Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack
- "The series for the first time shows signs of age."
- Release date: 1999-03-10
- Catalog number: SSCX-10028
- Retail price: 3873 yen
- Publisher: Digicube
- Nobuo Uematsu (composition)
Disc 1 (62 minutes)
- Liberi Fatali MP3 sample
- Balamb GARDEN
- Blue Fields MP3 sample
- Don't be Afraid MP3 sample
- The Winner
- Find Your Way MP3 sample
- The Landing
- Starting Up
- Force Your Way MP3 sample
- The Loser
- Never Look Back
- Dead End
- Shuffle or Boogie
- Waltz for the Moon MP3 sample
- Tell Me
- The Man with the Machine Gun MP3 sample
- Roses and Wine
- Timber Owls MP3 sample
Disc 2 (62 minutes)
- My Mind
- The Mission
- Martial Law MP3 sample
- Cactus Jack (Galbadian Anthem)
- Only a Plank Between One and Perdition MP3 sample
- SUCCESSION OF WITCHES
- Galbadia GARDEN
- Under Her Control
- The Stage is Set
- A Sacrifice MP3 sample
- FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC MP3 sample
- Fragments of Memories
- Jailed MP3 sample
- Ami MP3 sample
Disc 3 (63 minutes)
- The Spy MP3 sample
- Movin' MP3 sample
- Blue Sky
- Heresy MP3 sample
- Fisherman's Horizon MP3 sample
- ODEKA ke Chocobo
- Where I Belong
- The Oath
- Slide Show Part1
- Slide Show Part2
- Love Grows
- The Salt Flats MP3 sample
- Trust Me
- Silence and Motion
- Dance with the Balamb-fish
- Tears of the moon
- Eyes on Me MP3 sample
The series for the first time shows signs of age.
Editor's review by Adam Corn (1999-03-21)
Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack often shows similarities to previous Final Fantasy scores, most of which I am quite fond of. Which makes it peculiar that I am not overly impressed with this one.
To its credit, FF8 has an improved sound system that erases much of the bad taste left by FF7's. FF8 does use similar samples to FF7 for some of the more electronic tracks and more ambient tracks, but fortunately these are the samples that weren't too bad in the first place. Where FF8 improves upon its predecessor is in the synthesis of acoustic instruments such as piano, guitar, string sections, flutes, and others. Occasionally they impress slightly, sometimes they still manage to disappoint, but mostly they just suffice. It's not the pinnacle of 32-bit synthesis but it is a noticeable improvement over FF7, and old-school game music fans can deal with it just fine.
FF8 is the first Final Fantasy title to include any prerecorded, non-game-synth music in the original soundtrack. This includes the opening and ending themes, which feature a small orchestral set and chorus. The performance isn't anything special by film music standards, but it is a huge improvement over the game synth and certainly does the job. A whole disc's worth of this stuff would make me a very happy camper.
Along different lines, "Eyes on Me" is a surprisingly enjoyable vocal track based on the love theme from the game. The instrumentation is the standard orchestral/contemporary pop ballad sort, but the vocals by Asian pop star Faye Wong are quite nice. She sings in perfect English and her voice has a nice mellow tamber.
The most important part of a Final Fantasy soundtrack is not the sound quality, but the composition. As mentioned, there are some noticeable similarities to earlier FF titles. Usually they take the form of short melodic spurts which are similar to previous FF themes, from FF3 and FF6 in particular. Many of the mood-setting tracks are reminiscent of such tracks in FF7. The really noticeable "homages" to earlier Final Fantasy themes probably number around a dozen in all. In addition, I've noticed similarities to the E.T. and Dune scores in "Ride On" and "Ending Theme", respectively.
Are there new themes unique to FF8 that captivate and excite as in earlier installments? To a degree, yes.
