Nintendo SLG Soundtrack Best Selection
Nintendo SLG Soundtrack Best Selection
May 21, 2009
Buy Used Copy
The Nintendo SLG Soundtrack Best Selection is an eleven track sampler featured in the latest edition of the Nintendo Dream magazine. It is split into three parts. First of all, there are three tracks from the Fire Emblem series, Intelligent Systems’ tactical RPG series known for its functional militaristic scores. There are subsequently three hard rock tracks from the Nintendo Wars series, a further line of military games by Intelligent Systems. There are finally five tracks from Taito’s Takt of Magic featuring music written in the style of romantic composers. The sheer majority of the content is exclusive to this CD, so it’s worth taking a further look…
The weakest section is definitely the Fire Emblem part. That’s largely because it features two similar renditions of the somewhat overplayed Fire Emblem main theme in a row. The Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon arrangement brings out the majesty of the original melody with its grand orchestration and woodwind fluorishes, though isn’t quite as creative as some of the GameCube versions. The Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn version, “Grand Opening Music”, is introduced with a bombastic fanfare, but soon becomes a cinematic yet straightforward version of the theme. Both are very competent elaborations, but the dramatic weight is lost with two in succession. At least Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword‘s “Let’s Go Together” provides an original number, albeit one previously released on CD; its rocking melodies and old-school synth are sure to make fans reminisce of game music from the SNES years, although it was actually written for the Game Boy Advance.
One of the biggest draws of the CD is that it features music from the Nintendo Wars series, which has barely otherwise been featured on album releases. Yoshito Hirano’s “Jake’s Theme” from Advance Wars: Dual Strike reflects exactly what the series’ music is about — riff-based rock music with strong rhythms. There isn’t much of a melody to speak of, but the somewhat derivative riffs are assembled in such a way that they are undeniably catchy. “Andy’s Theme” from the sequel keeps the rhythmical impetus strong but adopts a funk approach instead driven by a slap bass figure. Out of context, it can only be treated as a mildly enjoyable ditty, but it works within a more diverse score during the game. The only other sample from the series is “I Love Battle More Than Three Meals a Day” taken straight from the SNES’ Japan-only Super Famicom Wars. It’s a nice mix of rock and funk elements once again and, in my opinion at least, has by far the strongest melody and emotional chord progressions of the trio.
Norihiro Furukawa’s score to the recently released Takt of Magic features the most intricate use of orchestral music. The gliding scalar runs and flute trills of “The Ages Come and Go, as Our Walking Sticks Guide Us” offer such a vibrant overlay to the punchy brass fanfares. “The Sound of High Hooves” immediately captivates with its exquisite violin and trumpet solo passages before taking the emotions up a notch with a mesmerising interlude from 1:30. Also charming is the neo-classical waltz “The Voyage”, elegant and brilliant with its piano melodies yet haunting and misleading with its chordal accompaniment. It’s clear that Furukawa is one of the more classically-trained game composers out there with these miniatures, but it’s also admirable how well his compositions fit the game. Moving on to the last couple of additions to the soundtrack, “Fast Riding with the Thunder” is a action-packed march featuring commanding string motifs while “Advance of the Castle” is an emotionally charged cinematic theme focusing on desperate and beautiful trumpet passages. Both are very impressive.
The quality and variety of the material on the Nintendo SLG Soundtrack Best Selection is admirable. After a decent Fire Emblem selection, the Nintendo Wars selection instantly captures the essence of the series’ music. Let’s hope the series will one day get a full-length soundtrack release. However, clearly the biggest highlight are the five pieces from Takt of Magic, which are especially elegant and colourful for orchestral game music. If this game gets a full soundtrack release, it might be a big contender as one of my favourites this year. As it stands, this 30 minute sampler provides an appealing testament to what could be two great full album releases if Nintendo and Zuntata get their act together. It’d be bittersweet if this sampler is all that ever comes of the music from these franchises…
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.