Game Music, Reviews

It’ll Make You a Fan: LORD of VERMILION Re:2 FAN KIT (Review)

August 24, 2011 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook It’ll Make You a Fan: LORD of VERMILION Re:2 FAN KIT (Review)on Twitter

I think a lot of people were with me in wondering what the heck the LORD of VERMILION Re:2 FAN KIT album was when it was first added to VGMdb. I’m still slightly confused after being told during out interview with Izumi Tsukushi and Akio Shiraishi that it’s a release containing music for the “new version” of the Lord of Vermilion 2 arcade units in Japan, but I guess it’s simple enough to just pop the CD in and give it a listen to see what it’s all about.

This album contains arranged tracks from the original Lord of Vermilion 2 as well as from other Square Enix franchises, including Final Fantasy, Seiken Densetsu, Romancing SaGa, and Valkyrie Profile.

So find out what’s here in our review after the jump.

The first few tracks on the album are actually arrangements of pieces from the original Lord of Vermilion 2 score composed by Basiscape. Sakimoto handles the arrangements himself, dropping the rock-oriented approach that had initially surprised me and instead opting for his signature orchestral style. His new take on “Dawn of Vermilion” is both grand and majestic, while “Name Entry” takes on darker tones with the addition of electronic bass and percussion to counter the original’s upbeat jazz approach. “Win” and “Lose” were not featured on the original soundtrack album, but appear here as short pieces that effectively convey their intended mood and also work in some electric guitar.

It’s then on to the arrangements from other games, which I think a lot of people have been looking forward to. The arrangements are handled by a number of Square Enix sound team members.  I’ll admit that the quality of the arrangements is somewhat of a letdown as they act as serviceable “upgrades” without much in the way of interpretation or embellishment, but that doesn’t mean they’re not any good. In fact, I’m sure the tracks here really get the nostalgia running in-game, but we’re looking at this as a standalone music release.

Tsuyoshi Sekito starts us off by handling the Final Fantasy IV, VI, and XIV medleys. The IV medley hits all the highs, rocking out with all four of the game’s battle themes, and is probably one of my favorite tracks on the album. The VI medley takes a similar approach, visiting the game’s battle themes, although I’d argue that the main battle theme from VI is one of the weakest of the series. I do, however, believe that “The Fierce Battle” is highly unappreciated, and it’s unfortunate that it only gets a brief nod in this arrangement. The majority of the piece is rightfully dedicated to “Dancing Mad.” Finally, Sekito’s XIV medley is probably his highest quality work here, implementing live electric guitar to visit some of my favorite tracks from the mini albums, including “Nail of the Heavens” and “Quicksand.”

Ryo Yamazaki arranges four tracks on the album, including the IX, XI, Romancing SaGa 3, and Seiken Densetsu 2 medleys. While his IX medley starts on the same note as Sekito’s (with the memorable battle theme), it quickly takes a different direction by jumping into “Vamo’ alla Flamenco,” “Over the Hill,” and other non-battle tracks, and uses a mainly orchestral style. His XI medley is a bit underwhelming as the individual battle themes don’t sound much different from their original counterparts. While I don’t have a strong emotional connection to the Romancing SaGa series, I do love Yamazaki’s tasteful combination of orchestral and rock elements throughout his arrangement.

His final contribution is the track I was looking forward to the most, “Seiken Densetsu 2,” and it doesn’t disappoint. It opens with some of the game’s lighter themes including “The Boy Heads for the Wilderness” and “Flight into the Unknown,” modernizing some of Kikuta’s most memorable themes while staying true to their original ambiance and sense of wonder. About midway through, things shift into high gear with “Crisis” and “Meridian Festival,” both of which incorporate some heavy electronic bass that is quite effective.

Other arrangers involved only contribute one track apiece. Yasuhiro Yamanaka provides a slap bass-laden arrangement of Romancing SaGa 2, hitting many of the game’s battle themes, while Keiji Kawamori Kwamori tackles Valkyrie Profile in a much ‘synthier’ way that still rocks.

It’s then on to Mitsuto Suzuki’s “Chocobo & Moogle,” which I’m sure everyone was looking forward to. It’s actually a bit of a surprise in that it’s a rather straightforward orchestral arrangement, providing an epic orchestral approach to “Chocobo” and a whimsical one to “Moogle” (“Mog’s Theme”). In fact, the arrangement is kind of reminiscent of Final Fantasy XIII in terms of instrumentation and style. He also tacks on the Final Fantasy main theme (or “Prologue”) to the end for good measure.

And there you have it. A cool homage to music from Square Enix’s past. While the arrangements likely won’t blow you away, it’s still a nice little treat, and it’s good to see Square Enix giving Seiken Densetsu even more attention to celebrate its 20th anniversary. I’d almost have preferred separately arranged tracks so I could pick and choose from my favorites, but the medley format at least lets you enjoy a number of different tracks over a small period of time.

The booklet contains full composer and arranger credits along with a ton of artwork from the game, including an awesome sprite from Seiken Densetsu 2 and a really creepy Rydia (pictured above). On the topic of Rydia, all copies of the soundtrack come with the “super rare” Rydia card for the card game that’s associated with Lord of Vermilion. It’s a nice little bonus to go with the CD. The album is available from both CD Japan and Play-Asia if you’re interested.

What do you think of Square Enix’s tribute to their fans with this album? Do any of the included titles come to you as particularly surprising, and what do you make of Mitsuto Suzuki’s contribution?

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