|Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack is a video game soundtrack. You will find the track list plus an extensive track-by-track analysis below the standard review. It is my hope that you will gain a better understanding of video game music by reading exactly what it has to offer as it is different from American film music.|
It seems that many fans have claimed to "roll with the punches" when it comes to Final Fantasy soundtracks since the SNES era. I, myself have thought that Uematsu's skills have increased dramatically in almost every respect, but for some reason, those glued to the thought of "only the old is good" have failed to recognize this. It feels as if people don't like the music as much, and I'm having a tough time figuring out the reason. I wasn't the biggest fan of the FFVIII soundtrack, but I could understand why someone would be, and I could understand the opposite view as well. Then there are the opinions that make me wonder why I even try paying attention to other people's opinions at all. If you've ever dissagreed with a magazine review, you know what I'm basically talking about, though you may not realize the extent to which I've been bombarded with crap that doesn't make any sense.
First of all, I always tire of hearing "Uematsu's best yet, Uematsu's best yet, Uematsu's best yet, Uematsu's best yet, Uematsu's best yet, Uematsu's best yet, Uematsu's best yet" *every* lousy time an FF game comes out. It does happen, believe me, but it's not true. Then if you've ever read comments made by Gamefan magazine, you may have seen criticisms like "the music in FFVIII was so boring that I got incredibly sick of hearing the dull, dull, overworld theme". (begin sarcasm) Yeah, that's right people, the entire value of a musical score all depends on how good the overworld theme is. (end sarcasm) It's gotten to the point where I think that most video game magazine editors are a bunch of idiots that don't deserve their jobs because they spout uninformed garbage.
Considering what I've already mentioned, it's my pleasure to announce that the latest FF score is quite enjoyable, for me at least. It's not the best of all the recent ones, but it marks a very stylish view for the music of the series. People who are looking for a more movie-like sound to the music are probably going to be very dissapointed since the music takes a completely huge turn away from that perspective and lands on a considerably more pop-oriented armature. While this results in a soundtrack that is much more "video gamey" than recent previous installments, it does give the score a "hip" edge that the FF series hasn't visited since it's earlier days on the SNES. And even though it reverts back somewhat, the polished skills of the composers give it a sound that is very fresh.
Since this soundtrack does take such a different stance on style, it is no surprise that Uematsu-san has enlisted the help of two other Squaresoft composers, Junya Nakano and Masashi Hamauzu. Both make intelligent contributions to the overall sound, which makes for a much more interesting listen. Some have said that this leaves a very confused listening experience, and while I agree with this idea up to a point, I think that the different people used on the project each have plenty of ideas to contribute. One thing that I think is very cool about this is that while multiple-composer scores like the ones that Media Ventures churn out are confused and don't work extremely well, Final Fantasy video games are so broad stylistically that the many ideas of many aural artists almost all work very well, no matter how much they differ.
While Hamauzu and Nakano's tracks add much to the intrigue and the flavor of the score, it is of course Uematsu's contribution that should cause the biggest stir. This time the composer has expanded his musical palette to not only include spiffy electronic stuff, but has tried out for the first time, as many have mentioned, heavy metal. The first thought that most gave to this idea was one of disgust, but ever since I heard about it, I was intrigued by the idea. I should mention that this is the first FF soundtrack since part VII that I have heard in the game before acquiring the CD. The first time I heard the metal song "Otherworld" I almost died laughing. It's not that I thought it was funny, it was the fact that I was so impressed by Mr. Uematsu's effort. The track really came out of left field and it surprised my a lot. After having heard it many, many times at this point, I can probably say that it is one of Nobuo's best tracks ever, even though many people will probably dissagree with me. There's just something about it that is extremely catchy.
The most unfortunate drawback to having multiple composers in this case was the fact that Uematsu's themes tend to get buried in the rock-based music of the other composers. This is kind of sad since there are a couple very good melodies in there, and while there are character themes, they are not really a source of much attention apart from Yuna's theme, which I feel can actually be considered the main theme. There is a great (synth) orchestral arrangement of it on the last disc that plays in the game as the party approaches a very important part of Yuna's "destiny". The other most major theme is the "Hymn of the Fayth" - a very pastoral melody that is heard far too many times throughout the soundtrack. It works every time that it is played in the game, but sadly did not need to be heard on CD in each and every arrangement written for it.
Once again, there is a pop ballad based on the main theme that constitutes the "love theme" of the game. One thing I'm glad to say is that the latest of these in the Final Fantasy series, "Suteki Da Ne" (or "Isn't it Beautiful?"), is my favorite thus far, completely blowing away both "Eyes on Me" and "Melodies of Life" in my opinion, and even though Rikki's voice isn't as strong as either of the pop divas to handle the first two songs in the series, it does match the "soul" of the tune better than either of the others. I like both arragements of the song though I consider the final orchestral version the be the superior of the two by far.
