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Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack :: Forum Review

Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack Album Title: Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Toshiba EMI
Catalog No.: TOCT-24768/9
Release Date: March 27, 2002
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Written by Neo Locke

As with the game, the music of Kingdom Hearts combines the Disney theme and music one would expect to hear in a fantasy Role Playing Game. Most of the background music and battle themes are based off of Disney titles that they pertain to whereas the character themes, and the 'event' music is all very original and very well done.

Although most of the tracks have a sort of light, sugar-coated feeling, the soundtrack tends to get darker as it progresses. The high points of this album are the beginning and end, as this is where most of the interesting plot points are drawn out through the scores.

The main theme, "Hikari," shows up in scattered remixes around the Original Soundtrack and most of them are really nice. The orchestrated version adds a nice epic opener to the Original Soundtrack, whereas the actual J-Pop performance adds some modern culture to the mix.

The best way to describe this album is to say that it's very balanced in terms of styles, moods, and even overall quality. It's a good soundtrack if you can get past it's 'cuteness'.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Dearly Beloved (Written by Chris)

"Dearly Beloved," the title screen theme for Kingdom Hearts, is neither epic nor complex. Instead, it is something that can be described as plain 'nice'. Shimomura achieves wonderful things with the piano; the track's solo piano lines are fluently crafted and develop naturally to create the warm feeling of a new dawning. I cannot think of a better choice of title theme for the game. (9/10)

2) Hikari - KINGDOM Orchestra Instrumental Version (Written by Totz)

This is the first appearance of the "Hikari" theme, and, gosh, what a beautiful rendition. Shimomura is not responsible for this, though. The genius behind this orchestral arrangement is Kaworu Wada, but Utada Hikaru is the composer of the original theme. I wish I could understand more about the instruments and stuff so I could give you a more in-depth review, but believe you me: this is pure gold. This track holds parallels with "Liberi Fatali," but is completely different and way more awesome. (10/10)

3) Hikari - PLANITb Remix (Short Edit) (Written by Chris)

When the word J-Pop is mentioned, a fair proportion of the gaming population immediately think 'Ugh!' and then just turn off. While it is inevitable that some people will dislike this theme because of this, I think a lot of people's negative preconceptions about J-Pop were reversed after listening to it. Its three primary elements — its funky electric beats, Utada Hikaru's superb vocals, and the effective ingrations of lots of unusual synth and electronic effects — ensure it is an unforgettable and extraordinary listen. Additionally, Russell McNamara does a great job arranging the "Simple and Clean" theme from a ballad into something much more upbeat. He also ensures that it synchronises aptly with the opening FMV for the game. While undoubtedly a controversial track, the open-minded listener should have no problem accustoming to it. (9/10)

4) Dive Into the Heart -Destati- (Written by Totz)

After the electronic-fest that was the previous track, we come to a more much ambient piece. "Dive Into the Heart -Destati" is played as the game gives you a brief tutorial and a couple of choices here and there. It is also the first appearance of the "Destati" theme and, as you'll tell by the tracks it's featured in, that theme means UH OH MISTERY or UH OH DANGER or UH OH BOTH. Anyway, it's another superb track that doesn't deserve to be skipped. (9/10)

5) Destiny Islands (Written by Neo Locke)

This is a nice little tropical tune to portray Sora's secluded paradise. As far as tropical tracks go, this is pretty good. It's got a nice simple melody and hardly any harmony. This gives the track a light feeling to it, a sort of innocence to put it in a more analytical light. There's no fancy instrumentation or motif; just a relaxing, fun little tune. (8/10)

6) Bustin' Up on the Beach (Written by Totz)

This is Destiny Island's battle theme. I didn't really have to say that, because it's easy to tell, because both tracks give you the same laidback, relaxing feeling. Just like "Destiny Islands," "Bustin' Up on the Beach" is a simple, fun tune that doesn't rely on over-the-top instrumentation to be enjoyable and memorable. In other words, it's got "Shimomura wrote this" written all over it. (9/10)

7) Mickey Mouse Club March (Written by Djinova)

This track starts off in a very satirical way. The heavy beats should indicate something serious — something stompy. But soon thereafter the track slips down into a cute, comical tune. It reminds me of certain Disney figures whose pompous outer appearance misleads people about their inner character. They are actually quite innocuous. All in all, it's a pleasant, light-hearted listen, although I do feel it's too short and underdeveloped to really be a masterpiece. (8/10)

8) Treasured Memories (Written by Chris)

This track is essentially a solo piano track with accompaniment from soft strings. The piano lines are very soothing, just like in "Dearly Beloved," making it ideal background music for the several sentimental flashbacks that occur in the game. Indeed, Shimomura really shows off her piano ability once again here, and while not quite as memorable as "Dearly Beloved," it's still very good. (8/10)

9) Strange Whispers (Written by Chris)

I swear that this track is heavily inspired by Junya Nakano's "Twilight" in the Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack: both consist of nothing but suspended strings; they use very gradual chord progressions; and are used heavily during mysterious scenes in each games. Most importantly, however, both are hellishly boring. Ambient music that is musically unremarkable never appeals to me. I don't think I'm alone there. (4/10)

10) Kairi I (Written by Totz)