As in FF7, the battle themes are a strong point, although not to quite the same extent. The normal battle theme "Don't Be Afraid" is similar in style to FF7's, and also in its ability to remain exciting after repeated listens. The boss battle music "Force Your Way" uses some coolly melodic cascading of a catchy electronic pulsing sample, as well as some nice keyboard hooks and guitar melodies. Also impressive is "The Man with the Machine Gun", another electronic-oriented boss theme, but one that boasts a slight dance music flavor. As for the final battle themes ("The Legendary Beast", "Maybe I'm a Lion", "The Extreme"), they can't match the tag-team of "J-E-N-O-V-A" and "One Winged Angel" from FF7, but if not for that they would receive plenty of praise in Final Fantasy music fan circles.
The "fithos lusec wecos vinosec" chant is used quite often throughout the score, and while from the very beginning it hasn't done much to excite me, the namesake track does have a couple catchy instrumental segments. One of the most memorable tracks comes at the very beginning of the score; "Balamb GARDEN" offers a nice - albeit slightly gushy - melody with very well-done instrumentation. The "Eyes on Me" love theme is used often, as is another theme seemingly geared towards love, friendship, reflection, or something of the sort (found in "Where I Belong" and elsewhere).
Other noticeable inclusions are two decent enough waltzes, a couple catchy battle marches ("Movin'" and "The Stage is Set"), and some moderately zany pieces reminiscent of FF7 (including the plucked strings, tuba, and "tick-tock" samples of "Timber Owls"). The ragtime "Slide Show Part2" and Zozo-esque "Shuffle or Boogie" bring back more memories of FF6, but they don't match the enjoyment of their precursors. There are certain slightly ambient, slightly experimental tracks like "Lunatic Pandora" which, although not enjoyable melodically, are interesting enough to warrant attention. Finally, mention must be made of "Mods de Chocobo", which provides yet another pleasurable rendition of the chocobo theme, this time in beach rock style.
Scattered throughout the score are some shorter tracks that are probably background music for cinema sequences. For the most part they aren't particularly noticeable, but if memory serves, they are more interesting than FF7's.
It should be noted that FF8OST has its share of "try me out a few times then skip me from then on" tracks. None are particularly offensive as are some in FF7 (mostly due to the improved sound system), but they can be boring and disappointing when you expect constantly great things from a Final Fantasy score. Such tracks are fewer in number than in FF7, but more common than in FF4 and FF6.
All in all, I am a bit disappointed with FF8OST. I'm really beginning to have a problem with mediocre sound quality in a flagship RPG title with a multi-million dollar budget, when the series used to epitomize high quality in *every* aspect, sound quality included. But besides that, the composition in FF8 leaves something to be desired. There's too much of the same, not only in the brief passages similar to previous FF themes, but in the overall makeup. All things considered, FF8 may well match the classic 16-bit installments and my personal favorite FF6 (albeit with a less melodic and emotional focus). But this is 1999, others series are breaking new ground in game soundtrack territory, and the Final Fantasy series should do the same.
Editorializing aside, there are certainly those who will be satisfied purchasing Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack. Serious fans of Square music and game OSTs will find music similar to the rest of the series, granted much of it is in a slightly ambient direction a la FF7. But more casual game soundtrack listeners, skeptics of game synth, and fans with rising expectations of the Final Fantasy series would be better off playing the game first, or waiting for a possible best-of album in the vein of Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks.
Play the game, then buy the soundtrack.
Reader review by TerraEpon (1999-10-19)
Final Fantasy. Among gamers it's one of the most well known and well respected series. It has also always been known for its great music, courtesy of composer Nobuo Uematsu. The music to the latest in the series has caused much controversy. Many say it's wonderful, while many say Uematsu has lost his touch. At first, I was one of the latter. I heard much of the music, and liked some, but just couldn't get into it very much. I still bought the soundtrack, however. Then the game came out in the US. I played it. I was amazed at how well the music fit the game. I now believe that Uematsu has not lost his touch at all.
The soundtrack has many diverse styles. Right from the beginning it stands out, as the opening track, "Liberi Fatali", is performed by a live orchestra with a choir singing in pseudo-Latin. The next track, "Balamb GARDEN", is the first of one of the two main musical themes, the Garden / Friendship theme. This theme is also heard in "Tell Me", "Ami", and "Trust Me", among others. The other main theme is the Love theme, which is first heard in "Dance to the Moon", a wonderful romantic-style waltz. Other versions of this are "Julia", "Roses and Wine", "My Mind", among others. It's also the theme of the theme song, "Eyes on Me", later heard in the ending. Both of these themes are very good, and are treated well whenever they show up.
