Game Music, Reviews

Start 2011 With A Fight: SaGa Battle Track Compilation (Review)

February 11, 2011 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Start 2011 With A Fight: SaGa Battle Track Compilation (Review)on Twitter

Well, Square Enix is certainly looking to have a busy 2011 with several music releases already lined up for January and February. They’ve kicked off the New Year with the SaGa Battle Track Compilation album, featuring battle themes from the original SaGa on the Game Boy up through Romancing SaGA –Minstrel Song-.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t we just review the epic SaGa Premium Box that contained all of the battle themes from the entire series? Why, yes, we did. And didn’t we just review several battle theme compilations that also featured music from the SaGa series? Again, yes.

Well, where does that leave this compilation? Find out in our review after the jump.

Actually, that’s all we really need to say about this album. Granted, I know not everyone could afford or cared to buy the Premium Box, so perhaps there’s some value in this collection yet. The battle themes from this series are some of the best in the JRPG world, and some of the most underappreciated, much like the games themselves. However, you’ll notice from browsing the tracklist that it’s in fact very incomplete, being heavier on the early SaGa titles and less so moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love Nobuo Uematsu’s classic “Battle” from the original SaGa, Kenji Ito’s intense “Lethal Strike” from SaGa II, and anything from Ryuji Sasai from SaGa III. About the SaGa III tracks, however, they seemed to have snuck into the party, as “Gods of Another Dimension” and “Hold Your Tears” are certainly not battle themes. How did that happen?

Kenji Ito’s Romancing SaGa battle themes have an epic flair about them, abandoning the classic JRPG rock formula and going for a more orchestral approach. I appreciate that. “Decisive Battle! Saruin” from the original Romancing SaGa and the funky “Last Battle –T260G-“ are a few of the highlights that appear here. Masashi Hamauzu’s SaGa Frontier battle themes are fantastic, although they skip some of the most memorable ones here (they admittedly did appear on the Battle Track compilations last year). The Asian-influenced “Feldschlacht III” from Romancing SaGa 2 and the flamenco “Battle Theme IV” from Unlimited SaGa are testaments to the unconventional nature of SaGa series battle themes. Ito follows up with more flamenco in “Passionate Rhythm” from Minstrel Song, which actually sounds quite impressive in terms of sound quality compared to the synths used in the other tracks from the game.

Oh, and let’s end the album with Uematsu’s battle fanfare from the original SaGa, “Eat the meat,” just for good measure.

The packaging is actually pretty nice. There’s a red film over screenshots from across the series, which is a nice touch. The track list has a game-by-game breakdown, although not much is going on with the booklet. There is a cool 8-bit meat on the obi.

All in all, I have to say that I don’t see the point. Patrick and I had a discussion on our last episode of Original SoundCAST about box sets being incomplete, and along those lines, this compilation is not complete, and therefore, doesn’t serve much of a purpose. They could have at least thrown in an arrangement or two from Mitsuto Suzuki to sweeten the deal. Perhaps they’re promoting the upcoming SaGa III remake soundtrack that we’ll also be reviewing in the coming days, but aside from that, I would recommend this one only if you’re a hardcore fan of the SaGa franchise and didn’t pick up the Premium Box. It’s available at CD Japan ( ) for 2,000 Yen.

What do you make of this kind of release from Square Enix? Do you see the value in the album as is, or do you think they could have done something differently to make it more worthwhile?

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