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All Sounds of Ogre Battle :: Review by Totz

All Sounds of Ogre Battle Album Title: All Sounds of Ogre Battle
Record Label: Datam Polystar
Catalog No.: DPCX-5003 (1st Edition); DPCX-5219 (Reprint)
Release Date: April 25, 1993; January 13, 2000
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Yasumi Matsuno, whom we all now know for his work on Square Enix's Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, Final Fantays XII, and, soon, Mistwalker's ASH, had to start somewhere. He was first introduced to the mainstream gaming world in 1993 with Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen on the SNES. This game was a hit, so it spawned many other sequels, like Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together and Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber. One of the most praised things about the game was the soundtrack, composed by Masaharu Iwata, Hitoshi Sakimoto, and Hayato Matsuo. All Sounds of Ogre Battle is the original soundtrack to the game, and it features forty-six tracks, twenty-three of which are simply better sounding versions of the original MIDIs. This is actually pretty cool, because you buy what you hear in the game, and you get an extra set of tracks with better sound. So, how does it fare? Is it as good as they say?

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Overture

Hitoshi Sakimoto's militaristic "Overture" does more than simply opening the album. It sets the tone and mood of the soundtrack and tells us what to expect from himself, Iwata, and Matsuo, at that time a mystery given their lack of popular and orchestral projects previously. Anyway, the track has a militaristic nature, due to the use of snare drums to give a certain march-like feeling, while powerful strings dominate the theme and pretty pretty much carry the melody. Brass and woodwinds are mostly background, but the latter is used to end the composition, albeit rather suddenly. (8/10)

2) Beginning of the Tale

Masaharu Iwata, the main composer of the score, is in the house, so you can expect some great stuff. The beginning of the tale, I mean, of the composition, is rather dark and gloomy, but soon takes an epic turn with an ascending melodic line and some great use of snare drums and timpani. A calmer section, with a melody played by woodwinds accompanied by brass and string, follows, but it is soon replaced by a fast paced section, complete with a brass crescendo and all. It's a shame there's absolutely no transition between it and the last part of the track. It's like you wake up one day, and suddenly you already have your work clothes on or something. It's faster than the usual, but it's just plain awkward. (8/10)

3) Entrance Parade

"Entrance Parade" feels like a fanfare because it's ultra lively and upbeat. Because of that, Iwata squeezes every single drop that brass can handle by using it wonderfully both in high and low registers. The violin boasts a crazy fast accompaniment line, but it's overshadowed by, well, pretty much everything else. It's nice, though. You know, if Iwata ever went solo to compose for an RPG, I think the fanfare would be pretty much like this track. It works wonderfully, however, as some sort of parade, because I can imagine some people arriving someplace, and this being played for some reason. Good stuff here, folks. Good stuff. (8/10)

4) Fortune Teller

What a repetitive track! "Fortune Teller" aims to be kind of mystical, with the wind playing the melody, and the harp accompaniment alongside the with the choir. Being underdeveloped, 32 seconds long, and generally uninspired doesn't help it, however. And why, oh why, must it be repeated three times? (6/10)

5) Atlas

"Atlas" is a huge chunk o' nothing. The accompaniment it has is repeated an ungodly amount of times and the melody doesn't seem to have a direction. It just keeps on going and going. It tries to be atmospheric, but those two gigantic flaws prevent it from ever accomplishing this fine goal. (5/10)

6) Revolt

If you have already heard the Final Fantasy Tactics Original Soundtrack, then you already know what to expect from an Sakimoto battle theme. As usual, the development in "Revolt" is very good, and, as a result, the composition flows very well. Except for this one brief moment at 0:45, when you think it's going to get even better, but instead it goes into a calmer section. It's not bad, it's just unexpected. Of course, brass is dominant throughout most of the track, but the strings do a great job backing it up. And because it's always nice to mix things up, during that calmer section I mentioned before, the strings play the main melody, as there is no brass there. So far, the most memorable track of this album. (9/10)

7) Guerrilla War ~ Rout

To be entirely honest, I prefer Sakimoto's battle themes to Iwata's in the Final Fantasy Tactics Original Soundtrack. Works like "Trisection" and "Antipyretic" always come to mind when I think of that album. Well, between this track and the previous one, I'll take "Revolt" any day. Iwata's "Guerrilla War ~ Rout" is tense, very tense, but it gets tiresome to listen to after some time, mainly because of the repeating lines kept being used. The first one is a fast-paced accompaniment played by strings; the second one is a collaboration between timpani and cymbals, who keep repeating the same rhythm over and over again. Fortunately, after those two, there's a brief part where there are no repetitions like those, which acts pretty much as a bridge between the end and the beginning of the track. And have you noticed I still haven't said anything about the melody at all? It's because those repetitions are so loud and obnoxious that sometimes it's hard to focus on the melody, especially when it's a simple one. It is only noticeable in the bridge section, and for what it's worth, it's pretty darn good. Had the constant repetitions been cut down, this composition would be fantastic. But in its present state, it's just a repetitive battle theme with a weird ending. (7/10)

