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Genso Suikoden III Original Soundtrack :: Review by Mac_Tear

Genso Suikoden III Original Soundtrack Album Title: Genso Suikoden III Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Music Entertainment
Catalog No.: KMCA-164/5
Release Date: July 24, 2002
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Four years had passed since fans enjoyed the second installment of the series. In 2002, Konami finally released the third part of the beloved series, this time with full 3D graphics on the PlayStation 2. The main attributes stayed the same, but there were also some changes. One of them is the music. Miki Higashino, highly acclaimed for her efforts on the first two Suikoden soundtracks, had left Konami, so the trio of composers Michiru Yamane, Takashi Yoshida, and Masahiko Kimura took over. Yamane, mostly known for her work on the Castlevania series, previously had experience scoring for RPGs with Elder Gate but was only moderately successful. Were the three worthy to continue the legacy of Suikoden?

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Transcending Love

Suikoden III's opening theme is composed and performed by the famos New Age group Himekami, active since 1989. After publishing their 20th studio album, leader and keyboarder Yoshiaki Hoshi contributed the theme song for the series' third part. While actually a mix between classic new age electronics and ethnic vocal passages (similar to their work "Poetry of Gods") the song builds up an enormous atmosphere of beauty, ethnicity, and spirituality. This fits extremelly well into the context of the Eastern-influenced series and the opening animation as well. The vocal chants are actually supposed to be an ancient japanese language called Ainu and are absolutely stunning, while the music underlays it perfectly in a soft and melancholy way. Though the remaining score may be a bit weak, this theme is fantastic and definitely worth listening to. One of the gems in Suikoden's musical history for sure. (10/10)

2) A Breeze Blowing from the Hills

Accompanying the opening cutscene for Hugo, this theme is a short cinematic composition with excellent use of orchestration. The atmosphere is packed with heroism, ethnicity, and emotion. Some rather confusing sound effects also made their way into this track, but they're only heard a short time luckily. A good start for the soundtrack. (7/10)

3) The Wind and the Earth

The first area theme appears in form of the Karaya Village theme "The Wind and the Earth". Musically, the theme sets up the perfect mood for the first steps in the game: lively, peppy, and ethnic with use of playful woodwind melodies, gentle strings in the background, and catchy tribal percussion. The development of the track is right on and well balanced overall. If only the remaining tracks were of this standard... (8/10)

4) Journey

The world map theme is another typical Suikoden-sounding composition with an adventurous and catchy aura. While it nearly sounds like the first Suikoden's overworld themes, "Journey" manages to keep the traditional atmosphere alive, even if it's a bit short and the snare samples are a bit too fast for my tastes. But this is one of the first tracks which stick in your head. (7/10)

5) Town on the Bridge

The woodwind-based theme for the Zexen Knight Fort contains one main motif which is steadily repeated until the end of the track and develops more and more as the track goes along. It's playful and cheery sounding, but overall I'm not quite satisfied with the bland and repetitive melody and its arrangement. (6/10)

6) Tension 1

Similiar as Suikoden II's tension themes, this one relies on dramatic string motifs to build up an anxious atmosphere. It's one of those many themes which work in the context of the game well, but not really on soundtrack alone. (5/10)

7) A Knight's Pride

The heroic and brassy castle theme for Suikoden III. While it has a touch of pride and militarism within, the overall melody and arrangement lacks a bit. It nevertheless fits the scenery quite well. Not one of the tracks which you will remember for a long time. (7/10)

8) A Day Amidst Dripping Trees

Finally, another peaceful theme in a similar style as the third track. However, it's sadly also a lot more repetitive. While the xylophones and percussion serve their purpose well in the background, the string and flute melodies add to the ambience. Overall, too underdeveloped. (7/10)

9) Wild Soul

So we arrived at the normal battle theme from Suikoden III. Compared to other installment's themes, it is lackluster and disappointing right away. The overall atmosphere is much too clumsy and comical for a battle theme. While there are a few tries to build up the drama, for example towards the middle, it doesn't help much. The percussion use is simply horrible with the claps and bongos. The woodwind and bass melodies are, as I said, a bit too misleading. The brass sounds OK, but is also not memorable enough. Sadly one of the worst battle themes in the series for sure. (6/10)

10) Announcement the Results!

