June 23, 2018

Soundtracks I want to pick up

Posted in music tagged , , , at 7:42 am by riulyn

I’ve recently been on a mega Falcom kick. It’s nice that their music is on Spotify.

I really enjoy the theme songs of Trails of Cold Steel 3 but I’m hesitant on buying the actual soundtrack, especially since I can listen to it on Spotify. I’m not as keen on the other music in the game; I liked the OSTs generally of previous games more. I’ve always leaned more generally towards the Ys music compared to the Trails/Kiseki music, so I really need to pick up the Ys 8 OST. Ys I & II might still be my favorite of the Ys OSTs because the songs are just so classic, but Ys 8 has some of the best rocking tracks and the theme song is so cool!

I’m also way overdue in picking up the Tokyo Xanadu OST. At first I was like “solid effort” but every few months I play it on Youtube or on Spotify and remember it has some of the best dungeon-traversing music. It’s like Ys music was tweaked to fit a modern Japan aesthetic. So good.

I’m super happy with my Xenoblade 2 OST purchase. I’m debating whether I might pick up the Xenoblade X OST. The soundtrack was kinda hit or miss for me, but I am a huge Xeno fan.

Other than that, I am told to look forward to the Octopath Traveler music. I haven’t played the demo and haven’t gone out of my way to listen. I figured I have the game preordered and will be playing it later in July, so I can judge then.

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May 29, 2016

Let’s talk game soundtracks again

Posted in music tagged , , , , at 10:29 pm by riulyn

I recently picked up a few soundtracks. I would ideally have most of these soundtracks digitally as I really don’t need the physical CDs, but alas I don’t live in Japan and can’t legally get the MP3s unless the company puts them on Amazon US. Which Nihon Falcom did for the Ys soundtracks (thank you!). But anyway, I bought some soundtracks.

  1. Ikenie to yuki no Setsuna (English name “I am Setsuna”). I actually preordered this one and have enjoyed it for a bit. It’s a mostly piano soundtrack. The battle themes sometimes use drums too. The soundtrack basically shows us that the piano can do so much; it is both melodic and percussive. The tracks for the game are not complicated. It is another reminder that simple can be the best. The main theme makes me think of “For River” from To the Moon, though.
  2. Fire Emblem Path of Radiance OST. I was preordering Sora no kiseki the Third Evo and (not a preorder) Zero no kiseki Evo from CDJapan and decided to order some CDs while I was at it. I didn’t own any FE soundtracks and Path of Radiance was the favorite of the games I played. I’m not sure it’d be my favorite FE soundtrack, but it is decent. I probably wouldn’t put it in the top 5 or 10, personally, because I find FE music to be more of the good in the game but not so interesting outside of it sort. Actually, most tactical RPG soundtracks have that problem for me, a topic maybe for another day. I think the 4 CD collection is also not as crazy as the latest 8 CD collections for Birthright & Conquest, though I do think of the tracks I can remember from the newest 3DS FE games, the songs may be better there. The awful 3DS speakers make it hard to judge, though.
  3. Valkyrie Profile OST. I’ve already talked in the past about how I am a fan of this soundtrack. To be honest, it’s not the most logical thought to unite the game’s music with its plot, but somehow it works great. The rockin’ soundtrack is really great for all the dungeon exploring, and the other tracks have the appropriate moods associated with them. Also I have to admit that the first VP game’s OST made such an impression on me that I cannot remember a single track from VP2 or Covenant of the Plume. I think of VP music and can only think of VP1. So if the other games had good music…well I guess it’d be hard for me to recognize that.

I am a bit tempted to buy some Sora no kiseki OSTs on the Amazon digital music store, as that’s really the series I’m into right now (it has taken over almost all my Japanese gaming time). I’m also undecided on the Tokyo Xanadu OST. I feel like the Kiseki OSTs are better (at least FC and SC). Otherwise I’m not sure what to buy now, soundtrack-wise.