There isn't really much bad to say about the soundtrack, other than that the composers could have collaborated on ideas a little more closely, but I won't complain too loudly about that. I would have to say that what I'm most dissapointed with is the fact that much of the soundtrack, Uematsu's tracks especially, suffer from a very strong "been there, done that" quality. Not that there's too much borrowing done, but many of the arrangements and chord progressions are almost identical to past FFs. The perfect example I can think of is one of the premiere track on the first disc, "Tidus's Theme". The chord progression at the very beggining is the same as one used in an early track on the FFIX soundtrack, and whenever it started up in the game, I wanted to star humming the "Melodies of Life" theme. Another problem is that the main theme of the series (the bridge theme, or the prologue theme) is completely absent. It seems that we have seen the last of it, and may have possibly seen the last of Uematsu's contributions to the series. While this seems sad, I can't say that I feel all bad about it. I actually feel good for Mr. Uematsu's accomplishments and wish him well in the future.
Now, my final complaint, as it has been with the last several Final Fantasy soundtracks, is that the synth sound quality is an abomination, especially in this day of 128-bit systems. The ordinary Playstation was never tapped to its true sound potential with the Final Fantasy series, even though it deserved to be, and now that we are even beyond that, we cannot seem to have sound quality that is even up the the true standards of yesteryear. Everyone responsible for the synth of the FF series has a lot to answer for, and this may include Mr. Uematsu himself since he seems to think that his music is carried just fine over the mediocre sound that we have heard from the series for years. Sorry, but the sound quality is unacceptable and we fans deserve more, but not as much as these greatly talented composers who are content to let everyone hear their music in a poor way.
The Final Fantasy X soundtrack is not quite all I was hoping for, but considering what we could have gotten without the tried-and-true formula of solo Uematsu, I am quite pleased with the result. This latest soundtrack is not likely to blow you away, but it is fairly enjoyable on a strong, if not slightly superficial level.
Disc one of the collection makes a fine introduction into the soundtrack. The first several tracks unfortnately do not introduce the main theme, but instead introduce a couple of minor ones, which isn't so bad, but the themes aren't the greatest in the world. Still, the first disc is the second best of all four and should be a pleasure to listen to for almost any fan of Final Fantasy music.
- "I Would Like to Say Everything"
This is actually just a quote in Japanese which translates "This may be the end. So I want to tell everything... ", it is performed by the voice actor for the main character.
This is the introduction for one of the first major themes. It is a fairly simplistic melody played on the piano, which makes it easy to remember. I like the track, but would probably have preffered something a little more complex.
- The Prelude
A very odd and bouncy arrangement of the famous prelude. Unfortunately, the melody that has been backing the well-known arpeggios since Final Fantasy 4 is absent, with a very pop-sounding backbeat in its place. Rather than bore you by complaining about this, I'm just going to ask you to accept it like I had to. It was the apreggios that became famous in the first place anyway.
- Tidus' Theme
This is that track that I mentioned earlier about the chord progression borrowed from FFIX. The moment the track begins, I'm sure that you will recall a scene from early in the previous game in the series and will want to hum the "Melodies of Life" theme. Unfortunately, the theme that does appear is completely mediocre and has no place as a character theme in a Final Fantasy game, much less the theme for the *main* character, but once again I can't complain too loudly since the theme for the main character in FFIX was this bad too, if not a little worse.
Yes, here it is, people. Nobuo Uematsu's first attempt at hard-core heavy metal, and much to many peoples' surprise, he has succeeded quite admirably. Though I'm certain that most people who don't like this kind of music will be instantly turned off by this track, people who are willing to look at this for what it is can at least appreciate it for that much. I personally think that this says all the more for Uematsu-san's talent and creativity.
Gee, bet you wouldn't have expected to hear a "hurry" track in a Final Fantasy game, huh? To be serious, this is one of the more effective tracks of its kind simply because it works well into the background rather that trying to bowl you over. It works well in the context of the game too, and that is something we can all be thankful for.
- This is your story
Now this is one of the oddest parts of the entire score. The music itself is extremely serene, but that doesn't seem to fit well considering the scene that this music accompanies is anything but. Certainly rather than any sort of action track, this sounds more like something to calm you down, almost like a lullabye, though more ambient. On its own, I like the track, but knowing what it was meant for perplexes me and makes me wonder what would have happened had something more appropriate been penned for the scene.
This track is a much more sinister look at the game, beginning on a large crescendo that basically takes up the entire track, this does well at accomplishing its job, though it doesn't nessesarily make for exciting listening on its own. As a matter of fact, it is downright boring on its own, but the interesting instrumentation makes it worth at least one hearing.
- Normal Battle
I've already read many, many complaints about this main battle track on the internet. Personally, I think that its kinda weak, yeah, but I didn't really get too sick of hearing it over and over in the game like I could have, which I think is an accomplishment in and of itself, even though the music isn't the most well-written for an FF battle. And besides, it's far better than the ordinary battle theme from FFIX.
