You can find a sampler of all the tracks for SQ Chips here.
Now this is not normally something I would do, but I want to raise a rather serious point here. Everyone here, I’m sure, knows that I, admitedly, hold a certain bias when it comes to the works of Kikuta in soundtracks, which some may find is swaying my view on this matter, but hear me out for a second.
I’m listening through the samples for all the tracks on this album right now, and I can spot a rather severe drop off at one point.
1. Chrono Trigger’s Main Theme, a punchy 8-bit theme that leads into a soothing flowing 16-bit and natural instrumental toward the latter part of the theme. I like the twist and combination.
2. FF3’s Battle 2, another that transitions from a rather complex 8-bit upmix to a solid bright electronica dance track.
3. FF13 Blinded by Light, sticks to a relatively pure 8-bit downmix of the original track, sometimes even perhaps adding too much in the way of effects to try and spice it up, but not achieving it.
4. Xenogears The Wind Calls, excellent combination of 8 and higher fidelity instrumentation, and great punchy beat.
5. FF3 Sailing Enterprise, combines 8-bit, voice sampling, and dance drums, has a very German rave theme going on.
6. SoM’s Meridian Dance, sounds like someone took a MIDI of the original track and put it through GSXCC, without doing any post-output mastering
7. FF6 Terra’s Theme, great break from the original, varied instrumentation, transitions through moods, incorporates other themes in juxtaposition, nice flavours.
8. FF7 Aerith’s Theme, didn’t even recognise it at first, rather high fidelity dance electronica, incorporates subtle game sound effects, great take on it.
9. FF11 Ronfaure, don’t know the original, but this is rather catchy. Flows well, mixes instrumentations nicely.
10. Einhänder & Project Sylpheed Medley, I have no idea what’s going on, but there’s a great deal of work gone in here, and I’m liking it.
11. FF12 Near the Water, not terribly keen on this one, but does have some nice use of lo-fi instruments.
12. SaGa 2 Hihou Densetsu Medley, incredibly pumped music, wanted to get my guitar out and groove to this.
13. FF8 Eyes On Me, I almost skipped this ’cause I’m sick of the original, but it does play nicely, and adds a lot of interesting takes on the original melody.
14. Brave Fencer Musashi “Skullpion”, industrial meets 8-bit meets a cave meets a DJ. Gritty and superb.
15. Nanashi no Game “Nameless Theme”, very empty, 2 channels for most of the sample, nothing interesting going on, another GSXCC rendition.
16. FFA “Final Battle ~ Mana Palace”, I think this is actually the best version I’ve heard of this song. Talk about taking a lo fi theme and seeing how far you can stretch it with the same instrumentation.
17. Chrono Trigger “Character Medley”, combining what sounds like some of the original track with lower fi, then higher fi, dance, bit of dubstep, then transitioning themes perfectly.
18. FF4-6 “Ending Medley”, really has that “end of game” upbeat feel, exploring the extents of 8-bit instrumentation and giving it lots of life.
The album on the whole does hold out extremely well, but there are two track, which are by the same arranger, that are not even mediocre, and sadly one of them is an arrangement of a Kikuta piece. It pains me deeply, in both of the pieces, that someone decided that these were up to the calibre of the other arrangements, and included them. I’d rather that they didn’t include them. It does the original tracks a disservice, it does the album a disservice, as if they included them for the sake of dropping the names of a couple more games to capture the fans of those games too (which worked, the reason I was interested in checking the album samples tonight was to see what they’d done with Meridian Dance).
If you feel that my opinion is biased, or that I’m skewing the reviews to reflect that bias, or if you agree with me after listening for yourself, let me know in the comments. Am I the only one that feels little to no effort has been put into tracks 6 and 15?