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Final Fantasy VIII OST
Composed, Arranged & Produced by Nobuo Uematsu
Sound Programming by Minoru Akao

I really don't know where Nobuo went wrong with this score, but most fans of game music, including myself, find this to be the dullest of all the Final Fantasy soundtracks. Some have contributed this to the fact that the composer has had less time to write recently. Others have said that he had been running out of ideas, but I don't personally see how that's possible as most movie composers do several movies every year and Nobuo only has one soundtrack every couple years.

Possibly the largest problem is the fact that the synth hadn't been greatly improved over FF7. The sound quality was definitely better, but still wasn't up to par with other game soundtracks like Xenogears and Final Fantasy Tactics. The sound system was impressive in some areas, particularly in the synthesis of harpsichord. The problem with sound isn't the fault of the composer but it still hurts the effectiveness of the music. To counter the problem of bad synth, this is the first Final Fantasy to include prerecorded orchestral music. It is good to have these sections on the OST, but they can also be found on the Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec arrange album which is much better than this. Overall though, this is the least recommended of all Final Fantasy soundtracks and I hope that our esteemed Mr. Uematsu can come up with something better in the future.


Disc 1:

1. Liberi FataliThe opening orchestral track is probably the main highlight of the entire opus for most people. Like "One-Winged Angel" from the FF7 soundtrack, this features a choir singing in latin. This is not exceeded by any of the other tracks in sheer blood-pumping excitement. This also introduces the "witch" motif: the chanting of "Fithos, Lusec, Wecos, Vinosec."
2. Balamb GARDENWe now hear the infamous FF8 synth at work. This is actually one of the better tracks which introduces a key melody, the "friendship" theme.
3. Blue FieldsThis is where the synth really dissapoints. Though this minimalistic overworld theme has been constantly criticized, I do like the melody. BTW, an infinitely better version of this is heard on the arranged album.
4. Don't be AfraidThough the overall scope of the score is one of rehashed ideas, it does have a few excellent tracks, this being one of them. The main battle theme for the game is also heard on the arrange album, making this version seem like a waste of time.
5. The WinnerWell, it's finally happened. The classic melody following the fanfare has been completely eliminated from the soundtrack, greatly alienating anyone who was a fan of the series prior to this. The fanfare itself is the same, only eliminating the harsh brass of FF7 and replacing it with strings.
6. Find Your WayI don't know why all of the good tracks are placed right at the beginning of the soundtrack. Anyway, this is the cave theme of FF8, almost indistinguishable from previous cave themes in the series, though it does contain descending piano arpeggios that sound a little too close to the Parasite Eve soundtrack for comfort.
7. SeeDUm... is this really nessesary? This minimalistic track is so boring, it could make you cringe. It's just heavy percussion with some throw away instrumentation in the background.
8. The LandingThis exciting track was used to replace a previous version that sounded to much like the main theme from Hans Zimmer's The Rock. This is a pretty standard track for the series, and is first heard during the raid on Dollet.
9. Starting UpThe synth really sounds bad here. This is the cinematic music that plays when the communication tower is started in the game's demo.
10. Force Your WayThe boss music for FF8 is more of the rock persuasion. This is really not that great, though it has some interesting moments.
11. The LoserThis has a very good game over theme, followed by a horrid variation of the once great "Prelude."
12. Never Look BackThis is one of those "hurry" tracks that have been used to death throughout the course of the series. I guess that it's original, but I could SWEAR that I've heard that bass line before.
13. Dead EndLet's get the hell outta here! A short and fairly decent escape track.
14. BreezyThis isn't very noteworthy. Just a solo acoustic guitar that plays at Balamb city.
15. Shuffle or BoogieThis zozoesque track plays during the card mini-game. I find this rather catchy.
16. Waltz for the MoonWe finally get to hear the love theme, one of the true redeeming qualities of the score. This is of course heard in waltz format.
17. Tell MeAnother soft playing of the friendship theme. Nothing spectacular.
18. FearThis dull track sounds as if it came straight out of the Parasite Eve soundtrack.
19. The Man with the Machine GunThis is definitely one of my favorite tracks. This is actually better than the orchestrated version on the arrange album. The techno and orchestra flavors just don't mix, but that's another review entirely.
20. JuliaThis is just a solo piano version of the love theme. I hate to be a spoiled sport, but does anyone realize that every idea presented in this soundtrack is related to James Horner's score for Titanic? I know this is nitpicking, but I wish that the ideas weren't already worn out.
21. Roses and WineThere have been far too many throw away tracks already and the first disc isn't even done yet! This is just a short instrumental tune.
22. JunctionOkay, I'm now officially sick and tired of boring music in this score. This is a stupid little harp arpeggio motif. Hardly worthy of much attention.
23. Timber OwlsAt least the disc is ended nicely. This is a rather comical track combining pizzicato strings and light percussion.