- Victory Fanfare
As usual, the immediate fanfare that we've all come to know and love bursts out, but this time the composers decided not to keep the traditional melody heard in FFs 1-6 and 9, but instead opted to create a new background similar to those in FFs 7 and 8, only maybe a little bouncier in nature.
- Game Over
I find it very odd that the first time we hear the main theme on this soundtrack, it is the version used to accompany the death of you party in the game. It works pretty well with this harpsichord requiem, but I would rather have heard a less depressing version of the theme for the first time during my listening experience. I think that this could have been placed later in the soundtrack, and I'm not sure why it wasn't. Good track though, as it works quite well.
- Hopeless Desire
The first thing that I immediately thought of when I heard this playing in the game was the character Quina from FFIX. The styles are almost identical, and even though the melody is much more serious, I think that the arrangement could have been altered a little bit to keep peoples' thoughts off of older, sillier themes from other games. It is mostly the constantly bouncing timpani that will remind you of the music from the past, but the percussion overall is too overbearing. I think that this should have been toned down a little.
- Underground Activities
This is another ambient track similar to track 8. It doesn't actually last for very long, but I suppose that it works pretty well. I was actually very on edge whenever this played at random points during the game, thus its effectiveness is good in-game, though maybe less than terrific on CD.
- Underwater Ruins
Another ambient track, though the purpose has shifted in this case. Where we had a darker, more nervous sound before, we now have a calm, soothing sound to keep the listener out of a state of shock. I like this track, especially the neat water bubble sounds, though I might not care too much for the pseudo rubber mallets at the beginin, but all of the other percussion is pretty cool.
- Al Bhed Tribe's Chi
We finally get to hear our first happy track which is more concerned with characters and melody, rather than ambience. The melody is hardly very memorable, which is pretty dissapointing for an FF game, but the lighthearted feel is nice and it makes the theme enjoyable anyway. The track even gets a little better when the flute begins to play, and the strings sound a bit more enjoyable after that happens. I don't care much for the electric piano, so thankfully it only lasts for a couple of seconds.
- Enemy Attack
While many have complained about the weak main battle theme, this is where I'm going to have to voice my own personal displeasure regarding a battle track. This is probably the weakest boss battle music in the series for a long time, which is very odd considering the fact that this is also the most orchestrally-based boss battle theme to be introduced to the series in a long while. As usual, this serves its purpose pretty well in the context of the game, but not nearly as much can be said for the way this plays on disc, so you might as well skip it.
- Blitz Ball Gamblers
This is a bouncy, rather enjoyable version of Tidus' theme, which is hard to believe considering how much I badmouthed the melody back when it first appeared. Anyway, this is one of those more upbeat and exciting tracks that used to grace the series quite often, but were basically put out of use when Final Fantasy VII rolled around. This is more orchestral than rock or ambient which is (almost) always nice.
- Bisaid Island
This track is another one of those light, though not nessesarily melodic, pieces that hangs over a peaceful setting in the game. I like the way the piano is used here, but some of the percussion and synth intrudes and takes away from the music's potential. A good example of this is the snare drum entrance, which is not only much too loud, but probably should not have been included in the composition at all.
- The Sight of Spira
Finally, we get to hear our first real playing of the main theme. Unfortunately, it is in the form of a folk guitar solo. This probably would not be so much of a problem if, once again, we had gotten to hear a more large-scale version. As it is, the track still works pretty well and no mediocre arrangement can really hide how great the melody is, which is certainly interesting since it was written by Uematsu along with a handful of other melodies in under one hour. And by the way, no, the arrangement is not really mediocre.
- Song of Prayer
Now we finally get to hear the single most overused theme of the score, the hymn. Yes, it only last for a few seconds, but I personally think that it would have worked to simply put this particular track on the soundtrack and not put the all of the other arrangements on at all except for the final one that plays at the end of the game. This is actually one of the best presentations of the hymn theme on the entire collection since it is performed by a chorus rather than just a single person.
Another one of those sleepy, surreal, ambient tracks like track 7. This has a very tinkly sound to it, but there's unfortunately not much in the way of anything memorable. The track will probably simply pass you by without much notice. I don't really like this that much, but once again, it works in the game, so there's not much complaining from me.
- Between Ordeals
This is one of the track that I can guarantee that you will remember after playing the game. While it has a melody, it is the arrangement that you will probably remember the most. This music is heard several times thoughout the game since there are all sorts of places that need puzzles solved. I like this track very much, but probably could have done without the "twangy" noises that accompany the pizzicati at the very beginning.
- Song of Prayer - Valefor
Now we do get to hear the theme performed by a solo female vocal. As I've stated already, this probably could have been left off, but it serves as a good example of how the hymn tracks are used in the game. The monsters that you receive to summon in the game actually come from different humans that could have been male or female, and since the summon "Valefor" is female, a female voice is used to sing this track. Simple? Simple.
