Archives for posts with tag: Nobuo Uematsu

One of the Xbox 360’s most beloved titles has finally made its way to the current generation, as Mistwalker’s Lost Odyssey launches today for Xbox One’s backward compatibility programme.

Directed by ex-Squaresoft legend Hironobu Sakaguchi – the father of Final Fantasy – with music by fellow Final Fantasy icon Nobuo Uematsu, Lost Odyssey is something of a rare breed: a jRPG exclusive to a Microsoft platform. It stars the immortal warrior Kaim Argonar, who has wandered the world for a thousand years, yet remembers little of it thanks to a bout of jRPG amnesia. It’s an incredibly traditional example of the genre, complete with a turn-based battle system – albeit with a dynamic touch thanks to a timed ring-matching system – that many fans hold up as being truer to Final Fantasy‘s legacy than the last decade of titles in the series that effectively spawned it. Also of note are the ‘Thousand Years of Dreams’, lost memories of Kaim’s that you can find throughout the adventure which contain some of the best writing you’ll find in the genre.

LIRUM ;____;

Lirum!!! ;____;

Lost Odyssey has been one of the most wanted games for Microsoft’s backward compatibility programme since it was announced back at last year’s E3 conference, though the lack of support for multi-disc games (Lost Odyssey comes on four of them) held up its availability. Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut was the first multi-disc game to launch for the programme earlier this year, so it had been assumed that it was simply a matter of time until Mistwalker’s game saw release.

Lost Odyssey will remain a strictly physical release, as a Games on Demand version does not exist on the Xbox storefront, so you’ll need a copy of the game if you wish to play it on your Xbox One. Inserting disc 1 will prompt a 22GB file to download and, according to a post on NeoGAF, the game is only playable with that first disc in the drive; discs 2, 3 or 4 simply will not work. While this sounds a bit odd, it also means you will no longer need to switch discs while playing, which can only be a good thing.

LO-Battle

Also announced for backward compatibility today are Disney’s Toy Story 3 and Guwange, a Muromachi Period-set vertical shoot ’em up from genre legends Cave. They come hot on the heels of the addition of Call of Duty 3, World at War and Sega’s Virtua Figher 5: Final Showdown and it’s excellent to see continued support with more big name, much-loved titles making the generational jump. There are now more than 250 Xbox 360 titles available to play on Microsoft’s current machine, and apart from the benefit to end users, it’s a great way to ensure some degree of preservation for games otherwise locked on old systems.

Theatrhythm Curtain Call 3DS pouch
Today, the sequel to one of my favourite games of 2012 hits the 3DS. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, to give it its full, unwieldy name, is the follow-up to Square-Enix’s rhythm-action Final Fantasy compendium, and it’s fit to bursting with more music, more characters, more modes and even more fanservice. I’m a sucker for pretty much anything FF, especially its music, so I was glad when Theatrhythm turned out so well. And I of course ordered the Collectors Edition of Curtain Call, which has just arrived. So let’s take a look at what you get in the box.

Theatrhythm Curtain Call collectors edition

It’s quite a large box for a 3DS game, and it’s pretty similar to the one Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn came in, with a sturdy box covered by a card slipcase. Inside is a collectors pouch for your 3DS emblazoned with the cast and logo, and unfortunately for me, it’s for a 3DS XL. I can still use it to store my launch model console, of course, but it won’t be a snug fit.

We’re also treated to five platinum CollectaCards of the kind found in the games. The pack of five contains Edgar from Final Fantasy V, Zack from Final Fantasy VII/Crisis Core, Yuna in her X-2 appearance, Final Fantasy XIV‘s Y’shtola and finally Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics. All the cards are double-sided, with character art on the front and a short bio on the reverse side. You can see the back of Zack’s card in the gallery below.

