There is a group of fans that absolutely worship this score and I must admit that I am one of them. If I were to be stranded on a desert island with nothing but five soundtracks that I could choose, this would most definitely be one. Nobuo Uematsu transcended all that seemed possible and created a score of boundless and adventurous spirit that has yet to be topped in the videogame music world.
The Final Fantasy series has certainly had its recent ups and downs, but without a doubt in my mind, the sixth installment is the pinnacle of FF music, and indeed game music thus far. Years ago, when I was in fifth grade, the unforgettable Final Fantasy IV was released, which was my first true introduction into the wonders of game music. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I played part six. While IV impressed me by its almost orchestral sound system (at least I thought so at the time), VI completely blew me away with its incredible traditional arrangements and its knack for unhampered thematic progression.
This leads me to acknowledge this soundtrack’s best feature: I’ve yet to hear one soundtrack from a videogame or a movie that contains so many memorable themes. There are so many great melodies rolled into one neat little package that it makes it nearly impossible to pick out a favorite. There are a couple throwaway tracks, but who cares? There’s so much great stuff here that the bad is completely overshadowed and ultimately overlooked. I will admit that this is much darker than its predecessors, but I believe that this is simply a direct turn into musical maturity. The previous FF scores may have been lighthearted, and therefore fun to listen to, but one can hardly make any argument that they were “mature”, though I hold them dear to my heart as well. This particular score fits the game like a glove and enhances its emotional impact at least tenfold, yet it still contains a bit of that humorous Uematsu charm that we all know and love. And it is still lighthearted compared to FFVII that was to follow.
The basis for this soundtrack is generally carried by the Wagnerian technique of leitmotif, or character theme, which you may or may not know, was also the basis for John Williams’ Star Wars scores. Though Wagner pioneered this technique, Nobuo, in my opinion, maximizes it to the fullest extent, surpassing Wagner entirely. There is a theme for every character and many of these receive a secondary arrangement such as “Coin Song” for Edgar and Sabin and “Forever Rachel” for Locke. Many of these character themes sound traditional, and then there are some that take other routes. “Shadow”, for example, sounds as if it came straight out of an Ennio Morriconne spaghetti western soundtrack. While not easy to pick out a favorite, I can say what I don’t like. I never cared for the Ghestal/Empire theme that is used in several militaristic tracks, and I’ve always found Strago’s theme to be particularly annoying. Overall though, the character themes form a set of thoroughly entertaining and endearing melodies. More great tracks include the second overworld theme “Searching for Friends,” which is similar to Terra’s overworld theme but seems a bit more thoughtful and stirring. “Devil’s Lab” is certainly a fun listen, and “The Fierce Battle” sounds absolutely ferocious - I believe it to be the second best battle theme in the series right after “Dancing Mad” on the same CD!
One cannot write a review for FFVI OST without mentioning the immortal opera sequence. This also sounds as if Wagner inspired it, as it nearly matches his style. I’ve never been one to care for opera, but no one can deny that this is just incredible. Once the intro hits the forefront, you are immediately drawn in by its raw power, and the cinematic sequences that follow are just incredible. The best track in the opera sequence is probably the famous “Aria Di Mezzo Carattere” version of Celes’ theme, which is one of the most praised tracks in FF history.
If you’re looking for the perfect score, then you won’t find it here because if it’s perfection you’re searching for, you’re never going to be satisfied. There is no such thing as perfect! If I really have to demand it, then the one thing that irks me the most about the soundtrack actually has little to do with the composition itself, but rather the CD release. I just wish that the ending theme had been split into two tracks. It seems kind of ridiculous to stick all twenty-one minutes into one track when it contains two very separate compositions. Even so, I really shouldn’t complain, considering I believe this to be the second greatest piece of music ever composed, just behind the “Presto” movement from Beethoven’s ninth symphony. My personal favorite section is the *hugely* bombastic arrangement of Setzer’s theme which kicks off as the end credits begin to roll. Combined with the ingenious “Dancing Mad” that comes just prior, I’d say the two conclusive tracks of Final Fantasy VI make for the most enthralling forty solid minutes of music *ever*, and I don’t see how it’s possible to not view it as such.