Though this track appears a few time in the game, most will probably recognize it as the music that plays over the title screen when you begin the game. The track is very similar to the other soft, ambient ones like track 7 (yes, again). Fortunately, this is very short and doesn't wear out its welcome like the others could, and it's pretty good music anyway.
- Daughter of a Great Summoner Warrior
This is another version of the main theme. As usual, the melody is brilliant, but I think the arrangement could use some work. Personally, I just don't like crossing such an epically-intentioned theme with the duller ambience of some of the tracks. I mostly think that this could have been a little more exciting and not so hum-drum.
- Good Night
Unfortunately, there's never much to say about these quick little "sleep time" tracks unless there's something really special about them like the one in Star Ocean 2. This one is a lot like the others in the series and only lasts a couple seconds.
Disc two isn't quite up to par with the first disc, but seems to flow more smoothly as a listen simply because it plays tracks that are mostly used only during the course of the game, rather than during movie or FMV sequences like the first disc. All in all, disc 2 has a pretty decent collection of enjoyable tracks, even though the ambient nature of the score really takes hold during this disc.
- Yuna's Theme
This is finally the true and official theme for Yuna. Yeah, her theme and the main theme are one and the same even though she's not the main character. I have a real problem with this track though. If you've ever seen or remembered what I've said about electric pianos in Final Fantasy music, you know that I don't like them at all. And since the electric piano plays such a heavy role in this arrangement, I just can't get into it very well.
This begins as if it were another of the ambient tracks, but a melody soon begins playing and the listener may actually be slightly reminded of past FF "nature" themes like "The Mystic Forest" from FFVI, and though this is a little less spooky than a track like that, you'll probably still see the similarity. This is a lighthearted version of a track like that. The melody isn't so hot and isn't very memorable, but it works within the track and it benefits the game quite nicely.
- Warping to a Different Dimension
Well, here we have another arragement of the hymn. This time it is performed by a chorus, but it sounds a little more like a tribal chanting at first. Much more backing shows up a little way into the track than we've heard during other playings of the hymn.
- Song of Memories
If "Sprouting" reminded you at all of a past forest theme from a Final Fantasy game, then this track will do it even moreso since this really is a forest theme for FFX. Though I can't say I enjoy it as much as others, it's a pretty cool track anyway. It plays in a part of the game in which you learn a lot about the main character's past. The area where this plays is also where the two main characters, Tidus and Yuna, realize that they are in love (though the music changes when that happens).
- Song of Prayer -
Of course this is simply another arrangement of the hymn. It is now performed by a solo Tenor voice. Nothing special.
This is the first and only "big town" theme. Though it is very upbeat in nature, I find that it could have been toned down a little bit. The weird keyboard samples don't seem to agree with me, but I guess that they do work as intended. On another note, this track reminds me very much of a certain track from Secret of Mana. Even though I'm not sure of the name of the track, it is one that plays in the dungeons of that game, and I like it better than this.
- Welcome the Old Priest Maika
This is actually a big fanfare based on the hymn. Since it is a fanfare, I don't mind it using the theme because the arrangement sounds much different than it would using the normal vocals. The use of the theme integrates very well into the story.
- Inflexible Determination
This is one of the few tracks in the game that genuinely had me nervous while playing. It left me with the feeling of "something bad's gonna happen" even though I really wasn't sure what. It doesn't quite have the same effect alone on CD, nor would it probably have quite such a good effect on the player the second time through, but since it did so well in my first experience with the game, I'm going to have to commend its use. It would be skippable on disc, but the fact that it's fairly short erases that problem.
- Splendid Performance
This is basically an extraordinarily weaker version of the track called "The Mission" from FFVIII, one of the few tracks in that score that I actually loved to listen to. Maybe this isn't quite that close to the FFVIII track, but the piano is extremely similar. I can't say that I care much for this just because it's so repetative and seemingly gets nothing accomplished. Even in the game it does little to enthuse me and it is imminently skippable.
This is unfortunately a track that might be considered a good ambient piece *in another game*. What we have here is a silly rock-based "confrontational" track that simply doesn't sound as if it belongs in Final Fantasy. Even though this is supposed to fit into a hip "sports" motif, I find this obnoxious and interrupting and it would probably have been best to have just left it off of the soundtrack entirely.
- Blitz Off
Now this track is much more like the previous one should have been. It's still rock-based, but this time it is much less grating and more easy-going. It plays during Blitzball games in FFX, and though I never really got into them much, the games I did play were kinda fun. This track recalls much of the memories that I had at some parts of the game.
- Auron's Theme
This is another rock-based track that is used at several points in the game. The time it is first used it works very well, but unfortunately I don't see why the composers found it nessesary to use it more than at that one point in the game because it doesn't do a very good job integrating into the entire fantasy feel. It only fits well into scenes that involve blitzball in some way, even though it supposedly represents a "warrior" character.
