Monday, October 28, 2013

Game Scores: Final Fantasy USA - Mystic Quest (SNES)

If you're like me, then you might have been one of the many people who initially scoffed at Final Fantasy Mystic Quest.  I mean the cover of the game touted that it was an "Entry-Level Role Playing Adventure."  Entry-Level?  I'd been playing RPGs since Dragon Warrior.  I didn't need to have my hand held while fighting off monsters on my way to save the world.  I only played it because the game belonged to The Kid, although I can't remember if I bought it for her or she bought it herself.  Well, as it turned out, it was a pretty decent game and what surprised me the most was the music, which is why we are all here today.

I acquired this soundtrack over 10 years ago while buying something on eBay and this came as a "bonus gift."  It was one of five video game CDs to choose from and the only one that I had played, so I figured why not?  After listening through the whole CD, I discovered that I recalled the music more than I thought I would and that I actually enjoyed the music as well.

The music composed for Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was not written by then Squaresoft mainstay Nobuo Uematsu, but instead by Ryuji Sasai and Yasuhiro Kawakami.  To give you an idea of where this soundtrack is coming from, previous works from these two composers include Final Fantasy Legend III (Gameboy 1993) and Tetris (Arcade 1988).

So what makes this soundtrack surprisingly good?  We'll get there later, but first, let's start off with the main theme for the game which is played during the opening titles and is used for the overworld theme.
It's poppy.  It's bouncy.  It's upbeat.  Not really what you would expect from not only a Final Fantasy game, but from a game in a series where the threat of global destruction or evil overlordship is just on the horizon.  In almost any other J-Pop RPG, this theme might work, but upon first listen, Final Fantasy doesn't come to mind.  Is the song bad then?  Not really, just not something you would at first expect.

Now onto another theme heard throughout a large portion of the game.  This track is titled "Beautiful Forest."  Upon listening, I tend to find all the elements in the song needed to drum up the idea of a serene forest.  There might be enemies here, there might not.  Not too much to worry about.  There's probably also beams of light streaming through breaks in the trees.  Most likely a fair amount of moss.  You get the picture.

Ready for an adventure that sounds a lot cheesier than it actually is (kind of like that sentence)?  The track "Fossil Labyrinth" exemplifies this sense of adventuring in a questionable place then picks up the pace a bit as you get to the magnificence and awe portion of your exploration and finally, like any good RPG loop, you're dropped off again at the beginning of the track.  All of this occurs within 41 seconds.  You can't even microwave a Hot Pocket in that time without it catching on fire.

By now I hope that you're able to see where I'm coming from when I say that the music in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is actually quite good, considering it's self label as an introductory RPG for beginners.  The final track is an arranged track that is found on the OST (Original SoundTrack), although the song itself is final dungeon music (Last Castle), this specific arrangement is not.  And, while I usually don't go for remixes of music from video games (not including orchestral arrangements), as this song is officially sanctioned and because of the song's quality, I am perfectly secure in my liking of this next song:

So, if any of today's tracks have intrigued you, I highly encourage you to give the whole soundtrack a listen to and if you feel additionally inclined, give the game a play.


1 comment:

  1. Great post! I love how you show the significance of the quality of the soundtrack in this 'introductory RPG.' Funny-- it's right in front of my face, but I never thought to look at it this way. Any good RPG will have great music, and if the music is your only takeaway from a given RPG, then things are still looking good! Good job, Squaresoft and Jaconian!