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Monday, September 24, 2012

Favorite Tunes #27: Square Enix Edition

Once two separate companies, Square and Enix merged to form Square Enix in 2003. This company is widely known for the Final Fantasy series, but I'm not going to feature any music from that series in this installment of Favorite Tunes (I'll be doing that later). Other RPGs are gonna get their chance to shine.

NOTE: Games before the merger have also been included.

War in China - Live-A-Live (SFC)

Released only in Japan, Live-A-Live let's players choose from seven different characters each with their own story. The game's soundtrack was handled by the very talented Yoko Shimomura. This splendid track that was used for Wood Man's background music in the Mega Man ROM hack Rockman Deus Ex Machina. I've never played Live-A-Live, but if you're interested, there is a fan translated version on the net.

Unknown World - Dragon Quest I & II (SFC)

The first two Dragon Quest games were released on a compilation cartridge on the Super Famicom in Japan during the console's head day. In 2000, these two games were once again bundled together as Dragon Quest I & II for the Game Boy. Unknown World is the World Map theme that plays on your journey. In the very first Dragon Quest game, you are all alone, no party members to assist you. This theme is the perfect representation of a lonely warrior's quest. I quite like the extras melodies that were added to the SFC version of this tune.

Feldschlacht I - SaGa Frontier 2 (PS)

Kenji Ito wrote the music for the first SaGa Frontier, but for SaGa Frontier 2, the composing duties were handed to Masahi Hamauzu, a man that is closely associated with the Final Fantasy series these days. I can't recall too much about SaGa 2, but Hamaizu's work on the score was sensational. Feldschlacht I is the first of numerous battle themes and it gets arranged through numerous tracks. All of the soundtrack titles are in German. Feldschlacht roughly translates to Field Battle.

Pure Night - Secret of Mana (SNES)

This game is actually the sequel to Final Fantasy Adventure on the Game Boy, which is actually called Seiken Densetsu. While that does make Secret of Man Seiken Densetsu 2, most of us that don't live in Japan just call it Secret of Mana. There's a ton of breath taking music in Secret of Mana, but Pure Night is one of the few tracks that leaves you awe-struck. It's so hauntingly beautiful.

Bike Race - Chrono Trigger (SNES)

Most of Chrono Trigger's music was written by Yasunori Matsuda, but when he got sick, famed Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu stepped in to finish up. Matsuda tends to have the stronger tracks in Chrono Trigger, but Uematsu composed a very lively song in the form of Bike Race. This song plays in the year 3000 AD in the race against Johnny C. Bad, but you can hear it much sooner in the year 1000 A.D. by just exploring some houses and talking to people.

Field of Exper - Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS, PSP)

Beginning life on the Super Famicom, the Star Ocean series made it's way to the PlayStation and eventually the PlayStation 2 and then the PS3 and Xbox 360. Unfortunately, it looks like Star Ocean 4 will be the last Star Ocean game. Star Ocean music is generally handled by Motoi Sakuraba and he is to the Star Ocean series what Nobuo Uematsu is to the Final Fantasy series. Field of Exper plays on the world map and does a great job of making the world set before you seem endlessly vast. Second Story was ported over to the PSP under the name Star Ocean: Second Evolution.

Influence of Deep - Parasite Eve (PS)

Nobuo Uematsu gave me a reason to stop dissing opera in Final Fantasy VI and a few years later, Yoko Shimomura gave me even more reasons to stop mocking it. The beginning of the course has a lady belting out a few notes, which might lead you to believe that's all you're in for, but the song quickly shifts gears into a fast paced battle theme while the opera singing continues throughout. The first of many great battle themes in Parasite Eve.

Twin Mountains - Brave Fencer Musashi (PS)

Released in 1998, Brave Fencer Musashi, was one of Square's better attempts at doing something different. This action RPG had day and night cycles and if Musashi went too long without rest, he'd get tired and performer poorly in battle. This game really was a gem and to this day, I kick myself for trading it in.

Night of Fate - Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

Final Fantasy meets Disney could describe Kingdom Hearts in a nutshell. OK, so there's probably much more to it than that, but the only game in this series that I've finished is Chain of Memories of the GBA. This action RPG series takes original characters and has the meet up with Final Fantasy cast members and classic Disney characters. With music by Yoko Shimomura, you know your ears will be pleased.

Attack - Front Mission 3 (PS)

Front Mission 3 was the first Front Mission game to see a release outside of Japan and rather than just call it Front Mission and go the route they went with earlier Final Fantasy titles, Square kept the original numbering. When all was said and done, I invested over 70 hours into this mech turn based RPG and that was only playing one out of the two scenarios. How you answer a simple question at the start of the game will determine the path you follow. It's been more than ten years since I played Front Mission 3. Maybe I'm due for a visit.

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