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The Legend of Xanadu Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

The Legend of Xanadu Original Soundtrack Album Title: The Legend of Xanadu Original Soundtrack
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1138
Release Date: November 26, 1993
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The Legend of Xanadu and its sequel are the last instalments of Yoshio Kiya's Dragon Slayer line of titles. Released in 1994 for the TurboGrafx-16, The Legend of Xanadu was one of the most fleshed-out RPGs Falcom had produced at that time. For its time, the musical score featured high quality synth and an almost unprecedented 108 original compositions. However, it lacked some of the consistency and memorability that made soundtracks from the Ys series so revered. The score for the game was not originally released, but a three disc score was eventually produced in 2004. It was originally packaged with the Falcom Special Box 2004, but subsequently sold separately. Was it worth the decade-long wait?


The soundtrack is introduced with a succession of unremarkable short tracks. For example, "Open Sesame" is a modest and dreamy synth theme that fits purpose in the game, but it's not remarkable enough melodically or otherwise to be comparable with Falcom's greats. "Beginning of the Legend" is a little more in the style of what most would come to hope for in an old-school Falcom soundtrack — with commanding melodies and light rock instrumentation — and seems to embody the heroic aura of the main character. It's no masterpiece, but it's charming and catchy enough nevertheless. However, the real highlight of the opening is the "Prologue", a six minute orchestral cinematic featuring a haunting reprise of "La Valse Pour Xanadu" and a succession of new melodies. It was one of the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K.'s most ambitious compositions at the time of the release and the final result is nothing short of marvellous.

Though there are highlights like the "Prologue", much of the rest of the album follows the tradition of standard RPG soundtracks. There are light pop-influenced pieces like "Ikthia - The Boys of Summer", "Dakru", and "Smiling Breeze" that are similar to what most would expect from a dating simulator. There are also moodier compositions too, ranging from the mystical "Cathedral", to the surreal "Frozen Cave", to the sentimental "Forever". Of course, there is also a dash of rock with hard-hitting tracks like "Glacies", "Working Out a Grudge", and "Lord of the Castle". All of these compositions are decent and fitting, but few have that special factor that radiates from most Ys and Legend of Heroes. They're what one would expect from generic RPG music — nothing more, nothing less. And away from these fully-fledged compositions, there are numerous others that scream 'filler track' with their short track times and bland features.

There are nevertheless a number of other memorable compositions on the album. Early in the game, tracks like "Dawn of Makria" and "Makria Castle" capture a sense of enthusiasm and adventure with their delightful melodies. "Legend of the Wind" stands out even more. The opening few bars perfectly create a gliding feel of the original, while the eventually entrance of the melody is equally appealing on keyboards. The resynthing here is especially effective, though the Super Arrange Version is even better. Other favourites include "Lake of the Dark God", a largely upbeat theme tinged with some minor twists, and "Frozen Tower", a heroic anthem featuring punchy chord progressions and arpeggio overlays. There are also some delightful exclusives to the full soundtrack release, including the relaxing "Theo & Melleina", scenic "Silent Shore", and brooding "Evil Dragon's Revival", that partly make up for the abundance of filler surrounding them.

The climax of the score for The Legend of Xanadu is a rather good one. "Silent Tower" provides a reflective and brooding accompaniment to the final dungeon with its slightly experimental synth use. There is a fascinating contrast provided by "Wings of Pride" and "Wings of Darkness", the former a compassionate synthpop theme, the latter a blistering rock anthem. However, probably the best of the themes here is "Kleene". This is the closest the entire comes to offering a synth rock anthem on par with the best of the Ys series. Again, the great melodies are what carry this one, but the accompaniment gives some much-needed grit. The "Ending Theme" is also a lovely theme for piano and strings and captures all the emotions at the end of the soundtrack. It's a pity that the cheesy and generic "Like a Wind" and "In the Wind" tinge the conclusion, though they somehow seem fitting for the soundtrack. Finally, alternative PSG sound versions of "Theo & Melleina" and "Desert Wind" are tagged on at the end of Disc Three.


It seems the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. focuses on offering quantity rather than quality on The Legend of Xanadu. Like any other RPG score, most of the pieces meet all the specifications and sounds good for their time, but aren't really exciting or special. Only ten or so pieces from the full 110 piece score really appeal and so many others are utterly dull. The J.D.K. Special provides an alternative for those looking for a 'best of' sampler, but note that it misses some highlights like the opener and ending, and isn't actually a technological improvement. Completists will be more satisfied with the full three disc score, but just don't expect anything spectacular.

Overall Score: 6/10