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01-15-17 12:07 PM
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Soundtrack Review: Breath of Fire II (SNES)

 

01-15-17 12:07 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F505EWB8DPA

(Note that this link shows all the tracks from the game rather than the OST proper since too many tracks were missing)

Breath of Fire II is a distant sequel to Breath of Fire I – the “seeds” left by Tyr will eventually develop into Deathevn, or Evans, the God of St. Eva. I played that game first so I always think that it is superior in every way, be it the graphics, the story or the music. Indeed the arrangements are (usually) more elaborate and sound more realistic. But how do they stand next to other games of the time?

It stands pretty well, actually. Of course, don’t expect for orchestra-quality tracks like Nobuo Uematsu’s. Many of the tracks, despite being interesting, loop within 45 seconds, which seems short considering the game was released at about the same time as Final Fantasy VI. No Way Out, for example, starts out VERY dramatically with high-pitch violins and then continues with equally dramatic violins and some drums, but the core of the loop lasts less than 20 seconds and it gets annoying.

This unfortunate shortness is similar in Grab the Tail (a dungeon / infiltration music). It has a nice jazzy ambiance and also sounds mysterious, but it also loops after 20 seconds. Century Of The Patriarch (theme of Windia) sounds VERY grand with its high-pitch violin arrangements and occasional cymbal, but the loop only lasts 30 seconds. Don't Even Think About Dying, the “nostalgia” track, was also very promising – I remember looking for it for so long because the version I recorded on tape was not complete. However I now realize that the loop only lasts 25 seconds and, despite carrying a feeling of nostalgia well, doesn’t sound very complex.

Complexity is also another thing lacking in many tracks, which spoils them a little. Approach had a lot of potential – it’s the theme of THE Demon. The background arrangements are VERY dramatic, as well as the main violin arrangements, but there is little variation between each loop and it gets annoying too. There’s Something Here (a dungeon music) is slow and intriguing, but again the main violin track gets VERY repetitive with the same few notes, and the background bass and drums don’t improve much.

But despite these lacks, the soundtrack is still awesome. For starters, “church” music has some of the best organ arrangements on the 16-bit era – even Dragon Quest on the SNES did not do it as well. Please God almost sounds life-like, a little like Christmas music. Despite St. Eva’s evil character you feel at peace when hearing the track. However, when you go to the Grand Cathedral (God Of Decadence) you start feeling a little scared. You can notice the difference right away: the background arrangements do NOT sound like your little parish church. You can feel that you are in a gigantic building and that the “decadence” of your soul is coming.

The game also has three overworld themes, all of which were very epic and quite complex. We’re Rangers (the first one) has nice epic violin arrangements in the first part of the loop with drum rolling in the background that help make the main track more and more epic, ending with quite a climax at the end. Breath of Fire (the second one) is a remix of the first overworld theme in BOF 1, and it sounds MUCH better here. The introduction has a slower and more epic tempo, whereas the rest of the loop has a kind of lighter touch – a relief that you were finally able to save Bow. Our Journey (the last one) is even more epic than the two other themes, since you finally realize your true mission: destroy St. Eva. The violins in the intro are wonderful, whereas the flute in the second part reminds me on Nina, who will finally play her part.

Speaking of epicness, White Wings (when you fly the Great Bird) is probably the best track of the album. Not only is it much more epic than the BOF 1 version, but I daresay that it sounds more epic than most airship themes from other games. The “bells” in the main track also add a magical touch to the track that I think about whenever there is snow slowly falling from the clouds. It feels very light.

Finally, a big cheer to my second favorite track of the album: Critical Moment (when you fight the dragon of your childhood). It loops too quickly and may not seem very complex, but when I fought that dragon by myself when doing the game’s tool-assisted speedrun the track suddenly got more epic. I mean, taking down all by myself this evil monster is quite a feat!

In short, Breath of Fire II is an excellent soundtrack despite some shortcomings. And even when considering the shortcomings, one can usually say something positive about the said tracks like I did.

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