Speaking of Tokyo Xanadu, I see that there still has been no localization announcement. I’m thinking it won’t be this year since I think text-wise it’d be closer to a recent Kiseki game than an Ys game, and XSeed has announced Trails of Cold Steel 2 (Sen no kiseki 2) for this year and Sora no kiseki the 3rd for next year, and Ys sells well for them so they’d probably jump on that once Ys VIII releases (my understanding is that Falcom doesn’t let XSEED or others work on localizing the game until post Japanese release). I’m just sad that the TX tag is so dead on Tumblr and I don’t know where to talk about it with my sucky Japanese writing skills. Oh well, maybe I just need to take some time to replay the game and study more Japanese in order to understand the Japanese fandom on pixiv or wherever…

September 5, 2013

Let’s Talk About Music Again

Posted in music tagged , , , , , , at 6:12 pm by riulyn

Just because I haven’t been working on sheet music doesn’t mean I should stop talking about music, right? If I’m surveying a shit ton of games, I’m hearing a lot of different soundtracks still, right?

I’ve been playing a bit of “play whatever loads in my PS2 and if not, Tales of Xillia”. Which means I should have an opinion about Tales of Xillia’s soundtrack by now. Compared to other Tales’ soundtracks, I feel like Xillia is in the middle? Even though I’m over 20 hours in, I’m only in the second chapter and there’s plenty of time for the rest of the soundtrack to show up. Sakuraba’s best themes, if there are amazing ones on a Tales soundtrack, tend to be near the end anyway. I have to say that the anime intro song is probably my favorite Tales intro song ever. I have spent hours listening to it on repeat. But anyway, I’m happy that Xillia’s soundtrack is better than Graces’. I might have been imagining this downward trend in “quality”, or at least in my personal enjoyment, of Sakuraba’s music starting with Abyss. I wonder how much overlap there is in the music for Xillia and Xillia 2? I guess I’ll find out when the sequel comes to North America.

Otherwise I have been engaged in the inner debate on which Wild ARMs soundtrack I’ve liked the best so far. I think it’s a fight between 3 and 5. The best part of 5’s soundtrack was the great variety in it, but 3 has catchier tunes. I probably should wait until I finish all the Wild ARMs games before choosing the Wild ARMs soundtrack to represent. I feel like when people think of Wild ARMs music they think of the first game, so it may have the best of the Wild ARMs soundtracks.

Recently, in my attempt to finish more PS2 games, I played some Magna Carta and while the game is taking way longer than it should to get through battles and has some of the worst scripted and acted cutscenes ever, the music is actually pretty decent. I don’t think I like it enough to own its soundtrack, but it certainly makes playing the game more enjoyable.

And while Magna Carta wasn’t loading, I was able to load Drakengard. I feel like this soundtrack will need to grow on me. It is certainly…interesting. I think the music fits the game? The game is also…interesting.

The one soundtrack, or rather music collection, that I’m getting soon and looking forward to is the 3 music CDs that come with the Ys IV Silver Anniversary edition. It’s $20 more than the limited edition, and I am severely lacking in Ys music on my computer. I don’t think I’ve met an Ys song that I haven’t liked, and certainly not a battle theme. I really, really hope the Amazon date of early November is true. I need it to come in before I head to Japan!

Finally, I don’t know if I spazzed enough about the awesome Muramasa soundtrack. Sakimoto’s music group continues to make good stuff. And frankly, I find myself once again wondering why he isn’t one of my top composers? When he goes melodic, it’s usually wonderful and awesome (like Valkyria Chronicles music). He certainly does atmospheric stuff well too (Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter, FFXII). In Muramasa, his crew makes melodic, sometimes driving music that has this traditional Japanese-ness to it. It’s incredibly appropriate for a beat-em-up RPG where you drive through enemies in traditional garb. I think out of all the big name Japanese RPG composers, Sakimoto is the least appreciated. Sometimes he was just so good that you didn’t even realize his genius? If that’s the reason, then I was one of the unenlightened…until now?

