- Atlus
  - Capcom
  - Cave
  - Falcom
  - Irem
  - Konami
  - Microsoft
  - Namco Bandai
  - Nintendo
  - Nippon Ichi
  - Grasshopper
  - Sega
  - Sony
  - Square Enix
  - Western Games

  - Castlevania
  - Chrono
  - Dragon Quest
  - Final Fantasy
  - Kingdom Hearts
  - Mana
  - Mario
  - Megami Tensei
  - Mega Man
  - Metal Gear
  - Resident Evil
  - SaGa
  - Silent Hill
  - Sonic
  - Star Ocean
  - Street Fighter
  - Suikoden
  - Tales
  - Ys
  - Zelda

  - Masashi Hamauzu
  - Norihiko Hibino
  - Kenji Ito
  - Noriyuki Iwadare
  - Koji Kondo
  - Yuzo Koshiro
  - Shoji Meguro
  - Yasunori Mitsuda
  - Manabu Namiki
  - Hitoshi Sakimoto
  - Motoi Sakuraba
  - Tenpei Sato
  - Yoko Shimomura
  - Koichi Sugiyama
  - Masafumi Takada
  - Nobuo Uematsu
  - Michiru Yamane
  - Akira Yamaoka

Home Contact Us Top


Wild Arms Alter Code: F Original Score :: Review by Ashley Winchester

Wild Arms Alter Code: F Original Score Album Title: Wild Arms Alter Code: F Original Score
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1317/20
Release Date: January 21, 2004
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The idea behind the Wild Arms Alter Code: F soundtrack reminds me of the Star Wars special edition. In what seems to be a great idea — taking solid, successful source material and touching it up for fans both old and new to enjoy — is a risky proposition. Regardless of the medium involved history has proved that 'revivals' are a crapshoot if anything; the old cliché "the original was better" didn't just appear overnight or for no reason. Looking back at such ventures, I remember silently questioning my friend's anger over Greedo's itchy trigger finger in A New Hope. In not being a hardcore fan I couldn't relate as to why these changes brought about such wrath. However, after reflecting on the similar nature of Alter Code: F and my qualms concerning it, who am I to judge?

Just like anything that receives a fresh coat of paint, Alter Code: F is vulnerable to scorn or the plethora of inevitable comparisons to that which it originates; how could it be? Sure, I could sit here and "pretend" not to have knowledge of original score, hiding my fondness/bias by avoiding any and all comparisons but the result would hardly be honest. So while this review it's already doomed to become a slanted old vs. new rant, hopefully such comparisons will only serve to further describe the strengths and deficiencies contained within.


Alter Code: F wastes no time in posing questions, opting to open the album with the title theme rather than the opening theme. Granted, this is a rather insignificant issue in the grand scheme of things, but why not open the soundtrack with "To the End of the Wilderness," a strong, central theme most listeners immediately identify with the series? Herein lies the effort of Alter Code: F to be seen as more than a remake. It's a novel idea that isn't without merit, yet why take a stance against such a common preconception? This intent can be seen throughout the game as a whole and musically there seems to be a strain to take past ideas and make more out of them despite their former success. The end result can be seen in tracks such as "Companions" that hopelessly meander in their search for a climax and sense of being.

Outside its transparent attempt to separate itself from its origins while still firmly embracing it, the score's other main problem is the persistence of time. This isn't referring to how well Naruke's compositions stand today but rather how well they translate seven years later given the advancements in technology. With advancement comes pressure — the pressure to push these compositions further using cleaner, more precise instruments. Evolution isn't necessarily a bad thing; still, the throwing around relative words and phases like "cleaner" and "more precise" doesn't automatically create a winning recipe for "better" video game music. Unfortunately, the necessity of staying on top of technology sometimes comes at a price.

It's common belief (at least to the game music attuned) that an 8-bit chip tune can evoke the same amount of enjoyment — if not more — than a full-featured orchestral piece. Part of this is because there is an underlying level of beauty in its simplicity. Despite not being at the 8-bit level, this "beauty of simplicity" was one of the many elements the original Wild Arms had in its favor — it was hardly the antithesis of composition but it was easy to access and appreciate. This accessibility is lost to a certain degree in Alter Code: F due to the thickness and power of the instruments: take pivotal tracks like "Boy of Hope" and "Alone the World" for example. Sure, that rustic western feel is enhanced but at the cost of emotional context; the level of sadness and loneliness the original exudes is far, far greater. There are numerous other tracks guilty of the same, especially when it comes to darker numbers though it's hardly the one-way street I'm making it out to be. Some pieces such as "Malduke" greatly benefit from the extra "oomph" the instruments provide, transforming what was an interesting yet flaccid dungeon theme into a dungeon theme with some preverbal bite.

One of the more debatable changes in Alter Code: F is that each Quarter Knight (the high-ranking members of the Metal Demons, the game's main antagonists) now has his/her own respective battle theme in line with what has become standard practice in most role-playing games today. Lady Harken's "Murdering Princess" is the best example of how well this works despite its less-than-stellar opening, painting the picture of a character with a tragic, hidden fate. However, in crafting and gearing battle themes to each specific villain a certain sense of unity is lost. Despite the fact they usually attacked on a one-by-one basis, the Metal Demons were a unified front that represented a single, formable threat. Additionally, the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Metal Demons is "fear." Unlike these individual tracks, a piece like "Power fighter," the original, universal Metal Demon battle theme from 1996, capitalized on both of these elements, elements these tracks cannot make up for. So, where is that fear-provoking, unifying powerhouse in Alter Code: F? Check out "Ka Dingel" on disc four for the disappointing answer.

As much time as I've spent deciphering Alter Code: F's shortcomings, you're probably wondering when the hell I'm going to get to what went right. Ironically, like some silly cosmic slap in the face, it's the newer pieces that make the album worth owning. This isn't to say that there aren't any good renditions of classic pieces — I seriously can't get enough of "The Power that Supports the World". Still it's new tracks like "Sense of Solidarity," and "Determination, and then..." that really remind one why they fell in love with Naruke's music in the first place. While it is unfair to pit the old and new against each other when one considers the newer compositions aren't going to be subjected to the same level of scrutiny as those that have a history, these are kinds of things such scores leave themselves open to. Still, listening to fun, energetic new additions like "G's Roar" and "Big Entrance" I find I don't want to label the entire soundtrack a remake because they feel so fresh.


After reading this, most will probably think I look down at Alter Code: F with distain in comparison to the original. I won't deny the various misgivings I outlined above, but I will say Naruke's work here is one of the better elements of the 2004 remake — a remake that failed to recapture the energy and spirit of the original in almost every other category. Those who enjoy Naruke's PlayStation Wild Arms entries but find her works for the PlayStation 2 (Wild Arms 3) a little too textured for their taste will find Alter Code: F is an enjoyable visit to a simpler time despite its effort to be more than it really is.

Overall Score: 7/10