Game Music

Soundtrack of the Month 10/2008: Seiken Densetsu 2 OSV (Secret of Mana)

October 3, 2008 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook Soundtrack of the Month 10/2008: Seiken Densetsu 2 OSV (Secret of Mana)on Twitter

Most people that read this site know, at the very least, the “big names” of Japanese VGM. Nobuo Uematsu, Koichi Sugiyama, Yasunori Mitsuda, Motoi Sakuraba, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Yoko Kanno, and others are well-recognized not only for the vast quantity of music they’ve produced in the last 2 decades, but also for their quality.

But not everyone knows about the extremely talented Hiroki Kikuta. There are reasons for this: Kikuta’s body of work is relatively small, and scattered across a variety of sources (though most know him from Square/Square-Enix titles). Today, we take a look at the soundtrack that put the man right into the middle of VGM stardom: Secret of Mana.

Hit the jump and enjoy!

During the SNES days, Squaresoft only published three soundtracks in North America. One was for Final Fantasy III (i.e. VI), another was for Secret of Evermore (from the talented Jeremy Soule), and the other was for Secret of Mana (i.e. Seiken Densetsu 2). Thus, interested fans of this music could have purchased the album in North America or Japan (though the American print is extremely hard to obtain these days). Both prints contain the exact same tracks, in the exact same order. But these days, the best way to obtain the soundtrack is from NTT’s most recent reprint of the Seiken Densetsu 2 OSV.

What makes this soundtrack so wonderful? Most people will agree, a big part of what makes it great is the unique synthesized sounds used. Kikuta and the Squaresoft sound team developed sounds that were previously unheard on the SNES, and they were beautiful. They were far from real, or natural, in timbre, but they were fun and expressive. A large variety of sounds were used, particularly in percussion. Kikuta’s signature sound was first developed here, and it would later resurface in Seiken Densetsu 3, Soukaigi, and even the recent Concerto Gate soundtrack.

And these melodies are surprisingly memorable. Anecdotal story: my little brother doesn’t follow VGM, or even games in general, all that well. He played Secret of Mana a bit when we were kids (wow…that was 15 years ago!). He got married last summer, and when I played piano at his wedding, he had a select few songs that he simply had to have performed. Among those songs, my brother selected two from videogames. One was “Dearly Beloved” (Yoko Shimomura, Kaoru Wada) from Kingdom Hearts. The other was a piano rendition of the opening track from Secret of Mana. Translations vary on the name of this title, from “Angels’ Fear” to “Where Angels Fear to Tread” to even “Fear of the Heavens.” Whatever it’s called, this song was so poignant in my brother’s mind that he saw fit to have it played at his wedding. He didn’t ask for something overplayed and cliché (Aerith’s Theme, anything from Mario or Zelda, etc). He wanted something powerul, something beautiful. In my opinion, he chose well.

The original synth version of Angels’ Fear has that funky sound at the beginning too. You know, the sound that play when the “Squaresoft” logo comes up during the opening screens? How the heck did they generate that sound? I love it!

If you’ve ever played Secret of Mana, you’ll remember how colorful it is, how diverse the landscape is, and how its action-based gameplay brought a sense of freshness to the RPGs of the time. If there’s one word I would use to describe this soundtrack, it is “colorful.” There is such a varietty to the musical palette. From happy bouncy songs like “The Little Sprite” (10) to the solemn and sacred “Still of the Night” (35), the variety (and the quality of each individual track) is enough to make it an instant classic. of course, it’s been 15 years, and we still love: hence, it’s the soundtrack of the month.

There’s only one thing that could’ve been done to improve this soundtrack: loop each track, and make it two discs. This soundtrack deserves the star treatment, as its sequel (Seiken Densetsu 3) actually did. This soundtrack is awesome. It is worth obtaining. It is the October 2008 Soundtrack of the Month. Three cheers for Hiroki Kikuta! Pick it up at CD Japan or Play Asia!

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