Ah well. Mitsuda will probably forever be my favorite, even if it’s the nostalgia talking. Chrono Cross music got me into video game music, after all.

October 19, 2012

Why I still buy JRPG Soundtracks

Posted in music tagged , , , at 10:49 am by riulyn

JRPG soundtracks are expensive in comparison to the games, at least for U.S. consumers. Typically they are at least $30 new even from some of the cheaper suppliers. Add in shipping and a currency conversion fee for another few bucks. So why are they worth buying, despite the ease of getting the tracks from the Internet for free? (I’m not endorsing this, just saying that it exists.)

Well, for me, I listen to video game music almost all the time. Right now I’ve been addicted to the NieR soundtrack and have played the entire soundtrack every day for a week. I listen to video game music not just because I run my sheet music website but because I genuinely enjoy listening to it. I work to it, I study to it, I browse the Internet to it, I read books to it, I even sometimes play the soundtrack I’m more into while I dungeon crawl in Persona 3 Portable. Compared to how much time I spend playing a game, I spend many more hours listening to the music.

Of course, I probably won’t go out there and buy soundtracks for every game that has one that I’ve played and even enjoyed. It does feel like a bit too much to buy a soundtrack that I don’t love. Sometimes for those games I might browse through the soundtracks on YouTube or other means when I want a fix. But soundtracks are more of what I like to collect instead of figurines and posters and artbooks, though those things are great too.

Unfortunately there are a few soundtracks I want which I may have to obtain the “wrong” way, just because they are so rare, such as the Suikoden III soundtrack. But right now I’m slowly trying to add soundtracks as well as games to my collection.

Today’s purchase was the amazing NieR soundtrack and the Radiant Historia soundtrack. I think you appreciate NieR’s soundtrack more if you’ve played the game, but the soundtrack by itself is very beautiful and worth a listen. “Emil – Karma” is my favorite track off that at the moment. As for Radiant Historia, it’s a little painful to spend $40-ish on 1 CD, but Yoko Shimomura really does great work here. The song “Where the Wind and Feathers Return” is really the only song I’ve listened to a lot, but from playing the game and watching a LP of it, I know I will listen to this soundtrack a lot. I just have to cut down on spending money on expensive chocolate, stuff like that 🙂

April 27, 2011

Suikoden 2 – I Cannot Quit You

Posted in music, video games tagged , , , , at 1:06 pm by riulyn

Recently I bought the Suikoden 2 soundtrack as I am slowly collecting legitimate soundtracks on my computer (instead of finding mp3s, listening to them as I do requests, and deleting them). Listening to the soundtrack, I realize how many songs I remember so well. There is such a Suikoden flair to it but it is more distinctive than the later games. I played Suikoden IV twice and I don’t think I could pick out any of the songs. I also got the Suikoden V soundtrack a few months ago and I am slowly beginning to connect songs with the game. Speaking of Suikoden V, a replay is going to happen at some point…

Anyway, I have not only been listening to the music, but I have been humming and whistling the tunes as I walk down the street, though not too loudly since I am not really an exhibitionist. Just thinking of the songs makes me want to transcribe them, which isn’t ideal since my request list is growing longer and longer. The Italian lyrics remind me that I want to learn Italian at some point. I think I might go look up the lyrics so I can sing along to “La Mia Tristeza” and the like 🙂

I think Suikoden 2 is the one traditional RPG that I could play over and over again. I lost my old Suikoden 1 save state so I’m trying to replay that game because having Tir McDohl in Suikoden 2 is absolutely necessary in my mind, but Suikoden 1 just isn’t as inspiring. Maybe because it doesn’t start off with dramatic cliff jumping and Viktor and Flik aren’t as cool yet. I also have an XBOX 360 and Star Ocean 4 to play, which has been slow going because something seems kind of awkward about it. Maybe the dialogue or how it is said?

