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Sneak a Peek at Square Enix's Busy Future: Sampler CD Vol.5! (Review)

Sneak a Peek at Square Enix’s Busy Future: Sampler CD Vol.5! (Review)

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It’s that time of year again. The Tokyo Game Show has come and gone, and Square Enix has once again treated fans to a preview of their upcoming soundtracks, and therefore, games, at the event. The release of these discs has become somewhat of a tradition, as this is the fifth volume of this sampler series, and the third of which we’ve covered on OSV (see Vol.3 and Vol.4).

This time around, we get a much wider selection of pieces, which shows that Square Enix has a lot planned in this coming year. While we’ve covered a few of the releases featured on this disc (Final Fantasy XIV Battle Tracks and Field Tracks are present, for example), the vast majority are still unreleased, and I know a lot of you are with me in wondering what some of these titles are about.

Hit the jump to dig into the Square Enix’s Music Sampler CD Vol.5!

First of all, I think a track listing is important for a disc like this, so here it is, courtesy of VGMdb:

01 “Prelude – Remembrance” from “Final Fantasy XIV Field Tracks”
02 “Nail of the Heavens” from “Final Fantasy XIV Battle Tracks”
03 “CHAOS RINGS” from “Chaos Rings Original Soundtrack”
04 From “choBIT Orchestra”, Performed by choBIT Orchestra
05 “FINAL FANTASY LEGENDS Warriors of Light and Darkness TGS2010 SPECIAL EDITION”
06 “J-E-N-O-V-A (FINAL FANTASY VII)” from “Distant Worlds II: more music from FINAL FANTASY”
07 “Overture” from “Tactics Ogre: Unmei no Wa”
08 “Fight!” from “SaGa 3 Jikuu no Hasha: Shadow or Light”
09 From “MIND JACK”
10 From “The 3rd Birthday”
11 From “Nier Gestalt & Replicant Arrange CD” (Tentative)
12 From “Square Enix Music Christmas Edit” (Tentative)
13 From “More SQ”, Arranged & Performed by JABBERLOOP

Quite a big list, I know. In fact, there are an equal number of tracks on this disc as there were on Volumes 3 and 4 combined! While it’s great that we’re getting more material to preview, it’s also worth noting that the tracks are much shorter this time around. While the previous discs had fewer tracks, fans were generally treated to tracks in their entirety, whereas the tracks here generally fade after about 2 minutes of play, regardless of their length.

As I mentioned, we already reviewed the Final Fantasy XIV discs, and although “Prelude – Remembrance” is a very lengthy track, it’s only 2:34 here. “Nail of the Heavens” is a good taste of what Uematsu has done with the Battle Tracks disc, although it’s not my favorite of the bunch. In terms of other things we’ve covered, “J-E-N-O-V-A” from the Distant Worlds II CD is present, which is a great track to feature given it was voted on by fans. Oddly, however, Symphonic Fantasies is missing from this preview disc.

It’s then on to new material. Or maybe not.

“Chaos Rings” sounds like something out of a Sonic game, but is rather an original RPG developed for the iPhone by Media .Vision. Interestingly, the soundtrack, composed by Noriyasu Agematsu, was released in a digital format in early 2010, so its inclusion here makes me wonder if a physical CD is in the works. In any case, it’s your typical orchestral fantasy music.

Now, you may be scratching your head wondering what “choBIT Orchestra” is, but apparently it’s an alias for an arranger(s) for music from The World Ends With You. Vol.4 last year had a track titled”C+D” that was a remix from The World Ends With You, so it looks as though this resulted in a digital remix EP that was released on iTunes last month.

One of the more exciting pieces is from Final Fantasy Legends, composed by Naoshi Mizuta. It’s obvious that this is drawing heavily from early Final Fantasy music, opening with a catchy overworld theme before we get a battle theme complete with a thumping bassline, just like classic Final Fantasy battle themes. There’s even the iconic Final Fantasy fanfare intact. This should be a score that gets some nostalgia going.

Moving onward, we get Hitoshi Sakimoto’s revival of Tactics Ogre, which I admit I’m not overly familiar with. It sounds like Hitoshi Sakimoto, and it sounds like his big orchestral sound. There’s a track from the upcoming SaGa 3 remake (one of my favorites, given composer Ruyji Sasai’s work on the title) titled “Fight!” It’s right in line with the SaGa 2 remake with an upgraded sound that doesn’t really do anything drastically new or different.

The piece from Mind Jack, Square Enix’s third-person shooter composed by Tsuyoshi Sekito, is some of the best that this disc has to offer. Opening with a dark and mysterious  Metroid-esque pulsating ambience, it quickly turns into a warped and twisted electronic/rock hybrid, bringing in the heavier sounds that Sekito is known for. It’s then a smooth transition with a track from The 3rd Birthday, featuring music from Yoko Shimomura. I can’t say it’s the most exciting piece, but it’s cool to hear Shimomura getting into some funkier, more electronic-oriented music again.

It’s then on to the three pieces I was looking forward to the most. From the NieR Gestalt & Replicant arrange CD, we get an emotional piano arrangement of “Emil.” Not the most popular piece from the soundtrack, but it’s still quite lovely, and somewhat chilling. I’m greatly looking forward to this CD. From Square Enix’s recently announced Christmas album, we get a jumpy synth version of “Final Fantasy VII Main Theme” that works in some belltones, but otherwise sounds NOTHING like Christmas. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one because I would really love to have a Square Enix Christmas CD to set the mood for the holiday, but this track is not a good sign of what’s to come.

Finally, we get a look at More SQ, Square Enix’s follow-up to Love SQ and Chill SQ. JABBERLOOP provides a playful arrangement of “Ahead on our Way” from Final Fantasy V. I’m reminded of the sample we got of Love SQ on last year’s sampler CD with the strong use of brass and the upbeat arrangement. Be ready for MORE of that as opposed to the smooth sounds of Chill SQ.

And there you have it. Enough Square Enix to carry you through another year. Maybe. I didn’t realize how much Square Enix had on its plate, but a lot of this music is sounding quite good, so watch for coverage of these releases in the future. And maybe they’ll put those Final Fantasy IV: The After Years tracks on next year’s sampler CD like I begged in our interview with Izumi Tsukushi and Akio Shiraishi at Comic Con this year.

What do you think of the games and soundtracks that Square Enix will be putting out in the next year? Anything in particular that you’re looking forward to?

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