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Popolocrois Story Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Popolocrois Story Original Soundtrack Album Title: Popolocrois Story Original Soundtrack
Record Label: NEC Avenue (1st Edition); SPE Visual Works (Reprint)
Catalog No.: NACL-1224; SVWC-7055
Release Date: August 1, 1996; March 8, 2000
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


In 1996, Sony Computer Entertainment continued its attempts to make a mark on the RPG genre with Popolocrois Story, a Japan-only RPG based on a manga franchise. Following their work in Japan's popular music industry, Yoshiyuki Sahashi and Tetsuo Ishikawa were hired to compose the score and offered a largely mellow folksy flavour that made the most of the PlayStation's technical capacity.


The soundtrack opens with the vocal theme "Pietro's Departure". While Yoshie Okuyama's vocals have a very girly quality to them, they are entirely accessible since they are mellow and soothing, rather than overbearing like most anime-style opening themes. The melody is rather catchy throughout and sustains repetition well during the six minute playtime. The organic instrumental accompaniment is equally delightful with its simultaneously playful yet soothing feel. Overall, it's a lovely way to reflect setting off on an adventure.

The instrumental background music retains the endearing quality of the vocal theme. Following the lead of Suikoden, Yoshiyuki Sahashi offers some impressive acoustic guitar-based themes such as "Popolocrois Castle Town" and "Popolocrois Castle"; beautifully stylised and convincingly synthesised, these tracks manage to be both striking yet relaxing throughout. Tetsuo Ishikawa's "The North Land" is also a lovely piece of soundscaping, blending modest trumpet melodies with watery sound effects. In these compositions, both composers manage to offer the richer timbres facilitated by the PlayStation, while still retaining an element of the simplicity and modesty of old-school game music.

A lot of the compositions on Popolocrois Story have a very light-hearted tone. "Battle & Battle", for instance, is anything but a typical action theme and would fit more in a circus. "Goblin Den" creates more suspense with its pizzicato strings use, but the result is intentionally more humorous than threatening. Among other setting themes, "Unknown Island" and "Mountain of the Sword" are built around lively percussion fragments throughout; however, they lack somewhat in terms of development like many of the compositions here. "Kanarisia" takes the quirkiness even further and is almost entirely composed of silly sound effects.

While one of the lightest RPG scores ever produced, there are some deeper elements in the soundtrack. "Gami Gami City" is one of the few tracks on the soundtrack to use electronic instrumentation, first to threatening then bizarre effect, and it's a major contrast to the mostly organic setting themes otherwise. At the end of the soundtrack, there are some decent attempts at dark ambient soundscaping on "Revival of the Ice Devil" and "Pietro Faints", leading to a surprisingly surreal final battle theme similar to Xenogears' subsequently. By the end of the soundtrack, with the sentimental music box tones of "Meeting With Tania", listeners will have felt like they have gone through quite a journey with Pietro.


Overall, the Popolocrois Story Original Soundtrack is a very likeable score. Offering everything from relaxing, to humorous, to surreal sounds, the soundtrack provides a fitting backdrop to the light-hearted game. In addition, the music is generally impressive on a stand-alone basis, despite some underdeveloped and simplistic compositions. It's not a soundtrack that will blow listeners away, but it is one that it is likely to make one smile.

Overall Score: 7/10