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Music Review with Zero, DG, and special guest, KujaFFman

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 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 we are bringing you yet another excellent review, but with a new twist : Here is the very first bilingual soundtrack review on the Internet. So myself, Zero, and KujaFFman, whom is the creator of Square & Musique, bring you the asian culture sounding Soukaigi. Please note that mine and Zero's review are in english while KujaFFman's is in french, since he does come from France.

To view our previous reviews, check out the archives


After the great success behind Seiken Densetsu 2 and Seiken Densetsu 3, Hiroki Kikuta had made a name for himself as being among the top notch composers like Nobuo Uematsu, Kenji Ito and Noriko Matsueda. What isolates Kikuta from the rest of the Square Sound Team is that not only does his music hold a more eastern cultural sound/feel, but he was the first to make a full soundtrack with real live instruments instead of the usual synthetizers, so he prooves with his last project with Square : Soukaigi.

1. Ancient Power : As the track starts, you hear the small chimes backed up by some drums and a few violins; later on, the track carries a silent yet stressing passage with more violins. This has got to be one of the most impressive opening themes of any action-rpg released as of far. By the end, it sounds quite foreboding as if some awful event is taking place, and ends in a creepy tone.

2. Angel's Fear Again : This could probably be the title theme, we are treated to a lovely acoustic guitar solo, for some reason, it reminds me a lot of Mitsuda's works from Chrono Cross. It only lasts a minute, but it is still a masterpeice in my book.

3. Quake : No, this has nothing to do with Id Software's popuplar FPS series =P Instead, it's a lovely vocal piece sung in japanese. Here we see a lot of variety in instruments, such as the usual drums, the violins, chimes, etc….

4. Fire Wire : Finally, a battle theme, but how unusual to have the violins as the main instrument, and a piano to back it up with some drums, it is certainly gives the mood of fighting off regular baddies. At a point, the violins stop briefly so the piano gets a few keys played, then the violins make their return into the piece before it ends. I guess the reason that it has that title is that violins are of course string instruments, and since it is used in such an upbeat fashion, we could say that the wires are on fire =P Ok, … I know, lame pun. Sue me ! >=>

5. Strange Promise : Here's another winner, it gives me the impression that it is a dungeon theme. Unfurtunately, I can't describe this one very well, but I do like the passage where we hear an echoing piano playing for a good while, it sounds jazzy at best.

6. New Day : This could be a town theme, as it is quite cheerful and happy ^_^ . It sounds somewhat celtic, reminding me of some stuff from Tsugunai, the main intruments here are mostly percussions and a bit of violin, making it an enjoyable listen.

7. Absolute Lady : This one is pretty interesting, as you hear some vocals behind an organ background, lots of percussions and piano follow, it builds up to a marvelous musical climax before restarting. But before it end, you actually hear a few lyrics.

8. Riot Emotion : Riot Emotion mostly has percussions and a bit of piano, it approches more to the rock style, still no electric guitar, but the best is yet to come…

9. Sign : This one has more of an eastern flavour to it, despite the violins throughout the track. A lot of drums and chimes are also presented here, which enhances the cultural flavour more.

10. Frequency : A more beat-filled piece, Frequency also features a nice passage of an acoustic guitar backed up by a piano and percussions, where would this track be used in the game now ? I'm wondering ^^;

11. Labyrinth : This sounds like a final dungeon theme to me, as you can feel the hope is present in the music, a lot of percussions and violins make most of the piece, but a flute joins in soon enough, you can imagine the player being confused while he travels in the perilous dungeon, and this music fits the scene really well.

12. Broken Memory : Here we are treated to an obvious sad theme, the violins play a big part in conveying emotions through the player's mind; sure, it's not an Aerith's Theme, but it holds its ground fairly well.

13. Energy : Yes !!! This is it, the boss theme, surely !!! Kikuta finally gets out his electric guitar and plays us a solo that would make Yoshihiro Sato of Cyberorg fame jealous, but it's not all hard rock, as a piano interlude settles in , but the electric guitar makes a quick return, pleasing all his fans, this clearly fits the mood for a major battle IMHO.