No! What have they done? Where is the traditional "Victory" motif from the series used since the first game? Instead the trio composed a new theme, full of brightness and glory, but also very repetitive. It reminds me of something Yamane created in her first RPG try, Elder Gate. (5/10)

11) Vinay Del Zexay

The better tracks finally return with the theme for the capital. The introduction is wonderfully done with its glorious and military atmosphere to accompany the entrance scene of the town. Around 0:43 the background music for the town begins. Pizzicato strings, woodwinds, and accordion work well together and create a playful and lively atmosphere. The developement is also finely done, from the catchy main part to the soft harp ending. Enjoyable. (8/10)

12) Attack

The next three tracks form a trilogy. The first two pieces are uninteresting, but serve well to introduce into the third piece. "Attack" has an ominous aura within. It's typical ambience and basically a filler track. (2/10)

13) Escape

The 20 second snippet starts where the previous track ended. It sounds like something straight from Junya Nakano with use of monotonous percussion and strings in the background. Prepare for the real track now. (2/10)

14) Glittering Blade

Here we go. "Glittering Blade" is used as one of the boss themes and it's a theme we missed until now. The dramatic atmosphere and developement are excellent here, from the heroic brass to the climatic strings and solid use of percussion. I like the transition from the tension-packed first section to the more heroic section around 0:40. Definitely one of the better battle themes. (8/10)

15) Toppo, Nei and Shabon's Theme

Also known as Trinity Sight's Theme. A violin is used here as main instrument to perform the quick and playful melody while guitar and snare drums accompany it. It's very simple, repetitive, and not very memorable, though. The arranged version on the Celtic Collection 3 is much much better. (6/10)

16) Narcy's Theme ~Once Again~

The traditional french theme is back from the first soundtracks. The arrangement is similar to the previous two, but a bit less energetic and charming. While the accordion melody is the same, the background rhythm was changed a little with the use of percussion and faster piano chords. In my opinion, it's the weakest arrangement thus far. (7/10)

17) Let's Go on an Adventure!

This jolly march is actually also a battle theme for the game. That's hard to believe when you listen to the track. While the overall piece reminds me a bit of Banjo-Kazooie, it's not really fun to listen to. More annoying and repetitive. (6/10)

18) Crisis 1

Written in a similar style as the previous track, but more slow and foreboding. Though it's used in various scenes in the game, it's horribly composed and arranged. I have a crisis when I listen to this track... (4/10)

19) Don't Lose to Guillaume!

The bad tracks simply won't stop. This is one of those special battle themes used against Guillaume as you can see at the title. Once again, it has a very comical and light-hearted touch. Themes with this style have been done better by Nobuo Uematsu such as "Grand Finale?" from Final Fantasy VI. But he isn't here, so this track can't be helped sadly. (6/10)

20) Under the Moonlight

A lyrical duet between harp and flute. It's sadly once again too simple and is constructed in a boring manner. The melody isn't the best either. (5/10)

21) Triumphant Return

Finally the exciting tracks return. After the heroic brass introduction, strings and military percussion take over to give a military march. It's lacking on memorability, but the arrangement is a bit better than previous tracks. (6/10)

22) Chris' Parade

Like the second track, this theme also accompanies an opening cutscene. While you actually can't hear much from the music itself, because of the loud cheering sound effects, you don't miss anything spectacular. Some heroic brass and military percussion, that's all. Fitting for the scene, but nothing more. (6/10)

23) Council

Another perfect example of blandness. The percussion is simply extremely repetitive and the worst component of the overall track. While the melody is nice, it's too poorly arranged. If the horrible snare samples were improved, the atmosphere would be... well, forget it. (5/10)

24) Conversation 1

Like the previous track, this is another one of those boring filler tracks. While the atmosphere is OK, it's much too underdeveloped and repetitive. (4/10)

25) Temple

While in style similar as Suikoden II's organ themes, this one sadly fails to create the right atmosphere. It gives a sense of holiness and solemnness, but it isn't pleasurable listening. While the theme gets a little more interesting in the second half, it's nothing compared to Higashino's goodness. (7/10)

26) Shining Plains

"Shining Plains" uses the same instrumentation as "The Wind and the Earth" and features a peaceful tribal atmosphere. Even if the track is ambient and the melody is low-key, this surpasses earlier tracks in terms of atmosphere and emotion. (7/10)

27) Approaching Footsteps

This event theme is one of the better mood setters, even if it's also a bit bland on its own. The use of horns, strings, and woodwinds is nice as is the percussion. A fearful atmosphere is created that reflects something is terribly wrong here... (6/10)

28) Hurry to Kayara!