My life should settle down a bit and I’m going to be cutting back on some other things to get back to transcribing music. I set goals for 2011 and I still think I can make some of them. Even though I have failed at other parts of my life, I am usually an optimist. So I’ll stop typing here and start typing up some music.

December 8, 2010

A bit of procrastination…

Posted in life, video games tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:19 pm by riulyn

I have a week before I have my exam. For those of you who are curious, I am presenting my proposed thesis/dissertation research. When I was working on this proposal, I realized that I have a lot of goals for this project. I am either going to be in grad school for a very long time or fall short of the lofty goals. It’ll probably be the former. Oh well. I’m getting a stipend and I have time to work on things like sheet music and play videogames as long as I get a decent amount of work done at the bench. I hope I didn’t just fling a ton of jargon at you all. Anyway, I learned recently that, since I did relatively well on the written portion of it in June, that I’ll probably have less questions to answer next Wednesday. I’m just ready to have that done so I can start working on sheet music transcriptions again. I just checked the guestbook so I know someone is waiting for Revival from Tales of Symphonia… (I have to say my memory of that game is hazy, but the soundtrack is fun, I guess…)

So I’m posting because I don’t want to read my paper and I guess I feel less guilty if I spend a few minutes typing here. Plus, I somehow lost the .exe of the sheet music program I was using before and so I can’t open up my old files. I’m trying to figure out still how much I want to splurge on a sheet music program and if I want to use a different one. Finale has some limitations, though it is what I am used to.

While studying these past few months I’ve put on videogame soundtracks and realized that I want to replay Final Fantasy IX. I’m guessing because I listened to so much FFIX music that the game got stuck in my head, but the music isn’t that good. It is relatively simple (I came to this realization that Nobuo Uematsu’s music is usually better when it’s “simple” thus FFVI music being awesome) and I keep thinking that I’ll do more of it because it’s nice to have some quick gratification instead of hours laboring over one song. Then I remind myself that it’s the lazy bum’s route and while I am a lazy bum, I shouldn’t always be one. I might do a few to get my ears warmed back up again after such a long layoff from transcription by ear. You’ll see, hopefully in January 🙂

I’ve also majorly distracted myself at times by livestreaming college volleyball and soccer. It’s tournament time for these two sports so I have the livestream rolling while I pretend to study figures. I wonder if I learn anything during those times. Whatever 🙂

I’ve also gotten back into a side project, which is replaying the Suikoden games and typing up interesting lines. I am playing Suikoden 1 right now and the dialogue feels a bit weird. Back then, videogame characters sure talked strangely at least in the US versions of games. It was probably a combination of bad translations and not quite as much emphasis put on polishing up the speech. I’m glad the translation issue has been mostly resolved, since I still play mostly JRPGs. I have such a laundry list of languages I want to learn, so Japanese keeps being pushed further and further down the list…

August 23, 2010

Feel-good RPG Music

Posted in music, video games tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:08 pm by riulyn

I’ve started playing Grandia III recently and Noriyuki Iwadare’s music just makes me feel good. Something about his style makes me feel like I’m 10 years old, snuggled in a blanket and experiencing a fun story. Today his Lunar Eternal Blue music, which I listened to on my computer last night, was stuck in my head while I was doing lab work. I think I was very chipper in an otherwise very long day. If anyone reads this and wants to comment, why don’t you tell me what your feel-good RPG soundtracks are?

I guess, unlike Motoi Sakuraba, Iwadare hasn’t composed a crazy amount of soundtracks, but he has been the man for the Lunar and Grandia series, and Wikipedia also lists him for Phoenix Wright and Radiata Stories and other games. I’m sure I’ve made the realization before, but playing Grandia I was like “wow this is Lunar-style fun music”. Considering that I enjoy the Lunar soundtracks immensely, when I remember that I have them (just the PSX version of the games’ soundtrack included with the game), and I don’t remember Grandia II that well but Grandia III’s music has been fun, I can’t say he’s written anything horrendous. If you haven’t heard any of his stuff, I definitely recommend Lunar music as a starter. Lunar Eternal Blue is more fun music-wise than Lunar Silver Star Story in my opinion. Of course, play the actual games too if you can 🙂 They are fun times (once again I prefer LEB over LSSS but play them both).