14. Die on Destiny : Oh boy, this is no doubt the final boss theme, Kikuta once more uses his electric guitar and gives a solid performance. Like his previous works, Prayer of The Arctic Circle and Sacrifice Part 1~3, Kikuta does not disappoint in this final boss theme, he always makes them full of vigor, full of power (Heh :P) and Die on Destiny is certainly no exception.

15. Regret : This is yet another electric guitar based theme, but it dosen't sound " battle-ish " in the least to me. There are bells, piano and percussions in this track, which of course is very nice.

16. Lovely Strains : Ahh yes, the infamous vocal of Soukaigi, it is incredibly beautiful, whomever sang this deserves to be known the world over, to my ears, this vocal piece beats all Final Fantasy Vocals so far. Of course, it is in japanese, but it is so pretty that you just don't care while you listen.

17. Silence : We end with a cute little arrangement of Lovely Strains, with no vocals.

So there you have it…. Now comes the usual question : Buy or not buy ? I clearly recommend getting this CD as it's pretty good for an obscure game like Soukaigi, most import stores still carry it for around 25$, so it's a steal for such good music.


It's me again, seems I can't keep my nose out of this place…oh well, it's good music anyway and I get to say how good (or bad) it is, who am I to complain? This reviews' flavor comes in the vanilla coated soundtrack of Soukaigi by Hiroki Kikuta (Note: Soundtrack is not actually covered in vanilla, do NOT lick CD, I repeat, DO NOT LICK CD) so let's get started, shall we?

1.'Ancient Power' is aptly named at least, with a crescendo-esque feel of something awakening, most likely the introduction theme to the game by my assumption. The instruments are well chosen for the act and it shows Mr. Kikuta is hardly a newcomer to this business, and the orchestral feel given by the violins is rather enjoyable.

2.'Angels fear again' inspires no notion of fear, with the casual guitar and piano playing there's hardly anything near fear in this track. It has it's charms but it is horridly repetitive on the guitar side while the piano plays the same notes at slightly different tones, this track fails to impress or catch without any context to place it with, on it's own it requires a wheelchair.

3.'Quake' has nothing to quake about beside the constant large drum, a duet of singers or echo effect? Even at this point I'm not quite sure, and that's what makes this track so interesting…the song is average and the instruments aren't exactly beyond the earlier tracks, but the voice has something to it, something that just makes you want to hear more or hit that play button again. The tempo is quite appreciated too as it does not feel drawn out or slow, although if that's an ingame song or the end theme is anyone's guess.

4.'Fire Wire' has me puzzled on it's uses, right on the first earshot the high beat reminded me of the mountain theme of Secret of Mana, and yet it could also be used for a more urbanesque setting, such as an enemy fortress. Oh well, lest I import the game I'll never find out but at least I know either a mountain or a fortress has one heck of a good theme, and this time it's violin/piano/bass guitar with drums for this one.

5.'Strange Promise' is neither strange nor a promise, but with titles like these I'm not even surprised anymore. A theme oddly fitting for plains or forests, the piano and drums with a bit of bass guitar are mixed in a mood prone for exploration, not conflict. A shame it's so far down the list else it might be seen as something better, but after every other track it just lacks the glitter to make for a nice ending. It's nice at best…and that's the end of that.

6.'New Day' is…well, beaty to say the least. Guitar all the way with violin at the beginning, and blocks as well, a rare instrument to be used (how else do you simulate the sound of wood knocking on wood?) but it's quite catchy as well, almost has a Mexican feel to it if it wasn't for the piano that takes the lead shortly after the violin stops which is too early by my taste. Still, a good track just not a great track.

7.'Absolute Lady' is more focused on beat, with vocals as well albeit you'd be hard pressed to understand any intelligible words there. Plenty of drums and bass guitar in this one with a fair amount of synth as well, but even with all these it just does not catch me…personal preference mostly, since there's an emphasis too great on the beat.