Besides the two major themes, there are many other notable tracks, especially the battle music. I would say that FF8 has the best battle music in the series overall. The standard battle music, "Don't Be Afraid", is incredibly well done, and is a pleasure to listen to over and over, like a good standard battle should. I especially love the 5/4 rhythm. The boss music, "Force Your Way", is a great techno/fusion tune with plenty of square waves. The other battles themes are great as well, but of special note is the final battle music, "The Extreme". It starts off sounding a bit like Vincent's music from FF7, then it hits the classic FF battle opening and goes into a style most similar to the FF4 final boss music.
One of my other favorite tracks is "Slide Show Part 2". It's a great Joplin-esque rag with great harmony. Also of note is "Only a Plank Between One and Perdition". Besides having a cool name, it fits into the game incredibly well, and the piano bass line is incredibly well done. There are many other good tracks, but I don't have room to talk about them all.
All in all, this soundtrack is a very good buy, but it seems to have a better effect after playing the game. It's not as must-have as FF4 or 6 are, however, it makes a good addition to any collection.
I'd like to add one final thing: This soundtrack is a perfect example of why one should *not* buy Son May or other bootleg versions. Besides the fact that the Son May version of this soundtrack cost more and has worse packaging (and no sticker inserts), track 20 of disc 3, "Eyes on Me", simply is *not* on the soundtrack. So while you are supporting the original artists with the licensed version, you are also getting a much better deal.
A turning point in the Final Fantasy series.
Reader review by Chris Tilton (1999-03-21)
As I listen to the four-CD soundtrack to Final Fantasy VIII, I am nothing less than amazed. This is Nobuo's best effort yet not only composition wise, but also technically, as we are treated to a full orchestral and choral beginning and ending, as well as the best "pop" song for a video game I have heard thus far. Also, the MIDI samples are *much* better than the ones used in FF7, and they use reverb, which gives the sound much more depth.
The CD naturally opens with "Liberi Fatali", which is the wonderful piece you hear during the opening movie of the game. This is a great piece and I really have to hand it to the orchestrator for making such a small ensemble sound really big. The score turns much more subdued and rather relaxing, except for the battle theme, until "The Landing", which has replaced the music that was in the demo's opening movie. It still sounds a little like Hanz Zimmer, but more of Nobuo's personality is in it. "Force Your Way" is the boss music. It is more in the tradition of older FF boss music, but I still preferred FF7's better. The first time the melody in the song "Eyes on Me" is heard is in "Julia". It appears several times throughout the soundtrack, clearly signifying that this is the love theme. Since the theme of FF8 is love, I think it's safe to say that this is the main theme of FF8. However, I have not played the game, so I don't know what music plays in the overworld, which is where the main theme plays in past FF's.
Disc 2 has a few notable tracks. "Succession of Witches" uses Uematsu's "Mystic Forest" chord progression (also the James Bond progression), which he seems to carry over to each game since FF6. "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" appears to be some sort of battle theme, but it includes a few choral chants from the opening. Disc 3 has a few more upbeat and orchestral tracks than the previous discs, and all are great listens. "Eyes on Me" is the last track on this disc. I wonder where it appears in the game.
Disc 4 opens with a really cool chocobo piece with a '70s rock style. The music on this CD is by far the most mood setting and evil sounding. "The Extreme" is the final boss music (at least I think it is), and it's more in the tradition of older FF's, so FF7's final boss music still remains the king of all battle music in my opinion. The ending is great. It's about 13 minutes of a live full orchestra. "Eyes on Me" is weaved in there and then the main theme of Final Fantasy is there as in every game. And just when you think it's over it goes into a variation of the opening "Liberi Fatali".
The FF8 soundtrack I think deserves to be recognized as a turning point in video game music to a much the more cinematic and classical style of movie soundtracks. I recommend it to every soundtrack collector out there. Nobuo has done it again.
