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Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes J.D.K. Special :: Review by GoldfishX

Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes J.D.K. Special Album Title: Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes J.D.K. Special
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1110/1
Release Date: July 22, 1992
Purchase: Buy at eBay


I'll admit it. Perfect Collection Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes spoiled me rotten. Despite the 8-bit first disc, Ryo Yonemitsu managed to transform what I consider a stereotypical RPG score into a very powerful, yet elegant arranged album that I've listened to time and time again. If that was what made me forget that Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes was a very basic RPG score, Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes J.D.K. Special brought me crashing back down to earth. The album is comprised of two discs; the first disc contains Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. arrangements of the original score, whereas the second disc contains J.D.K. Band Arrangements of several tracks from both The Legend of Heroes and The Legend of Heroes II. Keep in mind, though, that I'm not bashing a 17-year old album because it's bad — I'm bashing it because it pales in comparison to a 19-year old album that contains the exact same material.


Forgive me if I sound a little down about this album, but any gripes I have are justified. The Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. arrangements follow the original score version of the score on Perfect Collection almost exactly. The only difference is the use of higher-quality synthesizers that make the music easier to listen to, yet fail to generate any kind of excitement or reason to listen to the tracks again. My best analogy would be uninspired PlayStation synth that is fine for a listen every now and then, yet isn't always my first choice. I'm used to hearing Ryo Yonemitsu's versions and anything less sounds insulting to my ears. The worst offenders are "Town", "Field", "Battle", and "Pirate Island". After Yonemitsu's amazing takes on these themes, these versions return to their bland soundtrack compositions with zero improvement.

Now then, the good news: Disc Two is utterly fantastic! Most of my favorite tracks make appearances here and the J.D.K. Band is well in their prime here, as they made these awesome arrangements. Most importantly, the arrangements rock. "Midnight Mover", for instance, is an absolutely wicked take on The Legend of Heroes' battle theme. Meanwhile "Crazy Train" and "Steam Rock Fever" are based on two of the better The Legend of Heroes II tracks and serve as the standard helping of power rock. Nevertheless, the highlights are quite diverse too. For instance, "Dragon Fly" is a piano version of "Pirate Island" with a great dance beat and a crazy guitar solo in the middle. The only nitpick is that the recording could be a tad better, especially if you're not listening on headphones; in an open room, certain parts may be hard to hear effectively.

The vocals are a surprising highlight considering the others I've heard from the band. "Action" is an excellent light-hearted opener for the disc and even the guitar solo in the middle has a playful feel to it. Come on, how many times have you wanted to hear someone sing, "Everybody wants a piece of the action. Everybody needs... SATISFACTION!". "Flying High Again" starts with a music box opening before settling into a bit of an epic groove. Just for fun, try to make out all of the broken English that is sung — I didn't notice most of it until about my fifth listen. Finally, "'Till the End of Time" is the awesome J.D.K. Band version of my favorite ending theme and "Winds of Change" ends the disc with a slow yet melodic version of "Castle". This is one of those CDs that you can listen to again and again and not get bored. It almost makes up for the first disc's laziness.


Do I recommend it? As much as I can't live without Disc Two, I say take a pass until after you've heard the Perfect Collection. That way, you'll appreciate the J.D.K. Band arrangements much more and at the same time notice the lack of improvement made to the first disc. From what I've read and heard, J.D.K. Specials are a black eye for Falcom and this one is no exception. It just happens to have a great set of arrangements held hostage in the second disc slot. As with most Falcom discs, this one is easy to find on Yahoo! Japan Auctions, yet hard to find in the states. Personally, I would value it around $25-$35 for eBay if it shows up (no higher) and in the $15 range for Yahoo! Japan Auctions. From personal experience, the Perfect Collection shows up much more than this, so try to grab that instead if you have the chance.

Overall Score: 6/10