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Soundtrack of the Month 04/2011: Genso Suikoden Original Soundtrack

Soundtrack of the Month 04/2011: Genso Suikoden Original Soundtrack

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Maybe you didn’t notice, but we actually skipped March’s Soundtrack of the Month. With that in mind, I thought I’d do a special one for April. As many of you know, the Genso Suikoden franchise is my favorite game franchise ever, with the first game in the series being my favorite game of all time. Needless to say, the game’s soundtrack composed primarily by Miki Higashino and others at Konami is a huge influence on my love for the game.

Two discs, 58 tracks, and some of the most memorable themes the videogame industry as to offer, and chances are a lot of people out there haven’t even delved into the franchise’s rich musical heritage!

Hit the jump to find out why this one’s so special.

Genso Suikoden has never been an incredibly popular RPG franchise. It’s done okay over the years, but Konami was disappointed with the performance of Genso Suikoden V, which was supposed to be a series reboot of sorts going back to the origins of the series. Still, you can’t help but recognize that Konami believes in the series, and specifically its music, as evidenced by the slew of arrangement albums and even a soundtrack box that the company is putting together for the series.

This is the soundtrack that started it all on the early days of the original PlayStaton. I could probably go through and comment on every single track on the album, but I’m going to try hard to refrain.

Let’s start from the top, however. “Into a World of Illusions” is a main theme of sorts, accompanying the game’s introductory sequence showing off the action and characters featured in the game. It’s triumphant, it’s bold, and it’s memorable. The theme is featured elsewhere throughout the album in various forms, including in the touching live guitar “Main Theme Arrange ~ Guitar Version,” although this one of the most powerful, opening on a high note that carries through to the end of the album. I am still to this day incredibly moved when I hear this song.

Fans of the series have likely come to enjoy “Beginning Theme,” a recurring theme that accompanies the name entry screen. From here, it’s into the in-game soundtrack, starting with the regal “Melody of the Royal Palace” with its European classical stylings and the epic “Eternal Empire,” a testament to the power and glory of the Scarlet Moon Empire. “Beautiful Golden City” is one of the album highlights with its use of exotic instruments to give the track an ethnic vibe which is featured prominently throughout this soundtrack and series. The clapping percussion during the chorus lends the track a playful mood, allowing the player to experience the joys of the capital city before they realize things are amiss.

Already there are so many amazing melodies and unique instruments to set the stage from the game. From here on out, there are the typical RPG tunes, including the adventurous overworld theme, “Tiny Characters in a Huge World” with its fluttering flute melody and the ominous battle theme, “Confrontation with Monsters,” with its orchestral instrumentation and heavy use of brass. My favorite dungeon themes are the whimsical “Black Forest,” sounding almost like something out of the Nutcracker, and “Distant Mountain” which proceeds as a pirate-like jig. “Theme of Sadness” is another repeated theme with a heart-wrenching melody, and believe me when I say that they need to use this one a lot throughout the game.

Other highlights include the Celtic-influenced “Peaceful People” with its exotic female vocals, “Forgotten Days” with its use of acoustic guitar and woodwinds to create a rustic feel, and “Passacaglia,” a creepy organ track that accompanies your ascent through a vampire’s castle. “Glorious Fortress on the Water” is a joyous theme as your fortress grows in number and size, while “An Old Irish Song” is a contemplative Celtic piece. “Theme of a Moonlit Night” is a popular theme, taking on a more pop ballad sound. Finally, “Avertuneiro Antes Lance Mao ~The Fight Is Over~” is a reflective and somber ending theme that will move you to tears.

I can’t really convey just how great this soundtrack is, although I am admittedly biased by my love for the game. Miki Higashino would continue her amazing work into Genso Suikoden II before departing from the series, although Norikazu Miura noted that he’d like to see her return. What does the future of the Suikoden series hold? Nobody’s really sure, but Konami has been quiet about the franchise since Suikoden Tierkreis on the Nintendo DS. In the meantime, hear my plea to check out the game (it’s only 20-25 hours long) and the excellent soundtrack. You won’t regret it!

Do you have any memories of the Suikoden series and its music? Would you like to see a new title announced with Miki Higashino on board? What are your favorite tracks from the first game’s soundtrack?

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