8.'Riot Emotion' since there's certainly no riot here. Moving along, the track is more bass guitar/drum with synthesizer support and minor piano, which in standard RPG terms means 'dungeon theme' or at least that's what it says to me. Sadly, it's not that amazing and it's all right to follow along but I don't think I could spend ten minutes in this dungeon without pressing mute at some point.

9.'Sign' is a strange track, having a near-mystical feel to it, the kind you don't get unless you go visit that old gypsy fortune-telling woman living in a tent in that creepy forest. Little to say it's odd, yet in that 'I wish to know more' sort of way, not the 'Next track button' kind as the echoic Spanish guitar (or at least, sounds like one to me) with the maracas and tons of small sound effects, it's surprising and different from the rest of the OST even if it does contain a violin, but that doesn't make it any less and on the contrary it's better in it's own way.

10.'Frequency', oddly named yet again, goes back to the guitar/piano and a background instrument so faint I had trouble identifying it the first time, but it happens to be…another guitar, go figure. It's a rather slow track compared to the hotblooded fire wire more fitting to a forest or cave setting, but that hardly makes it a bad thing.

11.'Labyrinth': I'm pretty sure the title goes with the use, and it's one of the best to boot. One of my favorite instruments is the traversal flute and it has the primary part of this track, accompanied by violins and soft cymbals with a tambourine, nothing fancy yet the combination makes something that draws the listener into a near-trance, the rhythm is very catchy and the loop in this one is pretty natural as there's no cutting, no end nor beginning…just an endless labyrinth.

12.'Broken Memory' comes next, melancholic at the very start with violins only, a soft and constant stream of notes that never seem to get boring as the song rises and falls, looping only around 2:10 which is not bad for the type of mood it sets. This one has 'Sad Storytelling' written all over it but it's quite good nonetheless even on the best of days.

13.'Energy' is a great techno-dungeon crawl theme if I've ever heard one, the kind you might recall from the Phantasy Star serie if you've played them, good old Nurvus…but enough offtopic for me, synth and guitar lead the way here followed by an old fashioned piano, see a pattern yet? I know I do, and if there's any robot bashing in the area this theme is used for, bring em on.

14. 'Die on Destiny': I'm a sucker for good boss battle themes, especially those with epic feels and that awaken a spark of fervor into striking one more blow into the enemy, the do or die way. 'Die on Destiny' accomplishes that and more, with electric guitar and synthesizer leading the way and a tiny piano in the back, accompanied by drums, once the rhythm picks up it never seems to fall, and the only thing I can find myself comparing this to is the earlier work of Secret of Mana, improved upon and with better audio recording methods. My favorite of this OST, and the loop at the end is a nice touch as well.

15.'Regret' has so much beat and electric instruments it makes you wonder what the heck there is to regret. Heck, the electric guitar jamming is more attuned to a hero making a comeback or an important moment where the party decides not to take crap from the enemy…maybe that's what they regret if you lose the fight. The high tempo and instruments bring this track to number two, right behind Die on Destiny on my scale. There isn't much to say about it though…it's one of those 'gotta hear to like' kind of tracks.

16.'Lovely strains' has one thing that's quite lovely, the singer of the theme song is simply awe inspiring. I'm sure the instruments behind during the first part are excellent as well but as hard as I try I can't unfocus my ears and mind off the voice that truly carries this song forward. It's right up the alley of the introductory theme of Legend of Mana, and more.

17.'Silence' and sadly we can't just skip it, it's not silent. Basically, it's a softer tuned instrumental version of Quake with a few minor differences, too minor to even be interesting…it's soft and calm, granted, but interested Zero it keeps not.

Well, overall it's a nice OST, although not all tracks shine and gleam in beauty, every lot has it's fops and failures but that does not make the final packaging any less appealing as the final product is quite appreciated anyway. Import it if you have the money for it is money not wasted…well, if it's meant to be put in music anyway. A shame the game never made it statewide but at least the music didn't stay in Japan only


Le premier morceau que j'ai entendu de Soukaigi était Broken Memory. C'était il y a plus d'un an, du moins je crois... J'avais été marqué par la majesté de la musique. C'est ce qui m'a décidé à me procurer tout le reste... Avec maintenant beaucoup de recul, je peux apprécier Soukaigi Original Soundtrack à sa juste valeur : c'est une bande originale comme on a peu l'habitude d'en entendre, car elle est presque entièrement orchestrée. Hiroki Kikuta est un bonhomme impressionnant, et en voici la preuve.