Shimomura proves once again how powerful a simple melody with simple instrumentation can be. This track portrays perfectly the delicate and innocent Kairi and, while I think this theme is overarranged, this track is the best one. (9/10)

11) It Began With a Letter (Written by Chris)

This track consists of nothing more than a pizzicato bass, some poorly synthesised vocals, and a couple of tuned percussion motifs. The overall feel presented is a cross between being sneaky and mysterious. This track can be summarised as being tolerable, but completely unmemorable. (6/10)

12) A Walk in Andante (Written by Djinova)

This track would fit the description of unspectacular at best. It's short and doesn't develop into a highlight, but it is unnerving nonetheless. The innocent, cute tag of Kingdom Hearts is written on this track, which means is pretty enjoyable for a short period in which you hear it. It is indeed nothing peculiar, but I can't see any flaws or annoying features. (7/10)

13) Night of Fate (Written by Totz)

After two rather forgettable tracks, we get "Night of Fate," one of the best battle themes of the whole album. While not as powerful as later battle themes, it still manages to create a feeling of tension and danger as Sora fights against the powerful Heartless. Definitely a track worth remembering. (9/10)

14) Destiny's Force (Written by Neo Locke)

This is the battle theme whenever Sora fights a Nightmare. It's an ominous battle theme with a heavy accent on the strings. There's not much to say about this track — it's kind of slow for a battle theme, and mostly bland. Don't get me wrong — it's not among the awful tracks on this album, but it doesn't quite have the quality that is found in the more memorable pieces. (6/10)

15) Where is This? (Written by Djinova)

This track starts off very ominously. One might expect something serious to happen, but it slips down into a comical tone at 0:40, which is typical for a Disney theme. The transition between the contrasting parts was well done, since it was very subtle, thus creating no sense of interruption or incoherence. Still, unfortunately, the rest of the track was either way unremarkable or remarkably dull. The good parts didn't last long! (8/10)

16) Traverse Town (Written by Talaysen)

Most people have told me this track isn't any good. I'd have to disagree. While it may not be the best town theme out there, it's good enough on its own. In essence, it's just another peaceful town theme though. The melody from the saxophone is quite good. The accompaniment isn't all that interesting though, but it does the part. Overall, this is a good peaceful track to listen to, but nothing spectacular. (7/10)

17) The Heartless Has Come (Written by Chris)

This track seems like one big ironic statement to me. It starts off ominously, presenting a foreboding atmosphere similar to "Strange Whispers," creating a certain amount of tension concerning the arrival of the heartless in Traverse Town. However, the melodies that soon emerge are utterly ridiculous and are entirely 'slapstick'. I know the game is intended to appeal to a younger audience, but surely Shimomura could have represented the Heartless in a darker light than this. This track is so laughable, it's untrue. (5/10)

18) Shrouding Dark Cloud (Written by Chris)

One thing that the Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack has an abundance of is battle themes. There's a normal battle theme and boss battle theme to represent practically every area you go to within the game, and while each declares 'Shimomura' brightly, they all have their individual subtleties that make them worthwhile for frequent listening. "Shrouding Dark Cloud" is no exception. Its many elements — from its wide array of instrumentation to its chilling chord progressions, from its unforgettable melodies to its pulsing bass line — make it the embodiment of a strong yet stereotypical boss battle theme. What really makes it intriguing to me, however, are the chromatic descending runs that sporadically appear and the completely unintrusive piano use that can easily go unnoticed. Every time I listen to this track, something new seems to magically emerge. It's worth many listens! (9/10)

19) Blast Away! -Gummi Ship I- (Written by Chris)

A Come on, Sora, Donald, and Goofy!! We're going flying in an ubertastic gummi spaceship. Look at those psychadelic colours!! Have the game programmers been experimenting recently? Oh no!! There's other gummi ships shooting at me!! What do I do? *crashes*

Sure, every element of flying the legendary gummi ships sucked in the game. Well, nearly. The music accompanying these sequences is, of course, an exception. All three gummi ship themes make pleasant light-hearted listening and, while they are hardly revolutionary in musical terms, they add a certain amount of colour to the soundtrack. That's all that matters, right? "Blast Away! -Gummi Ship I-" is probably the most outwardly enjoyable and melodic of the three. It is also the happiest. What better way is there to start your journey? (8/10)

20) Tricksy Clock (Written by Totz)

Uh-oh, filler track alert! Incoming! I'm sorry, but what the heck is this? The track is 38 seconds long, but the actual melody only begins when it hits the 18 second mark. Not to mention it's not even THAT good. Sure, it's not bad, but it ain't good either. (5/10)

21) Welcome to Wonderland (Written by Totz)

Ah, now we're talking. After such a letdown, we are treated to this, the theme of the second world. It captivates perfectly the environment of the Wonderland, but, unfortunately you won't hear too much of it, because of those frickin' Heartless who keep attacking you. Anyway, alone, this track is great, but when you combine it with the next track, you get two excellent tracks that flow smoothly into one another. (9/10)

22) To Our Surprise (Written by Totz)

Ah, Wonderland's battle theme. Oh, how many memories I have of it. Battling the Heartless and. battling them again. Like I said in the previous track's review, "To Our Surprise" can be played either before of after "Welcome to Wonderland," and the flow would be the same. This is one of the great things in the soundtrack: Shimomura managed to do just that in most world theme/battle theme combos. By the way, the part from 0:43 to 1:01 is awesome! (10/10)

