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Sin 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 soundtrack to the ever glorified Final Fantasy VI. Unfortunately, the samples we've provided for you are in real audio, but they're good quality and you can download them here.

To view our previous reviews, check out the archives

Sinistral Shinryuu
Before I start off, I'd like to show everyone a little picture Cid (the one and only) sent me. Because of his origins, he knows hebrew and when he saw "Sin and Shin" he found it very amusing because those were letters in his alphabet that had just a little tweak that made them differ from each other. Its pretty neat! Check it out here.

Anyway, lets get on with the review; FF6 or rather FF3 for the american players has been considered by old school rpg players to be the best RPG ever made, though that probably is more because of nostalgia and dislike of chages. If it hadn't been for the immense work that Nobue Uematsu put into the making of this soundtrack, FF6 would most likely never have become as popular as it did because the music fits perfectly with the characters and the situations they are in. Like any of his soundtracks, Uematsu has many excellent songs, but he also has pretty bad ones , with very few in the middle.

The soundtrack is composed of 3 discs with unequally distributed songs. The way the songs are split up differs from most soundtracks because most soundtracks move up chronologically through the game.The first disc is more of a character themes disc. On it are all the major themes of all the major characters of the game , ranging from Locke to Kefka to Celes. The second disc is what I call "the opera disc" because that's where the whole score for the opera is placed. Those songs are what makes that particular cd stand out. The third disc, on the other hand, is a more depressing disc. Its composed of songs that are more from the end of the game, from the World of Ruin.

Due to the amount of tracks and how many of them are of very high quality despite the SNES synth to it, the first CD is probably the one most people will listen to. This is the CD that has the heart of FF6. It has 2 battle themes , the normal battle , which is a good , but not great, and the "Decisive Battle" theme, which is the song that is played in the boss fights. What makes this boss battle theme seem special is that this is probably one of the first battle song that has been played with a beat like this. This is the song that probably paved the way for future songs like boss theme for FF7 and the ones to Legend of Mana (if you can find them at a game music site, the names are Darkness Nova and Pain the Universe). Therefore, obviously, this is probably one of the more "striking" fighting songs in the minds of older players (aren't my puns lame?). The character themes are all very good and going over them 1 by 1 would simply be tedious. They are all of very good quality and they are very good at describing the personality of the characters in FF6, wether is Kefka's madness, Locke's flamboyance or Celes' tragic figure. The also contains a somewhat longer introduction than previous FF games and its nice to listen to. 2 other songs I really liked were the "Phantom Forest" and "Unforgiven". Though these are both very different songs, they are both very nice to listen to, the first for its serenity, the second for the energy it conveys.

The second CD has very little to it other than the opera. If you've visited Macc's HQ and FARTS, then , odds are, you've heard the Grand Finale where Ultros screws everything up. Though there are only a few opera songs, this is one of the few games out there that has bothered to include an actual opera in the game and even more uniquely, much less make tracks for one. However odd it may seem, Celes' theme song being on CD 1 was based off the song she sings on CD 2, Aria di Mettzo Carratere. FF6 broke new grounds by including this vocal in the game (though you don't hear the words to it unless you look around for one the remixed soundtracks of FF6 or some fan work). There are other quality songs which have more of a sad feel to them. These are what gets the players close to the characters. These are the ones like "Coin Song" and "Forever Rachel" . These make this somewhat of a nostalgic CD since it seems to concentrate on the past histories of the characters, and not the present actions like the first and third cds.

The third CD covers the end of FF6 basically. The themes that one hears in the World of Ruin, like "Epitaph" ,"Searching for Friends" and "The Day After", portray the change in mood after what Kefka did on the floating island. These songs portray the changes in hopelessness and hopefulness that the charcaters encounter in the game at this point. This CD contains far less songs than its counterparts if you look at the tracklist, but it also contains 2 massive songs: "Dancing Mad", the battle against Kefka and the "Ending Theme". Both songs last about 20 minutes each, making it simply baffling that someone could put something that long together and keep the quality, mood and all those good things one might look for in a song. I have to disagree with my reviewing partner that One Winged Angel is better than Dancing Mad though. OWA is very impressive the first time someone listens to it because of the latin words which portray destruction and the percussion in the background, but the song gets horribly repetitive since, unlike Carl Orff's "Oh Fortuna", it doesn't have all that much to say, litterally.

