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Sin 'Vin and Shin's Music Review

Welcome to the music review at RPG! Our goal is help people see the soundtracks they listen to in a better light as well as well as help the rpg music lovers out there know what to get and know what crap they should stay the hell away from before they're stuck listening to something so bad, they'll want to drive ice picks into their ears to relieve the pain. This week in the spolight is the electric Brave Fencer Musashi OST! Sorry folks, no samples this time, Dragon God's having problems with his computer, so he wasn't able to rip anything.

To view our previous reviews, check out the archives

Rahvin Shinryuu
Heroes… There are as many kinds of heroes as there are flowers in the world. Yet what music really defines a hero? What makes a particular type of music suiting for a hero involved in a quest? That's what we'll try to figure out in this review of the Brave Fencer Musashiden OST, a soundtrack that easily fits the classic storyline of a hero/quest RPG. It uses rhythms, percussions and often fast paced music to get you this feeling of adventure. Unlike previous soundtrack I reviewed, Dew Prism, the Brave Fencer Musashiden OST which also has 2 CDs follows the more traditional chronological approach. The order of the songs follows the progress of the game itself. I will remember this soundtrack because of the excellent quality of its battle themes. A matter a fact, I first heard a part of the soundtrack when Shinryuu sent me some battle themes for the battle music radio. Not only the battle themes distinguish themselves in this soundtrack, but a good number of other songs in the soundtrack like "Statue of an Angel" make this soundtrack quite enjoyable.

I didn't find that any songs in the beginning were any interested. Till you get to the first battle song of the soundtrack "Steam Knight". This isn't one of the best boss themes, but the relatively slow rhythms mixed with the drums in the background gives me the impressions of something gigantic and destructive, but yet slow. Thus this gives me a good idea of what the Steam Knight might have been, a giant robot. Unfortunately, I haven't played the game so I don't know ^_^;

"The steamwood gone haywire!" and "Hell's Valley" are both songs that you like for no apparent reason. They're both fast paced, TSGH is sort of techno-ish and HV is epic, and that's why I like them. It's so simple, it's mind boggling. Now "Let's go bowling!", however goofy the name may sounds, it's definitely one of my favourite songs on the album. It's one of the songs with the most instruments. Drums, synthesizer, flute, triangle, bells and harp mix in a way that the beat created by this song is absolutely captivating.

The last track of disc one of Brave Fencer Musashiden is as epic as the soundtrack itself. "Vambee Church Battle" is absolutely the best battle theme of this soundtrack. Drum, the synthesizers, the organ, every instrument (I say this because Tsuyoshi Sekito uses some weird sounds at times) is used to make this fast and epic battle come to life. The only thing that annoys me slightly about this song is that it cuts two times to insert a carrousel theme. I hate it when good beats are cut drastically for no reason. Except for that, it's all good!

Now on to disc two!

This discs starts with the second best song of the soundtrack, "Statue of an Angel". This is one of the really good non-battle songs. I just love how the drums, synthesized violins and flutes make this song come alive literally. This is AN epic song and I mean "running-for-your-life-to-go-smite-the-bad-guy-with-a-vengeance" epic! I can't see any other way of describing it. It captivates me each time I listen to it.

"Freeze Palace" is a good ambient track. The bells, flute and especially the harp really gives you the feel of the north and of the cold. "Frost Dragon" is another nice battle theme. Again lots of harp and a bit of organ give off this chill factor to suit better the boss you're fighting. "Gondola Star" is special, it's got a weird sound that I just can't recognize (weird whistling or a cello that's off?) and as a whole it sounds a bit Arabic, but it's fast paced and people like me enjoy that.

Well we're almost at the end of the soundtrack/game, time for more battle music! "Midair Giant Playground Battle" is quite different from the rest composition of the album. There's a different choice of instruments and a totally different composition, but I don't think it was a bad idea. Then we get to the last boss who got not one, but three songs for himself. Take that Kefka! Unfortunately, they aren't close to being as great as "Dancing Mad". The three songs are "Demon of Darkness Power I, II & III", I didn't really like the two first ones that much, but the third one had again that Arabic sound to it and made me think of Star Trek. Yes, you heard me Star Trek. So sue me if I can actually visualize Captain Kirk and Spock when I listen to this song!

Do not be fooled by my review the soundtrack is quite big, but Brave Fencer Musashiden OST is a really great, but different soundtrack. I found it hard sometimes to accept the mix of synthesizer and orchestra especially in some songs where I felt the orchestra should o've had a bigger role. Anyhow no soundtracks are perfect, but this one brought with it its own set of little gems.

Brave Fencer Musashiden is unfortunately among the less popular games Squaresoft has done so far…. But it had many good things about it, it was the first Squaresoft game to have full conversations with real voice-overs, a charming cast of characters and of course : the music.