Disc 2:

1. My MindA rather tender version of the love theme. This particular track is usually associated with Rinoa in the game, thus it is basically her character theme.
2. The MissionOne of my favorites. As I mentioned in my FF6 review, the string and harpsichord ostinato sounds very similar to the "Serpent Trench" music from that particular soundtrack. This has a great melodic section just a little over the one minute mark.
3. Martial LawDon't I remember the track name "Under Martial Law" from the FF6 soundtrack? Anyway this is another track that sounds as if it came out of Parasite Eve. I don't like this too well.
4. Cactus Jack (Galbadian Anthem)Galbadia's national anthem is just as boring as boring gets.
5. Only a Plank Between One and PerditionThis could probably be considered the main action music of Final Fantasy VIII. It is very closely related to "Bombing Mission" from FF7. This also doubles as another "hurry" track.
6. SUCCESSION OF WITCHESFinally! A wonderful track! This is the first track to introduce the witch theme (we've heard the motif already, but not the theme itself). It is very dark and foreboding, with the witch chant motif on top. This is one of the few tracks in which the sound system does the music justice. The harpsichord sounds incredibly real.
7. Galbadia GARDENAfter hearing the wonderful previous track, we are treated to slow and intollerable jazz. Skip it.
8. UnrestWhat is up with these *boring* tracks?! This just a slow bass guitar solo with some strings in the background. I guess that you could consider this Seifer's Theme.
9. Under Her ControlThis is actually a fairly decent track. It has a funky guitar with light percussion and woodwinds.
10. The Stage is SetWe're finally getting into more exciting tracks. This conveys dertermination in a wonderful way.
11. A SacrificeThis is just a playing of the witch theme without the chanting motif. All in all, a good track.
12. FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSECBoth the witch theme and motif come full circle. This grand and exciting track builds on all of the witch material heard so far. The instrumental section at 1:40 borrows a melody from Kefka's theme in FF6.
13. IntrudersA light "sneaking around" track. This has pizzicato strings and light percussion. I don't really know why, but a lot of this soundtrack features this type of jazz.
14. PremonitionThis is the *big* battle theme. While not as powerful as it's counterparts throughout the rest of the series, it is still very good and based on the witch theme.
15. WoundedThis short track plays as Edea attacks Squall with bolts of ice (or whatever the hell they are).
16. Fragments of MemoriesNow this is where it goes over the line. The melody heard in this is almost identical to the main theme from the Brave Fencer Musashi soundtrack. This sounds as if it's being played on a glockenspiel.
17. JailedMore boring jazz. This is based on the witch theme. How many times have I said that?
18. RivalsThis symbolizes the bitter rivalry between Squall and Seifer. It's slow and ominous.
19. AmiThis begins as a solo piano version of the friendship theme which gets additional instrumentation added as it progresses.

Disc 3:

