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The DigiCube Revival

Editorial Written by Chris Greening

In 1996, Square established the independent subsidiary DigiCube to commemorate their entry into the PlayStation era. DigiCube served to market and distribute Square's video games, videos, books, toys, and albums. Prior to DigiCube, Square's albums were published by external record labels — Datam Polystar during the NES era and NTT Publishing during the Super Nintendo era. With packages like the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack Limited Edition, DigiCube quickly became known for offering some of the highest quality and exuberant albums in the video game industry. The company went on to print the original scores, arranged albums, and occasional singles or drama CDs for practically all new entries in the Final Fantasy, SaGa, Mana, Front Mission, Chocobo, and Parasite Eve series. A few soundtracks, such as for Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X-2, were published by other record labels since Square did not have the rights to publish the vocal songs.

Altogether DigiCube released over 70 album releases between 1996 and 2003, including best-sellers such as the Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack. Despite the success of its albums, DigiCube was hit financially crippled by Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within's commercial failure and Final Fantasy XII's delay. While Square was rescued by being absorbed into Enix, DigiCube filed for bankruptcy in November 2003 due to their 9.5 billion yen debt. They still managed a temporary release of the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections but the planned Front Mission 4 Plus 1st Original Soundtrack release was shelved. By early 2004, new copies of Final Fantasy albums were rarely available, though it took a longer for stocks of less popular albums to deplete. This threatened the existence of several well-known online game music stores, since the popularity of Final Fantasy music was far greater than other soundtracks at the time.

In May 2004, Square Enix established their own record label to reprint DigiCube's albums and publish new soundtracks. They did so with the help of distributor Sony Music Distribution. They quickly reprinted the main soundtracks in the Final Fantasy series to the delight of fans and stores alike. They followed by finally releasing the Front Mission 4 Plus 1st Original Soundtrack and reviving the Final Fantasy Piano Collections albums. By late 2004, most major Final Fantasy albums had been reprinted and Square Enix had also published their first totally new album, the Final Fantasy XI Chains of Promathia Original Soundtrack. However, it often took a lot longer for other popular DigiCube albums to be reprinted and it wasn't until 2006 that Square Enix attained an output of new releases similar to that of DigiCube. Below is a list of DigiCube albums in order of release date and their Square Enix reprints where applicable:

