December 7, 2012

Suikoden 3 Music

Posted in music tagged , at 3:32 pm by riulyn

EDIT – I have no idea what I was thinking when I typed up part of this post. I somehow confused brass with excessive use of oboes/bassoons. I am ashamed.

Guess what’s been playing on repeat when I’m at home? Suikoden 3 music. Because it’s good? Well…not really.

The Suikoden series has some pretty distinctive music for a RPG series. The first two games are composed by Miki Higashino and share many of the same sounds and musical direction. Suikoden 4 and Tactics have one sound (though to be fair, many tracks are shared because many places are revisited). Suikoden V has the Asian plucked strings and a lot of piano going on. Or maybe that’s all I can remember.

When I think of Suikoden 3 music, I think of songs like “Exceeding Love”, “Mysterious People”, “Farm Village”, “Stupid Ducks”. These songs vary in tempo and intent, but the instrumentation choice for the entire soundtrack is quite clear after a few tracks. There’s quite an abundance of “buzzy oboes and bassoons”, “wind pipes”, “strings”, “melodic percussion”, while the other percussion is more like a thud and less a ting or a crash. What’s missing from these synthesized instrument  is the warmth of real vibrato, the fullness of real instruments. When you consider that this is a PS2 game from 2002, you know they could have gotten more realistic-sounding synthesized instruments.

Was this a deliberate choice? Was it a good choice? It’s hard to say. It certainly makes this game’s soundtrack distinct from the other Suikoden soundtracks. It also makes me desire to hear some of these tracks played by a real orchestra. A lack of effort into synthesizers on a PS2 game just feels a bit cheap.

To make up for the “cheap” instruments, the melodies are often not carried by one voice but by two, dueling voices. That doesn’t necessarily make the songs better if it isn’t catchy/emotional/etc. But it can be fun to try and follow one instrument throughout the whole song.

This soundtracks leaves quite a few Suikoden fans cold, but I personally find it a charming, quirky mess. It’s not like the soundtrack doesn’t have any sad, heavy or heartwarming moments, but the sound direction makes it more of a light-hearted, comical type of soundtrack. Good for whistling/humming/singing along to.

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