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Fire Emblem Character Theme Collection :: Review by Charles

Fire Emblem Character Theme Collection Album Title: Fire Emblem Character Theme Collection
Record Label: Columbia
Catalog No.: COCA-6675
Release Date: September 21, 1990
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The Fire Emblem Character Theme Collection is a fully orchestrated compilation of "character themed" arrangements taken from the original Fire Emblem game. This time the pieces were not arranged by the main Fire Emblem composer, Yuka Tsujiyoko, but rather by a new face to the series, Yuzo Hayashi. The musicians tend to do a beautiful job making this a clean and crisp set of arrangements, especially with the auditorium-like acoustics. Let's face it, Fire Emblem's musical style was never very appropriate for 8-bit systems in the first place. At times the album can prove to be an unwarranted genre jumper, going from classical to jazz or even rock. Either way, there is sure to be at least one enjoyable arrangement in this album for any Fire Emblem fan. At the same time, it's possible that some will find a few of the arrangements to be flat-out mutilations of the originals.


Some of the classical arrangements become a bit lost in translation due to the lack of percussive instruments. The first track, "Marth" (also known as the main Fire Emblem theme), is a prime example of this. The original piece was not all that spectacular, though it has proved so much potential as it evolved over the years that it's hard not to appreciate the piece. There is a lot a musician can do with this piece of music and I feel they played it a bit safe this time around. It's an interesting light and soothing orchestral take, but the piece just stays like that the whole length of the track. I suppose it's a refresher to the monumental and grand takes on the piece, but in the end, "monumental" is the type of arrangement that this track needs to rise to the top.

Keeping that in mind, there is still a lot of great stuff going on here. Throughout the whole album, there's great attention to detail in the newly arranged compositions. You'll hear little touches of flute, oboe and clarinet runs in the background and it makes it a joy to listen to even if it's being played safe. The same could be said for tracks two through four. The orchestration works relatively well in "Adel", though it all starts to sound the same by the time "Hardin" comes up.

By track five, "Jeigan", there is a total change of pace with this heavy focus on different styles of keyboards, electric/bass guitar, and percussion. There's a bit of novelty and also a bit of authenticity to it. I'm sure any fan would enjoy listening to it once, but more than once is what I am hesitant to say. At times, the track seems like it could work with the jazzy/rock style, and then I feel the tenor saxophone really throws the whole thing off. In the end, this style gets even more lost in translation. When I said percussion would be nice, I didn't mean a total 80's rock drum beat. Also the track "Mediuth" had me thinking I was watching the television show, Seinfeld, for a moment! Some may like these alternative styles, but chances are that most will not.

Another little "bonus" you get with this album is a set of medleys. By medley, I mean the arranger basically ripped tracks from the original and sloppily pasted them all together in one. It's interesting for comparison to the orchestrated tracks, but it just throws the album off track even more in the end. The final track is actually just the original sound effects played one after another. I don't know many people who would like listening to that.


Is this album for you? Most people will enjoy the clean orchestration in the beginning, even if it's a bit bland. A few fans will enjoy the remixed later tracks, but definitely not all. Not many average listeners or fans will enjoy the final track. Unless this album highly appeals to you already, then it's not worth owning. There is some good in this album, but it can be overshadowed a bit too much and most average listeners will find that it isn't worth their time.

Overall Score: 6/10