23) Turning the Key (Written by Chris)

Eh? How do you like 16-second filler tracks? Personally, I prefer them with one sugar and no milk. But, what about you? If you like them with synth harps, synth organs, and synth vocals then you'll like this track, I'd expect. (6/10)

24) Olympus Coliseum (Written by Chris)

Out of all the area themes in the games, "Olympus Coliseum" is probably the weakest. The opening melody is a little too pompous for my liking and there seems to be a few too many clumsy transitions as the piece progresses. The instrumentation and harmony are effective in this piece, but the melody just doesn't cut it. Bah. (6/10)

25) Road to a Hero (Written by Chris)

The battle theme for Olympus Coliseum isn't too shabby. While Shimomura insists on using that wretched melody from "Olympus Coliseum" throughout, it feels less pompous and 'in your face' when spruced up into an energetic and upbeat battle theme. Outstanding brass use is definitely what makes this theme more than just an average battle theme; the tuba basso ostinato is very quirky while the fanfare-like noises that sporadically appear throughout the track give it a lot more 'oomph' as it develops. Good job. (8/10)

26) Go for It! (Written by Hanta)

One of the battle themes for the Coliseum world and in typical Herculean style has a big brassy opening and a marching drum beat. The main feel of this track is "heroic" and at the same time I think it's quite a bit of fun with a xylophone peppering the track and nice use of the brassy instruments accompanying the violin melody. A very light-hearted battle theme that fits the comedic nature of Disney's Hercules. Not my favourite battle theme but it is appropiate for the colosseum setting. (8/10)

27) No Time to Think (Written by Hanta)

RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! Well, this is another filler track and as you can guess it is extremely short and intense. Serves it's purpose though. (6/10)

28) Deep Jungle (Written by Chris)

This track is very reminiscent of Shimomura's most adventurous works from Super Mario RPG and Seiken Densetsu/The Legend of Mana. Its colourful melodies together with its extravagant harmonies and sharp ethnic beats make it a superb interpretation of the game's tropical jungle. It is also one of the catchiest tunes from the Original Soundtrack and has an inherent dance-like quality to it. This is probably the strongest location theme in the game. (10/10)

29) Having a Wild Time (Written by Hanta)

This is Deep Jungle's battle theme and one of my favourite pieces on the soundtrack. This track has a fast tribal beat and has a simple melody that is a bit subdued at first but grows in strength as Shimomura works in the brass and the strings. It can get repetitive sometimes, I admit, but it's very catchy and the simple melody just sticks inside my head. Very good. (9/10)

30) Holy Bananas! (Written by Hanta)

This track takes the melody heard in "Having a Wild Time," pumping up the bass and adding a bit of a techno touch to it. It also uses more of the brass and strings instruments, giving it more of an epic feel than "Having a Wild Time." A great track to dance to or for whenever you want slide down giant trees in the middle of the jungle. (9/10)

31) Squirming Evil (Written by Hanta)

A very deep and heavy boss theme. Lots of drums and brass with some very subtle use of strings and piano making it seem quite chaotic. The bass is really heavy in this track, sometimes drowning out the other instruments and is a little too dominant for my taste. It's a simple battle theme that doesn't change much from it's beginning and so it gets rather repetitive on repeat listens. (7/10)

32) Hand in Hand (Written by Terraguy)

A steady beat that emanates throughout the soundtrack, this song is very well used as a plain field map. Evoking thoughts of times in the past, the use of the snare drum and cymbals keeps it from totally becoming a loving type theme and more of an all-around usage track. The cadenzas around 0:53 minutes and bass drums are great fillers and keeps a normal track from becoming too mundane and repetitive. The rest of the melody makes you feel as if you wanted to be marching with every character at the moment. Unfortunately, this theme, after multiple hearings, becomes a part of the background and starts becoming repetitive. (8/10)

33) Kairi II (Written by Chris)

There's actually very little that differentiates "Kairi I" from "Kairi II." In fact, they are so similar that it is extremely difficult to tell which one plays where in the game. While this track is equally as sweet as "Kairi I," and perhaps even a little richer, the arrangement here isn't at all creative. Although some might call it a subtle arrangement, I would prefer the terms 'blatant copy' and 'filler track'. (6/10)

34) Merlin's Magical House (Written by Terraguy)

Well. The organ and the little bouncy notes are well used and add a mystical quality to this track. It is perfect for someone of being magic, yet this track is a tad too short. If you're devoted to get everything single magic spell, summon, practice magic without cost, or constantly take a trip to the Hundred Acre Woods, you'll get very tired of this track. (7/10)

35) Winnie the Pooh (Written by Terraguy)

Oh look! Here comes that strange yellow stuffed bear with honey! Well, if you like Winnie the Pooh, then you'll love this track. Taken right from the Winnie the Pooh main theme, with a bassoon that creates the bouncy line of the familiar bear and strings making repeated eighth notes, you get the traditional Winnie the Pooh track. A tad slower than the regular one, but many can live with that. Whenever you hear this, you'll know that the Hundred Acre Woods fellows are coming along! (8/10)

36) Bounce-o-rama (Written by Hanta)