Stop whining, FF fans!
Reader review by Nick Melton (2003-11-24)
It's true, the soundtrack to Final Fantasy VIII is not the best in the series. It is by far the worst, actually. It doesn't work well on disc. But a soundtrack isn't supposed to work well on disc, it's supposed to work well in the game/movie. And the soundtrack to FF8 works wonders in the game.
Yes, there are many tracks that, while they worked in the game, are simply boring on disc. "Junction," "Unrest," "Truth," and "Tears of the Moon" come to mind. There are tracks that are, simply, just annoying - "Heresy" and "Residents" come to mind there. I admit it. This soundtrack has no lack of boring/annoying/stupid songs.
But we must not forget what the soundtrack has in its favor. "SUCCESSION OF WITCHES" is a fabulous track, and "The Castle" is the best final dungeon theme since FF4. "The Extreme," the final battle music, is much more exciting than FF7's "One-Winged Angel" (but not as good), "Fisherman's Horizon" sports one of Uematsu's greatest melodies, "Only A Plank Between One And Perdition" is one of the coolest hurry/action tracks ever, and there is the incredible "Ending Theme." There is "Don't Be Afraid," an astounding battle theme; "Fragments of Memories," a startlingly beautiful work; "Dance With The Balamb-Fish," an incredibly fun polka; "The Mission," an invigorating action track; and "Premonition," a giant battle theme. This soundtrack can also proudly claim as its own two very experimental works: "Lunatic Pandora" and "Compression of Time." So, despite its weaknesses, FF8 has many wonderful tracks going for it.
All in all, this is a soundtrack worth owning, but I would say play the game first and then make your decision. And for all you out there who do nothing but complain about this OST - stop it! Count your blessings that this OST has such a high amount of fabulous stuff! FF8 is a fine addition to Uematsu's cannon!
Let it grow on you.
Reader review by Michael Zeigermann (2000-01-01)
In the past, Nobuo Uematsu has managed to hit us with some of the most mesmerizing melodies we are ever likely to witness in a video game. Final Fantasy VIII is no exception - albeit in a different guise. This is a warning which should not go unheeded, for we cannot expect this soundtrack to have quite the same in-yer-face value of its predecessors. On the contrary, Final Fantasy VIII shyly taps you on the shoulder and asks you for a quiet dance under the moonlight. It won't make you cry, it won't make you bawl, at times it won't even make you feel comfortable. In brief, this soundtrack grows on you - but only if you let it.
None of the songs here, even the overwhelmingly cinematic opener "Liberi Fatali", will strike you in the same way as previous Final Fantasy compositions (such as "Aria De Mezzo Carratere" or "One Winged Angel"). This is mainly because, much like Square have altered their approach to narratology, Uematsu has radically altered his approach to songwriting and composing. Simplistic melodies which stand out through their sheer emotional impact have been replaced by complex ballads which challenge and at times alienate the listener. This brilliantly mirrors the cerebral content of the game. What Final Fantasy 7 promised with "Aerith's Theme" has now become a full-blown beast of a soundtrack in Final Fantasy 8. I dare say that no other RPG can lay claim to a boss battle theme as refreshingly complicated and soothingly intricate as "Force Your Way", with its constant change in tone and emphasis (and an organ solo to boot!).
But it's not all doom and gloom for those who wish to be entertained at the drop of a hat. There is romance ("My Mind", "Love Grows"). There is pomp and circumstance ("Liberi Fatali", "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec"). There is sheer atmosphere ("The Salt Flats" - a personal favourite) and there's drama ("The Landing", "Never Look Back"). All in all, very refreshing in terms of diversity. However, the ultimate high point remains "Eyes On Me", which Uematsu himself has described as his best work to date. This is the soundtrack's focal piece, sung by the heavenly Faye Wong and enhanced by some fantastic string arrangements.
And the Japanese version comes with some free FF8 bumper stickers. I mean, how cool is that?!?
- The limited edition release comes in a small hardcover book which holds the four CDs and 20 pages of liner notes with lyrics, an Uematsu interview and Q&A;, rendered art and more.
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