Game Music, Reviews

Biggest DS Soundtrack Ever: Genso Suikoden Tierkreis Original Soundtrack (Review)

February 25, 2009 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook Biggest DS Soundtrack Ever: Genso Suikoden Tierkreis Original Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

It’s been a crazy couple of months for Suikoden fans. First there was the promo-only soundtrack, and then a confirmed stand-alone release. Then we were able to speak with Konami’s Norikazu Miura about the game’s soundtrack, and now it’s been announced that there will be another album released in Japan titled Genso Suikoden Tierkreis Extra Soundtrack featuring additional music from the game as well as arranged music by Elements Garden.  And that’s not even all of it, as we already have more coverage planned for the coming weeks, but I would have nothing less for my favorite game series of all time.

We finally got our hands on the game’s 3-disc soundtrack which hit Japan last week. Is it everything we had hoped for? Did the outside contributions from composers like Masaharu Iwata and Yoshino Aoki (two composers that I’m quite fond of) make a difference? Well, I don’t want to spoil it, so you’re going to have to read the review.

Take a glimpse at what you’ll be listening to on your DS next month after the jump.

So, I’ll start by saying I’m kind of torn with this release. On one hand, the series has always been known for high quality music with ethnic influences. Unfortunately that stellar sound quality that we’ve come to expect from the series is hard to duplicate on the DS, but there are still some great compositions to be had. Interestingly, while it’s been confirmed that Tierkreis does not feature series traditions like returning characters or locales, the music is one element that makes Tierkreis feel like a Suikoden title. This seems like the best place to start, so let’s dig in!

The main theme, “The Plain and the Sky” starts things off on an upbeat note, featuring everything that I love about Suikoden music, including a catchy and unique melody voiced by a great sounding guitar and flute. Next, the powerful orchestral hits and regal string excursions in “Rushing Into Battle!” provide that rich Suikoden battle experience. Even better, after the battle you’ll be treated to “Victory!,” which is, of course, th e series standard victory fanfare. This isn’t the only repeated theme, however, as the third disc (titled “Additional” disc) opens with “Beginning Theme,” which is the same name entry track that has been featured in every Suikoden title to date. I was actually hoping for a more ethnic arrangement similar to what we’ve heard in recent Suikoden titles and throughout the rest of this score, but I’ll take the theme in any way, shape, or form. Even the overworld theme, “To the World!” is reminiscent of past titles in the series with its adventurous orchestral approach.

Aside from the familiarity of the above tracks, you’re in for a lot of new music. The first two discs are the soundtrack proper, while the third “additional” disc features extra cues from the game. As I said in the intro, there is also an “Extra Soundtrack” in the works with two additional discs of music from the game, so it sounds as though this soundtrack is absolutely massive. Unfortunately this looks to be an issue of quantity over quality, however, as I found that most of the material didn’t leave a lasting impression, especially when it came to tracks I was looking forward to like the uninspired castle theme (another series tradition), “The Fort Where the Stars Gather.”

There are, however, a number of tracks that are great at setting the mood. “One Street Capital” is an epic town theme complete with harpsichord and rich strings that give it a sort of gothic feel, which is further reinforced with the melancholy solo choir pad progression of “Towering Tower in the Capital.”  “Door to One Million Worlds” features twinkling belltones and a somewhat sinister progression, that combined with hte track title, have me wondering how Tierkreis’s story will unfold.  Lastly, “Forest Village” continues the atmosphere of mystery and intrigue with its new age/ambient approach.

You will also find that expected ethnic flavor here, starting with desert-inspired “Janamu Sorcery Empire” and “Intentions of the Imperial Family” that make use of sitar and rhythmic percussive elements. “Village of the Proud Beast God“ features a similar approach in terms of percussion, but instead opts to use solo violin and exotic hymns to give the piece an ethnic vibe. “Village in the Mountains,” on the other hand, plods along lazily with a solo violin and guitar backing that sounds on par with its console counterparts in terms quality.

From here, we get into a series of Yoshino Aoki tracks if I understood Miura correctly.  “Porpoise’s Home” is a lovely string ballad while “People of the Sea” is an upbeat jazz track similar to Aoki’s work on Breath of Fire III.  Rounding out the second disc, “Twelfth Detonation” is what sounds to be an epic battle piece with ascending piano arpeggios and a powerful melody. “Tierkreis” is an emotional string and piano ballad that is one of the album’s highlights, and “Every Future (Tomorrow)” is a lullaby-esque vocal piece backed by a solo piano that is a perfect, contemplative closing track to what is sure to be an epic journey.

While I’ve already mentioned a number of the tracks from the “Additional” disc, there are a number of battle themes and nostalgic tracks along with a slew of melancholy pieces.  The two pieces I want to mention, however, are “Crumbled Town” and “Collapsed Pagoda.” Yeah, depressing titles. As you would expect, “Crumbled Town” is a downtrodden track that sounds like something out of a Castlevania title, while “Collapsed Pagoda” is similar, but features an interesting repetitive wooden percussion line upon which layers of instruments are added to give it a very rigid, conformed feel.

As you can imagine with such a large soundtrack, there are many more tracks I’d like to mention, but I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect.  Also, while it may sound as though I was generally pleased with the score, the majority of the pieces I didn’t mention didn’t really catch my attention.  As far as the packaging is concerned, I love the cover artwork and the look of the discs themselves. The booklet contains comments from each composer involved as well as liner notes for every track on the album (can somebody please translate these?). Interestingly, it looks like the members of Elements Garden, the group that will be arranging music for the “Extra Soundtrack,” are mentioned in the booklet, so it looks like they’ve been planning to arrange the music for quite some time.  This is good news given that I was unhappy with some of the sound quality here. If you’re a hardcore fan, you may want to pick up the soundtrack, but I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to hold out until next month for the Genso Suikoden Teirkreis Extra Soundtrack.

Are you a fan of the music of the Genso Suikoden series? Have you been looking forward to the Tierkreis soundtrack with its large list of outside contributors?

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