1- Ancient Power : Ah, quoi de mieux que de commencer par un peu de violon ? Un peu de piano, évidemment... Mais là il s'agit de violons, et ce pendant 4 minutes, avec des clochettes en fond ! Ancient Power est un thème superbe, où l'ambiance tragique se mêle à celle inquiétante. Bref, une introduction comme Kikuta sait en donner de très bonnes : elle ne préfigure néanmoins pas la suite, qui est bien plus dynamique !

2- Angel's Fear Again : Retour du titre favori de Kikuta, à savoir Angel's Fear. Ce petit morceau d'à peine une minute est très agréable, entièrement joué à la guitare avec quelques accords de piano. On sent très bien l'aspect ensoleillé et exotique. Où sont mes lunettes de soleil ?

3- Quake : Whoa ! La première fois que j'ai écouté Quake, j'étais vraiment impressionné. Et après des centaines d'écoutes, je le suis toujours autant. Comment imaginer que c'est une musique d'ambiance ? Le rythme est excellent, toujours plus puissant, le tout accompagné de voix féminines, de violon et d'un peu de piano, sans oublier les clochettes que Kikuta semble affectionner. Je ne peux dire qu'une seule chose : On ne peut pas décrire Quake, il faut l'entendre pour le croire !

4- Fire Wire : Dans le genre rythmé, cette piste excelle ! Le seul mot qui vient à l'esprit est " dynamisme ", tant le thème donne envie de se battre. Le plus étonnant, c'est que ce sont des violons qui constituent la mélodie. Enfin, évidemment, le rythme y est pour beaucoup, afin de rendre tout ça entraînant. En écoutant bien, un piano se laisse deviner par moment... Fire Wire est un grand exemple de la puissance de Kikuta, et elle n'a pas fini d'être dévoilée dans cette OST.

5- Strange Promise : Toujours très entraînant, mais dans un style moins joyeux, ce thème n'en demeure pas moins sublime. Ce qui est le plus inattendu, c'est l'apparition du piano après un passage purement rythmique, dominé par la batterie. Et ce piano donne un aspect vraiment mystérieux. Très bon morceau donc, tout comme le reste...

6- New Day : Un peu moins bonne, mais quand même agréable, New Day est une musique aux airs assez orientaux au début. On tombe ensuite dans un thème type plage à la Costa del Sol de FFVII. Bon, ça va un moment, mais on préfère quand même quand c'est plus original !

7- Absolute Lady : On passe à une pièce essentiellement rythmique, ponctuée, pour appuyer le titre, de voix féminines assez tribales. Le style général est très asiatique, ce qui est logique quand on sait d'où vient le CD... Au milieu, la musique change pour un passage étrange et inquiétant, mais elle revient vite au début. Bonne musique, mais vite lassante...

8- Riot Emotion : Rythme prédominant pour cette pièce dans la même lignée que les précédentes. C'est un fond orchestral qui vient appuyer la batterie, donnant une superposition inattendue... Mais séduisante. Le piano fait une apparition par la suite, mais se limite à quelques accords rythmiques. Sympathique, mais pas extraordinaire. Patience, ça arrive !

9- Sign : Maintenant, on se trouve face à une musique au style très arabique, notamment avec la guitare (enfin, je ne sais pas si s'en est une...) et la façon dont le violon est joué. Le fond, dont les notes sont graves, donne une atmosphère lourde au thème. A part les passages où le violon s'impose, Sign est relativement plate, plus ambiante qu'autre chose... C'est un peu dommage, quand on voit la qualité du CD en général !

10- Frequency : Voici qu'arrive l'un de mes morceaux préférés ! Enfin, même si j'en adore d'autres davantage, celui-ci est tellement bien composé que ça me suffit. J'adore la façon dont Kikuta mélange guitare, piano et batterie. L'ambiance exotique qui en ressort est du meilleur effet. La beauté et le dynamisme de Frequency en font l'une des musiques les plus agréables à écouter sur ce disque.