Basically a more intense and dark version of "Shining Plains". The strings sound sorrowful and bells reflecting a feeling of tragic. The percussion is done also nicely. Not strong memorable, but quite effective in the context of the game. (7/10)

29) Kayara Ablaze

So the catastrophe has come true as our home village is in flames. This music accompanies the scenery in an effective way with dramatic use of orchestration, but the overall effect fades away as fast as the track has begun due to the brevity. (6/10)

30) Sorrow

I won't spoil, but can you imagine that this piece is used during a death scene? It's so cold, unemotional, and boring. Kimura's trademark repertoire of pizzicato strings and bells he used so often before in Castlevania 64 and others comes back with this track. Well, sorrow is the right word for this track; it's a pity that it wasn't developed more! (3/10)

31) The One Hindering the Way

This is one of the boss battle themes and starts off similar as Suikoden IV's boss theme. The use of orchestration is effective and well done, even of the percussion and melody lacks again a bit. But the theme is tolerable and a better one compared to others. (7/10)

32) Green Tombstone

"Green Tombstone" focuses on the "The Wind and the Earth" motif in form of the flutes at the beginning and transforms soon into a emotional elegy with strings and percussion. The development is surprisingly long compared to some other tracks, but sadly the "ah" effect is missing here once again. (7/10)

33) Duckling

The Duck Village theme reminds me heavy of Suikoden IV's Razril theme "Arrival" because of the similar style and instrumentation. The melodies are catchy and the arrangement of accordion, violin, and woodwinds is nicely done. The second half is especially beautiful. The arranged version on the Celtic Collection 1 is also fantastic if you like this one. (8/10)

34) Conversation 2

A short and lighthearted motif which is used during various cutscenes. The developement of woodwinds is surprisingly pleasant here while the remaining instruments such as pizzicato and bells fit well. It reminds me a bit Kingdom Hearts though. One of the better filler tracks. (7/10)

35) Detective Kidd's Theme

In the footsteps of Suikoden II's "Dandy Richmond" this theme focuses also on the use of jazz motifs for their detective, but compared to the original or Suikoden V's, "Detective Kidd's Theme" loses easily. It's simply nearly fifthy seconds it's not only too short, but also too unimpressive and thin constructed. Nah.. Again, the arranged version is years better. (5/10)

36) Underground Passage

The eerie ambient sound returns with this dungeon theme. While the instrumentation simply shouts "boring" it's tolerable in the context of the game because of the atmosphere it creates. The harp argeggios in the second half remind me a bit of the "Underground Tunnel - Invisible Sorrow" theme from Castlevania 64. OK in the game, but skippable on the soundtrack. (6/10)

37) Rustling Wind

You can easily hear that this one belongs to Yamane with her use of playful woodwind and harp arpeggios. It's one of the more pleasant area themes to listen to, but also not really spectacular. I like the developement in some regards. (7/10)

38) Surprise Attack

Another battle theme with a stereotypical clumsy nature like "Wild Soul" and others. I don't know what the idea behind composing this was. If I think of a surprise attack, I expect a danger situation to be represented. This piece doesn't provide this. It instead reminds me of a comical monster which suddenly appears. Once again, the use of woodwinds is a bit out. (6/10)

39) The Great Cave

The home of the Lizard Men features an interesting calypso feeling with its use of percussion and xylophones. The woodwind melodies are bouncy and easy to listen to, but the overall effect is still missing until the track loops again. (7/10)

40) Reunion

With this track, some memories of Castlevania 64 come to mind. Kimura uses a string ensemble to perform a simple but emotional melody which works decently in the context of the game. Overall, though, it is much too underdeveloped. (5/10)

41) Conversation 3

Written in a similar bouncy style to "Detective Kidd's Theme", this theme is jolly but annoying. The emphatic use of pizzicato and arco strings gets on the nerves sometimes. (6/10)

42) Reminiscence

Not one to mix up with the gorgeus theme from Suikoden II. "Reminiscence" is just a typical filler track with a slightly mysterious aura. Yet again too short and unimpressive. (5/10)

43) Pleasant Ranch

Hey, what's this? In some regards, this is very clichéd banjo-like cowboy music here, but it's a little refreshing on Suikoden III. Sadly, the melody is beyond repetitive and annoying. I don't know, but it sounds like mini-game music for me. (5/10)

44) Play Cards!

