Square-Enix Piano Collections pt.7: Looking out ahead, filling the gaps

June 25, 2012 at 11:06 am (Editorials, Soundtracks) (, , , , , , )

So what’s left? I’ve covered all of the official entires into the Piano Collections series (11 Final Fantasy Piano Collections, 3 other Piano Collections, 2 Piano Opera), and a few others from related games. It seems like a lot of be going on with.

There are however, some curious absences and possible future entires into the series that I should discuss.

Notable is the absence of a piano album for Final Fantasy XII¹. The game’s original score was composed by mostly by Hitoshi Sakamoto with some input from Masaharu Iwata and Hayato Matsuo, with Nobuo Uematsu only composing the ending theme “Kiss Me Good-Bye”. When asked about the development of a Piano Collections album for the game, Square-Enix has stated that there are no current plans. Legal issues may be a problem (since Sakimoto is not with Square-Enix), but also discouraging is the fact that the Final Fantasy XII OST did not sell well in comparison to others. There likely thus is not a large enough demand for a Piano Collections album in Square’s eyes. Many will also note that Sakimoto’s compositions are not often focused on melody, making it a bit harder to arrange for piano (although Masashi Hamauzu did a fantastic job of doing this kind of thing on “Piano Collections Final Fantasy X”).

Should they release it one day, it is also possible that they will actually include it as a Piano Opera entry, with the other games sharing the release being the Final Fantasy Tactics series, which was a spin-off tactical-RPG series. Its roots trace back to PlayStation, and continue up to the present on the Nintendo DS. What do these have in common with Final Fantasy XII? All of the games take place in the universe of “Ivalice”, which is more traditionally fantasy-like than most of the other Final Fantasy game settings. While the music of the series were never given much attention (also mostly composed by Sakimoto), there are more than enough good pieces from each respective game that would work well in a “Piano Opera Ivalice” compilation.

Another spin-off series that has a lot of games available for a compilation is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, which started back on the Gamecube, and has a few Wii  entries. The music was composed mostly by Kumi Tanioka, who did a few arrangements for “Piano Collections NieR”, and has composed and arranged songs for piano (at concerts) for Final Fantasy XI. Although the compositions are for the most part a bit simpler (the games are aimed at younger audiences), it could still make for a pleasant, romantic album, especially if Tanioka self-arranged the pieces.

A newer, shorter spin-off series is “Dissidia: Final Fantasy”. These two games however feature mostly recycled music or new arrangements of songs from the previous Final Fantasy games, with only a handful of new compositions from Takeharu Ishimoto. While some of those compositions are great, there is hardly enough to make a dedicated piano album.

The final spin-off series is the Chocobo series. With a large mix of familiar and new composers, the soundtracks for the series have been received better than the games for the most part, but they haven’t done well enough commercially. It seems unlikely that we will get an arranged piano album, although there was an arranged album early back.

There are other neglected games, some attached to main entries of the Final Fantasy series. “Final Fantasy Mystic Quest” was released on the SNES, with its score composed by Ryuki Sasai and Yasuhiro Kawakami. More recently, “Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light” was released on DS, with score composed by Mizuta (from Final Fantasy XI). Although both of these games received some attention, they’ve since fallen into obscurity and would not likely get a piano album. Final Fantasy IV has a sequel, “The After Years”, and Final Fantasy XII has a prequel, “Revenant Wings”. The former probably missed its opportunity with “Piano Opera IV-VI”, and the latter would maybe see a song or two in “Piano Opera Ivalice”/”Piano Collections Final Fantasy XII” if either of those ever happened.

“The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII” is a possible contender though, hosting “Dirge of Cerberus”, “Crisis Core”, “Before Crisis”, “Last Order” and “Advent Children”. Although some of these entries have recycled/updated tracks, there is enough material for a piano album, or at the very least we would see some make an appearance on “Piano Opera VII-IX”, if they decide to release that to keep with the 25th anniversary year for Final Fantasy.