Theatrhythm Curtain Call CollectaCards

Finally, we have two CDs to listen to. The first of these is the same five-track remix CD that also comes with the cheaper limited edition version of Curtain Call, while the second is a 20-track ‘best of’ collection, which includes untouched music from across the series. These two discs come in the same jewel case, and you can see the full tracklisting for both in the gallery.

That’s it for collectors goodies, but printed on the manual is a note stating that those who’ve played the demo (like me!) will begin the game with some characters already unlocked and ready to go.

For £45, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got here. I’m about to get started and I can’t wait to spend another 90 hours on the new game. My 3DS is pretty much sorted for the next year.


This one’s completely passed me by until today, but big fans of symphonic arrangements of Final Fantasy music will certainly be interested to learn that a new concert is coming next May. Dubbed Final Symphony, the concert will take place on May 30th at the massive Barbican Centre in the City of London, and will feature music from Final Fantasies VI, VII and X.

The concert is officially licensed and will see collaborations with both Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu (indeed, the website promises a meet and great with the two series composers), and as it is not intended to compete with Distant Worlds, there will be some differences between the two productions: Final Symphony will not utilise video screens displaying game footage and cutscenes, and the music will be restructured into “entirely new, elaborate arrangements.”

Digging around the internet, I found an interview with producer Thomas Boecker conducted by Square Enix Music Online’s Chris Greening. The interview (conducted this past May, which goes to show how far behind I am on this one), gives us a bit of an insight into what we can expect. When asked by Mr Greening why the production would focus on just a few games, rather than follow Distant Worlds’ focus on the entire series, Boecker replied, “Currently, the music from Final Fantasy VII performed in concerts focuses on battle themes… But that game describes a dystopia with a strong, mature story rarely found in games to this extent, with complex characters… I feel that the game’s dark, romantic, melancholic, and hopeful story needs a better orchestral presentation to express what this game is all about.”

Dark? Melancholic? Oooh, please let there be an ‘Anxious Heart’ movement in there somewhere!

He continued, “So Final Symphony is indeed about telling the stories of the games, or the focus on certain scenes or happenings featured. The balance is very important to us, so that we can capture the atmosphere of the games. We believe that said balance can be only achieved by limiting the number of featured Final Fantasy parts to three.”

Personally, I quite like the idea of a greater focus on a smaller subset of Final Fantasy games, and it helps that VII and X are probably my favourite soundtracks from the series. I also love a great deal of the music from VI, and am hopeful the lack of battle themes won’t preclude the arrangers from performing an epic rendition of Kefka’s signature piece, ‘Dancing Mad’.

Either way, I’ve got my tickets booked, and I’d suggest if you’re interested you do so too.

Final Symphony official website:
http://www.ffsymphony.com/

Read SEMO’s interview with Thomas Boecker here:
http://squareenixmusic.com/features/interviews/thomasboecker8.shtml

Read my review of this month’s Distant Worlds at London’s Royal Albert Hall:
https://pushstartgaming.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/distant-worlds-london-a-celebration-25-years-in-the-making/

Last Friday, Distant Worlds returned to the Royal Albert Hall. This time, however, the show differed from previous incarnations; it’s 2012, and that means it’s Final Fantasy’s 25th anniversary. That’s a milestone worth celebrating for both Square-Enix and its massive legion of fans, and with that in mind, Friday’s set-list was indeed a celebration of the series’ history.

The show kicked off with the iconic ‘Prelude’, before a few spotlights pointed out that we in the audience were in illustrious company – in attendance were composers Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu, along with father of Final Fantasy Hironobu Sakaguchi. Sakaguchi was here, in the same room as us! That certainly got the crowd in the right mood.

Next up was ‘Medley 2002’, a collection of pieces of music drawn from the first three Final Fantasies, and afterward Arnie Roth, occupying the conductor’s rostrum as always, set expectations for the night; being a celebration of the series’ history, we would be treated to a chronological trip through Final Fantasy music, and next up was Final Fantasy IV’s ‘Battle with the Four Fiends’. Maestro Roth told us we’d be hearing a mixture of Distant Worlds favourites, new arrangements and pieces of music that hadn’t been played before.

