Sorcerian Music Collection :: Review by Chris
In 2000, Falcom developed yet another remake of Sorcerian, entitled Sorcerian: Apprentice of Seven Star Magic, for the Dreamcast. The console provided Falcom with an opportunity to finally offer technologically liberated arrangements, yet their own samplers were not up to the task and the resultant compositions were barely better than those of Sorcerian Forever. Victor JVC nevertheless chose to package a music disc with the game, containing a selection from the original score as well as a series of original arrangements. Did the offering satisfy?
The album opens with 13 arrangements of fan favourites from Sorcerian. These arrangements are technically new ones, but many will sound familiar. Whether the jazz-influenced piano-led interpretation of the opening theme, the power rock improvisations of "Hydra" and "Dungeon", or the fusion takes on the town themes, most pieces will be reminiscent of some of the series' earlier arrangements. Unfortunately, they are also usually inferior to their inspirations due to superficial approaches and crippling synthesis. Nothing sounds bad, yet it seems difficult to justify hunting down these arrangements when there is so much better available in the Perfect Collections, Super Arrange Versions, and Forever albums. Some like "Dark Swamp", "Romancia Kingdom", and "Ending I" are genuinely ambitious and at times spectacular, but even these lack the real individuality to stand out in the series' giant discography. For a bonus item, though, these arrangements are still welcome and enjoyable enough.
The rest of the album is a sampler of the original score for Sorcerian: Apprentice of the Seven Star Magic. These arrangements remain quite close to the originals, yet are considerably resynthed to enhance the emotions of the original. For example, "Survivor" sounds more elating than ever with its remix here, blending piano passages with bubbly synthy work. Several other tracks such as the "Forest" themes convincingly mimic this sound, but many other compositions offer contrasts. For example, the inn theme sounds more contemplative than ever with its harp-based arrangement, while "Desert" has a wistful and scenic quality. There are also a range of guitar-based power rock arrangements, such as "Blue Dragon" and "Evil Shaman" too; these aren't on par with the guitar arrangements in the Perfect Collections, largely due to their humble synthesis and lack of development, but they are still quite ambitious takes on their originals.
However, not all compositions sound better in their remixed versions. For example, the warped synth work sounds bizarre in "Dabitel Priest", while the orchestration of "Castle Romancia" is so thin that it fails to create the desired grandeur; most just wouldn't expect such poor orchestration and synthesis from a Dreamcast title. What's more, fan favourites such as town and ending themes are absent here and those that are present often fail to loop and cut off abrupt just as they have reached the peak of their development. Nevertheless, there are a few exclusive compositions towards the end of the soundtrack, ranging from the beat-heavy "A Dark Man in the Light of Day" or the ambient fusion "The Old Woman in the Night", that tend to be well done and are enjoyable to listen to. They definitely don't sound like Sorcerian music, but bring a new layer of atmosphere and individuality to the remade score. The final track on the soundtrack is a brief homage to the Falcom classic Asteka 2: Temple of the Sun.
Sorcerian Music Collection attempts to fit too much into one disc. It's ridiculous for the publisher to compile both an extended arranged section and an original score into a single disc. Unfortunately, the original section really suffers due to the short track times and omitted tracks, thus ensuring that it is not a definitive version of Sorcerian's score despite its numerous highlights. The arranged section is a more consistent listen, but it is also potentially underwhelming for series' veterans and is especially limited by its synth. The overall album is an impressive bonus package, but not something most will find worthwhile tracking down.
Overall Score: 6/10