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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Favorite Tunes #6: Final Fantasy Town Themes

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series. The first game hit the Famicom in Japan in 1987 while the original Final Fantasy wouldn't be released in North American until 1990. I don't feel like waiting until 2015 for Final Fantasy's 25th birthday so I say, let the celebrates begin in 2012.

One of my favorite franchises in gaming, the Final Fantasy games boast some incredible music across each platform that the series has graced. From the NES all the way to current generation hardware, Final Fantasy music is some of the best out there. This edition of Favorite Tunes focuses on town musical pieces. Why a Favorite Tunes based on FF Towns? Because a Town Themes is the works for another edition of this series and I didn't want it to be dominated by FF tunes, so it gets its very own spot. Town themes aren't just limited to towns. For me, they can be used for a kingdom, a castle, or in the case of the very first entry, a cave that acts as a home.

Matoya's Cave - Final Fantasy (NES)

You walk into a cave filled with brooms that walk of their own free will. The only being of flesh in the cavehold is Matoya, a witch that can't see a thing without her Crystal Eye. Being the brave Warriors of Light that you are, you go and fetch it for her by beating the crap outta Astos. With her vision restored, she makes the Jolt Potion so you can wake the prince of Elfheim. Depending on which version of the game you're playing, she'll either tell you to get lost or that you're ugly as sin. What an ungrateful witch. Matoya's Cave has one of the most jovial themes from the entire FF series. The minute you hear it, it brings a smile to your face and makes you want to whistle along. The NES version is my favorite, but the PSX arrangement is also quite good. If you actually talked to those brooms that were cleaning up the cave, their scrambled text is actually a means to view the world map. Keen.

Doga and Unne's Mansion - Final Fantasy III (DS)

I can remember the first time I entered Doga and Unne's home and being blown away by this magnificent theme. This brilliant piece of music justifies the two characters very short existence in the game. I actually ran around the manor for a bit just to take this lovely song in a little more. Maybe it's because I heard the DS version first, but I must admit that I'm very partial to it. Still, the NES original is pretty rad. 

Troian Beauty - Final Fantasy IV (SNES)

When you enter a majority of the towns in Final Fantasy IV, you're almost always greeted with Welcome to Our Town! Not when you go to Troian, though. No, when you step into Troian, you're hit with this soothingly beautiful music piece. It just makes me let out a peaceful sigh. Even on SNES hardware, Troian Beauty is mighty fine work from Nobou Uematsu. Welcome to Our Town! is good. Troian Beauty is better. So much better.

My Home, Sweet Home - Final Fantasy V (SNES)

The only playable protagonist you can name in Final Fantasy V is called Bartz in localized versions but Butz in the Japanese version. His hometown's name? Lix. Make of that what you will. *Ahem* Lix is the only place in the game where you can hear the theme My Home, Sweet Home, an absurdly peaceful tune. I really adored FFV's use of the banjo in a number of tracks, especially this one. At one point in the game, Exdeath sends Lix to the Void, meaning you cannot hear My Home, Sweet Home anymore. That's reason enough to send him to the grave as far as I'm concerned. 

Cyan - Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

Cyan's theme also acts as the theme for Doma Castle, which was the home to Cyan and his wife and son. Doma fell when Kefka poisoned the water just for the fun of it. Valiant knight, Cyan was the sole survivor. Cyan's theme is the audio version of honor. Despite all of the hardships Cyan goes through (you could argue that Cyan got it far worse than any of the others when it comes to dealing with loss), Cyan pulls through and still goes on living in a world many would think isn't worth living in or saving. When I hear Cyan's music, I reminded of how he lost his kingdom and his family all in one day, but the tune also reminds me of courage, strength, and character, something the middle aged man has in spades.

Parochial Village - Final Fantasy VII (PSX)

As good as Final Fantasy VII's music was, I have to admit that I think it was one of Nobou Uematsu's weaker efforts. This probably has to do with time constraints. FFVII was an a behemoth of a game and he was only given six months to compose the score. I wasn't the biggest fan of the town themes in this game but I really dug Parochial Village. FFVII has a number of "chill" songs like the Turks' Theme, Coast of the Sun, Lurking in the Darkness and Oppressed People, but Parochial Village tops them all, at least in my opinion.

Fisherman's Horizon - Final Fantasy VIII (PSX)

One of the coolest towns in Final Fantasy VIII. The town layout was phenomenal, offering so many different views and areas to visit. Without question, it's my favorite town in the game. Along with all the lovely scenery and places to go, is one of the best pieces of music in the entire Final Fantasy series and one of my favorite town themes of any game, Fisherman's Horizon. Do you like fishing? I've never been fishing myself, but Fisherman's Horizon makes it sound like the best pastime on the planet. Or if you're not into fishing, just imagine you're self on the beach, looking out at the endless ocean, the sun in the sky reflecting on the water, light clouds passing by, millions of miles from your troubles. Now that's paradise.

Cid's Theme - Final Fantasy IX (PSX)

The red carpet has been rolled out. Don't slouch! Stand up straight! You have an audience with a king! Annnnnnd he's been turned into a frog by his wife for cheating on her. Well royalty is royalty regardless of what they've been turned into (and scorned women are not to be trifled with.) Cid's Theme plays whenever you visit Lindblum Castle and as it suggests, Cid is an important figure, with ruler status. He also gives you access to much-needed airships. His theme is made of awesome majestic goodness.

Luca - Final Fantasy X (PS2)

Who says only the good Final Fantasy music comes from Nobuo Uematsu? FFX was the first game in the main series to feature composers outside of Uematsu. Some of the very best tracks in the game were written by Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano, the later of two being the composer of Luca. Luca happens to be one of the biggest cities in the game that you'll explore. As such, its theme gives off a vibe that is vibrant, making you feel that a lot is going on, as is often the case with large cities.

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