1. The SpyThis sounds like funky seventies music. Not very important.
2. RetaliationThese short cinematic tracks are generally very good. This is fast and furious.
3. Movin'With style similar to that heard in "The Mission," the composer gets the player into the feel of the game. I really like the anvil that comes in at about two minutes.
4. Blue SkyAnother short cinematic track. This is based on the airship theme that will later be heard on disc 4.
5. DriftingThe lonely strings in this bring on a very nostalgic feeling. Though this may be viewed as depressing, it is also very touching and emotional.
6. HeresyEwwwwwww. This irritating organ solo does nothing for me, and will probably do nothing for you.
7. Fisherman's HorizonThis has one of Mr. Uematsu's best melodies. Unfortunately the electric piano doesn't appeal to me, and besides, a wonderful fully-orchestral version is on the arrange album.
8. ODEKA Ke ChocoboI suppose that this is played in the game "Chocobo World." This is just a little ditty of the chocobo theme.
9. Where I BelongAnother version of the friendship theme. Like Fisherman's Horizon, this is spoiled by an electric piano.
10. The OathI *love* this track! While playing the game, I was dissapointed by all of the music that I heard up until this played in the game. I don't care what anyone says about this, I think that it's great!
11. Slide Show Part1This sounds as if it's being played on a player piano. People who have played the game will know why.
12. Slide Show Part2A wonderful little ragtime piano solo. I'm not sure, but I don't think that this was truly composed by Nobuo.
13. Love GrowsThis is easily the best arrangement of the love theme. I like it better than "Eyes on Me."
14. The Salt FlatsThis is a very ambient track. It sounds kind of odd, but this is the kind of track that really grows on you.
15. Trust MeYet ANOTHER arrangement of the friendship theme. This is thankfully better than the last one heard, but I personally feel that this melody has been grossly overused.
16. Silence and MotionUhhhh.... What...? This *weird* track makes you wonder just how much beer Mr. Uematsu really drinks.
17. Dance With the Balamb-fishI don't get the title, but this is definitely one of the better tracks. This is a Tschaikovsky-esque orchestral polka.
18. Tears of the MoonA dull cinematic track. This plays when the moon "cries."
19. ResidentsThis is in the same vein as "It's Difficult to Stand on Both Feet, Isn't It?" from FF7, but not nearly as fun. It's actually just irritating.
20. Eyes On MeWell, if you like James Horner's pop ballads, then you're definitely going to like this. It's a sugar sweet tune based on the love theme. Miss Faye Wong has a lovely singing voice, my only complaint is that her voice cracks just after the four minute mark. I'm not kidding! "I'm mo*crack*re than the dress and the voice," as the lyrics go...

Disc 4:

1. Mods De ChocoboWith the constant and irritating versions of the chocobo theme from FF7's soundtrack, it's nice to have a single in-game arrangement of it for FF8. This time it's done in a beach rock style.
2. Ride OnThis is a wonderful airship theme. I even arranged this for my high school band just before I graduated. Unfortunately my version was too difficult and the instumentation was all messed up.
3. TruthWe're back into the boring stuff. That's really the extent of my explanation: boring.
4. Lunatic PandoraI like this track. While it may not be the most listenable, it is one of the more noteworthy as it is very experimental. It kind of sounds like Yasunori Mitsuda's "Black Omen" from Chrono Trigger.
5. Compression of TimeThis is experimental like "Lunatic Pandora." It features a synth women's choir underneath a single atonal saxophone with some harp arpeggios.
6. The CastleThis is probably the best final dungeon theme in the series since FF4. It starts off with an awesome pipe organ solo which eventually gives way to a harpsichord solo with some distant banging percussion.
7. The Legendary BeastThe first of three final battle tracks. While the final battle sequence of FF8 pales in comparison to others of it's kind in the series (particularly FF6 and FF7), it is still one of the best sections.
8. Maybe I'm a LionThe second in the final battle triumvirate takes more of a rock style approach. This is fairly good with a wonderful segment near 2:00. This is a rare instance in which the electric piano actually adds to the music. Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are.
9. The ExtremeWhen I finally reached the last boss in the game, I couldn't believe how dull the enemy design was. Luckily, the music complimenting the final battle is very fun to listen to. While not nearly as creative as "A One-Winged Angel," it is much more invigorating. It starts out slowly with the witch motif underneath, but goes all out at about 1:40.
10. The SuccessorThis piano solo marks the beginning of the end. Even though this is the first part of the ending, it is rather drab and doesn't contain much in the way of melody, though the witch theme does make an appearance.
11. Ending ThemeWell, I can safely say that this is the best track out of all four discs. This is fully orchestral and starts out with two and a half minutes of rather boring ambience. The ambience quietly segues into a wonderful orchestral version of "Eyes on Me" which is vastly superior to the pop ballad counterpart. This version also happens to contain a wonderful instrumental segment at exactly 4:00 that is the absolute highlight of the entire score. The love theme in turn segues into a wonderful orchestral version of the series' main theme. At the ten-minute mark, the end credits begin. I have been told that the major motif here is borrowed from Toto's Dune score, which I am unfamiliar with. The heavy end credits dissipate into a quiet and romantic secion that fades away. An incredible ending to an otherwise dull score.
12. OvertureMr. Uematsu, why oh why have you forsaken us? You've gotten rid of the legendary prelude for THIS?

It's hard to say what's more irritating. The fact that the prelude is gone or the fact that the melody following the fanfare is gone. Anyway, if you wish to purchase a good Final Fantasy soundtrack related to FF8 make it the arrange album Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec or buy a different OST in the series, I especially recommend FF6 or 7.
Final Fantasy 8 is copyright 1999 Digicube. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not relfect the opinions of Tripod.