Overall, this is a very rich soundtrack for older rpg players, but the newer players might be turned off by the obvious attempt to imiate real instruments that characterized the SNES, even though its not nearly as bad as what was seen on the NES. This is a good soundtrack imho , definetly worth an 8/10 on my scale , losing points because of annoying songs such as the first overworld theme for the world of ruin and Terra's theme at the beginning of the first CD.

Final Fantasy VI was released in 1994, it had been Squaresoft's most successful RPG at the time. The most famous composer at Square, Mr. Nobuo Uematsu was in charge of the score for FF6 ( as he has been for the past 5 games in the series excluding Mystic Quest ). The music to Final Fantasy VI is nothing but breathtaking, epic, gripping, etc...

Many consider this Uematsu's finest work ever, personally, to me it isin't THE best, but easily among the top 5 best VGM soundtracks out there... Here we get a plethora of diffrent styles, from the soothing themes like Awakening to epic battle tracks such as The Fierce Battle. I'll give out my personal thoughts on the 3 CDs, one by one, giving off examples of really good tracks.... as well as bad ones.

Disk 1 General review

Disk 1 contains most of the character, town and some battle themes. The high points of this disk is mostly some great epic character themes. A great example is Locke's theme, full of vigor and it just screams " HERO " throughout the entire track, the regal theme of Edgar & Sabin really fits the two brothers and Figaro Castle quite well, Shadow's theme has a western sound to it with those flutes throughout the track, it represents the assasin all too well. Cyan's theme is another matter, I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just saddens me when I hear this, since the events surrounding Cyan are quite tragic (his kingdom is destroyed, loses his wife and child), but like Cyan, the theme actually perks up a bit for the better at the end of the track, in my opinion this is one of the best character themes Uematsu has composed. Gau's theme is quiet and serene, reflecting Gau's shy nature, the last of the character themes, Celes, is simply gorgeous, try to listen to this one without crying, I dare you ! Now for the town themes, first up is Colliery Narsh, I'd describe this as a partial ambient track, since we seem to hear a person breathing in the beackground, anyways, it's all right, but since you'll be hearing this track often, it will get annoying. The normal town theme " Kids run through the City Corner " is peaceful, it shows the beauty and freedom of South Figaro ( till it gets taken by the Empire ). Under Martial Law is the town theme for all towns under control by the Empire, it's merely a diffrent version to the usual theme, I personally didn't like it. Before I pass to the battle themes, I think I shoud talk about the Villain's theme, Kefka. " Kefka " easily represents the funny and wacky side of Kefka, but it also has shades which reveals his evil within. Now for the battle themes, The Battle is seen by many as the weak point of FF6, I can see why, here we get trumpets and horns blaring left and right, it is nice during the first few battles, but it quickly gets monotonous. The Decisive Battle however, is a decent effort by Uematsu, he we have a sort of synthetised electric guitar ( I could be wrong, but it sounds like so ), unlike " The Battle ", I have yet to tire of listening to this one as it easily shows the urgency and danger in boss battles. Overall, Disk 1 is well balanced, alot might listen to this one more than the two other CDs.