- Mi'hen Highway
Now this is one of the better tracks. It's an easy-going "travel" motif that reminds me very much of the Final Fantasies of the past. It sounds a bit Mitsudian when the accousic guitar solo appears, but other than that this track is kinda fun, and I like the sound of the jaw harp.
- Brass De Chocobo
Finally, we get to hear our first, and unfortunately only, arrangement of the classic chocobo theme. This is probably the most jazzy arrangement of the theme yet, and it really is incredible that so much life can be breathed into it after so many uses after all these years. Any FF aficianado should find much to appreciate in this track.
- Traveling Company
This is based on the same chords as the main theme, yet it is not the same theme. Actually, it is not even a theme at all, it is more of another ambient piece simply based in the main theme. This may seem bad or good to different people, but just since the track is so placid, I would have a hard time getting into it in any case. Since the theme isn't actually here and the music is so calm (i.e. boring), you might as well simply skip ahead.
- Permitted Transit
This track is also completely boring. Practically nothing but a few dull string chords to build up tension, and to be quite honest, is doesn't even do well at that. I think that this track would have been best not only left of the soundtrack, but out of the game entirely. This sounds like it was written in a couple of minutes, and I see no reason for the composers to not have done a better job.
- Seymour's Theme
This is what should have begun instead of the last track, and even though the previous bit of music was intended to be a bridge toward this, I think that the introduction to this could simply have been extende a bit. This is a theme for one of the principle villains of the game. It's fitting that I don't like this track that well though, since the cool villains have always have cool themes, and I thought that Seymour was probably the most dull villain to have ever been in the Final Fantasy series. This isn't even a theme really; it's just a simple, three-note motif for strings.
Well, I think that the last thing that I needed to hear after the last couple boring tracks was minor key, boring string ambience, though that's exactly what I get. This wouldn't have been so bad had the different "dark" tracks been spread out a little instead of being grouped all together like this. So what we have is a bunch of boring, nasty stuff that could have sounded better, but was poorly placed and therefore nearly ruined. Keep in mind that these tracks do work in the game, but the way they have been included on CD dissapoints me greatly.
- Djose Temple
A very mischievous "sneaking around" style of track that has graced many Final Fantasies. This is another piece that probably would have been more enjoyable had it been placed somewhere else on the soundtrack, but since it is fun, it is not as hard to listen to as the past few tracks. I think this music could have used some more action though, just because most previous entries of this type into the series have always been a little more interesting than this.
- Song of Prayer - Ixion
Once again, the hymn. This time performed by a lower male voice.
- Ride ze Shoepuf?
Finally, we break out of the darkness, but I think that it could have been done on a more interesting note. This a lighthearted track with instrumentation that's practically nil. Pretty boring if you ask me, but it's something that might have you enjoying yourself slightly, now that the "evil" tracks are done with.
- Rikku's Theme
Remember way back to the track 15 of disc 1, "The Al Bhen Tribe's Chi"? Well, as is turns out, the melody from that track was in fact Rikku's theme. Rikku is an Al Bhed, who are just a set of characters from the game that choose not to follow the teachings of the church. I'd go into more detail about them, but then I'd be spoiling the game for you if you haven't played it yet. The melody is still pretty dull and unmemorable, but once again, the arrangement does a pretty good job masking that fact and you can remember this track for how much you enjoyed it rather than for melody, which is generally associated with the Final Fantasy series. This track is not much of a dissapointment, and it's good to end this particular disc of the soundtrack on such a happy note.
This is a very ethnic track, though I don't think that anyone could really put a finger on where the ethnicity is supposed to be derived from, which is one of the reasons that I really like this, even though the arrangement leaves something to be desired. The ethnicity of this track really doesn't come from anything most people can base their knowledge on, so it's as if the composer came up with a completely new idea for the music. Pretty cool stuff.
Unfortunately, disc 3 is the stinker of the bunch. Instead of having mostly good tracks, the composers decide to place most of the more dark, ambient tracks from throughout the game onto this single collection. I just wish that the ambient tracks written could have been a little more interesting considering the fact that three composers had time to work on the music. If Nobuo Uematsu himself can come up with more interesting stuff all on his own for an entire soundtrack, why can't three different people who are individually writing a much smaller amount of material? The only guess that I could make is that Nakano and Hamauzu really aren't all that talented as game music composers. Fortunately, the disc seems to pick up the melodic pace near the end.
- Thunder Plains
Not exactly the most creative way to paint a thunderstorm with music, but I guess that it suffices. The overall compostition here seems lacking in creativity, yes, but the main draw is the somewhat cool use of piano. I think the track could have been better had there been some kind of surprises on the off-beats to symbolize the thunder. Oh, well, it's a good track despite its shortcomings.
- Jecht's Theme
I was actually very impressed at how well the music of this track captured the care-free attitude of the character that it represents. Jecht is actually the father of the main character, who tells us and makes us feel that Jecht is some kind of jerk, but this music makes the listener understand perfectly just how Jecht may be interpreted that way, yet not be such a bad guy after all. The music has a twangy, back-woods sort of sound that most people can warm up to pretty quickly.