Another wonderful bouncy piece from Shimomura. Inherently, it's quite simple but the bouncy beat and the sound of that piano just sends my toe tapping and my head bouncing from side to side. It's quite infectious too, with a lovely child-like quality to it that really reflects the mini games you do in the Hundred Acre Wood. I really love the fun and bright arrangement of this track that seems like it has always belonged in the Winnie the Pooh universe. (9/10)

37) Just an Itty Bitty Too Much (Written by Hanta)

Well, I suppose this can be classified as a filler track, but I like this track for some reason. It's a little more interesting than other fillers as it sounds quite funny and frantic with piano and xylophone playing side by side. You can just see that Pooh is stuck somewhere trying to get his honey and everybody's rallying around trying to get him out of his mess. As with most fillers, it's too short, which is a shame as I would've liked to see this be a full track. (7/10)

38) Once Upon a Time (Written by Terraguy)

This definitely is a filler track. At only 21 seconds, it does not qualify as a real track. A slower, more sweeter arrangement of Winnie the Pooh, it uses only the xylophone. While sounding not too shabby, as the xylophones gives the piece a feel of light-headedness, it is too short. (5/10)

39) Shipmeister's Humoresque (Written by Chris)

This theme is used in the gummi ship workshop in the game. As you might expect, its melodies are broadly based on the three "Blast Away! -Gummi Ship-" themes. However, it is arranged in a way that makes it sound much more mellow and much less brash than these counterparts. In fact, it even sounds 'cute' in certain places. Still, as the track lacks development, this only really constitutes background music in the game and offers little enjoyment when listened to as a standalone track. (7/10)

40) Precious Stars in the Sky (Written by Terraguy)

The main track for the Gummi Ship location chooser, it's actually not a bad piece, considering how horrible the mini-game was. The rattle was gave the piece a different sort of tone, and the melody was nice and calming. The flute and bells added a final soft touch. However, the piece repeats the same theme over and over, with just a change in the key and then back again. Maybe if this piece had some more of a melody and more development, it would garnish a nice score. Yet, without a twist in the track, it is not very noteworthy as being heard alone. (6/10)

41) Blast Away! -Gummi Ship II- (Written by Chris)

The second direct arrangement of the three "Blast Away! -Gummi Ship-" themes is probably the least remarkable. However, it follows the natural progression of the game by being much faster and more agitated than "Blast Away! -Gummi Ship I-," but not as dark and climactic as "Blast Away! -Gummi Ship III-." By being this intermediate, it provides tension and interest in the middle of the game, but doesn't get too dark too soon either. The arrangement itself is quite straightforward, but it suits it purpose appropriately. (7/10)

Disc Two

1) A Day in Agrabah (Written by Terraguy)

Starting out with a deep string instrument, it quickly brings in the tambourines and drums to bring out the desert city theme. It is easily memorable and easily distinguished as the "Oh! I'm here!" thought. At 0:33, when the violin comes in and plays a high melody, it is then that you really fell as if you're in the Middle East. A highly distinguishable track that is sure to keep you fighting fit, it is a great track aptly suitable for the world. (9/10)

2) Arabian Dream (Written by Hanta)

A nice if not rather typical arabian style theme. Not a particularly nasty piece of music, but it does not really stand out. It does have a nice beat and an Arabian dance-like quality to it, but nothing in this piece really makes it stand out from the other battle themes really. It's not as creative in it's arrangement as other battle themes, but it does the job, and lets you know there are heartless around the corner. Best reserved to be listened in the game. (6/10)

3) Villains of a Sort (Written by Chris)

Like the name suggests, this is one of the main villain themes within the game. Unfortunately, Shimomura adopts the oldest cliché in the book to represent it; low suspended strings create a dark atmosphere effectively, but something more creative is warranted for this track to stand out. (6/10)

4) A Very Small Wish (Written by Chris)

"A Very Small Wish" is probably my favourite area theme in the game. Played in Monstro, the thing I love about it is the way there are enormous textural and instrumental contrasts as it develops. It manages to be heavy and dainty at the same time! The pizzicato strings and light wind melodies all create a certain airiness about the theme, but are directly opposed by the cymbals and other percussion instruments that are distinctly bombastic. It manages to be catchy, well developed, and original at the same time, which is no mean feat. Definitely a classic. (10/10)

5) Monstrous Monstro (Written by Hanta)

Now this is a battle theme! A fun and frantic number that is awesomely arranged by Shimomura. A colourful mix of instruments from piano to drums to brass serve to create a great fun and exciting battle track that really gets you going. It really is a funny piece that reminds me of the type of music you'd hear in old black and white comedies. I love how Shimomura plays with the tempo of this piece slowing it down and going low with the piano before speeding up and breaking out with the big band. Just awesome. (10/10)

6) Friends in My Heart (Written by Hanta)

In contrast to the last track, this is a simple and relaxing arrangement of "Dearly Beloved." It sounds like the arrangement was made in heaven with the soothing vocals, lightly plucked harp and the piano carrying the melody. you just feel like floating away. Not outstanding, but a nice track to relax with. (7/10)

7) Under the Sea (Written by Terraguy)

Well, it's the old classic "The Little Mermaid" track "Under the Sea." Good use of xylophone and bells, and the trumpet sets off the lively tune that will make you remember the movie. The "stomp" with the orchestra hit and woodwinds add a nice touch. You might even sing along. This was a rubbish field track, especially the transition from field to battle, in the game. As a standalone, however, it makes a nice track, but it has no ending "smash." (8/10)