Disk 2 General review

Disk 2 contains more character themes, one map theme, one airship theme, one battle theme and the entire opera sequence. Let's start with the map theme " Terra ", out of all the FF6 tracks, this seems to be the one that players renember most, it is played throughout most of the game, and it's not a bad track like " The Battle ". It's a longer version of " Awakening " on Disk 1. Disk 2 has two very sad themes, " Coin Song " is a sad version of " Edgar & Sabin ", it was fitting for the flashback when Sabin returned to Castle Figaro with Edgar & Co. The other sad theme is " Forever Rachel ", it's a sad version of " Locke's Theme ", I found the flashback showing Locke and Rachel quite tragic..... These two will get you to shed some tears, especially if you renember vividly those events. " Techno de Chocobo " is yet another version of the ever present Chocobo's theme, exactly as the name describes it, it's an excellent techno track and at parts you could sware you hear a synthetised " Cho-co-bo " here and there, I find it really fun to listen. " Spinach Rag ", played in the Auction House, I never liked, since I always spent hours trying to get those darn magicites and the music just got me more annoyed than ever >.< . We now move to the highlight of Disk 2, the Opera Sequences, " Overture " starts out well with some orchestral flair, another track that I really like. After " Overture " comes " Aria Di Mezzo Caraterre " , one of the most highly praised FF tracks ever and for good reason, it's a wonderful arrangement of " Celes' Theme " , complete with Celes' synthetised voice ^_^. After this awesome gem of a track is " The Wedding Waltz ~ Duel ", the tracks while we see Draco saving Maria, and Duel is the music playing when you race up to reach good ol' Ultros. The Opera Sequence ends with " Grand Finale ? ", yep, this is when you fight that nutty octopus, Ultros 8P, such a loony theme just makes perfect sense for fighting a loony enemy, no ? ^_^ Now for some character themes, " Setzer " represents the freedom and carefree attitude of the gambler really well, while " Mog " is just funky , but oh so enjoyable, who dosen't like the little critter ^^; ? " Strago " is another funky theme, and fits well for the ol' " fuddy duddy " as well as his hometown, Thamasa, " Relm " to me atleast has a slight scottish sound to it, muh like a bagpipe ( again, I could be wrong, I don't know jack about synthetised insruments ^^; ), it's nice but the bagpipe part quickly irritates me. The Airship theme " Blackjack " is very enjoyable and dosen't get on my nerves at all. And also the Magitek Factory theme, " Devil's Lab " is another nice techno track, it's just plain good. Now for what I don't like in Disk 2, " Johnny C Bad ", " ?? " and " Slam Shuffle " are very lame to me..... Overall I find Disk 2 a bit dissapointing compared to Disk 1 and 3, save the Opera Sequences of course.

Disk 3 General review

Disk 3 is easily the best of the set, containing the more exciting boss themes, last dungeon, last boss and ending theme, as well as a few character themes. It's starts out with " New Continent ", the theme of the Floating Island, I can't really describe it but I do like it. The next noteworthy track is " The Fierce Battle ", this was used for super bosses like AtmaWeapon and the 3 Statues, this one also represents the great power that these monsters have. " Rest in Peace " is the game over theme, then we are brought to the extremely depressing " Dark World ", one can easily imagine himself in an desolant land while listening to this track. Another town theme, " The Day After " shows that the villagers don't completely give up their lives and live it the best they can. " Searching for Friends " serves as the Falcon's theme and the world map theme as well, it has a lovely melody and hints some bit of hope. " Gogo " is the very odd theme for the mimic which is equally... odd O_o. Epitath is another sad theme, we can imagine Setzer's grief when he renembers Darryl, this is another one that gets to you... Reserved for Jidoor in the WoR, " Magic House " is actually a track that was supposed to be used in FF2j, those who own the FF1&2 OSV will recognise it immediately. " Umaro " represents the big Sasquatch nicely, although it is among the least good character themes. " Fanatics " is a nice experimental track, since it contains some synthetised chorals then some music and it repeats, alot of people find this track to be one of the weak points of the OSV, but I don't hate it, it's not the best, but it ain't bad either... Now for the cake of this CD, " The Last Dungeon " is a pretty decent dungeon theme, although It could had been better, it just fits Kefka's Tower perfectly. " Dancing Mad " is surely among the better RPG last boss themes, even though Kefka was a madman, he was granted a full orchestral/gothic score, only the final tier is really upbeat, followed by some wicked organ, lasting nearly 18 minutes, it is easily the longest RPG battle theme in history, and was the best thing.... till One Winged Angel knocked it off. " Ending Theme " is simply beautiful, all of the character themes are reprised here, then we have the Staff Roll along with it.... lasting over 20 minutes, it's easily one of the best FF ending themes, I can't helpo but cry tears of joy whenever I hear this masterpiece. The Disk ends with the ever familiar " Prelude ", only the flute is more emphasized here, still, it's a beauty. Overall, Disk 3 is everything fantastic, people will listen to this one more often than Disk 1 or Disk 2.

In conclusion, for all you FF veterans or Square / RPG music fans, it would be silly NOT to buy this timeless masterpiece. FF6 OSV has clearly given Uematsu a solid spot in the Video Game Music Industry, even today, I can only think of Hitoshi Sakimoto that could rival his talent. And like many VGM CDs, FF6 OSV dosen't suffer from SoM syndrome, another good reason to get it, this is really worth the money you'll be paying for it, you won't regret it.