- Makalania Forest
This is my favorite of the ambient tracks heard so far. As usual, there is a lot of piano, but the pulsing strings are what I find so cool. The music truly captures the ambience of the area that it accompanies, and this is certainly one of he best tracks on the entire CD. Make absolute certain not to skip or miss this one, beause it's damn cool.
- Fog Sea
Unfortunately, we go from one of the coolest of the ambient tracks to one of the most dull and boring. There's a lot of pipe clanking sounds and such, but nothing to add any real individual flavor to the music, and what we have overall is almost unlistenable apart from the game. I realize that how you interpret the word "unlistenable" is up to you, but I don't really think that anyone would be able to simply listen to this track and enjoy it. That's all that I mean.
- Temple Band
The straight-forward ambience of this track is marginally supeior to that of the last track, but when it comes down to it, most fans of Final Fantasy soundtracks simply need something more than this. I appreciate the fact that the composers were trying to take the series in a new direction, but since the melodies of Uematsu-san were what popularized the music of FF in the first place, many long-time fans may not care too much for this kind of stuff, but at least it works in the game (which it wouldn't have, mind you, had the live voice actors not been included).
- Seymour's Ambition
This is simply a faster, somewhat meaner version of Seymour's theme. I don't really find enough different about it from the last playing of the theme to warrant much attention though. The electric guitar doesn't help this track any either.
- Song of Prayer - Shiva
Another playing of the hymn. This time performed by a woman. 'nuff said.
- Those Who Come Closer
Yet another ambient track is thrown our way, and though it would seem as if there isn't much separating this from other dark tracks like it on CD, this is much more effective in-game than most.
- Scorching Desert
I don't really feel the need to bore you with much more talk regarding these ambient tracks, but this particular one fits its mercelessly hot enviornment quite well, though not nearly as well as any other desert-based tracks in the series. Therefore, this track is truly a dissapointment. I really wish that the composer could have come up with something better than this. A theme or melody of some kind would have helped immensly. Just about every other "sand scene" music in other FFs has had a cool melody, so why not this one? I don't really think that this is an unfair comparison since we have had so much ambience on this soundtrack thus far. I need *some* thematic bliss in anything entitled Final Fantasy.
This is another of those huge "hurry" tracks that have been so prevalent in the series, and I don't mind informing you that it is almost more annoying that most. The only thing that keeps me from completely disliking it is the fairly cool dissonant spurts from the low brass instruments, and unfortunately those only last for a second or two.
- Revealed Truth
I'm almost sure that the first thing that will pop into most people's head when they first hear this playing in the game or on the CD is "The Oath" from FFVIII, and I'm going to have to say that it is a perfectly fair and logical comparison, expecially considering the fact that the arrangements are nearly identical and that the melodies are extremely similar. Since I was actually a pretty big fan of "The Oath", I'd have to say that I like this track a lot too. There's just something about this style in FF that I like quite a bit, and it really hasn't been used as much as it could have been. Certainly not as much as other styles that have gotten irratating at this point, but maybe that's why it hasn't been used so much: to keep it sounding strong and powerful.
I appologize for this, but here comes the part where I have to complain about not only the soundtrack, but the game as well. Up to this point, there have always been fairly cool pieces of music representing the "flying" aspect of the Final Fantasy games. If you take too much of that out, I feel that it actually hurts the game. In FFX, the worst part about anything that I could tell you is that you don't get to pilot the airship around for yourself, nor do you even get to walk on an "overworld" map. For me, this is really annoying, and when it comes to the soundtrack, the overworld music has traditionally been where the main theme would play in it's most epic incarnation. Since the main theme of this game isn't really epically-intentioned, the least we could get is a nice, strong airship theme possibly similar to the ones used in the last several FF games. But no, they couldn't do that. Instead, what we have is another, somewhat epic, track made up of more ambience. No matter what your feelings are towards the other airship tracks of the series, this is an outrage, and I wish I could demand something more. Too bad everything is said and done concerning the game and what music has been used in it.
Boring string ambience, and it goes on for way too long on the CD. If you have nothing better to do than listen to it, find something, and then skip on, because this track sucks. It takes place during a pretty important scene in the game, so there's little excuse.
Finally! A great track. The is a huge battle piece, one of the best tracks on the disc, and even though it sounds similar to the airship theme, it is cool enough to listen to. It does bog down in places, but a huge burst in the (synth) orchestra near the beginning is the coolest part. Even though the cool part only lasts for a couple seconds, the entire track is pretty fun.
This begins as if it is going to be another purely boring track like 13, and though it is fairly dull, I don't have much of a problem listening to it. It does build up some strength as it moves along, and it works pretty well in the game. It hints at a theme with a clarinet and strings at one point, but the thematics never really take a strong hold.