With that, we got to hear the first live renditions of the ‘Main Theme of Final Fantasy V’ and from Final Fantasy VI, ‘The Phantom Forest’, before Roth attempted to recruit the audience into the choir for Final Fantasy VII’s ‘One Winged Angel’. Unfortunately, the majority were terribly British about it all and remained quiet throughout, but that didn’t prevent the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the London Voices choir from a rousing performance of Sephiroth’s signature piece.

Final Fantasy VIII’s battle theme, ‘Don’t be Afraid’ came next, and was followed by ‘You’re Not Alone’ from Final Fantasy IX. Then came one of my favourite pieces of Final Fantasy music, ‘To Zanarkand’ from Final Fantasy X. All of these performances were accompanied by cutscenes and video excerpts from the games on a huge screen above the choir, and X’s was particularly beautiful, ending with the iconic scene of Yuna performing the sending at Kilika.

One song remained before the intermission, and we were treated to a new rendition of the Chocobo theme, and this one was even more upbeat than usual, with the screen showing a medley of Chocobo footage, including Dajh’s chick popping out of Sazh’s afro as the choir chanted “Hey!”, before they called out the letters spelling out ‘chocobo’. It was a very entertaining way to lead into the intermission, and the crowd responded with plenty of laughs.

Once we’d returned to our seats, it was back to our chronological musical journey through Final Fantasy, and next up was ‘Vana’diel March’ from the series’ first foray into the MMO space. If anything, I felt this song dragged a little, but then I never played Final Fantasy XI, so I don’t have any emotional attachment to the game’s music. That said, it was still an enjoyable performance, and the next piece, Final Fantasy XII’s ‘Dalmasca Estersand’, was a wonderfully intricate, layered composition beautifully delivered.

Rounding out the retrospective were Final Fantasy XIII’s battle theme, ‘Blinded by Light’, and an absolutely stunning rendition of the signature track from Square’s second MMO entry, Final Fantasy XIV. Titled ‘Answers’, the song’s main vocal was performed by Susan Calloway (who should be no stranger to fans of Final Fantasy music), who absolutely blew the attending audience away with her powerful voice.

With our whistle-stop tour of Final Fantasy past and present complete, we were into the portion of the show that remained shrouded in mystery. We’d been promised some heavy hitters, something new, and another special guest or two, and the first piece we were treated to was Final Fantasy IV’s gorgeous ‘Theme of Love’. This was a real treat for me, a massive fan of FFIV, and it was a beautiful rendition that kicked off a more emotionally-led tangent of the show. Following in that vein, next on the agenda was a trip back to Final Fantasy VIII, as we got to experience an excellent performance of ‘Eyes on Me’, sung by Japanese recording artist Crystal Kay, and her vocals, along with the scenes of Rinoa and Squall on the big screen, really got emotions bubbling under.

What really got them soaring, however, was the utterly incredible ‘Opera – Mario & Draco’. This was a new version, with an extended battle scene embedded in the middle, composed by Uematsu specially for the ‘Celebration’ tour. We again had some guests on stage – three solo vocalists taking the parts of Maria, Draco and Prince Ralse, and a narrator to relate the story to the audience. The latter was a little underused, but was still a nice addition to help along those that might not have played Final Fantasy VI. The Opera must have run for at least fifteen minutes, but I was completely transfixed; it was easily my highlight of the entire show. It was an incredibly powerful performance that threatened to leave me breathless.

We had one final piece of music to go, and this one signalled a step up into more upbeat territory. It was another medley, and another fresh one at that; a brand-new battle medley, consisting of FFV’s ‘Battle at the Big Bridge’, FFX’s ‘Fight with Seymour’ and FFVII’s ‘Those Who Fight’. It was an excellently put-together medley, though I’d have liked to have heard each one in full as they’re all among my favourite battle themes. Having said that, at least we got an orchestrated version of ‘Those Who Fight’ (however short), rather than the bizarre jazz-piano style version featured on the Returning Home DVD.