11- Labyrinth : Une nouvelle merveille sur cette OST qui en compte par milliers (euh...). Cette fois, vous en aurez pour votre plaisir. Entraînante mais mystérieuse, lumineuse et sombre à la fois, Labyrinth décrit avec son titre une ambiance que la musique confirme. Très rythmée, disposant d'une mélodie assez douce à la flûte, cette piste va ravir tous ceux qui vont l'écouter !

12- Broken Memory : Tranchant littéralement avec ce qu'on a eu avant, Broken Memory est constituée uniquement de violons, dont la pureté et surtout la beauté font frémir ! La mélodie est très mélancolique, ce qui la rend émouvante. Il n'y a aucun rythme, rien qu'une mélodie, alors que normalement c'est l'inverse. En créant cette antithèse, Kikuta charme tous ses auditeurs, même ceux qui n'ont jamais touché au jeu... Jeu qui est (il faut le préciser) vraiment nul et laid. Ce qui est dommage...

13- Energy : Après cet interlude triste, retour à la gaieté avec de la guitare électrique sur fond de rythme survolé à la batterie. Une musique comme celle-ci donne envie de s'élancer au combat. La tonalité générale est très dynamique et on ne peut pas s'empêcher de remuer son derrière durant l'écoute. Et pourtant, le milieu du thème est totalement coupé par un passage où le piano joue seul... On reste tout simplement sans voix, jusqu'à ce que revienne le début super entraînant...

14- Die on Destiny : Encore plus énergique que Energy, cette piste calme de par le sentiment de puissance qui s'en dégage, et qui va croissant au fur et à mesure. Le retour de la guitare électrique contribue à cette ambiance. Le compositeur signe donc une pièce magistrale, où le rythme à la batterie est bien loin d'être tout doux...

15- Regret : Aïe, voici la piste qui m'a le plus marquée sur cette OST... Magique, entraînante, mélancolique, bref, tout à la fois... Elle est purement fabuleuse, et ne cesse plus de me charmer. Chaque écoute est un moment de bonheur total. La guitare électrique exécute devant nos oreilles ébahies une mélodie finalement nostalgique (ce qui justifie le titre) inattendue quand on voit toute la débauche de rythme qui se trouve autour. Pendant 3 minutes, on est collés à son siège par la puissance du thème. Ceci est le gros temps fort de l'OST, surtout ne le ratez pas...

16- Lovely Strains : Pour enchaîner merveilleusement avec Regret, voici le thème chanté du jeu, qui est bien loin des chansons que l'on a pu entendre du côté de Uematsu ou de Mitsuda. L'orchestration très harmonieuse et sans élément pouvant se rapprocher du style pop, ainsi que la chanteuse dont la voix résonnante est assez en retrait, contribuent à créer une atmosphère originale et très séduisante. Ce qui étonne, c'est qu'un très grand passage au milieu est uniquement instrumental, et que la chanteuse n'a finalement que peu d'importance. La mélodie est très harmonieuse et l'orchestration magnifique. C'est une merveille dont je suis tombé amoureux...

17- Silence : Dernière track de l'OST... Reprise de la mélodie de Lovely Strains, Silence procure une ambiance mystérieuse vraiment géniale, s'enchaînant à merveille avec le reste du CD. Néanmoins, on sent que le synthé a quand même pris la place des vrais instruments... Mais cela n'a aucune importance, car ce thème reste magnifique. Il termine l'album d'une manière idéale.

Si un jour vous êtes lassés de ces OST de jeux où le synthé domine, si vous en avez marre des traditionnels thèmes d'introduction, de combats, de niveaux, de fin, et d'autres choses encore, écoutez Soukaigi Original Soundtrack. Cet excellent remède offre une large gamme de styles et d'émotions, à côté desquels il serait dommage de passer sans s'arrêter. Hiroki Kikuta, en composant Soukaigi, signe sa dernière œuvre chez Squaresoft. Et le terme d'œuvre est justement correct...