"Play Cards!" is more pleasant to listen to than the previous track with its Spanish rhythms and acoustic guitar lines, but it also seems to rely on one motif too much. The hand claps are kind of overused here and make the track a little annoying. Still, a nice way to finish the first disc. (6/10)

Disc Two

1) Harvest Festival

The second disc opens with "Harvest Festival", the theme for Ixe Village. Musically pleasant if uninteresting, it still manages to create a fitting atmosphere for the scenery. I prefer the arranged version once again, which has more charme. (7/10)

2) Crisis 2

A very monotonous theme with a typical "danger" atmosphere. I can hardly say anything more about it; it's just bland filler. (3/10)

3) Scattering Sparks

"Scattering Sparks" is a battle theme with an interesting name. It manages to build up the tension in a frantic and good way, but the track is too short and doesn't develop to its full strength sadly. (7/10)

4) Sunset Melody

A soft and dreamy string ensemble theme with use of woodwinds, harp and pizzicato strings. It's rather chilling yet pleasant to listen to. In the second half, the percussion develops the theme a bit more. Good to calm down; nothing more, nothing less. (7/10)

5) Cheerful Farming Village

In a similar manner to "Duckling", this theme also focuses on a catchy motif while using some pleasant instrumentation such as violin, guitar, and woodwinds. It's definitely one of the better tracks from the score. A little repetitive, but tolerable because of the developement. The jazzy piano arranged version from the Piano Collection 2 is awesome. (8/10)

6) Tension 2

A filler track with percussion only. Another example of a lame composition. Such tracks should have been out of the score in my opinion. (2/10)

7) Clattering Hooves

The war theme from Suikoden III. The atmosphere is more intense and dramatic than heard before, but sadly it's the worst theme in the series. No surprise I think. Whereas the other parts had orchestral bombastic themes full of power and energy, this one is pulsing, repetitive, and hardly memorable. The snare drums are monotonous, the horn sounds like it lost its way, and the choir sounds simply missplaced. You still can hear some part similar to Suikoden IV's first warfare theme around 0:23. (6/10)

8) To the Sealed Land

After that distress, this track is perfect to calm down to with its beautiful aura. It's in similar style as the first area themes, but also has an enchanting and nostalgia feeling within. Once again too boring to give a higher score, but it leads nicely into the next track. (7/10)

9) Mysterious People

The theme for Alma Kinan Village, a place resided by women only. It is a simple tune, but has also one of the most atmospheric melodies from the long deprived score. While the tribal percussion is held in the background, a flute plays the ethnic melody. The highlight of the track, a choir, accompanies it in a mysterious and haunting way. The theme is one of the best on the soundtrack. (8/10)

10) Future Road ~Mountain Crossing~

The mountain theme continues the tribal and acoustic style from the earlier area tracks with typical use of percussion, woodwinds, guitar, and chorus. The atmosphere is a bit of Eastern-flavoured, but overall it's not very exciting. (7/10)

11) Reliable Merchants

The instrumentation changes a little in "Reliable Merchants". The acoustic guitar at the beginning sounds Spanish-influenced while the strings in the background work well to develop the atmosphere. The use of percussion of again very repetitive. I prefer other setting themes more than this... (7/10)

12) A Chill Wind

This town theme is one of the more pleasant and better developed pieces from the score. While the atmosphere is calm and beautiful, the instrumentation is again mundane, but works better here than in previous tracks. The second section is excellently done. If you like this track, go and listen to the arranged version on Celtic Collection 1! That version has everything the heart desires and compensates for things this version is missing. (8/10)