As a whole, this, my favorite game soundtrack, makes a timelessly inspiring listen, leaving its own niche in the souls of those who hear it. I recommend it wholeheartedly. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could think that any other game soundtrack out there today could top it. The future may hold a soundtrack that I like better, but until then, Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version will be the game score by which I judge all others.
This was split up into sections in-game, one of that soundtrack's highlights. It is the first introduction of Terra's (Tina's) central theme of the game; very morose in this instance, but working as an introductory credit roll and foreshadowing Squaresoft's ambitious theatrical vision.
Narshe's melodic undercurrent for the first half of the adventure resurfaces from time to time and leaves a lasting impression. Again, a pervasive somberness blankets the music.
A soft and very lovely statement of the Terra's theme.
An excellent and exiting track, remarkably reminiscent of the Star Wars sound. Locke's theme is a bright melody that appears a few times throughout the soundtrack.
A fairly weak battle track. It's basically a rehash of the two previous games', only a bit less melodic and not nearly as listenable. Still not bad, though.
The classic Final Fantasy victory fanfare! Every fan of Final Fantasy knows what this sounds like, this particular arrangement adopting electric guitar [synth] to its makeup.
The regal march for the two royal brothers of Figaro, fitting it's context perfectly. Engaging, but loses its appeal after the Nth time heard.
The best track thus far introduces the zany theme for the principal villain, Kefka. One of the most memorable melodies I've heard, and it captures the villain's twisted, yet comical personality perfectly.
Each Final Fantasy soundtrack has had a sort of "scaling-the-mountain" moment. Though like the battle theme, I find this to be a little weaker than it's predecessors, but retaining its own unique charm.
Underplayed by comparison to other pieces, the protagonists theme in the first half of the game features a light and somewhat comical march. It's a shame that this is the only track that features the melody.
Another character theme, this time for the mysterious ninja "Shadow." The track is okay, but I prefer the arrangement heard in the ending theme. *This* particular arrangement is obviously attempting to mimick Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western sound.
The first appearance of the forgettable and militaristic Ghestal/empire theme marches by unnasummingly.
Yet another character theme. This one in particular representing a character very concerned with honor, thus sounding very noble and majestic, fulfilling it's purpose memorably.
The first piece of unrepentant "hurry" music shows up. This format has unfortunately been overused throughout the course of Final Fantasy history. I like this track, though, as it excites the listener quite well. Continuing the overuse discussion, the track Hurry Faster! from Final Fantasy VII sounds almost identical in structure and sound.
This ushers in another format that has been used extensively throughout the series' history, though always coming off as less repetative. It's the soft and beautiful track that accompanies forests and related areas throughout a game. The melody is very lush and dreamy. This is one to love!
This track accompanies Sabin and Cyan's journey onto the mysterious "Phantom Train." I always feel uncertain of Nobuo's intentions when hearing this track, as one could take it to be very dark and oppressive, but comical at the same time. No matter what side your coin lands on, it's still great.
This plays when you visit the Veldt, a "primitive" area of land. I've always interpreted the title as misleading because of the tribal and "jungle-ish" sound. The track is listenable, but I typically skip it to hear...
The "wild boy" Gau's theme is another quiet and somber track similar to Terra's theme, just not quite as memorable. The clever use of cello is worth mentioning.
This is something of an anomaly. It's much more ambient than the other tracks, although it does have it's own melody. The string ostinato in this track sounds very similar to what would later be used in "The Mission" from the less-than-stellar FFVIII soundtrack, and the arpeggios are less obtrusive here than usual.
Ah, yes, the absolutely necessary "Town Theme;" no Final Fantasy soundtrack would be complete without it. In my opinion, this is the best one in the entire series. It sounds much more mature, and not nearly as saccarine sweet as its predecessors. If it weren't for track 22, this would be my favorite on the disc.
Another statement of the Ghestal/Empire theme, even more drab and lifeless than "Troops March On;" you might as well skip this one.
The best arrangement of a character theme on the first disc. I say "disc" because we have yet to hear "Terra" (disc 2, track 1). The theme itself is used extensively throughout the soundtrack, and it's sort of a backup for the aforemention piece.