With that, the performers exited the stage, leaving the audience to nervously await their return. Surely there’d be an encore, right? We hadn’t had ‘Aeris’ Theme’, nor Terra’s. Maybe we’d get to hear the ‘Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII’ or Liberi Fatali? Well, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the London Voices and Arnie Roth did indeed re-take the stage, with Roth telling us that they just couldn’t leave without playing one final piece of music, one song that was absolutely vital in the history of the jRPG series. The audience held its collective breath; surely he meant ‘Aeris’ Theme’..?

And so, as the orchestra launched into the warm tones of the ‘Main Theme of Final Fantasy’, the groans were audible (seriously – you can hear it in my video). They quickly gave way to applause as we all immediately got over the (admittedly mild) disappointment to enjoy the piece of music that started it all, and in retrospect, it was the perfect way to end a night celebrating 25 years of excellent music. At the end, all the performers that had taken the stage throughout the evening were joined by Uematsu and Hamauzu and were all given a much-deserved standing ovation from the five-thousand or so Final Fantasy diehards in attendance.

With that, we were thrust back into the cold London night, contemplating one thing: will they be back next year? I can only say this – if they will, I will.

I’ve been doing weekly content updates for Square-Enix’s rhythm-action title Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for a while now, and last week I speculated that the four new songs added might be the last. Sadly I was right, as there are no new songs available to download today.

Still, 52 additional songs strikes me as a pretty good level of support for a handheld game, and a bit of quick multiplication tells me I’ve spent an additional £46.80 on the DLC… At any rate, it seems a bit of a shame if no more content is forthcoming, as there are plenty of great pieces of music still to be pulled from the Final Fantasy universe.

With this in mind, today I’m going to do something a bit different and showcase a small handful of songs that I would have liked to see in the game. And who knows, maybe we’ll see some sporadic content releases in the future – one of the positives of DLC is, after all, that so long as the host platform (in this case the 3DS) is still viable, the door is never really closed.

‘Anxious Heart’, from Final Fantasy VII

I love the atmosphere of this song, first heard in the train graveyard. There’s a feeling, certainly prevalent in the Midgar slums, that people are just plodding along; not really living, just existing. I think this piece of music perfectly captures that feeling of detached hopelessness, while the xylophone part adds a very dreamlike quality. As a very slow-paced song, I’m not sure how well it would work in Theatrhythm, but I’d love to find out.

‘Don’t Be Afraid’, from Final Fantasy VIII

Quite how this isn’t already in the game I don’t know. Final Fantasy VIII‘s battle theme shouldn’t need any introduction, and it’s obvious that this would be a fantastic addition to Theatrhythm, given both its high tempo and the number of battle tracks already present in the game. That it’s also a fan favourite makes its exclusion even harder to fathom.

‘The Price of Freedom’, from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

This one’s strictly down to personal preference, as I absolutely love this song. Again, it might be a bit too slow to work in Theatrhythm (at Ultimate difficulty, at least), but we’ve already had one song from a PSP spin-off that was composed by Takeharu Ishimoto in last week’s ‘We Have Arrived’, from Final Fantasy Type-0, so it wouldn’t be outside of the realms of possibility.

‘Cosmos’, from Final Fantasy Type-0

I’m slotting this one in for a couple of reasons. For one, I’ve been playing a lot of Dissidia 012 recently, so it keeps popping up. Secondly, it’s very different from the typical Final Fantasy fare, so it’d be nice to see it included.

I’d love to see more content appear for Theatrhythm, though I have already put 70 (!) hours into the game, and with stuff still left to unlock, I’ll still be playing it for many more. But it’d be great to have the tracklist refreshed every now and then. Who knows, maybe we’ll see more. But then, I’m an optimist.