Album Title DigiCube Print Square Enix Print
Tobal No. 1 Original Soundtrack SSCX-10001 -
Tobal No. 1 Remixes Electrical Indian SSCX-10002 -
Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack Limited Edition SSCX-10003 -
Final Fantasy VII Original Sooundtrack SSCX-10004 SQEX-10001/4
Tobal 2 Original Soundtrack SSCX-10007 -
Final Fantasy Tactics Original Soundtrack SSCX-10008 SQEX-10066/7
SaGa Frontier Original Soundtrack SSCX-10009 SQEX-10001/4
Front Mission Alternative SSCX-10010 SQEX-10081
Front Mission 2 Original Soundtrack SSCX-10011 -
Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks SSCX-10012 SQEX-10042
Xenogears Original Soundtrack SSCX-10013 SQEX-10043/4
Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon Original Soundtrack SSCX-10014 SQEX-10064
Einhänder Original Soundtrack SSCX-10015 SQEX-10090
Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon Coi Vanni Gialli SSCX-10016 -
Soukaigi Original Soundrack SSCX-10017 -
Xenogears Creid SSCX-10018 SQEX-10046
Bushido Blade II Original Soundrack SSCX-10019 -
Parasite Eve Original Soundrack SSCX-10020 -
Brave Fencer Musashiden Original Soundrack SSCX-10022 -
Parasite Eve Remixes SSCX-10023 -
Another Mind Original Soundtrack SSCX-10024 -
Ehrgeiz Original Soundtrack SSCX-10025 -
Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon 2 Original Soundtrack SSCX-10026 -
is: internal section original soundtrack SSCX-10027 -
Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack SSCX-10028 SQEX-10005/8
Cyber Org Original Soundtrack SSCX-10029 -
Chocobo Racing Original Soundtrack SSCX-10030 SQEX-10121
SaGa Frontier II Original Soundtrack SSCX-10031 SQEX-10061/3
Racing Lagoon Original Soundtrack SSCX-10032 -
Piano Pieces SF2 ~ Rhapsody on a Theme of SF2 SSCX-10033 -
Seiken Densetsu Legend of Mana Original Soundtrack SSCX-10034 SQEX-10036/7
Front Mission 3 Original Soundtrack SSCX-10035 -
DewPrism Original Soundtrack SSCX-10036 SQEX-10074/5
Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec SSCX-10037 SQEX-10025
Parasite Eve II Original Soundtrack SSCX-10038 -
Chrono Trigger Original Soundtrack SSCX-10039 SQEX-10045
Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack SSCX-10040 SQEX-10047/9
Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collections SSCX-10041 SQEX-10026
Vagrant Story Original Soundtrack SSCX-10042 SQEX-10068/9
Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack SSCX-10043/6 SQEX-10009/12
Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack Plus SSCX-10047 SQEX-10035
Final Fantasy IX Piano Collections SSCX-10048 SQEX-10027
The Bouncer Original Soundtrack SSCX-10049/50 -
Potion: Relaxin' with Final Fantasy SSCX-10051 SQEX-100073
Square Vocal Collection SSCX-10052 -
Final Fantasy X: Suteki da ne - Rikki SSCX-10053 SQEX-10029
Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack SSCX-10054/7 SQEX-10013/6
Final Fantasy X: feel / Go dream SSCX-10058 -
Potion 2: Relaxin' with Final Fantasy SSCX-10059 -
All Star Pro Wrestling II Original Soundtrack SSCX-10060 -
Final Fantasy X Piano Collections SSCX-10064 SQEX-10028
20020220 - Music from Final Fantasy SSCX-10065/6 SQEX-10030/1
Final Fantasy XI Original Soundtrack Limited Edition SSCX-10067/8 -
Final Fantasy XI Original Soundtrack SSCX-10069/70 SQEX-10017/8
Final Fantasy & Final Fantasy II Original Soundtrack SSCX-10071/2 SQEX-10032/3
Final Fantasy X Vocal Collection SSCX-10073 -
Unlimited SaGa Original Soundtrack SSCX-10078/9 -
The Black Mages SSCX-10080 SQEX-10019
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition Vol. 1 Premium SSCX-10081 -
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition Vol. 1 SSCX-10082 -
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Original Soundtrack SSCX-10083/4 SQEX-10070/1
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition Vol. 2 SSCX-10088 -
Hanjuku Hero VS 3D - Fight! Hanjuku Hero / Without Yolk... SSCX-10089 -
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition Vol. 3 SSCX-10092 -
Final Fantasy XI Rise of the Zilart Original Soundtrack SSCX-10093 -
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition Vol. 4 SSCX-10094 -
Hanjuku Hero VS 3D Original Soundtrack SSCX-10095/6 -
Sword of Mana Premium Soundtrack SSCX-10097/8 SQEX-10038/40
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections SSCX-10111 SQEX-10020
Front Mission 4 Plus 1st Original Soundtrack Cancelled SQEX-10021/4

After reprinting the Final Fantasy soundtracks, Square Enix focused on reprinting other best-selling DigiCube albums. They successively reprinted albums in the Mana (Legend of Mana, Sword of Mana), Xeno (Xenogears, Xenogears Creid), Chrono (Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross), and SaGa (SaGa Frontier, SaGa Frontier II) series between October 2004 and February 2006. Around the period of Final Fantasy XII's hype, they also reprinted Hitoshi Sakimoto's Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance soundtrack. More were surprised when Square reprinted Final Fantasy Potion and the Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon Original Soundtrack. Since then, reprints have slowed to a rate of about two per year, but at last Square Enix begun to look beyond the popular series. Their last four reprints were the soundtracks for DewPrism, Front Mission Alternative, Einhänder, and Chocobo Racing. Once again, these released were unexpected given none of these albums were particularly popular in their original prints. Just how far did Square Enix intend to go with the reprints?

