Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy VI: Original Soundtrack


5.0
classic

Review

by Gigglesdemon USER (31 Reviews)
July 9th, 2012 | 96 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With a career spanning dozens of soundtracks, this one soundtrack stands out as arguably the greatest of Nobuo Uematsu’s career.

If you want to start a flame war on the Internet, there is no easier way than to simply ask, which is the greatest Final Fantasy game? If you’re lucky, you might get a little bit of intellectual and thoughtful discussion, but soon the angry nerds will flock and try to prove that their personal favorite is the best, usually by saying every other one is crap. They will target every element of the games, from major ones like story, gameplay, and characters, to minor ones like setting, side quests, and glitches (I once saw a person claim that VI possibly couldn’t be better than VII because of a relatively minor glitch that was rarely encountered). But one thing stands out as nearly unimpeachable; nothing not even the most rabid of fanboys would dare criticize: Nobuo Uematsu’s stunning soundtracks. At most I’ve seen people say a certain track is overrated, but never calling it terrible. So with the ability to stop fanboys dead in their tracks, Nobuo is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Nearly all of his work with Final Fantasy is near perfection, helping build the drama and adding tensions to the turn based battles. With that high praise, I bring us to the soundtrack that is arguably the one he succeeds the most with, Final Fantasy VI.

One thing that a listener will immediately notice is that the soundtrack is much gloomier and darker than previous installments in the series. Dungeon themes seem to literally drip with menace and despair, something that previous games didn’t seem to have. And this really fits well with the game, considering that the villain destroys the world halfway through the game. But despite this melancholy, there is still hope. And Nobuo’s tracks work wonders at aiding this feeling. For every song filled with dread, there is a heroic song to lift you up. Nobuo strikes such a wonderful balance with this soundtrack, it really is quite astounding. A great example is the two town themes, placed right next to each other on the track list. Kids Run Through the City is a standard jolly town theme of the Final Fantasy series, but the ominous and hopeless sounding Under Martial Law raises such a wonderful counterpoint to that.

However, I feel the real meat of the soundtrack is Nobuo’s experiments with a leitmotif style. Each character has their own specific theme, which really helps define the characters. From the wonderfully spaghetti western styled Shadow’s Theme to the whimsical yet sinister Kefka’s Theme, each song seems to perfectly fit the character. Two of the more famous themes from this game are Celes’s Theme, which is remixed into the famous opera track, Aria de Mezzo Caraterre, is a very moving track, filled with the perfect mix of despair and hope that I mentioned earlier, and Terra’s Theme, which serves as the primary overworld music for the game. Oftentimes, Final Fantasy games live or die off the overworld theme, since it is the primary track you hear throughout the game. And Terra’s Theme might just be the best of them all. It really encapsulates the spirit of adventure and discovery that characterizes the Final Fantasy games as a whole. Whenever I hear that track, I feel the need to pick up some traveling gear and just go out into the wide world to see what I can discover. But the grand culmination of this experiment is the ending theme, Balance is Restored. It weaves together every character’s theme as we discover what happened to them after the climactic events of the game. It’s quite beautiful and a fitting end to the story.

While these character themes definitely help the plot elements move along, what about the battle segments? With the right tracks, it can transform a turn based battle into something more, a fraught, tension filled encounter where you hope that you can just barely get out of it alive. And this soundtrack has it in spades. From the fast paced The Decisive Battle or the terrifying Ultima Weapon theme, The Fierce Battle, this soundtrack has the perfect song for any encounter. And the crown jewel of the battle themes is the 17 minute long epic for the final battle against the god-like Kefka, Dancing Mad. This track moves through the four parts of the battle, revisiting some past themes to really drive home the idea that this moment is what the whole journey is building up to. The almost church choir like stylings of the track, filled with synthesized chants and organs, make you almost believe you are fighting a god. I once heard this track described as a way of saying, “Rejoice! For Kefka shall bring about a glorious end!” And that is the near perfect way to describe it.

From the dramatic character themes, the doom filled dungeons, to the potent battle tracks, this soundtrack has it all. It manages to be incredibly diverse, yet still retain a unified theme: hope is never lost. Really, any listener could probably find a track or two that they enjoy even if they aren’t fans of video games in general. And that is probably this soundtrack’s greatest ability, to give anyone an enjoyable and dramatic listen. Even if you aren’t a fan of Final Fantasy, give this soundtrack a listen. You might walked away surprised.

A Few Recommended Tracks: (This part was hard, choosing the best tracks from a 3 disc set, so I choose a few that I thought gave an excellent variety)

Dancing Mad
Aria de Mezzo Caraterre
Terra’s Theme
The Veldt
Catastrophe
Searching for Friends
The Unforgiven



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Gigglesdemon
July 9th 2012


187 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Was really surprised there was no review for this. So I decided to write this. The most difficult review I've ever written, it took several months of tweaking and rewriting. But as always, constructive criticism is welcome.

Dreamflight
July 9th 2012


1760 Comments


A Final Fantasy review, which mentions angry nerds.....instant pos.

Shuyin
July 9th 2012


11827 Comments


great review, but im just gonna go with the usual and say FFVII soundtrack was the best.

Digging: Yoko Kanno - Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex OST Vol 1

Dreamflight
July 9th 2012


1760 Comments


^^ofc

FadedSun
July 9th 2012


1284 Comments


FFVI OST is so much better than VII.

Gigglesdemon
July 9th 2012


187 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I really dig the FFVII soundtrack, but it is only my 3rd favorite soundtrack. FIV is my second for nostalgia reasons (I'm not immune), I feel like VI takes the crown because it is so consistent. I can honestly not find a bad track on here. Plus, as much as I dig the FFVII music, the compression just doesn't seem as good as the others.

Shuyin
July 9th 2012


11827 Comments


SEPHIROTH IS ALIVE!!

ZedO
July 9th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea the soundtrack rules

WashboardSuds
July 9th 2012


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Relm's theme is the best song on this soundtrack

Da11thMytrillSphere
July 9th 2012


546 Comments


For some reason I prefer the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VII but this one rules too.

Venpts16
July 9th 2012


283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am very happy to see that this soundtrack got a review. The game and its soundtrack are both awesome, as is the review it received.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 9th 2012


50510 Comments


Hey my least favorite final fantasy


Gigglesdemon
July 9th 2012


187 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hey my least favorite final fantasy

May I ask why?

WashboardSuds
July 9th 2012


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not IX enough 4 trebor

Gigglesdemon
July 9th 2012


187 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

IX is actually one of the few I haven't played (Along with XIV, XI, and XII). I have heard it is really good, should I check it out?

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 9th 2012


50510 Comments


It's the only one I don't have so I had to play it on emulator and it was gay and that's probably why
If I ever find it for GBA I'll get it

Gigglesdemon
July 9th 2012


187 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good luck finding it on GBA. It's like $100 for a new copy.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 9th 2012


50510 Comments


Well I should have got it when it came out in 06 but I blanked


WashboardSuds
July 9th 2012


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah it's not my favorite but definitely a solid title. also don't worry about the others you haven't played yet because what you listed isn't really all that worth checking out

WashboardSuds
July 9th 2012


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also is it really $100 for gba? I sold mine a couple years ago for $20



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