Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates Soundtrack :: Review by Don
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates is the first Crystal Chronicles game to be released on a portable system as well as the first of the two games, the other being on the Wii, to be released since the first Crystal Chronicles. Given the success of the first Crystal Chronicles soundtrack, many, including myself, had high hopes for this soundtrack. The color and life that was in the original made the soundtrack rather enjoyable. This was something I looked forward to in this one as well. In the end, however, we weren't given this same color or life. Rather than keep the same style, Tanioka opted to give us an orchestrated album. Is it as good as its predecessor? While I thought most of this soundtrack was rather generic in terms of instrumentation, there were a few tracks that did catch my interest, mainly because they did have some color to them.
Before I get on to the good points, I guess I'll start off with the negatives. First of all, I find a lot of things tracks lack the color their predecessor had. Bland and generic orchestration litters this album. While the compositional quality is pretty decent, I find that the sameness in instrumentation to really drag down and it seems almost void of emotion in some cases. I feel that the quality of this soundtrack could have vastly improved if different instrumentation were chosen to mix with the orchestral pieces. Another gripe that I have is the shortness of the tracks. While this is for a Nintendo DS game, the tracks barely break one minute in most cases. The lack of loops really makes this soundtrack just fly by, but given the quality of many of these tracks, I don't really see a problem with it. Out of the orchestral themes that really stick out, but still lack something in my mind, is the final battle. "Final Decisive Battle" is a nice blend of organ, rock, and orchestral instrumentation. In fact, it seems as if Tanioka is trying to emulate Uematsu in a sense, but ultimately ends up failing due to a weak melody. It's not a bad track by any means, but it definitely seems to be lacking something.
Moving onto the tracks that I rather enjoy, we are left with three tracks out of the 57 on the album. To me, that's rather abysmal and disappointing. The first track I'll mention is the main theme "Ring of Fates." The main theme for this game is rather nice. I like its blend of woodwind and brass. In addition, it carries a nice pumping pace and the contrasts within the piece really make it a treat to listen to on a regular basis. Second on my list of likeable tracks is "Rera Ciel." To me, this is probably the closest thing to the first Crystal Chronicles you are going to get on this album. The track opens with a very nice sequence of strings, in almost a crisis fashion, but the addition of the xylophone really makes the track shine. While it doesn't really go too many places in its duration, the unique instrumentation really makes it stick out in my mind and that gives me motivation to listen to it a bit more often. The brass melody towards the end is rather nice and adds a bit of heroism to the track as a whole.
To conclude this review, I'll leave you with "Memories of Ring of Fates." While the stuff in between may leave a bitter experience in your mind, at least it closes well. This piano piece is probably my favorite track on the album. It boasts a strong melody and I really like the overall mood that it portrays. Both endearing and reminiscent in nature, the melody is sure to grip the listener and make up for the lack of quality tracks beforehand. While it isn't the strongest piano piece in video game music, it is probably the strongest piece on this album. Well, that's it for this review. Sorry for the lack of track mentioning, but there weren't many tracks that stuck out in my mind!
In the end, the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates Original Soundtrack is an extremely underwhelming album. The best way to describe it is as follows: Take the unique and medieval instrumentation that strengthened the first Crystal Chronicles and replace it with generic orchestration and lots of filler. Devoid of almost all life, Ring of Fates can be described as the hollow shell of a man who has lost his soul looking for a place to fit into society. I wouldn't recommend this album to many unless they are die hard fans of Tanioka or die hard fans of generic music. There are a few standout tracks, but for the most part, this album is definitely a skipper!
Overall Score: 4/10