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Wild Arms Advanced 3rd Original Soundtrack :: Review by GoldfishX

Wild Arms Advanced 3rd Original Soundtrack Album Title: Wild Arms Advanced 3rd Original Soundtrack
Record Label: SPE Visual Works
Catalog No.: SVWC-7118/21
Release Date: March 20, 2002
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The Wild Arms soundtracks are typically known for two things. The first is composer Michiko Naruke's successful fusion of a typical Japanese RPG with themes from the "Wild West" through the use of whistles, flutes, acoustic guitars, and other such instruments, often with breathtaking results. Unfortunately, the second thing they are known for are their shoddy, lazy releases. The first soundtrack was missing half of the game's score, and it really needed to be on two CDs, fortunately now compensated by the release of the Wild Arms Complete Tracks. The second had the entire score, but most of the themes were only played through once, which wasn't nearly enough time to get the full impact of the themes; even moreso than other scores that have the same problem, because most tracks weren't even a minute long. It really needed a 3 or 4 CD release. In the end, due to Sony Music Entertainment not wanting to expend a couple of blank CDs, two brilliant scores were severely compromised. I can almost picture Naruke bursting into their offices, wielding ARMs of her own, and demanding a better release! While that may be a little far-fetched, SPE learned from their previous mistakes and rolled out the red carpet for the third game's soundtrack release. 91 tracks are spread across 4 CDs, with each track played through two or three times. In fact, instead of shortening the length, SME has turned the long length into a selling point, as they have "Total Time / 4h 12m 06s" printed on the back.


The "Wild West" theme heard in the previous games is present and accounted for. However, it sounds far more sophisticated in this soundtrack, like Naruke isn't using it as a gimmick. It sounds more like she's working with it and building upon it without trying to beat it into the listener's head, something the other two soundtracks seemed to do. In fact, I would have to say she manages to work a new theme in here: a theme of darkness. Besides the mostly western-sounding Disc One, the soundtrack takes on a much more somber feeling than the first two. It keeps the melodies flying throughout, so it doesn't reach the point of ambiance, thankfully. A few tracks here and there break up the darkness, sounding heroic or returning to the upbeat western theme, but the darkness is the most readily present style.

This time around, the main theme, "Advanced Wind," holds the soundtrack together. It shows up here and there, but it's not dominant in any way. There are four versions (one whistle version, two sung in Japanese, and one in broken-English) that show up at the beginning of each disc, giving it the chance to really get into your head ... and boy, does it ever! It sounds very similar to previous Wild Arms themes. "Only the Night Sky Knows" is another song that shows up on all four discs, in the same styles, that runs for less than a minute. It has quite a sad sound to it (it's the music that plays when you want to stop playing a game). Lastly, on Disc Four, is "Wings," the ending vocal. It has a sad, yet upbeat feel to it, as well as a chorus singing the main theme of Wild Arms 3. It's not bad, but it won't make you a fan of in-game vocals if you're not already. It is a fitting end for the soundtrack, however. (Note: The versions of these songs found in the US release of Wild Arms 3 are not on this soundtrack and they have never been released).

In addition to Naruke's usual arsenal of instruments, this time around she uses a very powerful addition: PlayStation 2 synth. Leagues ahead of the original Playstation's sound capabilities, it can create one of the most pleasing synthy sounds to your ear. The best examples of this is "PUZZLE MANIAC 2002", when the piece loops, and "Fangs and Claws of Fierce Evil" which can be heard at the very beginning. Sound quality and recording is high overall.

In a soundtrack with 91 tracks, most of which are excellent, picking favorites is not an easy task. "From Beyond," "Blue Destiny," and "The Barriers Blocking Your Way" are well noted for their evil feel. "Stopping a Deluge with One's Palm" has the feeling of sitting around a campfire, telling ghost stories; the soothing guitar lends itself to this effect. Naruke's western style is on full display with "BAD GUYS & BAD LAND". Other pieces, such as the awesome "Gun-Equipped Cavalry" show a bit of progression in the music, going from exciting and heroic to mellow and sad.

Of course, the battle themes are no slouches by any stretch of the imagination. "Gunmetal Action" is the main battle theme. It's not an all out rockfest like previous battle themes, but it's frantic enough to be effective and it doesn't get stale after repeated listens. "Higher Than Can be Carried by Wings" is an awesome battle theme that sounds like Ashley's transformation music from Wild Arms 2. If I were forced to pick a favorite track, this would be it. "Crossroad Sequence" is the music played from your constant fights with Janus. Much like the battles themselves, the piece is frantic and gives an immediate impression of danger.

The truth is, I could stay here forever just telling you why I love each track because I come out with a new set of favorites every time I listen to it. The best way to describe Wild Arms Advanced 3rd OST would probably be "epic without being overly cinematic." It sounds like a game soundtrack and doesn't pretend to be anything else, nor should it. This is the kind of music in which you can get lost in a dungeon for hours at a time and not get sick of it, as is the case with previous games in the series. On it's own, it's pretty much all-purpose; I work with it, I sleep with it, I wake up to it. In-game, with the exception of Chrono Trigger, I have never seen the soundtrack to an RPG work as smoothly as this one, and that is probably the best compliment I can give any soundtrack.


The question isn't whether or not to buy this soundtrack — if you're the least bit interested in game music, it should be an automatic purchase. Instead, the question is whether or not this is the greatest game soundtrack ever. Opinions may vary from listener to listener, but in this reviewer's opinion, it most certainly is. Given the fact that I fell in love with this soundtrack before experiencing the game and then watched as the game itself multiplied my love of the music three-fold, combined with the superb sound quality and presentation, I consider this soundtrack the backbone of my collection.

You've read me gush over it enough. The best solution is to hear this masterpiece for yourself. Michiko Naruke is a musical goddess with absolutely no weaknesses, and I feel she is the best modern-day game music composer. You can find this soundtrack at Game Music Online for $40.

Overall Score: 10/10