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The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special :: Review by Charles

The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special Album Title: The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1186/7
Release Date: September 5, 1996
Purchase: Buy at Game Music Online


The soundtrack for The Legend of Heroes IV has been released in three major two disc releases: Music from The Legend of Heroes IV Running Red Blood features music from the original PC-9801 game; The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special features remastered compositions from the oiginal; and The Legend of Heroes IV A Tear of Vermillion Original Soundtrack features arranged music and some new compositions for the modern PC remake. While the original release was good for its time, it is massively exceeded in arrangement and synth quality for the subsequent remake. Let's take a tour of what it offers...


It's clear right from the opening themes that The Legend of Heroes IV was intended to be a rich musical experience, yet is technologically limited. "Memoria" was intended to be a simple orgel solo to recollect its more innocent predecessor, yet the synth is such that it's not even clear it was composed for an orgel at all. "A Legend" is intended to be a more elaborate orchestral experience, offering rich piano and violin passages, but its expressive effect is limited by the immature synth compared to the remake soundtrack. In spite of the humble synth, the experiences grows darker with tense action themes like "The Heretics' Attack". Softer themes such as "Cabin in Sight" and "Frozen Village" are tinged with melancholy, as if to preclude the dark fate that lies ahead for the world. However, their bittersweet effects are so subtle in these FM synth versions, leaving one desiring the Celtic-inspired arrangements of the remake.

Though there are much more epic undertones running through this soundtrack, there are actually a similar amount of light-hearted themes to The Legend of Heroes III. They are just presented in a different context — more like a diversion than the core of the experience — and fortunately most themes are better composed too. This time synthpop compositions such as "Travelling on the Road of Dreams" and "Stepping Lightly" are actually well-integrated into the game while others like "The Rhythm of the Sea Breeze" and "On the Ocean Wind" are full of creativity. Simpler compositions also work better with the old-school synth used during the soundtrack. There are a few annoying tracks like "Phildin's Capital" and "High-Spirited Shannon", but they are few and far between. Of course, there are a fair number of well-produced rocking battle themes too, such as "Lambada Labyrinth" and "Mining Station", though those in the remake are even more enjoyable.

As the soundtrack develops, there are a larger number of darker tracks. However, the original version doesn't quite create the same sense of fate as the remake soundtrack, since motifs such as "Running Red Blood" and "My Name is Baldus" are not central. However, themes such as "Seeking the Truth" and "Inheritance of the Ancients" are a very effective complement to key scenes during the storyline. Looking forward, compositions like "Sealed Earth" and "Gaps in Space and Time" provide an epic and surreal preparation for the intense final battles. The album ends on a beautiful note with a reprise of the "Running Red Blood" motif and the gentle small ensemble recollection "Traveling on the Road of Dreams". Though not as effective as the ending of the remake soundtrack, it's still a fitting way to round the experience.


Overall, Music from The Legend of Heroes IV Running Red Blood is a fitting and effective accompaniment to the game. However, it doesn't work as well as a stand-alone experience due to the generally standard compositions and subpar synth. Fortunately, most of the music from this release was arranged for its PC remake, along with a number of new compositions. The resultant soundtrack is one of the finest efforts in The Legend of Heroes series and, unless you're a hardcore collector, makes this one redundant.

Overall Score: 6/10