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The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special :: Review by Charles

The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special Album Title: The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1186/7
Release Date: September 5, 1996
Purchase: Buy at Game Music Online


The soundtrack for The Legend of Heroes IV has been released in three major two disc releases: Music from The Legend of Heroes IV Running Red Blood features music from the original PC-9801 game; The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special features remastered compositions from the oiginal; and The Legend of Heroes IV A Tear of Vermillion Original Soundtrack features arranged music and some new compositions for the modern PC remake. The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special provided the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. with the opportunity to demonstrate their inspiration behind the original compositions before they were downgraded. The effect is more enoyable than the synthetic soundtrack, yet still inferior to the remake.


It's clear right from the opening themes that The Legend of Heroes IV was intended to be a rich musical experience. "Memoria" features a simple orgel solo that recollects the tone of its more innocent predecessor. In the remastered version, the orgel synth is crystal clear and has the desired effect. "A Legend" is a more elaborate orchestral experience, offering rich piano and violin passages, that are beautifully synthesised. While the arrangement is more elaborate in the remake soundtrack, this still has the desired effect. The experiences grows darker with tense action themes like "The Heretics' Attack" in their full bombastic forms. Softer themes such as "Cabin in Sight" and "Frozen Village" are tinged with melancholy, as if to preclude the dark fate that lies ahead for the world. The synth is effective in capturing the bittersweet feelings, though the arrangements are even more mature in the remake soundtrack.

Though there are much more epic undertones running through this soundtrack, there are actually a similar amount of light-hearted themes to The Legend of Heroes III. They are just presented in a different context — more like a diversion than the core of the experience — and fortunately most themes are better composed too. This time synthpop compositions such as "Travelling on the Road of Dreams" and "Stepping Lightly" are actually well-integrated into the game while others like "The Rhythm of the Sea Breeze" and "On the Ocean Wind" are full of creativity. These compositions particularly work well in their MIDI forms. There are a few annoying tracks like "Phildin's Capital" and "High-Spirited Shannon", but they are few and far between. Of course, there are a fair number of well-produced rocking battle themes too, such as "Lambada Labyrinth" and "Mining Station", that benefit from effective synthesis too.

As the album develops, there are a larger number of darker tracks. However, the remastered version doesn't quite create the same sense of fate as the remake soundtrack, since motifs such as "Running Red Blood" and "My Name is Baldus" are not central. However, themes such as "Seeking the Truth" and "Inheritance of the Ancients" are a very effective complement to key scenes during the storyline. Looking forward, compositions like "Sealed Earth" and "Gaps in Space and Time" provide an epic and surreal preparation for the intense final battles. The album ends on a beautiful note with a reprise of the "Running Red Blood" motif and the gentle small ensemble recollection "Traveling on the Road of Dreams". Though not as effective as the ending of the remake soundtrack, it's still a fitting way to round the experience.


Overall, The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special is a useful insight into the original intentions of the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. The resultant album is a considerable improvement on the original score, yet still resembles quite a standard RPG score for better or worse. While once the best version of The Legend of Heroes IV's soundtrack, it has since been superseded by the music from the PC remake. The resultant soundtrack is one of the finest efforts in The Legend of Heroes series and, unless you're a hardcore collector, makes this one redundant.

Overall Score: 6/10