13) False Altar

After a bunch of acceptable tracks, the monotone stinkers return with this track. Actually the area theme for Senai Mountain, it relies heavily on percussion and thin harmonies such as bells, woodwinds, and pizzicato strings. Though it creates a mysterious atmosphere, the development simply isn't good enough for enjoyment or memorability. Skip it. (5/10)

14) Deserted Mine

A rather bouncy dungeon theme with heavy use of percussion and xylophones. The eerie strings and choir in the background add a bit more mood. It sounds like Yamane, but it definitely isn't one of her strongest and most creative themes. (6/10)

15) Land of the Stone Tablet

Eerie and mysterious, this theme is based mostly on a bell motif with harp and strings accompaniment. It may work during the game to build up atmosphere, but it's simply boring otherwise. (6/10)

16) Blazing Rapport

One of the first themes you actually hear in the game, namely the character selection menu theme. It features a simple melody and rhythm but nothing more. What can I say other than "filler"? (2/10)

17) Castle on the Lake Shore

So we finally made it to the Headquarter theme with this entry. While earlier Suikoden scores had phenomenal tracks, "Castle on the Lake" is Merely nice. Again acoustic-oriented, the acoustic guitar and xylophones are the main instruments here, but used in a more or less repetitive way. The brass, strings, and woodwinds are added later. The atmosphere is peaceful and serene, but it lacks the warmth and tenderness of equivalent themes in other games. I prefer the arranged versions once again. (7/10)

18) Koroku's Theme

"Koroku's Theme" is a humorous and silly jazzy piece. It accompanys you while you play as a dog that serves as a bonus character. It reminds me a bit of the Kobold theme from Suikoden II, but is again unspectacular and unmememorable. (7/10)

19) Tranquil Moonlight

Instead of rearranging the "Moonlit Night Theme" from the earlier Suikoden parts, the composers chose to create a new theme here. It's quite beautiful and serene with harp arpeggios, woodwind, and bell melodies. Again too underdeveloped to fulfil its potential though. (7/10)

20) Stealthy Feet

The castle underground theme is similar to previous dungeon themes like "Deserted Mine" but more monotonous. It relies too heavily on the bell motif in my opinion. (6/10)

21) Sortie!

"Sortie!" wakes us up from our slumber with a short but exciting arrangement. The melody is adventurous and high-spirited. The orchestration works fine as well. As it sometimes plays before war, it's a little too happy and bouncy to be successful in context. However, it's quite enjoyable on its own. (7/10)

22) Seeking a Former Hero

Also known as "Searching for a Hero of Long Ago", this theme is one of the best arranged themes from the score and easily one of Michiru Yamane's best contributions. The melody has more depth than other titles and the instrumentation beautifully harmonises together. The acoustic guitar line and strings are warm and smoothing while the light percussion and tender woodwind melodies add a nice effect to the overall theme. Not a masterpiece, but definitely one of the best tracks from the score. (8/10)

23) Conversation 4

The last of the conversation themes is surprisingly deep and somewhat catchy, but also again too short to really impress. The use of deep strings and steady pizzicato rhythms works fine, but the piece would be a lot better with some more development. (6/10)

24) Ebb and Flow

One of the later battle themes on the soundtrack, this is also one of the more intense and dramatic compositions. The developement is right on with frenzied use of percussion and orchestration. The melody isn't bad either. But once again the theme relies too heavy on one simple motif and builds up melodramatically. Not bad, though. (7/10)

25) Midwinter Land

The Sindar Ruins theme is a mysterious piece. While it has a typical icy feeling needed for the location, the melody is too monotone and boring. It was later rearranged in Suikoden V. (7/10)

26) Crisis 3

The last of the filler bunch is no better than previous entries. It's more weird with a mix of mystery, drama, and comedy. The use of organ reflects the determination, but the woodwind and brass melodies sound so horrible and misfitting. (5/10)

27) Circle Palace

Another bell-oriented area theme with a mysterious touch. It is too ambient and unmemorable for my taste. It may work in the game, but is one of the skippers on a stand-alone basis. (6/10)