- I Can Fly
This track is sort of a coda to the last few track in that it build up in a similar way with ambient strings, eventually it climaxes in a rather large fanfare. While this is okay, I would have like a slighly more interesting fanfare to make up for the sluggish pace it took to reach this point, but it doesn't matter that much since the track is pretty short.
- Path of Repentance
This piano solo isn't really my cup of tea since it really doesn't have anything strong to mention about it. While pleasant enough, I would have liked a much stronger melody. Though this sounds like a complaint I've been making all along with this review, I think that my complaint makes a different kind of sense here. You can tell by listening to this track that something melodic is exactly what the composer was shooting for, and since, as I've said all along, melody is what FF has been known for, it would make more sense to have a stronger theme for any piano solo. Especially a fairly important one like this.
- Song of Prayer - Bahamut
Another female performance of the hymn.
- Time of Judgement
This is another almost purely ambient action track, only this one has fairly strong hints towards the hymn theme and even the main theme. It's about time, since it's been so long since we've heard anything major. There's really not much to say apart from that, but the track's okay to listen to.
- My Father's Murderer
If there is one thing that has become popular over the course of the last three FF soundtracks, it is the use of a harpsichord as a primary instrument in at least one track. On this particular soundtrack, the harpsichord cue is based on Seymour's motif. Though the motif lends itself fairly well to the instrument, it is still fairly boring and unprofessional-sounding in and of itself.
- Suteki Da Nei
We finally get to hear the culmination of the main theme in this terrific pop ballad. As I've already mentioned, this is my favorite pop ballad from a Final Fantasy game thus far, and I think that anyone else who hears is will be hard-pressed to admit otherwise once they've got the theme stuck in their heads. Rikki's vocals do great things, and even though they sound much more like the high-pitched vocals of anime songstresses and not much like the mature vocals of Faye Wong and Emiko Shiratori, they correspond with the music quite well. As usual, I don't like this pop version of the song as well as the orchestral version that closes the soundtrack, but this certainly has it's charm and the violin solo is absolutely heavenly. Make sure not to miss this track!
The fourth disc is easily the best of the bunch, but I sadly cannot say that it matches up to most conclusions in other Final Fantasy soundtracks. It does okay, especially with the enchanting song at the end, but overall the disc is pleasant to listen to and the final couple battle tracks are interesting, though not very spectacular in any way. I guess you'll have to form your own opinion by listening.
- Yuna's Determination
After reading the title, one would expect to hear another version of the main theme. Unfortunately that is not the case, but we are instead treated to a new little theme that is soft and very pretty, even though it can't match up to the theme that has been used for Yuna thus far. The melody here is pretty weak actually, but it's better than a lot of the ambience that we've had to hear up to this point.
- Lulu's Theme
As you might have expected, Lulu's theme isn't really all that spectacular a listen, but it certainly fits her character, even though that might be hard for you to believe if you've only seen a picture of her, but haven't had a chance to see what she's like in the game. From just an image, you would get the idea that she's really dark and goth or something, but when you actually meet her, you learn that she's basically just another female character, albeit a very well-characterized one, along for the ride.
- Brave Advancement
This begins with what sounds like a fairly orchestral fanfare, but a beat soon enters carried by an elecric bass guitar. Since we're finally getting into what sounds like real FF music, the rest of the disc is very enjoyable, even though much of it, like this track, is only enjoyable on that superficial level that I mentioned earlier.
- Song of Prayer - Bodyguard
Solo bass this time. That is all.
- People of the North Pole
This is probably the coolest of all of the dungeon music on the entire soundtrack. What we have is an awesome violin solo backed up by a terrific-sounding string section. This captures the essence of wandering around on a cold mountaintop so well that you can almost see your breath as it plays. Hints of the main theme show up near the middle of the track when the violin solo really gets going. A completely "cool" track.
- Song of Prayer - Ronzo Tribe
Solo male vocal.
- Wandering Flame
This is little more than a piece of soft, jazzy ambience, but as far as most of the ambience on this soundtrack goes, this is very near the top. The bass clarinet solo sounds really nifty, but the strings surrounding it sound very fake. Not a bad track, but not a great one either.
- Someday the Dream Will End
Now we get a hugely great orchestral arrangement of the main theme. What more could you want? Everything about this track is cool. I wish that they could have gotten a live orchestra to perform this particular track, but what we have will have to suffice. A great composition like this just can't be masked, not even by a crappy synth sound system. The piano near the second half sounds really great and this is certainly one of the best tracks that you will hear in any Final Fantasy.
- Song of Prayer - Yunalesca
It's kinda funny that a male tenor choir would sing the hymn for a female character, but that's what they do here.
This is a good example of a "big" boss battle track that sounds great in the context of the game, but sounds pointless and boring on CD. It is very rock-based, especially with the distorted electric guitar, but pretty enjoyable once it gets started. The part where the guitar really chimes in is one of the better uses of the rock element in the score.
