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Fire Emblem The Best Vol. 1 :: Review by Charles

Fire Emblem The Best Vol. 1 Album Title: Fire Emblem The Best Vol. 1
Record Label: NTT Publishing
Catalog No.: PSCN-5058/9
Release Date: April 25, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


This album is a collection of the best music from the first two Fire Emblem Games, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragons and Fire Emblem Gaiden (split onto two disks). For the grand style of music that Fire Emblem is, it sure had a tougher time than the rest trying to feel at home on the Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom). The main composer was Yuka Tsujiyoko and always has been throughout this series. Unlike in Mario or Kirby, Fire Emblem music couldn't rely solely on catchy 8-bit melodies but it really pulls through as much as possible in the end. Although these great original themes have become much more over the years, they still deserve much merit. After all, this is where any well-known Fire Emblem tunes found their start, right?


It all started with the only popular piece outside of the fan base, though many other memorable highlights are on both of these discs. The opening title has gone down in history as the famous Fire Emblem theme. It's a simple and heroic march and has shown its great potential over the years especially in games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It was perfectly crafted for when it was made, though I wouldn't listen to this version these days. The second track "Each Map's Beginning" is actually a very well done track also. It has a very "let's get hyped" feel, and I like the contrast it has to the first track. The same thing goes for the track "Encounter". Also, these and many other tracks actually have very cool beats that I wouldn't have expected from playing other Fire Emblem games. They are catchy, yet serious.

There's a group of tracks that tend to have different feels than the normal map battle and preparation music. "Armoury, Bank, Village" or "Magic Shop" show much contrast to the more upbeat tunes. Although I think "Armoury, Bank, Village" is an extremely annoying theme to listen to out of game, it certainly brings about a certain atmosphere and mood and I commend it for that. "Battle Map 3", from disc two, actually brings out this atmospheric quality along with a unique beat. This is probably one of the better map tunes from Fire Emblem Gaiden.

There are definitely flaws on this album. Sometimes a scenario track is alright to put on a "best" album if it is a good track. Sometimes it's alright to put a track that is under a minute, if it is a good track of course. The question is how they got away with putting a theme like "Ally Falls" on the album. I understand the horrors of losing a character in Fire Emblem and how the tune could bring back powerful memories. It's not even a tune though; it's just two notes. That's all. Following up "Ally Falls" is an eight second track made up of three notes repeating called "Using Live Staff". It may have been forgivable, but that the exact same tracks appear on the next disc. "Using Live Staff" is now about a half minute long, but it still consists of three notes repeating over and over. Nobody in their right mind would want to listen to this stuff. With more of these instances, it becomes apparent that this is more the two NES soundtracks than a "best" album, but it doesn't change the facts.

Most battle, map, and preparation themes that weren't mentioned already were probably not mentioned because they were more generic pieces are only suited as in-game music. A lot of Fire Emblem music will tend to have a couple generic battle pieces, but luckily there was enough good to make up for that on this album, especially with all themes being true originals. One last negative aspect I must comment on is that "Story 2", from Fire Emblem Gaiden, is the most irritating theme I've heard in ages. The whole thing is a minute long trill, and it uses ear piercing high notes the whole time that just don't sound good in 8-bit form. There's no reason for this to be on the album in the least.


Overall the music really does what it intends to do with the limitations of the past. I think it's great to have themes that convey moody atmosphere or exciting energy on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Though some of the more memorable pieces still feel like prototypes to what they become in the future, they are still great prototypes. It's fun to hear that heroic main theme in its original form. Some themes feel like plain battle music or "medieval" music, but still set the tone for Fire Emblem music. Though there's some influential music on this album, influential just doesn't make the album as a whole perfect.

Overall Score: 7/10