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The Legend of Heroes III The White Witch Original Soundtrack :: Review by Charles

Album Title Catalog No.
The Legend of Heroes III The White Witch Original Soundtrack -first part- NW10102340
The Legend of Heroes III The White Witch Original Soundtrack -second part- NW10102350


The soundtrack for The Legend of Heroes III: The White Witch has been released in three major versions: Music from The Legend of Heroes III The White Witch features two discs of music from the original PC-8801 game; The Legend of Heroes III J.D.K. Special is a two volume release featuring remastered compositions from PC-8801 game; and The Legend of Heroes III The White Witch Original Soundtrack is a two volume release for the modern PC remake. These releases are substantially differentiated in the quality of their synth, but most of their themes and arrangements stay the same. The remake soundtrack is probably te best of these three releases, since it presents the compositions with high quality synth and in diverse styles. Let's take a closer look at how the remake was treated...


Right away, the sound team set a mellow tone for the game with "The White Witch Gerud". It's an intrinsically simple piece, featuring little more than an expressive woodwind melody and a light arpeggiated backing, but it is elegant too, as with many of Falcom's works. The timbre created by the new woodwind synth is beautiful and provide a wonderful depiction of a central figure in the game. Furthermore, it's fantastic how more epic orchestral elements build up towards the open-ended conclusion. Another central theme on the soundtrack is "Love Shining Inside". It's interpreted at the start of the soundtrack in an instrumental jazz ballad complete with charismatic saxophone lines and string overlays. It'll be a little too smooth and sentimental for some, but nevertheless provides an interesting insight into the feelings of the main character.

Perhaps more representative of the general tone of the first volume is "Another Heroes' Story". As with many of Falcom's tracks, this one is upbeat, synthy, and 80s-flavoured. While a select taste, I still find it a catchy track and the retro tone works wonders in the remake. While much of the laidback cheerful material on the remake soundtracks, there's also a lot of uninspired stuff that I found less stomachable. Even in the remake soundtrack, tracks such as "Feels So Good" sound more like bubbly elevator music than the more personal material most would expect in an RPG soundtrack. There are some twists to this formula, such as the slightly more energetic synthpop theme "Captain Thomas' Feelings" or the more catchy guitar duet "Spirit in Our Eyes", but they still sound more like menu music. A lot of the soundtrack has too many shorter filler-style tracks on top of these longer boring tracks and the first volume particularly suffers in this regard.

Fortunately, the second volume of the soundtrack features some interesting deviations from the bubbly style. It is generally more diverse, packing in everything from classically-oriented dances like "Tell Us a Mysterious Story" to Morricone-influenced character depictions like "A Man Travelling Alone" to minimal fantasy-styled sketches like "Memories of Gagharv". Perhaps overwhelmingly, though, this disc is also darker with everything from dark ambient depictions (e.g. "Ordos Cathedral", "The Way of Heaven"), to tense action-packed tracks (e.g. "Lude Castle", "Badot"), to bittersweet orchestrations (e.g. "Queen Isabelle", "With Admiration"). In each case, the new sound team make just the correct arrangement and implementation choices to ensure the renditions are similar but vastly similar to the originals. Whereas the first volume is mediocre, it's quite clear by the second disc that The Legend of Heroes III's remake features a fairly diverse and high quality soundtrack.

As with other Falcom soundtracks, there is some of the sound team's trademark action compositions scattered through the volumes. The first really striking entries are "The Great Battle of Bolt", a commanding march track that fits well with the tone of the game, and "A Powerful Foe", a rock 'n roll anthem that many old-school rockers will enjoy. Naturally, there are a fair number of rock compositions on the second volume too and pieces such as "Dark Beasts Appear" are particularly blistering in the remade soundtrack. There are also PlayStation versions of popular themes tagged as bonuses at the end of each volume. The first volume features a charming string quartet rendition of the sentimental "Durzel's Letter" and the second volume provides a surprisingly liberating rocked-up version of the once subdued ending theme "Little Heroes". These arrangements stand out above the PC arrangements for their creativity and extravagance, so are very pleasant bonuses to round off the releases.


Overall, The Legend of Heroes III The White Witch Original Soundtrack rejuvenates a traditional old-school RPG soundtrack for the modern age. The album offers high quality synth, engaging orchestrations, and powerful rock arrangements comparable to the music coming from Falcom today. That said, the arrangement changes are generally few but significant, and the real changes are in the synth department. While many old-school fans will prefer the original versions, fans of today's RPG music are likely to find the remake soundtrack better despite its cumbersome release in two volumes. It's not among the best RPG soundtracks out there, but there is enough diversity and highlights to still be worth considering.

Overall Score: 7/10