8) An Adventure in Atlantica (Written by Chris)

This battle arrangement of the "Under the Sea" theme is fun to listen to. The theme fuses the classic melodies of the "Under the Sea" theme together with a steel drum bonanza (in the style of a Jamaican calypso) and heavy brass use (in the style of Tijuana brass). This abstract fusion is pleasing to listen to, but soon gets annoying when you've heard the theme loop too many times already after listening to it for just five minutes. There are pleasing things about this theme, but it is best listening to it in small quantities. (7/10)

9) A Piece of Peace (Written by Terraguy)

Simple. Very simple. Consisting of a xylophone, piano, and pizzicato strings, it creates a small, lovely melody. However, it is repeated over and over, and it has the same tune, rhythm, and style. If you do not like short notes, then this is a track that is not for you. It is short and unremarkable, with no flowing lines or distinguished shapes of the piece. A filler track. (4/10)

10) An Intense Situation (Written by Chris)

One filler track after another. This 48 second track can be considered as the preparation before the storm that is the next track. It's good for building tension, but does not stand up well on its own thanks to its passages being so repetitive. (4/10)

11) The Deep End (Written by Hanta)

One of the best boss themes on the soundtrack. Shimomura pounds away a dramatic and chaotic boss theme. It really is a storm of instruments of which drums and percussion mainly dominate and there is this awesome section around 0:30 where chords are pounded away on a piano amid the chaos of the drums and the brass. It is a relatively short loop, but, even so, it's still enjoyable to listen to and I love fighting to it in the game. I can't even imagine how Shimomura manipulated the track to make it still sound so good with the PlayStation 2's limited memory. Excellent track. (10/10)

12) This is Halloween (Written by Chris)

Composed by Danny Elfman, the original version of "This Is Halloween" was a vocal theme for The Nightmare Before Christmas. Shimomura's arrangement of it for Kingdom Hearts is a purely instrumental one and, while quite straightforward, this doesn't stop it from being a great track. It manages to portray the disturbing nature of Halloween Town effectively. In addition, it's probably the catchiest theme in the entire game — it's so catchy, in fact, that it'll probably be playing away in your head whenever you go. Listen to this track at your own risk — while it is extremely good, its sheer catchiness might just consume your subconsciousness and drive you further down the slippery slope that leads to madness (if you're not already at the bottom, that is). Be warned!! (9/10)

13) Spooks of Halloween Town (Written by Talaysen)

Shimomura takes the "This is Halloween" theme and puts it behind a more intense battle-like track. Although the track used is kinda repetitious, the theme itself really isn't. There's usually something different about it even when it's the same theme being played. Another great feature of the theme is the little quiet spots strewn throughout the theme followed by a crescendo into the more intense part. This theme is further proof that Shimomura definitely knows what she's doing for battle themes. (9/10)

14) Dopsy-Daisy (Written by Aevloss)

Just 21 seconds long, this lively tune doesn't develop nearly enough to be particularly enjoyable outside of the game. Sporting an unremarkable composition, this track is clearly just another filler track. (4/10)

15) Captain Hook's Pirate Ship (Written by Chris)

Ssshhh! You're infiltrating a pirate ship so you need to keep quiet. While melodically unappealing, "Captain Hook's Pirate Ship" is ideal for representing your party sneaking around the pirate ship in the game. A 'cello, some pizzicato strings, and various percussion instruments are heard throughout the theme; while such a combination of instruments may seem abstract, each instrument used supports the ambient purposes of this theme in their own unique way. While I would choose not to listen to it standalone, the use of this theme in the game that makes it creditable. (8/10)

16) Pirate's Gigue (Written by Totz)

Once again, Shimomura amazes us with another well-crafted, great to listen to battle theme. As opposed to the sneaky "Captain Hook's Pirate Ship," this is a full-blown theme, incorporating everything we've come to expect from the battle themes on this Original Soundtrack: it's just too damn enjoyable. Even if it's a bit short, I can't help but listen to it over a gazillion times in a row. (10/10)

17) Never Land Sky

Written by Chris - Look everybody! Sora can fly! *stares in amazement as Sora flies all around the Big Ben* This triumphant piece of music is perfect for representing this situation — it's bold, free, and adventurous. Melodically, it is beautiful, and while the bass line is a bit too jerky and repetitive for my tastes, everything else about this theme gives me a reason to smile. How can you not love this one? (9/10)

Written by Totz - A light-hearted theme that is played when you're flying around London, around the Big Ben. Why it is called "Never Land Sky" still puzzles me to this day. Nevertheless, it serves greatly as background music for the game, and even if you're just wanting to chill out with your homies at home. The melody and the simple yet effective instrumentation, aka Shimomura's trademark, appear once again, and what a delight it is. (9/10)

18) Kairi III (Written by Terraguy)

As with the other Kairi themes, it has the basic tune and flowing sound reminiscient of the other two. This version, however, uses the celesta and a few string instruments, with small plucks dispersed throughout. It also has the piano. The track is a tad bit slower than its counterparts, and incorporates the same peaceful melody. The track shows the timid side of Kairi with the detached notes, but it is a tad too detached to sound beautiful. There's already two, and a third one is not exactly needed, but it does make a nice and different addition to the Kairi themes. (7/10)