- To the End of the Abyss
Another cool track along the lines of "People of the North Pole", though infinitely less melodic. More piano, which has been used almost constantly throughout the entire soundtrack, but a little more prevalent along with the rest of the music in this case. A face of determination is put on the music for a few seconds as the piano takes its exit for a few moments at the end of the track, which sounds pretty neat.
A really dark and menacing dungeon track is what we have here. Not much is very exciting about this music, nor is it entirely important in the grand scheme of things, but it has a much more "evil" tone to it than any of the other ambient dungeon tracks, which makes it more than worthy of at least one spin.
- Song of Prayer - Spira
This time we get to hear a whole choir sing the hymn. Since this is a much more special version of the hymn, it is one of the few on the soundtrack that you probably shouldn't skip. The people of Spira would be so dissapointed in you if you did. ;-)
- The Deceased Laugh
Yep, you guessed it. Another arrangement of Seymour's theme. Since this plays during your last meeting with him I should make the same suggestion that I made for the last track. Don't skip this one, even though it sounds even less interesting than even either of the other two arrangements of the theme on the other discs.
- Seymour Battle
Believe it or not, this is one of the most awesome battle tracks to ever be heard in a Final Fantasy game. Instead of the usual orchestral battle anthem, we have an incredible electronica piece. Not much of Seymour's theme actually shows up since this is the last time that you will be fighting him, but the chords that have backed up his character theme appear in the seemingly random arpeggios that back up the music here, which leads to a great effect. Anyway, make sure not to miss this. It might actually be the coolest battle track of the entire score.
- Song of Prayer - Anima
Just a solo female vocal again. Nothing special like the last one.
Note: The first track that plays in the final battle trilogy is the heavy metal song "Otherworld" from disc one, which is why you do not see it at the end of the fourth disc. Anyway, the song does an incredibly good job of accompanying the first of the final battles. Hooray for Mr. Uematsu!
- Summoned Beast Battle
For being the accompaniment to the final trilogy of battles in the game, you would think that this track would be an awful lot cooler. Unfortunately, even though this is very fast, with a catchy ostinato, the overall effect doesn't do much for me. This begins with hints of the hymn, which has a lot to do with the plot of the game.
- Decisive Battle
The final battle track begins with lots a nasty, nasty dissonance from the trombones, but the track gets much more interesting as time goes on. First of all, a huge piano part enters, which sounds really cool, though it probably could have been done better had there been more single notes, rather than the straight-forward chords. The track does well keeping the player exhilerated during the final battle. The only unfortunate aspect to this is that the final battle of a Final Fantasy game is usually much more individual than this, with more personality and less repetition. Nevertheless, I like the track a lot, and I think it makes for decent battle music.
- Ending Theme
Even though this track is completely orchestral, I find that it is not quite as good as the orchestral tracks from the last two FFs, which may not have accompanied their repective scenes quite as accurately, but fit in with their overall soundtracks by doing a better job of integrating and wrapping up themes used throughout their entire scores. This does that to an extent, but unfortunately this is the only orchestral track out of all four discs, which is a huge shame. We should have seen a lot more done by a recorded performing group. Another problem we have here is that the only themes that are ever brought up are the piano theme from the beginning of disc 1 and the hymn. By the time the track has ended, we do not have an orchestral passage full of memorable motifs and themes, we only have a fairly long cue made up of strings with a few short statements of themes that aren't even the most prevalent ones that could have been used. I guess what I'm trying to say with all these words is that the only orchestral track of FFX has little personality of its own. Other, much shorter orchestral tracks by Uematsu-san have had much, much, much personality, so why doesn't this one? I wish that I could answer, but I can't. Hopefully we'll lots of new cool stuff on whatever projects Nobuo has planned for the future.
- Please Remember
Just a quote in Japanese by Yuna's voice actor. Kinda cool.
- Suteki Da Ne (Orchestra Version)
Yes, this track is better than the pop version of the song. A true achievement and the best track out of the entire score. The phrase "saving the best for last" comes to mind, since they certainly did just that. Don't you dare miss this incredible track. It's completely awesome and blows both "Eyes On Me" and "Melodies of Life" out of the water.
Over the course of this review, I have truly come to realize that this is definitely one of the weaker entries into the series, but as I said in the introduction, it is still enjoyable on a superficial level. Those who own most FF soundtracks may be slightly dissapointed, but it would be worth the purchase for hardcore FF fans. If you are not so into the music of the series, I would suggest that you pick up one of the other soundtracks first. I like this one a little bit better than Final Fantasy VIII, but it is about tied on the level of FFV, which isn't so spectacular either. At this point though, you just have to read my words and make your own call regarding the purchase of this soundtrack. Just don't buy into anybody's lies about how it "just may be the best Final Fantasy soundtrack yet," because it's not.
Final Fantasy X is Copyright 2001 Digicube. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.