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Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack :: Review by Ronin

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


When it was originally announced that Kingdom Hearts would be a joint venture between Disney and Square Enix, it made a lot of heads turn. Nobody had ever really seen this type of bold move before in the gaming industry, and when Yoko Shimomura was asked to compose an original score to accompany this game, many wondered what kind magical and mystical sounds she would create. Especially considering the game would feature a new type of system, and have many of Disney and Square Enix's favourite characters from past and present appearing along the way to guide our heroes.


Unsurprisingly, the Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack features a selection of new material, as well as old. The first piece heard in the game, "Dearly Beloved," is a very refreshing and new, though a simple piece of music. Its role is to accompany the main menu, and it does this very well. Backed by a subtle selection of vocal synth pads, the simple piano melody is very effective and this combination works together to create strangely one of the more memorable tracks found on the soundtrack. Many might find that to be a weird statement given the amount of quality pieces found on this soundtrack, but "Dearly Beloved" has an endearing quality and is definitely a hidden gem.

As previously stated, there is a mixture of old and new music found on this soundtrack, with the old music being made-up of reprises from past Disney themes, which were originally featured in the various films that this game uses. Although there aren't really that many seen considering the size of the soundtrack; it added a nice nostalgic quality, and is much appreciated to hear these themes amongst the new original content. "Under The Sea" is probably the most prominent of the Disney reprises.

The new music composed for the soundtrack comes with a large amount of variation, though. This is due to the nature of the game, and the many different areas that are featured. Having a consistent structure to the pieces, even though the areas differ, really wouldn't have worked, and I think this was a good move. However, sometimes quite the opposite happens and the pieces end up feeling too similar to one another. This is largely the case in the battle music, but it could be argued that a link should be maintained between all of the battle music, so that some continuity remains intact. The main theme for each area is usually quite distinct though, and I feel that these are all highlights of the soundtrack. "Hollow Bastian" suits the area perfectly, with it having a very ominous feel to it, perfect for one of the final areas of the game, and "Traverse Town" does the same; a busy bustling town that has a warm feel to it.

Along with the pieces of music that accompany each area, there soundtrack also sees the appearance of other prominent themes, in the form of "Kairi" and "Blast Away!"; both of which receive three different versions. In the case of "Blast Away" these different versions are used to reflect the tone of current events when travelling around via the Gummi Ship. The first is a very pro-active piece, which has lots of life and colour and is strikingly similar to that of the second version, which is only different due a slight tempo change and a minor key change. The third version though is much different and actually deserves to be on the soundtrack. "Kairi" also follows much the same structure, with the first and second version sounding almost identical but for the slightest of differences, and the third being a decent arrangement.

On the subject of arranging music though, one piece that goes through some heavy arrangement throughout the soundtrack is the main theme, "Hikari." This piece is very worthy of that title, and is very worthy of accompanying Kingdom Hearts, with Utada Hikaru providing the vocals. The various arrangements found on the soundtrack are a blessing, and they come in many different forms, so there should be something to suit everyone's tastes. The principle version though, isn't actually the original. However, many would probably consider the PLANITb Remix (Short Edit) to be the more recognised version thanks to the brilliant arranging of Russell McNamara. Aside from this and the original, there are also two instrumental versions which appear on the soundtrack.


In retrospect, the Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack is very good, but there are a few niggling issues that I feel spoil it a bit. For example, I am sure that many Final Fantasy fans would have liked to see a few notable themes being used, especially considering some Disney themes were used. Yes, more of the game was Disney-orientated, but fans of the Final Fantasy series would have probably liked to have heard some familiar music. I also feel that some of the themes sounded too similar, and while there was a lot of diversity on the whole, this detracted from the listening pleasure a bit. However, the addition of many classic pieces, most notably "March Caprice for Piano and Orchestra" and "Hikari," make this a solid experience overall.

Overall Score: 8/10