Square-Enix Piano Collections pt.5: Branching out

June 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm (Editorials, Soundtracks) (, , , , , , )

In 2003, a crossover game of sorts was released called Kingdom Hearts. It was a bit of a controversy at the time for fans of Final Fantasy, as it was to be a mix of characters from Final Fantasy and Disney. Given the different target audiences for both series, it was understandably a cause of concern that one of the groups was going to be altered so that they could cater to the other group’s audiences (although it should be noted that many people were easily fans of both series). Thankfully, the concerns must have been heeded by the developers, as the game was released to strong critical reception and sales, being able to cater well to both audiences. It later went on to feature several spin-offs and sequels, each moderately or well received. Even at the time of writing this, it looks like there are a few years and iterations left for series.

More than what was found in Final Fantasy games, Kingdom Hearts focused heavily on the development of the characters and their relationships, with friendship being a recurring theme between the games. Characters in the games gained a strong sense of unity, loyalty and trust, but also experienced losses, separation, and loneliness. With all of these emotional aspects, an appropriate score was required to help portray these feelings. Yoko Shimomura composed for majority of the series, only being helped later for Kingdom Hearts 3D. Not only was Shimomura able to cover the ground for these emotional needs, she also provided appropriate backdrops for the various Disney worlds that the characters visited, so well that one might’ve thought that they were in the original movies. While most of the music was never particularly complex, the melodies were easy to remember, and the arrangements were full and diverse.

It was no surprise, then, that Kingdom Hearts was chosen as the first branch in the Piano Collections franchise. Released after the first three games (Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, Chain of Memories), the album featured a selection of songs voted by fans. Featuring four new arrangers and pianists, the album was able to separate itself stylistically from the previous Collections, but also managed to be a unified work. As a whole, the album was well received, but it was certainly a flawed work.

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drammatica: The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura

March 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm (Soundtracks) (, )

1.Legend of Mana ~Title Theme~
2. Take the Offensive
3. Destati
4. Hometown Domina
5. The Birds Fly in the Sky, The Fish swim in the River
6. To the Heroes of Old ~Opening Theme from HEROES of MANA~
7. Twinkle Twinkle Holidays
8. Tango Appassionata ~The Way this Heart Is~
9. Earth Painting
10. Forgotten Wings
11. The 13th Anthology
12. Manifold Irons
13. Ruined Sparkling City
14. The Other Promise
15. The Story that the Wind Taught Us
16. Somnus

I wanted this album only for the Kingdom Hearts stuff. Since that’s the only game I played from this entire compilation album. I was never a MANA player, and I had never even heard of LIVE A LIVE. Although the FFXIII bonus was nice. I might be a tad biased…just a tad. But anyways, I figured if Shimomura’s compositions for KH was good, the others would be too. And it was an arranged album, so how could I not pass up?

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