Another "hurry" track like The Unforgiven, but standing further from that crowd, and is an excellent bit of music that fits with the score; one of the best of its kind.
The boss battle music. We're finally treated to an awesome battle theme! This track becomes quite adrenaline-pumping with its rock armature, courtesy of the beat and the [synth] electric guitar.
Yet another "hurry" track. Without doubt the weakest of the three on the disc so it's thankfully fairly short.
Disc 1 TOTAL TIME: (58:13)
This *is* the main theme of FFVI and is heard on the world map during the first half of the game. This arrangement of the theme sounds very epic and grand. The best track thus far!
We finally get to revisit Edgar and Sabin's theme. This time it's played by a soft electric piano accompanied by a solo flute and strings.
As with the victory fanfare, all fans of Final Fantasy recognize the chocobo theme. Unfortunately, this is the only one heard on all three discs.
A soft and beautiful arrangement of Locke's theme is played as he reminices over his lost love (I'll let you guess her name -_o).
Moving into thoroughly different territory, this is a jazzy theme played whenever you visit the town of Zozo. This track has a very nice sound and it's got a melody that I can almost promise will get stuck in your head. Some may find this track a bit irritating, but I like it.
This track is intended to sound like a reel on an old player piano, and succeeds quite well. This is another track that some may not like but I find it very entertaining. It helped to prove what a versatile composer Mr. Uemtasu was becoming.
Oh, yeah! This is a great track! It sounds just like it came out of a real opera! Some may find the solo synth vocal solos somewhat corny and/or repulsive, but the synth voice quality doesn't bother me. The track has three different parts: a string intro, the vocal section, and a few minutes of melodic ambience. This whole opera sequence is just incredible, and it's one of the most popular parts in the history of the Final Fantasy series. Even if you don't want to hear this soundtrack because you may be biased against video games or synth, at least give the opera sequence a try and maybe it'll soften your heart. By the way, there is a real orchestral performance of this sequence on the CD "Orchestral Game Concert 4." A CD which I cannot find anywhere, but would love to have. If you have a copy and would like to sell it, you'd have a buyer right here!
An operatic version of Celes' theme. Just as good as the previous track and may just be the most praised Final Fantasy track ever. It's not my favorite, but it's darn close!
This track is very similar to Overture, but begins with a lovely waltz. That changes however, when troops ivade and the tone changes into another "hurry" theme that plays for a minute or two and then track has a surprise ending that I can almost promise will catch you off guard!
This is an absolutely wonderful battle theme. It's fast-paced and sounds as if it came directly from the classical era. Although this is considered to be part of the opera sequence, you'll find no synth vocals, which you may or may not be thankful for. It's a shame that this is only played once during the game.
[END OF OPERA SEQUENCE]
Thankfully Nobuo's composition doesn't become stale after the incredible opera and we are treated to another excellent character theme. Just wait until you hear the arrangement of this one in the ending theme!
As you may have guessed from the title, this is a parody of "Johnny B. Goode." As I've always understood it, this piece is often dismissed as short and generic, but I never understood why. Personal opinion dictates that this must receive a recommendation as well.
Finally a decent arrangement of the Ghestal/empire theme, arranged much better than previous versions, complete with a very intentional oppresive feeling.
Nearly the best on the disc. This fits it's context perfectly when you hear it in the Magitek laboratory. Like a couple other tracks though since it's only played in one part of the game, I could have put up with a little more play.
The is the airship "theme" during the first half of the game. It is very bright and cheerful, but you'll probably forget about it once it's over. Not very memorable, but still a fun track to listen to.
This is a very goofy track representing a mysterious old man who turns out to be wild boy Gau's father. Not particularly noteworthy.
The tracks maintain their lighthearted, somewhat silly sound. This is not the first time the Moogle theme has appeared in the series; it also appeared in FFV and I believe Romancing Saga 2.
A character theme though strangely one I don't care too much for. It is servicable, but the next track is much better.
We finally get a break from the silly tracks with another soft and beautiful theme to portray the girl Relm.