8) Rest in Peace

Because of its length and name I'm going to guess it's the game over theme. It's actually quite good. The intro would be perfect on a battle track, and the brass melody isn't too shabby either. But, being only twenty-four seconds long, there's not a lot to say about it, unfortunately. It sounds like a militaristic funeral march. I mean, you've got it all: simple brassy melody, string accompaniment, and a snare drum, plus a harp and a choir. Sure, those last two aren't that common, but it all works very well together. (6/10)

9) Coma

Do you want to fall asleep? "Coma" will do that to you, because it's just a choir with bells and pizzicato strings. For a track with that name, I was expecting something sad, not something quite so... holy. It just seems to drag on without no real sense of purpose. Completely skippable. (3/10)

10) Viking Spirits

Fortunately, "Viking Spirits" isn't as bad as the previous track, but, like "Guerrilla War ~ Rout," it's plagued by unnecessary repetitions. For the first thirty seconds or so, the same thing is repeated over and over again and, while it's a bit fun the first couple of times, it starts to get annoying quite quickly. The development it gets is, not surprisingly, repetitive as well. It's just two brief sections being repeated twice during the span of twenty-four seconds. Being quite different from the first part of the track, meaning 'not as exciting', this development is very welcome, because, well, it's not the same thing as the beginning. But then you realize it's too short and not good, so you don't know what to do or what to think anymore. (6/10)

11) Do or Die ~ Brass Victory

And now another Iwata battle theme. After an exciting beginning, with a fast-paced brass and strings ostinato, the composition gets a bit quieter, with the strings taking the lead, while low brass plays an ascending melodic line. The section that follows it has an even faster pace than the first one, and, again, is just a bridge between sections. The transition between each part of the track is well executed as well, so don't expect sudden changes on the track. The final six seconds are simply a brief brass victory fanfare, like the name implies. It's neither good nor bad; it's just there, I guess. (7/10)

12) Acquired Freedom

Yet another fanfare. It's only fifteen seconds long, doesn't have much development, and is quite simple. Expect an ascending string melody and some brass, because that's pretty much it. (5/10)

13) Impregnable Defense

Here's a wonderful example of how repetition can be awesome if executed well. This track is fairly simple, if you analyze it objectively: section A, then A', which is section A with more instruments, B, repeat. The best part is that each one of them is great to listen to. Solid percussion lines throughout the track, with fantastic brass and string interactions. For example, on A', the brass is still playing the melody, but now strings accompany it more, making it more interesting to listen to. The B section is even more epic, with a French horn doubling the brass melody when it repeats. Transition between sections is flawless, and each part complements another very well. All in all, unmissable. (10/10)

14) Autumnal Sky

Aiming for a prettier-sounding composition, Iwata succeeded with "Autumnal Sky". The melody here is played initially by a tuned percussion instrument, then by brass, with harp, strings, and percussion as accompaniment. Although the beat is nice to listen to, the harp quickly gets old, because all it does is keep playing the same ascending and descending runs. I'm glad that in the second part of the track, when the brass plays the melody, Iwata didn't use the harp. The strings don't do a lot, but they help the track harmonically, making it less dull. The result is a very good track, with a fun melody and some fine development. (8/10)

15) Krypton

Oh, hey, Matsuo. You finally decided to show up, eh? And how interesting, you decided to borrow the melody from Iwata's "Entrance Parade." After the brass plays said melody, the strings take the lead with some nice woodwind accompaniment, before the brass pompously take it back in a cymbal-intensive section. Iwata's melody is once again repeated, but this time, it's treated by the strings and accompanied by a harp, so it's all very tranquil. This is just to give you a false sense of security, because the track loops right after that. All in all, it's a solid track, with enough development to keep me from complaining and good enough transitions and bridges to satisfy even the most critical of analysts. (8/10)

16) Schlieren

I don't get this track. Pizzicato strings playing the same melody in different intervals, bells accompanying some of these notes, and regular strings playing the same chords over and over again. Not good. Not fun. (5/10)

