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Soundtrack Review: Breath of Fire I

 

01-08-17 12:48 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7-pfppexsc

The Breath of Fire series is Capcom’s answer (I guess?) to Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy and Enix’ Dragon Quest/ Warrior Series. But unlike these games, BOF always has a similar story (at least until IV): a boy/ young man named Ryu will discover his inner dragon powers and try to save the world, usually with more than one ending. While the story has nothing to envy to other RPGs, how does the music stand?

It is a little disappointing, considering it was released in 1993 right before FF VI. The arrangements do not have the same realism even FF IV had. Just Blood Relation (right when the game starts, with the blazing house) you can hear that the violin arrangements don’t sound as realistic and that the instruments in the background are unrealistically too quick. The Dragon Warrior also has unimaginative arrangements that really just sound random. It doesn’t sound like a melody; it seems like the arrangements were just a test of what the Super Nintendo sound chip was capable of.

Also many tracks are not very elaborate. Quickening, although it sounds good in the city where time froze, loops after a mere 20 seconds. It just consists of a few harpsichord notes. Emergency too could have been prolonged a little. It does sound dramatic (as the name implies), but the intro to the loop doesn’t even sound like music; it just seems to be random low-key notes. And when this noise is over, the “flute” use doesn’t convey a sense of drama needed for the Black Dragons’ actions. Gentle Breeze also sounds appropriate for Winland – there is a feeling of lightness in the air – but the main arrangements barely sound like flute. Also the staccato “strings” in the background are much too loud and cover the core of the loop.

Furthermore there is a lack of epicness in many tracks that should be. Starting the Journey (the first overworld theme) has that lack mainly because of primitive arrangements. The “bass” in the background is distracting, the drum sounds primitive and the heart of the loop has its arrangements “stuck together” like many NES tracks in the past. Flying feel “light” but is nowhere as epic as the same theme in Breath of Fire II. There is a constant “echoing” sound that spoils a track whose arrangements don’t sound like you are finally able to reach critical places.

However, there is at least a track where the epicness is awesome: Music City (Tunlan). Although the loop is short (33 seconds) it boasts some of the best arrangements of the game. It sounds like a grand concert with loud and epic violins and some flute in the background to show the “lightness” of life there, where people communicate through music. Dragon Heart also has an interesting epic feel. The flute is played with “one breath” while you hear the “dragon drums” (from the saving temples) in the background.

Distant View (the second overworld theme) sounds much more epic than the first one. The violin arrangements are louder and played better and the drums are incorporated well. The end of the loop falls a little flat though, but the lowering of the tone keeps the epicness. And Expedition (the third overworld theme) sounds ever more epic with the loud background drums and “wind” arrangements that are played loudly. Even the end of the loop is epic.

In addition dungeon music is very good. Culvert (inside a cave) has very dark piano arrangements with very low-key bass and violins in the background – you could even hear water dripping from stalactites in-game, making it even better. Skyscraper (inside towers) also sounds very dark with a mix of harpsichord and piano at the start and more violins in bells in the second part of the loop. While far from Into the Darkness in FF IV, it’s still a good dungeon theme. Deep Forest has arrangements reflecting the thickness (and sometimes fog) you see in the forests with violins stretching their notes at the beginning of the loop while the rest of the loop and indescribable arrangements that keep the mystery of the forest. And Ancient Ruins (a remix of the forest theme, or was it the opposite?) also has a good mysterious ambiance despite its strange brass arrangements (although the background “French horn” add just the right touch). And the Final Level DOES feel like the final dungeon, with very dark and heavy arrangements made of violins and an unnamed instrument in the background that adds the right touch of drama.

Finally the battle themes are also pretty decent. Beginning of Battle (the first theme) had good upbeat drums with low-tone brass in the background that is a nice change from the FF trumpets; even the violins are done well. A Brave General (boss battle) is somewhat slower but does sound more dramatic with the usual violin arrangements you find in BOF 1 – and for once the drums don’t take all the room. Battling (the second battle theme) is more upbeat than the first one and also slightly more dramatic. The effects are mostly synthesized but I like the contrast with the first one; it’s as if the game was telling you that from now on, the game will be more difficult.

