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Square Enix X Xbox 360 Sound Collections :: Review by Don

Square Enix X Xbox 360 Sound Collections Album Title: Square Enix X Xbox 360 Sound Collections
Record Label: Square Enix
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: September 11, 2008
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The Square Enix X Xbox 360 Sound Collections is a promotional album that came as a pre-order bonus for Infinite Undiscovery's Japanese release. Featuring a small selection of pieces from that game, it is the first glimpse into the upcoming soundtrack that will be released in early October. In addition, music samples from two other Xbox 360 games, The Last Remnant and Star Ocean: The Last Hope, are also featured. How are the soundtracks to these future releases sounding? You'll have to read on to find out.


Offering a glimpse into Motoi Sakuraba's latest score, Infinite Undiscovery returns Sakuraba to the orchestral stylings he's seemed to carry with him since Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. A few of the pieces have a Star Ocean sound to them. "Epic Poem from the Heavens" is one such piece. Starting off quite mysteriously, the haunting choral and string work helps to create a tense mood. As the track progresses, it evolves into a more bombastic composition where the brass is in full force, helping to craft a more epic atmosphere. The string work in these sections is top notch and helps to reinforce the melody. Interspersed in a few sections, chaotic piano playing can be heard, which heightens the overall depth of the piece, before ending with a soft, piano section. The main theme, "Heavenly Sword," is also quite epic and bombastic in nature. There is a heavy focus on strings and brass and the melody is fairly decent. There are nice, peaceful interludes that focus on a combination of piano and woodwind passages, helping to tone down the overbearing brass at times.

Another track, "Blue Ground," follows in similar footsteps. It's a bombastic, adventurous composition with a heavy focus on brass. Unfortunately, the brass is a bit too brazen and really sounds like it's screaming for attention. Fortunately, there are times when strings are used in the melody, as well as woodwinds. It adds a bit of playfulness to the track. The battle theme, "Piercing My Enemy with a Dancing Blade" is another piece that exhibits an almost renaissance-like style. The focus on the majority of the melody is in the woodwind, but unfortunately, the brass and strings in this piece seem to compete for spotlight and the beautiful melody seems to become drowned out at times. While the melodic focus does shift to the strings at times, it's a shame that the real star of the show, the melody, is overshadowed by the accompaniment.

Continuing with Infinite Undiscovery, "Morning Dew and Playing Wind," most likely a town theme, is a playful composition that utilizes acoustic guitar and woodwinds. This piece is most reminiscent of Eternal Sonata's more playful town themes. It offers a lot of nice textures, mainly due to the exotic percussion samples, that help accentuate the airy and renaissance-like atmosphere the piece exudes. Lastly, "Hymn for the Headless Knight," is an organ heavy composition that exudes a strong sinister nature. At the same time, the use of the harpsichord adds another layer of atmosphere, mainly in the form of an almost holy aura. The true gem of this piece, however, is the choral work. Extremely epic at times, haunting at others, it brings the piece to life and even helps to salvage a fairly mediocre melody.

Tsuyoshi Sekito, known mainly for his work on Brave Fencer Musashi and as a guitarist for The Black Mages, is scoring the upcoming large-scale battle role-playing game, The Last Remnant. This promotional album offers two pieces to preview before the November release of the game. The first composition, "The First Awakening," opens up with a mysteriously strange synthesized portion that quickly changes into a piece that focuses on heavy militaristic influences. Bombastic percussion usage seems to be the main motivation for this track, even though strings and brass are used as a melodic impetus. The choral accents do add a bit of drama to the piece, but the repetition heard within this piece draws away from the overall effect of the composition. The other sample, "Struggle Eternal," is a rock-based battle theme that, again, focuses heavily on the accompaniment. While a synth melody can be heard, at times, it is drowned out by the guitar. The riffs are very loud, and a bit repetitive, offering a bit of change every once in a while. For the most part, it's a fairly decent battle theme with a few solos interspersed throughout.

Looking even farther into the future, the two samples for Star Ocean: The Last Hope gives us a glimpse of things to come in 2009. Motoi Sakuraba will reprise his role as the composer for this game. The first piece, "Cosmic Voyagers," is the theme heard in the trailers thus far. It's a piece that utilizes brass as the main melodic motivation. There are some woodwind passages at times to mingle with the brass. Unfortunately, I think the string motif that Sakuraba employs in the accompaniment is starting to get a bit stale. It's an epic piece in nature and a bit "formless" in nature, but it's nonetheless enjoyable for the most part. Of course, I'm complaining slightly about the orchestral portion of this game, when anyone who is a fan of Sakuraba knows that his strengths lie within his progressive rock compositions.

Having been on a hiatus from his progressive rock form for too long, Sakuraba returns in Star Ocean: The Last Hope in full form and better than ever with "Blood on the Keys," the presumed normal battle theme. The piece itself focuses on a nice blend of progressive keyboard work and electric guitar. If you listen closely, you'll be able to tell that the guitarist from the Baten Kaitos series and the Guilty Gear series, Toru Iwao, returns to work with Sakuraba for this soundtrack in some capacity. As for other portions of the piece, there are some nice, bouncy interludes, and the futuristic synth Sakuraba employs just screams Star Ocean. Chaotic, as usual, the keyboard and guitar solos help to make this piece easily one of Sakuraba's best progressive rock battle themes in years, and dare I say it, possibly ever.


Offering a glimpse into the near and distant future, Square Enix X Xbox 360 Sound Collections is a nice promotional album that highlights the upcoming soundtracks for various Xbox 360 role-playing games. The music to Infinite Undiscovery shows a much more refined orchestral offering than his work on Eternal Sonata and sounds like Star Ocean at times. However, some of the pieces selected are bit too brassy and deter from the overall effect of the pieces. The music to The Last Remnant seems to hint that the soundtrack will focus on a rock/militaristic soundscape. The pieces were fairly repetitive, but did offer some level of enjoyment. I'm still on the fence about that full soundtrack, but I'll have to wait a bit to get a full evaluation of Sekito's work. To me, the highlight of the sampler is easily the music featured from Star Ocean: The Last Hope. While the main theme is enjoyable, the true star of the sampler in its entirety is the battle theme. It is the return of Sakuraba's trademark sound and you can tell his pent-up progressive rock nature is unleashed in full. It's easily the soundtrack from Sakuraba to which I'm looking the most forward. If the samples are any indication, he might be able to surpass Star Ocean: Till the End of Time in terms of overall quality.

Overall Score: 8/10