The last Final Fantasy universe up for grabs is that of “Fabula Nova Crystallis”, which houses “Final Fantasy XIII”, “XIII-2”, “Type -Zero-”, and “Versus XIII”. The score for XIII-2 already well received, and “Versus XIII” still pending release. It’s something to look out for as the set wraps up, although many fans have not ruled out the possibility of a “Final Fantasy XIII-3”.

Probably more likely than any of these is a “Piano Collections XIV”, although that mostly depends on how the game fares in its future 2.0 patch. Critically panned at release, Final Fantasy XIV has been undergoing a massive overhaul to bring the game up to standards. In the music department, the score was well received, having been composed by the returning Nobuo Uematsu. For the game, two albums have been released: “Battle Tracks” and “Field Tracks”. An entire soundtrack has not yet been announced, but it will likely be released alongside or shortly after the release of Final Fantasy XIV 2.0, which is slated to be finished in 2013. Perhaps if the game does better, we will see by the end of that year a “Piano Collections Final Fantasy XIV”. We can only hope.

In other media, the Final Fantasy series also saw a feature film, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”. The score was composed by Elliot Goldenthal, which was a controversial choice at the time since he had never scored a Final Fantasy game. Nevertheless, the score proved to be up to par, and was well received critically and commercially. At that time, an anime series was also released, “Final Fantasy: Unlimited”. The score was done by Uematsu, Hamaguchi, and newcomer Akifumi Tada. The score didn’t do as well commercially, and as the times for both of these entries has long passed, it seems unlikely that they will get piano albums.

In terms of games outside of Final Fantasy, it is possible that Kingdom Hearts will get another piano album release. If they release it after Kingdom Hearts III, then they will have “Birth By Sleep”, “Coded”, “358/2 Days”, “3D: Dream Drop Distance” and “Kingdom Hearts III” to pick songs from (although BBS and Days did get two songs arranged already). They may even pick up a few forgotten songs from the earlier entries.

The “Mana” series is also a possible contender for a Piano Opera entry. Starting off as “Final Fantasy Adventure” (or Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden” in Japan), the Mana series had beginnings as a spin-off of the Final Fantasy series. With “Secret of Mana” recently getting attention at the “Symphonic Fantasies” concert, as well as recent and upcoming arranged albums, there has been an increase of interest in the music of the series. There are more than enough games to spread across an album or two, and with some new and some old composers (Yoko Shimomura did a Mana game), it would be a fresh sounding release for sure.

Other notable games composed by Nobuo Uematsu are “Blue Dragon” and “Lost Odyssey”, which both saw tracks on “Benyamin Nuss plays Uematsu” and at the “Symphonic Odysseys” concert, the latter game receiving a full 20-minute suite. There is certainly potential here in each game, although there might not be a big enough fanbase to push Square-Enix to release these.

So where will the series go from here? I highly doubt that it’s at an end. Square-Enix recently opened up a Piano Collections portal site for the release of “Piano Collections NieR” and the two Piano Operas, so they don’t appear to intend for the series to be forgotten about. There is a lot they can still do in this 25th anniversary year for Final Fantasy, so keep your hopes up and maybe even send a few letters.

Personally, I’m just waiting for a “Chrono Piano Opera”, but to each their own.

What would you like to see get a piano-arranged album, or which do you think is most likely? I don’t usually encourage comments (not that I have anything against them), but please, leave a comment!

Edit Aug.4.2012 Piano Collections Final Fantasy XII was announced in the programme for the PIANO OPERA concerts. Check for a review once its released. I’ll update these articles to include it where it fits.

pt.1: Shiro Satou’s Triad
pt.2: the Other Shiro, Mr. Hamaguchi
pt.3: Ten to Ten-Two
pt.4: Back to Basics
pt.5: Branching out
pt.6: the Other Collections
pt.7: Looking out ahead, filling the gaps

1 Comment

  1. Marv said,

    I would like to see piano collection from Soma Bringer (underrated DS game). All the scores are amazing!

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