The Legend of Dragoon Original Soundtrack
The Legend of Dragoon Original Soundtrack
SPE Visual Works
January 21, 2000
Buy at CDJapan
In 1999, Sony Computer Entertainment continued its attempts to take a share of the RPG market with The Legend of Dragoon, a solid but not quite legendary title. Its score was mainly outsourced to New York record producer Dennis Martin, though late soundtrack composer Takeo Miratsu also offered a handful of tracks. After the strong sales of the game, a soundtrack was released featuring an incomplete selection of music from the game.
Dennis Martin clearly attempted to offer music that was a little different from other RPGs on The Legend of Dragoon. He represented the settings of the game by blending electronic and acoustic elements to create an ethereal fantasy feel. This is evident in the first world map theme, which blends typical military fanfares with unusual overtones from synthpads and chimes, to convey a conflicted land. While its a decent attempt at ambient scoring, the individual forces are rather bland and are not cohesively integrated. Furthermore, the samples do not suffice these years on and this is a significant detriment to a theme built almost entirely around soundscaping, rather than melody.
The rest of the soundtrack tends to build on these foundations to varying success. “Grassy Plains” is a little different for an RPG score with its synthetic strings and electronic beats, though runs too closely to manufactured new age music to be profound in its own right. “Ghost Ship” meanwhile creates an initially striking timbre with its synth vocals and prepared piano, but is overall a very superficial horror imitation. “Ruined Seles” is a little better, soothing listeners with its simple piano melodies, while atmospherically portraying the setting with ethnic percussion below and electronic synthpads above. However, even this track lacks the memorable melodies or emotional nuances to stand up against great RPG works.
There are tracks on the soundtrack that are more typical of RPG soundtracks. Most notably, “Dart’s Theme” is a classic character anthem with its catchy melodies and pumping instrumentation; it’s far from deep or elaborate, but at least it’s memorable unlike most other tracks here. “Shana’s Theme” meanwhile is one of several typical sentimental themes with its electric piano focus and provides a serviceable accompaniment to the game’s storyline. There are also bouncy gimmicky compositions such as “Riding on a Positive Rhythm”, mellow setting themes such as “Frontier Village”, and darker entries such as “Dead City”, all of which provide a diverse backdrop to the game despite its overall electro-acoustic focus.
The battle themes also tend to be a little more enjoyable on this release. “Battle 1” is a guilty pleasure with its catchy technopop vibes, while “Boss Battle 2” offers some much-needed exuberance on the soundtrack with its rocking guitar lines. Both compositions were clearly inspired by the greats of Nobuo Uematsu, though don’t manage to quite equal them. The succession of four last battle themes is also interesting; contrary to the usual approach of RPGs, they transition gradually from the bold orchestral opener into an understated surreal climax. The effect is quite atmospheric in context, but the tracks are once again rather underwhelming on a stand-alone basis.
The most significant highlight of The Legend of Dragoon is the vocal theme “If You Still Believe”. While more Westernised than most RPG vocal themes, Dennis Martin nevertheless perseveres to offer a special blend of jazz and new age influences here. Elsa Raven’s vocals have a very ethereal quality here and bring plenty of emotion to the lyrics in the memorable chorus section. Furthermore, she offers a mesmerising timbre in conjunction with the smooth guitar punctuations and soprano saxophone solos. The vocal theme is some six minutes long, offering some rich interludes to sustain interest, while returning back to the central melody several times.
The music for The Legend of Dragoon has not stood the test of time well. While the music largely complemented the game’s visuals, it falls largely flat as a stand-alone listen due to superficial composition and bland implementation. Now electro-acoustic approaches to game scoring is now commonplace, today’s artists have exceeded Dennis Martin’s approach in all regards. Only purchase this album is you have played the game and feel nostalgic about the music, though note that a number of key cues are absent.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.