I’ve been thinking about Mistwalker’s The Last Story recently. Mostly because I’ve yet to play it and it’s been gnawing at me that I really should get around to it, but also because a couple of friends have also been asking me about it recently.

With the pedigree that the game has (directed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, scored by longtime companion Nobuo Uematsu), I was always going to be ordering the limited edition as soon as it was available. Which is exactly what I did. Unfortunately, a ridiculous backlog has so far foiled my intentions to immerse myself in its world. So consider today’s MM piece both an attempt to highlight some fantastic music, as well as give myself a kick up the rear!

My beautiful, beautiful limited edition… that I haven’t played.

Both Uematsu and Sakaguchi have described the creation of their Wii exclusive as something of a challenge to create a fresh experience; in gameplay terms for Sakaguchi (such as injecting third person elements in battle), and for Uematsu, in creating something that stands apart from his work on the Final Fantasy series.

Indeed, the composer’s original drafts for The Last Story were so typical of his work that Sakaguchi rejected them out of hand, calling them “completely useless”. The pair did not speak for a month, until Uematsu sent a file to the director, adding, “If this is not okay, I’ll quit.” It’s safe to say that Sakaguchi liked what he heard.

The music that makes up the soundtrack still bears Uematsu’s ear for a beautiful melody, of course, and one track in particular, ‘Toberu Mono’, reminds me, in broad strokes at least, of Final Fantasy IV‘s ‘Theme of Love’. But it’s so much more powerful than that, almost heartbreaking in its delicacy, before erupting into a triumphant crescendo.

The main theme lies on the other side of the musical coin. It’s epic, foreboding and its melodies conjure something closer to The Lord of the Rings in the mind’s eye. It’s noticeably different from much of the composer’s previous work, throwing in unexpected tempo changes to break up the otherwise-relentless forward momentum. That signature Uematsu melody style is in there, tying it all together, but it’s set in a darker style – it almost gives me a sense of a Western musical style with Japanese melodic sensibilities.

My favourite piece might just be ‘Chitsujo to Konton to’. I’m guessing it’s a battle theme, as it’s a very high-energy piece, mixing orchestrated elements, electronic beats and grinding guitar chugging away in the background. Halfway through, a soaring, brass and string-led tempo change drops back into a synth-heavy gallop that leads into a chanting crescendo. I can fully imagine the blood pumping in the heat of battle, keeping me on my toes as I try to outwit my foes (ooh, that rhymes).

While it’s certain that aspects of Uematsu’s trademark sound are in effect throughout the soundtrack of The Last Story, it does genuinely sound like a fresh take on what has come before from the now-legendary composer. Considering it made the cut, we can only assume Hironobu Sakaguchi would wholeheartedly agree.

We have another four songs for Theatrhythm available today, bringing us up to a post-release total of 52 extra tracks. Considering that the initial plan was for around 50 DLC songs, this may well be our final update.

Like last week, we have a track from a currently unreleased Final Fantasy title (well, unreleased outside of Japan in this case), as we have the opening theme from PSP spin-off Final Fantasy Type-0. With the PSP all but dead outside of Japan, rumours have persisted that we’ll see an enhanced port for the Vita, but with the title being absent at this year’s E3, we have to wonder if we’ll ever see the game at all. Let’s hope we do, as ‘We Have Arrived’ sounds suitably epic.

Anyway, back to the task at hand, and we also have a field theme from Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XII‘s ‘Boss Battle’, and from Final Fantasy XIII, ‘Desperate Struggle’. Videos, as always, follow below.

Final Fantasy Type-0 – We Have Arrived
BMS

Final Fantasy XI – Sarutabaruta
FMS

Final Fantasy XII – Boss Battle
BMS

Final Fantasy XIII – Desperate Struggle
BMS