April 14, 2010

Final Fantasy XII – Finally Done

Posted in music, video games tagged , , , , , at 8:07 pm by riulyn

So I beat FFXII last Sunday. The game’s a bit easy at the end if you set your gambits to auto-fight the boss and I ended up folding my laundry as my characters pummeled the boss. Not to brag, but I was at level 60 or so when I finally put the game to rest. I was probably a bit over-leveled, but I was doing a lot of the hunts and the hunts can definitely be harder than the final boss. I didn’t finish all the hunts because I wanted to be done with it, though the hunts were my favorite part of that game.

Overall I was disappointed by the game. I thought the story aspect was weak, especially with Ashe completely annoying me for some reason and Vaan not much better at first. The pacing was weird and I really felt like all I did was travel across the world or scale a massive tower just because every dungeon needed to be longer. I did find Balthier to be amusing and one of my favorite FF characters ever, but I would take Yuri Lowell of Tales of Vesperia or Jade from Tales of the Abyss over him any day, though if I were to compare physical attributes… Anyway, I feel like I can move onto FFXIII but that won’t happen for a while. When I finally get this grad school sorted out I will probably play some Star Ocean IV. Beyond the obvious fail at physics may be a fun game to play. We’ll see.

I figured I’d throw in a note about FFXII’s music since I do have an opinion about it. Frankly, it was boring. I guess Hitoshi Sakimoto just didn’t do the job for me. I have the soundtrack on my computer and I seriously have no desire to pick through it and see if there are any songs I want to arrange. Sakimoto also did FF Tactics, if I remember correctly, and I don’t think that soundtrack was much better. Orchestration of FFXII’s soundtrack was nice, but I think most of those MMORPGs that my brother likes to play have better music, and considering the battle style in FFXII, I sort of think of it as MMORPG-like even though it isn’t. Though I guess one of those MMORPGs that my brother played was FFXI and that had a bit of Nobuo Uematsu… FFXI’s music is catchy. Maybe I’ll do more of that someday.

March 14, 2010

Favorite RPG Music Soundtracks

Posted in music tagged , , at 11:20 pm by riulyn

I wouldn’t be a RPG music arranger if I didn’t like RPG music, and if I didn’t spend hours listening to certain songs over and over again. There’s always a sense of accomplishment that accompanies each sheet music that I produce. Sometimes each note that I figure out. I have pride in my relative pitch, though it’s been failing a bit, which isn’t a good sign for RPG music arranging nor music playing in general. Maybe I should join a band again.

Anyway, I figured I might list out a few of my favorite RPG music soundtracks. I don’t know if I have an absolute favorite. I guess it would be nice to have one if, for some reason, I had to make a recommendation. At least listing out a favorite RPG soundtrack is much easier than figuring out my favorite RPG song ever…

Favorite RPG soundtracks – I feel like I enjoy these mostly for the good music, not just game preference – not in order

  • Chrono Cross
  • Xenosaga 3
  • Legend of Mana

Others I really enjoy – somewhat related to how I liked the overall game package as well

  • Xenogears
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Tales of Phantasia
  • Lufia 2
  • Final Fantasy 6
  • Xenosaga 1

I feel like I’m forgetting some, but I think the most important ones are here… You might notice that a lot of those series have multiple sheet musics on my website. Back in the day, when I used to arrange sheet music based on whatever I felt like arranging, I believe I was really cranking out the Chrono Cross, Tales of Phantasia, and Lufia stuff. Maybe one day I’ll finish a game, arrangements-wise. I wonder which game will get finished first…