After a barrage of less intelligent work, another lush background track a la "The Mystic Forest" appears. The second disc is brought to a close with one of the better pieces of the whole soundtrack.
For the first time in the soundtrack, Nobuo returns to his old chromatic harp runs. This gives a certain sense of nostalgia to veteran Final Fantasy fans. The music itself has a very mystical, yet generally oppresive quality. This is the music heard on the floating continent in the game and it leads directly into...
This is the best arrangement of the Ghestal/Empire theme. It's very well done and is actually a beefed up version of part of the Opening Theme.
This is the BIG boss battle music and it's just incredible! It's very harsh, but truly captures the feeling of a large battle. If it wasn't for track 14, this would be my favorite battle theme in the entire Final Fantasy series!
A soft requiem is played for your fallen party. It's very good, but you sould hope not to hear it in the context of the game.
This depressing theme is played when you first enter the second half of the game. It's composed well and nice to listen to, but I think that it could have done without the wind sound effects.
This is a secondary town theme for the second half of the game. It's not as memorable as Kids Run Through the City Corner, but it has it's own unique sound.
The overworld theme for the second half of the game. It has a beautiful flute solo above strings and what sounds like a harpsichord synth. Believe me when I say this incredible track is what Final Fanatasy is all about. One of the best ever, IMO!
Another silly theme. This is used to portray the character Gogo. It has a nice jazzy feel to it.
A soft arrangement of Setzer's theme, written for acoustic guitar, two flutes, and a piano.
A somewhat mysterious sounding track. This is played in the town of Jidoor during the second half of the game. It's not really a very noteworthy track.
The final character theme of the soundtrack is written to portray the yeti Umaro. "Boisterous" is the best world I could use to describe this track.
Too bad about this track. If it wasn't here, there wouldn't be one absolutely skipable song on this OSV. Unfortunately it is here and it's just a horrid, satanic-sounding, two-note theme.
Not the best final dungeon theme, but very close! It's dark and oppresive, but very listenable.
NOTE: As far as I'm concerned, the next two tracks are Nobuo Uematsu's absolute greatest masterpieces, and they have to be heard to be believed (despite the fact that they should each have be broken up into two separate tracks).
The greatest RPG battle music ever! It's split up into four sections: Tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, and finally the battle with Kefka. The first three sections sound very baroque (please don't fix 'em), and the fourth section (the true final battle music) sounds very avant-guarde. The third section is my favorite of the "tier" music. It's played by a solo organ and sounds as if it could be a J.S. Bach masterpiece. The final section begins with an intro straight out of the opening theme, which turns into and incredible battle rendition of Kefka's demented theme. A fabulous track!
Now this is where it all comes together for Mr. Uematsu. I consider this track his "tour-de-force," so to speak, and I don't personally think that that should be up for debate. The first ten minutes make up an incredibly well-arranged medley of all the main character themes (Celes' theme and Locke's theme are particularly good), and it even makes the mediocre ones (Shadow and Strago's themes) sound wonderful. The second half starts out with another "hurry"-like theme which goes into a couple minutes of quiet ambience and eventually leads to a HUGE, majestic arrangement of Setzer's theme (my favorite part of the soundtrack). Setzer's theme eventually quiets down into a short, somber section which of course finally leads up to a very nostalgic version of the series' main theme. The track ends with the single most exciting coda ever. I'm not kidding! It even completely blows away Rossini's coda to the "William Tell" overture. It's absolutely incredible, and it's a shame that Nobuo hasn't written a huge climactic coda like this since. All in all, as I metioned before, I consider this Mr. Uematsu's greatest work, and it's just an absolutely incredible way to end this miraculous soundtrack. ...kind of. The soundtrack isn't over yet. We still have...
The classic prelude that all Final Fantasy fans know and love. This version was the first to use a slightly altered melody.
DISC 3 TOTAL TIME: (72:13)
As I've said before, I think this is one of the greatest musical works of all time, and I'm telling you that YOU NEED TO GET IT NOW!!! Unfortunately, it isn't published in America anymore and you'll have to import it. You can purchase it at AnimeNation.com or GameMusic.com.