Music from Final Fantasy Anthology :: Review by Chris
Released as a free bonus CD for those who bought Final Fantasy Anthology, Music from Final Fantasy Anthology is one of the strangest promotional CDs out there. Literally entitled Music from FFV and FFVI Video Games, it is pseudo-'best of' selection that features a minimal selection of tracks from the Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI official soundtracks. Its track listings, retranslated on this site to make them consistent with the Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI soundtrack releases, are unbelievably poor. Worse still, the CD has absolutely nothing original to offer...
First of all, this CD does not feature the FMV music created to open and conclude each component of Final Fantasy Anthology. The sole original element of Anthology's music was considered unworthy of a place of a place on this CD despite the musical quality of these programmatic themes being rather good; while FFV's FMV music was pretty ambient, FFVI's was inspired and exhilarating, and it's a real shame that fans never received the chance to hear these themes on a stand-alone basis, given near-enough all other Final Fantasy music has been released in CD form. What really adds insult to injury, though, is that rehashes of old and familiar themes feature instead. Though every Final Fantasy gamer has heard them 100s of times over, five minutes of this CD release is wasted on rehashes of the "Chocobo" theme (in 'Mambo' form, the same variation that apparently demanded its own single), "Mog" theme (and not in its original form "Cripper Tripper Fritter" either) and "The Prelude" (which backwardly concludes the experience). It's ridiculous...
Looking further into the track listings, many more deficiencies are apparent. Not a single battle theme is present, despite "Battle with Gilgamesh" being perhaps the biggest highlight of the Final Fantasy V Original Sound Version. The only character themes included are a duo from FFVI the inarguable classic "Tina" and a rendition of Setzer's theme, "Epitaph," that was barely utilised in the game and unexpected here. When FFVI's character themes revolutionised many RPGs and are still regarded as among the best available today, it's atrocious that more weren't included. Dark themes are dubiously represented too. While the funeral march parody "Mystery Train" was charming, it feels like Uematsu is incapable of presenting gloom through original means when presented in conjunction with the hackneyed organ-led "Dark World". Though the album has an appropriate opening with "Ahead On Our Way," no dramatic arch is present. The album goes from one theme to the next without direction or purpose. Everything feels jarring, out-of-place, or pointless, only exacerbated by the absence of many loved themes.
Arguably the worst aspect of the CD is the misrepresentation of the character of both games featured. Final Fantasy V's selection of just nine themes is dominated by slow, reflective, and sentimental themes. Save for the random intermission of a Chocobo theme, a run of four melodically, texturally, and emotionally similar themes "Nostalgia," "My Home, Sweet Home," "Music Box," and "Dear Friends" feature in succession; collectively, they're boring, cheesy, and depressing. In stark contrast, the tracks chosen from Final Fantasy VI suffer from light-heartedness overkill. All three novelty jazz- or ragtime-influenced themes Zozo's "Slam Shuffle," the parody "Johnny C. Bad," and the superficial "Spinach Rag" made the cut despite being among the most variably acclaimed tracks on FFVI's soundtrack. Add this to "Wild West," "Mog," and "The Magic House," and something feels really wrong. Couldn't "New Continent," "Last Dungeon," and "The Fierce Battle" have been inserted to represent the epic and action-packed nature of Final Fantasy VI and its music?
Music from Final Fantasy Anthology is an unworthy 'best of' selection for the casual fan and offers nothing to Final Fantasy music fanatics. The album was clearly intended to encourage people to buy the excellent Final Fantasy V Original Sound Version and Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version through watering fan's appetites yet not including too many classics. Unfortunately, it doesn't succeed; it feels incredibly unbalanced, unrepresentative, and shallow throughout, while unfairly dismissing original and otherwise unreleased music in favour of rehashes. The CD fails musically and as a commercial ploy, but at least it was free.
Overall Score: 2/10