Given its reputation for high quality album releases, several companies external to Square entrusted DigiCube to publish their soundtracks back in the day. On behalf of Namco, they printed the albums for Xenosaga Episode I, Tales of Destiny 2, Tales of Symphonia, and Soul Calibur II. Their other honours included Baroque, Armored Core 3, Ragnarok Online, and the Tengai Makyou series, all of which were popular in Japan. Towards the end of their life, DigiCube even published a series of albums for the hip-hop festival B-Boy Park. Many of these albums were never reprinted after DigiCube's demise, but Yasunori Mitsuda personally re-released the Xenosaga Episode I soundtrack in enhanced form and, due to popular demand, new prints of the Tales of Symphonia and Ragnarok Online albums were created. In addition, a box set featuring the Soul Calibur II soundtrack and a completely new soundtrack to Baroque were recently published.

Album Title DigiCube Print Company
Tengai Makyou IV The Apocalypse Vocal Collection SSCX-10005 Hudson
Tengai Makyou IV The Apocalypse Original Soundtrack SSCX-10005 Hudson
Baroque Original Soundrack SSCX-10021 Sting
Xenosaga Episode I: Kokoro - Joanne Hogg SSCX-10061 Namco
Xenosaga Original Soundtrack SSCX-10062/3 Namco
Tales of Destiny 2 Original Soundtrack SSCX-10074/7 Namco
Armored Core 3 Silent Line Original Soundtrack SSCX-10085 From Software
Soul Calibur II Original Soundtrack SSCX-10086/7 Namco
Ragnarok Online Original Soundtrack SSCX-10090/1 Gravity
B-Boy Park - We Are The Wild SSCX-10101 Hip-Hop Festival
B-Boy Park 2000 SSCX-10102 Hip-Hop Festival
B-Boy Park 2001 E.P. SSCX-10103 Hip-Hop Festival
B-Boy Park Aratanaru michi e... SSCX-10104 Hip-Hop Festival
Tales of Symphonia Original Soundtrack SSCX-10105/8 Namco
Tengai Makyou II Manjimaru Original Soundtrack SSCX-10109/10 Hudson

Square Enix's current priorities are clearly publishing new albums, but they seem committed to reprinting a couple of albums every year. What will 2009 bring from their DigiCube revival? Will Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday inspire Square Enix to revive the PlayStation scores for the series? May the continued presence of Masashi Hamauzu, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and Junya Nakano at the company result in reprints for Unlimited SaGa, Brave Fencer Musashi, or Another Mind? Could Square Enix decide to complete their set of reprints and let the Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon 2 and Front Mission 2 soundtracks live another life? Given their last releases, it's difficult to predict, but almost anything is possible. However, there seems to be little hope that low-profile soundtracks for Racing Lagoon, Internal Section, Ehrgeiz, Cyber Org, or the Tobal series.

Square Enix seems to be reprinting few arranged albums. Even though the scores for Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon and SaGa Frontier II were reprinted, their orchestral albums weren't. This seems to be in line with the company's current policy that arranged albums aren't generally worth producing since they sell fewer copies than original scores and can be costly to record. Nonetheless, perhaps the DigiCube revival will be even more far reaching than anticipated. Square Enix recently republished three classic obscure Super Nintendo soundtracks (Bahamut Lagoon, Live A Live, Rudra no Hihou) on iTunes. Perhaps a similar treatment will be given to those great DigiCube albums that couldn't have commercially viable physical reprints. However, Square Enix are bound to be further physical reprints before then. And who knows what they're thinking? Maybe they'll once again surprise us with their love for hyperactive electronica and make the is: internal section original soundtrack their next target!