28) Complicated Thoughts

Despite the title, "Complicated Thoughts" is the final dungeon theme and one of the highlights among the area themes. It is a riddle to me why Yamane comes up introduced her upbeat style only with this late track, but it ensures an interesting climax. Starting off with some bell motifs and percussion, she once again makes use of diverse woodwinds to add a bit of emotion to the piece. At the middle of the track things dramatically change with the use of organ, choir, and frenzied percussion. While still a bit repetitive, it develops into a nice melodic piece with the help of woodwinds and harp around the two minute mark. One of the best developed and arranged themes thus far. (8/10)

29) Final Conflict

The final battle theme makes effective use of dramatic orchestration. The timpani is used heavily while other percussion, strings, and woodwinds create an atmosphere of doom and determination. The brass is helping to bring a bit power to the piece. The theme integrates a surprising section from 0:50 in the form of some brass notes from Suikoden II's battle and boss themes, but the remains aren't spectacular. Acceptable, but "Final Conflict" isn't one of the strongest final battle themes in the series. (7/10)

30) Everyone's Smiling Faces ~Epilogue for the 108~

Suikoden III's epilogue theme for all its characters. With a playtime of nine minutes, this one nearly rivals its precessor's 12 minute theme. The actual piece is a medley with several sections. Beginning with heroic brass motifs, the theme moves into a more calm catchy section with woodwinds, acoustic guitarm and percussion. Thereafter the atmosphere gets more deep with a short but lush string and woodwind section. At 2:00 the next section is played, this time with use of violin, bagpipes and acoustic guitar. It's one of my favorite sections, because it reflects the ethnic aura of the series nicely. Thereafter an interlude of acoustic guitar and woodwinds shows up with the violin accompanying it. Around the five minute mark, the piece gets more slow and serene with use of upbuilding orchestration and achieves its climax around 6:35. Then the first part is reused with addition of of a solemn melody to end the theme in climactic way. This theme is definitely not a dissapointment and is a clear winner of the remaining score. (10/10)

31) To Peaceful Days

"To Peaceful Days" continues where the marvelous epilogue theme ended. Starting off with some lush woodwind and harp motifs, soon the percussion sets in and a piano line shows up. The piano passage is a nice addition and sounds pleasant, especially the short solo at the end. Around 2:15, an acoustic guitar shows up and builds up into the next part featuring a rhythmic and Spanish-influenced melody. The guitar solo is neat. Towards the end, the piano takes over again and leads the track into its phenomenal finale. Again, a definitely highlight of the score and absolutely worthy of praise. This is the only track on the score with a harsher but otherwise improved sound quality. (10/10)

32) Path of the Comet

After two gorgeous orchestral pieces, this theme ends the soundtrack in an mysterious way. It's actually Leknaat's theme, but instead of using the famed "Touching Theme" from the series, Kimura created this ambient styled theme which he also used in Suikoden IV (it wasn't released on the soundtrack, however). It's a pitiful way to end this score, but this track reflects the true nature of the complete score nicely: monotonous and mundane. (5/10)


Suikoden III has the weakest soundtrack in the series, that's for sure. This isn't like the two glorious PlayStation scores given Miki Higashino's departure. The new composer team created an acceptable score in its own right, but compared to other installments it's definitely a lackluster. One of the main reasons is the sound quality. The game was released in 2002 on PlayStation 2, but the sound design and manipulation here seems very lazy. Even Final Fantasy X had better sound and it was released one year before this game. A disappointment after the technologically pioneering PlayStation scores.

But there are major problems with the music as well. Nearly all the arrangements are lacking and there is hardly any variety in the score. Every area theme sounds the same and these themes are among most important in an RPG next to the battle themes. Speaking of battle themes, this score has one of the worst in the RPG history. The normal battle theme "Wild Soul" is a pure letdown while others aren't much better. Only the boss themes redeem themselves a little. The filler and ambient tracks also have a large place here sadly. But there are some gems within, believe it or not. As you can see, the best rating was an 8 out of 10 for a few well done ones, such as "The Wind and the Earth", "Duckling", or "Seeking a Former Hero". The main attraction of the remaining mundane score are the opening and ending themes like in every episode of the series.

In conclusion, I want to say that this score is a tolerable collection of tracks if you don't mind the somewhat repetive and ambient nature. Die-hard Suikoden fans may get this score, but I don't recommend it to everyone. There are definitely better soundtracks in the series and some of the best tracks from this score were arranged on various CDs for greater listening pleasure.

Overall Score: 6/10