19) Blast Away! -Gummi Ship III- (Written by Terraguy)

The evil counterpart to another revised version of a track, it sounds the most haunting; it does give the track its best evil feeling and creates an effective "almost there" feel. I personally feel this is the best out of the three, using bass and a lot of brass instruments to create the mood. Great theme, and it fits into the story well. (9/10)

20) Hollow Bastion

Written by Hanta - As the track for the penultimate world, it certainly sounds ominous and, yet at the same time carries with it a sense of urgency as Sora's journey is close to reaching it's end. I love the beat of this track and the way the background vocals and organ become progressively louder adding to that epic kind of feel alongside the urgency of the violin melody throughout the track. I would've loved a little more ambience at the start of the track using the background vocals and have it build up from there, but, in any case, it has a really intense and epic feel to it that I really like. (9/10)

Written by Talaysen - This is easily my favorite field theme in the game. The track starts out quiet and gradually gets louder and more intense. While being intense, it's not pounding or way upbeat, which is a welcome change. The orchestration and flow of the track is amazing, and the slightly unnerving 5/4 beat helps shake it up a bit. That also fits in with the environment the track is played in. I'd consider this track to be one of Shimomura's greatest compositions actually. (10/10)

21) Scherzo di notte (Written by Chris)

Three 'D's — dark, dramatic, and driven — summarise why this theme is so good to listen to. Contrasting heavily with the lighter battle themes heard earlier in the game (e.g. "Bustin' Up the Beach," "Hand in Hand," and even "Pirate's Gigue"), this theme provides a revealing and reliable insight into how much the atmosphere of the game has changed as it approaches towards its climax. Its sharp melodies and pulsing harmonies are embroiled with drama, bursting with energy, and shaking with agitation; however, the theme never feels forced and develops naturally, albeit spectacularly, as it progresses. Accomplished on the musical scale and multifaceted on an emotional level, this theme is simply a magical one that is absent of all apparent flaws. Certainly, Shimomura does it again. (10/10)

22) Forze del male (Written by Z-Freak)

I've been patiently waiting to review this particular track. As far as I recall, this was used during the climactic battle of Sora vs a possesed Riku. Shimomura chose to go all out with a track which is mainly comprised of a menacing organ and an energetic piano. The "marriage" of both instruments creates the tension, the feel of despair and most of all, it's extremely dangerous in making you lose the fight as it is so good it ends up being distracting To me, this track screams "POWER" all the way through. It really gets the point across that Riku means business and he's after YOU! In my opinion, this is Shimomura's crowning achievement on this soundtrack, as far as battle themes go. (10/10)

23) HIKARI -KINGDOM HEARTS Instrumental Version- (Written by Terraguy)

The main theme of Kingdom Hearts has now been placed into a lovely short orchestral version. While this is a nice version, with deep vocals, a piano, flute, and strings to round out the music, and has the all-too-familiar and beautiful theme, it is a short piece, not enough to fully create the beautiful and enjoyable atmosphere of the game. The "Hikari - Kingdom Orchestral Insturmental Version" is a lot better. (7/10)

24) Miracle (Written by Terraguy)

A filler track. What do you expect at 0:16 minutes? While it is a filler track, and has only a long, drawn out organ and vocal "ahhs" part at the beginning, the best part is hearing the piano play the "Dearly Beloved" theme at the end. Yet, the best part is not too effective, and this is a disastrously short piece. Once again, filler track. (4/10)

25) End of the World (Written by Talaysen)

Really similar to "Dive Into the Heart -Destati-," but much less intense and a bit lighter, mostly because of the bells in the background. Other than that, there's not really a difference here. Although, I do have to say I like "Dive Into the Heart -Destati-" much better. (7/10)

26) Fragments of Sorrow (Written by Totz)

Wow, talk about aggressive. This track grabs you right from the beginning with its syncopated beat and doesn't let go. And if you think it can't get better, it does. The choir, entering at 0:43, just makes it a lot more dramatic, with their "Destati" chanting and stuff. Sure, "The End of the World" is not a fun place to be, but it's a hell of a place to do battle in. (9/10)

27) Guardando nel buio (Written by Totz)

Ah, we've finally come to what we've been waiting for: the final battle theme. After a rather powerful beginning, the track slows a bit down, leaving us only with a few instruments and a choir. That is, until the track reachs 0:43, when it gets more intense. A lot more intense. If you listen to it closely, you'll notice it borrows the melody of "Destati." Now, "Destati" means "awake," or wake up or something. And the "Guardando Nel Buio" means "looking in the dark" (or something). Fun, eh? It might not sounds as good by itself as it does during the game (it works wonders, trust me), but it's still great. (10/10)

28) Beyond the Door (Written by Chris)

Initiating the string of themes that accompany the ending of the game, this track is suitably epic. A suspended long note from synth vocals accompany some gothic synth organ motifs up until the 0:30 mark of the piece. After this, the theme bursts into a gushing climax featuring bells, a synth organ, and yet more synth vocals as 'Kingdom Hearts' is revealed. Although short, this does exactly what is needed and has a high level of impact nonetheless. (8/10)

29) Always on My Mind (Written by Terraguy)