In short, Breath of Fire 1 is still a soundtrack RPG fans should get. Despite many shortcomings (and the inevitable comparison with Final Fantasy) it still has many fine tracks. Some of them like Small Hermitage, Premature Death and God’s footprints are actually quite relaxing, while others like Sand Palace (in the desert) and Swimming (Gobi’s big fish transformation) sound very good for their context.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7-pfppexsc

The Breath of Fire series is Capcom’s answer (I guess?) to Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy and Enix’ Dragon Quest/ Warrior Series. But unlike these games, BOF always has a similar story (at least until IV): a boy/ young man named Ryu will discover his inner dragon powers and try to save the world, usually with more than one ending. While the story has nothing to envy to other RPGs, how does the music stand?

It is a little disappointing, considering it was released in 1993 right before FF VI. The arrangements do not have the same realism even FF IV had. Just Blood Relation (right when the game starts, with the blazing house) you can hear that the violin arrangements don’t sound as realistic and that the instruments in the background are unrealistically too quick. The Dragon Warrior also has unimaginative arrangements that really just sound random. It doesn’t sound like a melody; it seems like the arrangements were just a test of what the Super Nintendo sound chip was capable of.

Also many tracks are not very elaborate. Quickening, although it sounds good in the city where time froze, loops after a mere 20 seconds. It just consists of a few harpsichord notes. Emergency too could have been prolonged a little. It does sound dramatic (as the name implies), but the intro to the loop doesn’t even sound like music; it just seems to be random low-key notes. And when this noise is over, the “flute” use doesn’t convey a sense of drama needed for the Black Dragons’ actions. Gentle Breeze also sounds appropriate for Winland – there is a feeling of lightness in the air – but the main arrangements barely sound like flute. Also the staccato “strings” in the background are much too loud and cover the core of the loop.

Furthermore there is a lack of epicness in many tracks that should be. Starting the Journey (the first overworld theme) has that lack mainly because of primitive arrangements. The “bass” in the background is distracting, the drum sounds primitive and the heart of the loop has its arrangements “stuck together” like many NES tracks in the past. Flying feel “light” but is nowhere as epic as the same theme in Breath of Fire II. There is a constant “echoing” sound that spoils a track whose arrangements don’t sound like you are finally able to reach critical places.

However, there is at least a track where the epicness is awesome: Music City (Tunlan). Although the loop is short (33 seconds) it boasts some of the best arrangements of the game. It sounds like a grand concert with loud and epic violins and some flute in the background to show the “lightness” of life there, where people communicate through music. Dragon Heart also has an interesting epic feel. The flute is played with “one breath” while you hear the “dragon drums” (from the saving temples) in the background.

Distant View (the second overworld theme) sounds much more epic than the first one. The violin arrangements are louder and played better and the drums are incorporated well. The end of the loop falls a little flat though, but the lowering of the tone keeps the epicness. And Expedition (the third overworld theme) sounds ever more epic with the loud background drums and “wind” arrangements that are played loudly. Even the end of the loop is epic.

In addition dungeon music is very good. Culvert (inside a cave) has very dark piano arrangements with very low-key bass and violins in the background – you could even hear water dripping from stalactites in-game, making it even better. Skyscraper (inside towers) also sounds very dark with a mix of harpsichord and piano at the start and more violins in bells in the second part of the loop. While far from Into the Darkness in FF IV, it’s still a good dungeon theme. Deep Forest has arrangements reflecting the thickness (and sometimes fog) you see in the forests with violins stretching their notes at the beginning of the loop while the rest of the loop and indescribable arrangements that keep the mystery of the forest. And Ancient Ruins (a remix of the forest theme, or was it the opposite?) also has a good mysterious ambiance despite its strange brass arrangements (although the background “French horn” add just the right touch). And the Final Level DOES feel like the final dungeon, with very dark and heavy arrangements made of violins and an unnamed instrument in the background that adds the right touch of drama.

Finally the battle themes are also pretty decent. Beginning of Battle (the first theme) had good upbeat drums with low-tone brass in the background that is a nice change from the FF trumpets; even the violins are done well. A Brave General (boss battle) is somewhat slower but does sound more dramatic with the usual violin arrangements you find in BOF 1 – and for once the drums don’t take all the room. Battling (the second battle theme) is more upbeat than the first one and also slightly more dramatic. The effects are mostly synthesized but I like the contrast with the first one; it’s as if the game was telling you that from now on, the game will be more difficult.

In short, Breath of Fire 1 is still a soundtrack RPG fans should get. Despite many shortcomings (and the inevitable comparison with Final Fantasy) it still has many fine tracks. Some of them like Small Hermitage, Premature Death and God’s footprints are actually quite relaxing, while others like Sand Palace (in the desert) and Swimming (Gobi’s big fish transformation) sound very good for their context.

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