17) White Storm

Sakimoto takes it slow with "White Storm." Instead of the usual brass melody and strings accompaniment type of track we're used to, this composition features parts for each of those sections, and the finished product is pretty satisfying. There's even a part for choir in there. Even though the exact same percussion is used throughout the entire thing, it works so well I can't complain. It's simply a timpani and a snare drum repeating the same rhythm over and over again. This track goes to prove that battle themes don't need to have interwoven and complex melodic lines between instrumental sections to be good. (9/10)

18) Accretion Disk

"Accretion Disk" is easily one of the most refined orchestral battle themes I have ever heard, taking full advantage of each instrumental section. The thing is, there's no climax. When you think it's going to go somewhere, it repeats the beginning, then proceeds to go to an uninteresting section that adds nothing to the track. Not to mention the ending, which is an ascending brass passage that helps loop the track. So I'm here listening to an awesome battle track that begins fantastically, but loses its edge once you realize there is no climax to expect. Of course, brass plays the melody, with everything else as accompaniment. But wow, talk about accompaniment. There is nothing to complain in that department. The uninteresting section I mentioned before has low brass and strings, and acts mainly as a bridge between other parts, because of its length. So, the verdict? It's definitely worth a listen, especially, if, like me, this is the first time to listening to Matsuo. (9/10)

19) Dark Matter

After the bombastic intro, complete with cymbals crashing and timpani thumping, "Dark Matter" seems to quiet down a bit. The brassy melody and string accompaniment lasts for quite a while, and then, when you thought it was going to be dull like this for the rest of the track, more pompous brass and cymbals wake you up. Too bad the dullness returns after it. A snare drum accompanies a string part, with the occasional pop-in by the brass. After "Accretion Disk" I was expecting something awesome that would blow my mind, but no. (6/10)

20) Billow of the Dark

This track is just like "Guerrilla War ~ Rout" in the way that the first section is just one thing repeated over and again and the rest is as repetitive. However, this composition is better than the other one, as the string and brass parts are more developed than before. After the first transition (an ascending brass line), bells join in as well, but only for a brief period of time. Despite my nitpicking with this piece of music, the melody is pretty epic, and perfectly fitting for a battle theme, so that gives it a lot of points. I'm sure the repetition won't bother a lot people, but its that kind of thing that drives me crazy. (8/10)

21) Morning Star

Like we didn't have already enough fanfares, here comes "Morning Star." When I saw it was twenty seconds long, I was expecting some sort of development, not just the fanfare, then a long drum roll followed by an unsatisfying climax. There is nothing special about it, so skip it. (5/10)

22) One Episode

Oh, this is pretty fun to listen to. Strings play the same rhythm in different intervals (like in "Schlieren," but not annoying), and then the rhythm changes to something with a bit more oomph, but without losing its fun. There's also an awesome bass accompanying the strings, and even though it's barely audible, you know it's there, doing its thing. Well, it's not a track that would be on my Top 10 Best Sakimoto Themes Ever, but it's definitely not bad. (7/10)

23) Neo-Overture

At first I thought Sakimoto was kidding me, because he was repeating the exact same thing over and over, for almost fifty seconds. Thankfully that changed, and the epic beginning was replaced by a much calmer strings section, which develops into a brass one, playing the same melody, and then finally a high-pitched xylophone instrument comes into the party too. After a brief string interlude, the development section is repeated but now with percussion and some minor differences. For starters, the string part is repeated twice, an octave higher the second time, and the brass is a lot slower than before. Obviously, Sakimoto cares deeply for strings, because he proceeds to repeat the string part, even faster, with brass as well. The final section is very calm, with the same high-pitched xylophone instrument as before, and the track ends with suspended strings and light harp arpeggios. (7/10)


Writing music for a game which could be the first of a series is always tough. You can make or break the game. I mean, look at Final Fantasy. Had Nobuo done a bad job, there's a good chance it wouldn't be around today. And if it was, it might not be such a successful series. With that said, Iwata, Sakimoto, and Matsuo did a nice job on the game. They've managed to help it establish into a series, and have composed for other Ogre games as well. There could have been improvements made to the album, but it works, on a general level.

When listening to this, do not expect something like the Stella Deus Original Soundtrack or the Final Fantasy Tactics Original Soundtrack, because it isn't. It's far less refined, like it was a stepping stone for those albums. And, indeed, as Iwata and Sakimoto's first orchestral projects, it really was. Each composer has his share of both good and bad tracks, but what I can consider a negative addition to the soundtrack can work perfectly well on the game. So, if you're a fan of either one of the composers involved in this album, I'd highly suggest getting it. If it was still being printed, that is, which I doubt. Anyway, it's nice to see how Iwata, Sakimoto, and Matsuo have evolved through the times, so All Sounds of Ogre Battle is a must-have if you want to delve deeper into their works.

Overall Score: 7/10