A very peaceful and lovely track, expertly epitomizing the beautiful end of Kingdom Hearts. Using a guitar, piano, bells, flute, and some vocal "ahhs", the piece is very nicely put together, able to swell the sad feelings in association with the end and the closing of the final door. The small xylophone part at the very end 1:18 finish off the whole game (basically) in a very touching and small, timid end. Instead of big instrumentals, the track ends gently, slowly switching to the touching track of. (9/10)

30) Hikari [Japanese Version]/Simple and Clean [European Version]

Written by Terraguy - Well, the (almost) ending track in what has been a long journey through the fine world of Kingdom Hearts! While I'm impartial to the English version, "Simple and Clean," the Japanese version has a few notifying best parts, such as the superb connection. This track, the tempo having dropped from the PLANITb Remix, has the perfect mood to fit with such a sad ending. The words, and in conjunction with the meaning, tells about how love, promises, and friendship coexist as one, and that promises will never be broken. A very powerful theme that fits very well with the story of the game. With the music, the lyrics are very well sung. The harmonizing is nice and lovely, and the synthesis with the FMV fits well. The superb vocals, and the use of the unfamiliar "rock band" instruments, such as electric guitars leave a different tone entirely. The drums will get your foot tapping and your head bopping; it'll leave the track stuck in your head! Yet instead of leaving a negative feeling, the track ends off in an entirely great end and soars off into the unknown future. J-Pop, it seems, is not to be considered lightly! (10/10)

Written by Hanta - We are in the final straits with the ending theme to Kingdom Hearts. This version is the original that was written and arranged by the talented Utada Hikaru (whom Tetsuya Nomura is a huge fan of) and is played in the Japanese version of the game. The lyrics also differ somewhat between the Japanese and US version (renamed "Simple and Clean" and available only on Utada's COLORS single). But anyway onto the music. Utada is a talented woman and I really like how Hikari's lyrics summarises the themes of Kingdom Hearts and it's great how she can hit those low notes as well as she can hit her high notes. I've never listened to much JPop but I really like this track and I really like the background vocals that harmonise perfectly with her voice in the chorus. The sounds I think are mainly synthesised with a selection of bells and trills accompanying the beat and the vocals with spurts of acoustic guitar accompanying the more calmer sections of the track. A really energetic song with some very nice lyrics that tie in very well with the Kingdom Hearts storyline (moreso I think than "Simple and Clean") and it is a bit of a change from your more slower ballad type songs in other RPG's.

31) March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra (Written by Terraguy)

I'm left speechless by this track. It's one of the few tracks composed to sound like a true classical piece, and I'm stunned by it. It's beautiful! Using first the piano to lightly bring the piece in, then swelling it using brass, to start the main theme with a solo violin and then bringing in the rest of the orchestra, creates a lovely tone. Shimomura then uses drums and many other instruments to launch it into its regular phase. With the piano playing a smaller melody in the background, it creates a double tone that is absolutely heavenly. Starting with the "Always on My Mind" melody, it then goes into its main theme that just became second nature and memorable. With the strings and woodwinds to create that lovely feeling, Shimomura uses the piano to great effect, playing chords that fit very well. At 1:34, a snare drum sets in, and the march starts. From there, the piece adds on a small variation at a time, with either music or instruments. Using percussion delivers the extra "oomph" needed, and at 2:35, the piano gets a solo of a re-rendered version of "Dearly Beloved." Continuing from there, the piece just grows with intensity. At the finale, the piece launches into the final brass and then a solo piano part playing chords before slamming down the strings playing tremolos into the final "bang" of the piece, and in essence the end of the credits and game. I must note two problems: one was the repetitive theme, which in truth was not at all too repetitive, just a bit of extra usage; the other concern is the ending-the string tremolos to the final "beat" of the piece; they were weak. Yet some people might enjoy such a thing, and the problems do not wholly detract from the track's main sound. Providing an upbeat and uplifting, but transitional, track to the sad ending, the "March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra" is, in my mind, one of the best tracks there is. Prepare to feel a great piece come to a majestic end, and along with that, the game. *tears form* What a gem, suitable for any event where you must end with a strong and majestic track. (10/10)

32) Hand in Hand -Reprise- (Written by Hanta)

A light orchestration of the same theme found in the Original Soundtrack that accompanies the last scene after the credits. It's by no means an inspiring track but it is a bit of fun with a drum tap tap tapping and some light brass instruments carrying the melody and does give you the feeling that there will be many many more adventures to come. (7/10)

33) Dearly Beloved -Reprise- (Written by Hanta)

Ah, "Dearly Beloved" is the beautiful meloncholy theme of Kingdom Hearts and is the last track you hear at the very end of the game. In this arrangement, the main melody is played by a music box while a harp is plucked for the bass and soothing vocals in the background that give it the "lighter than air" feel. A nice track but the best arrangement of "Dearly Beloved" by far is in "March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra." (7/10)

34) Having a Wild Time -Previous Version- (Written by Hanta)

I don't think you actually hear this track within the game but it is a nice addition (I think they might have wanted to use this in the final scene but decided instead on "Hand in Hand -Reprise-"). It's an orchestration of the jungle battle theme, one of my favourite tracks, and doesn't deviate too much from the original except the instrumentation is of a higher quality. (8/10)

