar lines. The occasional brief solo aside, the arrangements are quite straightforward and also let down by their repetitive trapset. “The Darkness of Eternity” recaptures the charm of Uematsu’s rhythms and melodies from the FFIX final battle theme, but manages to do away with most of the dramatic arch. FFXIV’s “Torn from the Heavens” and “Nemesis” follow suit, transforming the dramatic orchestral originals into cookie-cutter rock arrangements. FFX’s “Seymour Battle” and FFXI’s “Awakening” feature comparatively minor changes, but those that were made generally imbalance rather than enhance their originals, and FFX’s “Normal Battle” lacks the production polish of the HD Remaster arrangement. Keiji Kawamori managed to do justice to “Dancing Mad” at least, blending hard rock tones with a pipe organ climax, but it’s hard to choose this four-minute reduction over the epic 12-minute arrangement from The Black Mages.
The arrangements dedicated to the final battle themes for FFIV and FFVIII are some of the boldest but also weakest of the bunch. Both take on a bold orchestral approach, with “The Extreme” even being peppered with some jazzy trumpets and groovy rhythms. While these arrangements would have been genuine highlights with some careful quality control, their imbalanced orchestration and overbearing synthesis makes them practically unlistenable. Also poor are the so-called techno arrangements of FFV’s “The Fierce Battle” and FFVII’s “Those Who Fight”, which lack the stylistic ingenuity and production polish of similar arrangements of the dearly-missed Mitsuto Suzuki from the previous Dissidia titles. The team at least made admirable attempts to integrate Hitoshi Sakimoto’s unwieldy music into Dissidia’s sonic landscape, resulting in burly rockestral arrangements based on two Final Fantasy XII themes and spirited piano-accompanied takes on two Final Fantasy Tactics favourites. Yet while all four arrangements are stylistically convincing, they’re far too short to make an impression — “Trisection” lasting a mere 98 seconds.
The one impressive aspect of the soundtrack are the handful of original compositions by Takeharu Ishimoto. The opening theme provides a brief but beautiful introduction to the soundtrack with its choral rendition of the series’ main theme. Similarly impressive are thunderous chants of the mode select theme, militaristic orchestration for the customisation screen, and rock-orchestral fusions for character selection. Orchestrated by Kentaro Sato and recorded with the London Symphony, these compositions have the stellar production qualities that are sorely lacking for the stage arrangements. However, the centrepiece of the score is “Massive Explosion” that is sure to please Ishimoto’s fanbase. An imaginative take on Dissidia’s main theme blending two aspects of Ishimoto’s music that have most resonated with fans: J-pop vocals reminiscent of The World Ends With You with epic Latin influences reminiscent of Final Fantasy Type-0 and Dissidia 012. The soundtrack closes with a softer orchestrated ballad version of the theme, as well as extensive dubstep remix from Novoiski that will be sure to divide fans.
In short, the soundtrack for Dissidia‘s arcade title neither lives up to the standard of the previous Dissidia soundtracks or the excellence of the wider Final Fantasy series. The vast majority of the arrangements are either too conservative, too imbalanced, or downright sloppy, with the soundtrack lacking the production quality of the PSP titles. The originals are mostly fine, but just as you wouldn’t buy a Street Fighter or Tekken soundtrack for its menu themes, these aren’t sufficient in number to justify purchasing the 3000 JPY soundtrack. It’s best to skip this soundtrack in favour of the much superior other two Dissidia albums.
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Posted on April 23, 2016 by Chris Greening. Last modified on April 23, 2016.