Recettear Original Soundtrack International Version
Recettear Original Soundtrack International Version
November 7, 2010
Buy at CDBaby
As a longtime devotee of turn-based role-playing games, I have never once paused to wonder what sort of life the NPC manning the item shop lives or how they manage to stock their humble store with limitless supplies of potions and antidotes that my characters snatch up with wanton glee. Despite their NPC status, item store proprietors have complex lives full of challenges, trials, and decisions, which is the exact life that Recettear allows players to experience.
Released in 2007 by EasyGameStation, and localized independently by Carpe Fulgur LLC in 2010, Recettear retained the original soundtrack created for EasyGameStation by Team m_box once it crossed the language barrier into English. After the stateside success of Recettar, however, Team m_box released a new version of the soundtrack on iTunes and CDBaby — the Recettear Original Soundtrack International Version — which includes an extra remix and instrumental track.
With Recettear selling 100,000 international copies in just over four months, it is safe to say the game has found an avid fanbase outside of Japan… but is the soundtrack, EasyGameStation’s first foray onto iTunes, worth the $10 investment?
Everything about Recettear recalls classic 16-bit dungeon crawl roleplaying games and the soundtrack is no exception. “Fine Grass Road”, the overworld music, is perfectly at home in the RPG genre and creates a cheerful feel of adventure with synthesized flute and harp melodies soaring playfully over a driving snare drum cadence. While not as foreboding or bittersweet as overworld music tracks in combat-driven RPGs, it captures the naïve protagonist’s spirit and makes for an incredibly fun, memorable track.
After the atmosphere of “Fine Grass Road” is established, the Recettear soundtrack plays with auxiliary themes and moods much as a roleplaying game soundtrack would be expected to. “Past Inheritance” and “Air of Muddiness” build foreboding and uncertainty perfectly, while the laid back clarinet melody of “Quiet Mood” makes for a rather jazzy ambient track. “Confrontation” is the sole action track on the album and, while not a true battle theme, lends an urgent air to the soundtrack through use of uptempo synthesized guitar work and distorted electric organ to create a quasi-chiptune sound, which will be fully realized later in “Stocking”.
When listening to an album, both as a fan and reviewer, I always try to pick a track which would be released as a hypothetical single. “Fine Grass Road” would be a strong contender for Recettear, but “Divine Protection of Thalia” would ultimately have my vote. As the longest track on the album by a margin of over five minutes, it has plenty of time to develop its ethereal feel as it fluidly transfers the album’s main theme through various instrument and stylizations. Yet it is the slow, purposeful manner which the themes are developed and imbued with a tender, almost spiritual, energy that really makes the track shine. Although perhaps a little slow out of the gate, this track belongs in the music libraries of any serious fan of videogame music. As does “Lost World ver. Recettear”, if only for the cheesy techno remix treatment that it gives the main theme of “Divine Protection of Thalia”.
The only real negative against the album is the grating and poorly balanced synthesized harmonica used on “Thank you, Tear”, “Good Morning, Recet!” and “Closed”. While cute at first, I would not recommend listening to any of the aforementioned tracks if you have the slightest hint of a headache, since it just might push you into migraine territory. Unfortunately, the synthesized harmonica distorts the main theme of “Good Morning, Recet!” and “Closed” into a shrill, if playful, parody of its more tender piano incarnation, heard in full on “Midnight”.
Although set in the world of a traditional role-playing game, Recettear is anything but traditional in terms of the gameplay and “restaurant management” experience that it offers players. It is appropriate, then, that while similar in feel to an RPG soundtrack, the Recettear Original Soundtrack International Version is not a true drums and harp-driven RPG soundtrack. At times tender, wistful and more than a little uncertain of itself, the soundtrack fleshes out areas of the RPG soundtrack genre that most RPG soundtracks themselves overlook, much in the same way that Recettear develops aspects of the RPG world that most every RPG published to date overlooks.
That said, a point of clarification regarding the soundtrack: iTunes has labeled the Recettear soundtrack as explicit and this has been acknowledged by the translators who worked on the localization as an error on iTunes’ behalf. That said, the explicit label is still applied to the album despite there being no explicit content in the soundtrack (one track out of 24 has lyrics, in Japanese) so do not let this influence your decision on whether or not to purchase the album.
Complex in range and playful throughout, the Recettear Original Soundtrack International Version will be a welcome addition to the music library of RPG fans and anyone looking for upbeat driving music that you can’t help but smile to. Just… don’t forget about the grating harmonica.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Matt Diener. Last modified on August 1, 2012.