35) Destati (Written by Hanta)

Saving the best for last, this track is a short orchestration of "Destati -Dive into the Heart-" and "Fragments of Sorrow" by the Tokyo Philaharmonic Chorus and Tokyo Philaharmonic Orchestra. Sure it isn't arranged that much differently from the originals but there is something about a live chorus and orchestra that make the track so much more intense and really adds the mood of the whole track. This track was never played in the game but in the first trailers for Kingdom Hearts. A mysterious and enigmatic track that is one of Shimomura's best and shows just how versatile she is as a composer. (10/10)


Written by Chris

The Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack is undoubtedly a worthy fan's favourite. This is mostly due to the illustrious range of themes. There are light-hearted Disney classics such as "Under the Sea," "Mickey Mouse Club March," and "Winnie the Pooh," which contrast heavily with the hellish climactic battle themes like "Guarnando Nel Buio," "The Deep End," and "Forze del Male." There's seeping orchestral beauty splewing through "March Caprice for Orchestra and Piano" and "Hikari - KINGDOM Orchestra Instrumental Version," but the vocal wondrousness of "Hikari (Light)," "Hikari - PLANITb Remix (Short Edit)," and "Destati" is very different. There's a fair share of marvelous area themes, such as "A Very Small Wish," "Deep Jungle," and "Hollow Bastion," but each is complimented with an equally wonderful battle theme, namely "Monstrous Monstro," "Having a Wild Time," and "Scherzo di Notte" respectively. Although inconsistency is abundant in the middle of the soundtrack and there is an undesirable abundance of filler tracks throughout, the essential variety of composition Shimomura offers ensures there is something for each and everyone of us in this album. Not all the tracks are the most inspired in the world, but they come together coherently to form an epic adventure and an exciting adventure unparalleled by most other albums. (8/10)

Written by Hanta

Kingdom Hearts has been an interesting adventure. Because the entire game was set in Disney worlds and used many disney characters it would be very easy just to pull up the major themes for each world's respective movie and just remix it for the game. Thankfully that is not the case here with only a small number of tracks being remixes of Disney tracks and these are integrated into the soundtrack rather painlessly. Shimomura has shown a great amount of variety in the soundtrack from relatively simple tracks like "Dearly Beloved," "Kairi" and "Always on my Mind" that really tie in the themes of friendship and connections, to fun and boisterous tracks like "Pirate's Gigue," "Monstrous Monstro" and "To Our Surprise," to ominous and mysterious tracks like "Destati -Dive into the Heart-." The first disk has a lot filler tracks I must admit but there are some real gems here like the "Deep Jungle" theme, "Having a Wild time," "Night of Fate" and also has the orchestral arrangement of Hikari which in my opinion is the best arrangement of Utada's contribution to the soundtrack. Shimomura really kicks into overdrive on the second disk with perhaps one of the best dungeon themes I've heard, "Hollow Bastion." Not only that the best battle themes are also here in the form of "Guardando Nel Buio," "Fragments of Sorrow" and "Forze del Mal." The greatest and most epic track has to be "March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra" and the orchestration of "Destati" is just amazing. Kingdom Hearts has shown that Shimomura is no slouch in music composition and in spite of a few bland fillers, exhibits her amazing range and variety in music and she really does understand the story and themes of Kingdom Hearts. The result is a magical soundtrack that successfully melds all the disney worlds and at the same time retains her own individuality and sense of style that makes Kingdom Hearts a unique soundtrack resulting from a partnership that no one ever thought of, Square and Disney. (9/10)

Written by Talaysen

From what I've heard, this soundtrack is heralded as Shimomura's best, and I can see why. The field themes were great (especially "Hollow Bastion") and all the Disney track remakes were fun to listen to. The best part, however, is the numerous battle themes. Each and every one of them is great, and some, such as "Night of Fate," "To Our Surprise," and "Forze del Male," are quite remarkable. These provide further proof that Shimomura can create great battle themes. All in all, I'd say this soundtrack is probably Shimomura's best one overall. The combination of great field themes and battle themes make listening to the music in the game enjoyable. The use of Disney tracks also helps set the environment. Even then, the soundtrack provides a great listen even outside of the game experience. (9/10)

Written by Terraguy

What an Original Soundtrack! While a few tracks are "bleh" and "uh...", such as "Miracle" and "Just an Itty-Bitty Too Much", there are many, many tracks that are notable exceptions. Most of these tracks, clustered towards the end or beginning, include the hits "Hikari -PlaniTb Remix-," "Hikari (Kingdom Orchestral Instumental Version)," "Dive Into the Heart -Destati-," "Hikari" (the slow version), "March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra," and others. Yet, one must not forget the world themes, as they were imperative to a good game and a good soundtrack. Themes like "Deep Jungle," "Welcome to Wonderland," and "Hollow Bastion" were superb. Boss battle themes were melded very nicely into the Original Soundtrack, and almost every track sounded beautiful. The usage of a large accompainment of instruments only heightened the enjoyment. From the creations of Yoko Shimomura with "Dearly Beloved" and "March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra," in association with Disney and their classic tracks, like "Under the Sea" and "Mickey Mouse Club March," comes the Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack! This Original Soundtrack, perfect for all occasions, is now available at stores near you. (9/10)

Average of Summary Scores: 9/10