The man for the job was Tsuyoshi Sekito, a newcomer at SquareSoft at the time, while not quite up to par with Uematsu or Shimomura, he holds a strong place with his work. I may be wrong but I believe that Brave Fencer Musashiden is Mr. Sekito's first VGM work ever, and it's quite amazing, not to mention he did it solo. How many tracks has he composed ? 78 tracks, that's a lot, especially for his first project. Anyways, on with the review.

The music is neither orchestral nor synth, but in between, and is generally very enjoyable and catchy. The music also has a lot of variety, ranging from quiet, peaceful tracks to hard rock boss themes. Sekito also uses what sounds like synthetised voices in his music, while it sounds weird the first time you hear them, you'll see that they fit the music just right once you try out the game.

I'll start with what I like best : the boss and dungeon themes.

For starters, SteamKnight ( music for Steam Knight boss battle ) starts off loudly, then the bells and drums join in, making it quite appropriate for the bulking machine. The next boss theme is the Skullpion's, this one is a perfect example of the rock style and is full of the voice effects, like the Steam Knight, you'll learn to appreaciate it the more you listen to it. The final battle theme on the first disc is the truly hard-rocking in-your-face Vambee Church Battle, for those who thought that Legend of Mana's Pain the Universe and Darkness Nova ruled over all, you might put the LOM tracks away once you've experienced this puppy, the only bad thing about Vambee Church Battle, if you can call it bad that is, the section of the song with a flute and sounds like a waltz, it really seems out of place in contrast to the heavy rock in the first half of the track.

The better boss themes are in the second disc. Relic Keeper is a neat remix of the game's main theme, and it quickly draws you in with its infectious beat and melody, it's so hard to skip this track. ( At least it is for me 8P ) The second battle theme on the second disc is the medieval sounding Sword Fight, which is when you battle Musashi's rival, Kojiro, I found that theme so good that it's still stuck in my head. Next is Frost Dragon, here we are treated to synthetised chants as well as the usual voices, and at the end we hear thumping sound effects, really strange but really enjoyable boss theme. If you thought that Frost Dragon sounded weird, you ain't heard nothing yet, make way for the Queen Ant battle track, this is one unique track, can we say flooded with synthy voices ? Oh yeah, at the end of the track, they are constant and loud, and it's all backed up by bells and drums, truly something special, you'll need to listen to it many times before you get to see its beauty and charm despite the possibly annoying voices. Now it really gets interesting with Ben the Bomber, the fat dope was granted a very catchy melody backed up with drums and some other instruments which I can't identify. If you've really enjoyed Vambee Church Battle and Skullpion, then you'll defenately get a kick out of Ed the Flamer, it starts out with electric guitars then the simple but highly enjoyable melody takes place with some voices thrown in here and there. Then we get to the winner in oddest battle track Topo's Groove Heaven, it's purely funky and uh…. cool ! The music was written so because you must battle Topo in her way, dancing and following her steps. And now we got 4 battle themes to go, Tower of Death has an awesome beat, I happen to really really like this track so much that I often set the repeat button on my portable CD player once it plays. Next up is the first of the last boss themes, Dark Lumina Part 1, it starts out with drums, followed by bells and really sets the mood for the battle. The last boss theme Dark Lumina Part 2, it has an asian sound to it coupled with those synthy voices Sekito will be known for, the melody is very good here and yet again fits the mood perfectly. The remaining battle theme is the Mother Minku battle, which I believe it's an optional boss, it sounds like something we'll be hearing in Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon 2, which Mr. Sekito wrote about 12 tracks out of 43, which of course has the little voices we come to love ^_^ .

For the dungeon tracks, they are as varied as the boss tracks, the first is the Spiral Tower, which sounds very foreboding, but interesting still. Sleepy Forest starts out with some weird instruments then the voices make their entrance followed by a beautiful melody. Mountain Range sounds great with its drums and heroic feel and powerful bass in the melody. The Ice Temple starts out with omnious drums and it builds up with a mix of the main theme making it one of the best dungeon themes in the game. When it's time to reach the Queen Ant, Ant Heaven, has a female chant throughout the track and has that piercing sound which I detest so much…. When you reach the final area, you get another remix of the main theme, not much to say about it, really.

There are some villain themes, but they aren't really standing out, save for Kojiro's Theme, which has drums, flute and like many tracks in the set, an enjoyable although short melody. For hero themes, we get Musashi's theme, which is played on your way to the Spiral Tower and is reused in the ending theme.

All in all, I believe Brave Fencer Musashiden OST is worth getting, for one it's by SquareSoft and we all know that they always make good music, right ^_^ ? Some tracks are cycled twice, some aren't, but still it shouldn't keep you from getting this wonderful soundtrack cuz it simply kicks ass !