Hi there, internet. Music is the cornerstone of any good game. Even if it is just the generic lets get pumped music that permeates most shooters. Without music, you’d be limited to nothing but vocals and sound effects and games that do this always seem so bland (To me at least). Music can change a fairly boring battle into something amazing. How memorable would Gilgamesh’s battle be in Final Fantasy V without Battle on the Big Bridge? Now the unfortunate thing is that there are many games that have stellar tracks that will never be as memorable as others. It’s just part of life that not every theme is going to get One Winged Angel level of attention. That’s why today I’m going to be highlighting battle music from games that may have been forgotten, were never popular to begin with, or had a hidden boss that most people didn’t care enough to face. Since the RPG world thrives on its music and most RPGs get forgotten completely, there is a large assortment of games for me to choose from, but I will of course be limiting it to games that I have experience with.
1.) Feldschlacht IV- SaGa Frontier 2
The SaGa series is one of the far less known pervasive series from Square, especially in the west. Here, the first three SaGa games were titled Final Fantasy Legends because the Final Fantasy name held more weight than SaGa. The have been a host of games since and most of them have been forgettable. However, SaGa Frontier 2 always stood out from the pack for me. It’s one of those “best games you’ve never played” games. It combines an excellent, unpredictable battle system with a strong and engrossing narrative broken up between several main protagonists. Feldschlacht IV is the fourth version of the regular battle theme (They change depending on the part of the story you’re in). It doesn’t sound like regular battle music; it seems far more intense. However, that’s part of its charm. Unlike other games with different battle musics, SaGa Frontier 2’s battle music all have the same basic themes, but they’re remixed differently. Look at the other Feldschlachts if you want to know what I’m talking about.
2.) Battle Theme for Metatron – Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Most people haven’t heard this bit of music for three reasons. Firstly, Nocturne was released in the west before Persona 3, so SMT hadn’t started to become popular here. Secondly, it’s actually pretty rare, and few people actually manage to stumble upon it. Finally, the boss in question is one of the secret bosses in a notoriously difficult game. The song itself is quite good, considering that its your demon character against the voice of God (YHWH in the series). It has all of the pomp you would expect from the greatest of angels. One of the neat things that even fewer people realize is that it uses the Law theme from previous Shin Megami Tensei games as the high point of the song. This same technique was used in the more popular Battle Hymn of the Soul from Persona 3, which integrated the Velvet Room theme in the song.
3.) Boss Theme – Lunar: Eternal Blue
I feel both sorry and happy for Lunar fans. I feel sorry because any attempt to revive the series has met with failure. I feel happy for them because they received two extremely well made, standalone game that really don’t need any expansion. Truthfully, they’re perfect on their own. As part of this alleged perfection, the music is extremely good on all fronts. It is unfortunate that most people of the last two generations of consoles have no idea what this series is, but that is a downside of game series as I covered here. A PSP remake of the original game was a good effort, but woefully inadequate in just about every way. As such, most people have never heard of the games, and fewer still have played them. There is a strong, dedicated fanbase, but that isn’t enough to make others play the games.
4.) Calling From a Distance – Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
This isn’t the last boss theme from this game, but it is one of the most important bosses. This theme has you’re team against the head of the shadowy underground government (Not going to explain the plot). Dragon Quarter is a very challenging game, so many people who played it never beat it. However, the biggest problem is that nobody actually bought the game. It was the death of the Breath of Fire series, alienating fans due to change, and new players due to general obscurity and difficulty. This is one of the great tragedies in video game history. As I’ve mentioned before, Dragon Quarter was not only the best Breath of Fire game, but it was far ahead of its time, and I’m convinced that if it was released now, it would have an immense following on the level of Dark Souls.
5.) Violent Storm – Baten Kaitos
For those of you more partial to heavy metal tracks, this one is for you. Baten Kaitos was one of the few RPGs on the Nintendo Gamecube and it really never made waves. It did well enough to get a prequel game, but neither stood out among the gaming populous enough to actually engrain itself into people’s memories. As such, this tiny, last gen game has been mostly forgotten, which is a shame due to the fact that it had some very interesting ideas. Sure, it also had some of the worst voice acting to ever be done in a video game, but it deserved a little better.
6.) Boss Battle Theme – Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals
This song is one of the best boss battle themes in the history of video games, so it’s a shame that most gamers growing up now will never ever hear it. This should be a song that every RPG fan is well acquainted with, but that is sadly not the case. The Lufia series is like a short-changed Lunar series. They got two amazing games out, but they both felt incomplete somehow, and there was always the promise of a new game to fix it. Well, the series hasn’t been doing so well. There was a total remake of Lufia 2 for the DS a little while back. However, it was more of a re-imagining than a remake, and it significantly changed the game, even going so far as to change the genre. Unfortunately, this game wasn’t a runaway hit, and the fate of the Lufia series is unknown. Truthfully, it seems that, like Lunar, the first two games will be the hits, and everything else is just a downhill slide.
7.) Femme Fatales – Parasite Eve
Parasite Eve was a moderately known Squaresoft RPG during the PS1 days. Selling almost two million, it would definitely be considered a success. Hell, it’s even remembered fondly on the internet. However, many people will still never play it. Dated, PS1 games are hard for new gamers to get into. Graphically, it was a strange time in the industry and that can be jarring to new gamers who are used to much more interactive and smooth graphics. However, Parasite Eve is absolutely worth playing. Hell, it’s worth playing for the soundtrack alone. It was composed by Yoko Shimomura. If you aren’t aware who she is, you should know what she’s done. Chrono Trigger, Legend of Mana, Kingdom Hearts, Xenoblade Chronicles, and the oft delayed Final Fantasy Versus XIII, are all credits under her name. To put it simply, along with Nobuo Uematsu, she is one of the biggest RPG composers of all time and the Parasite Eve soundtrack shows this.
Since I’m not posting pictures today. Here is a beautiful remix from SaGa Frontier 2 as a cooldown before the concluding paragraph.
There, seven themes that I thought were more obscure than simply posting Dancing Mad seven times. If you’ve heard these tracks before, don’t be mad at me for not picking more obscure tracks; feel proud that you haven’t forgotten these games or their music. A problem with the video game industry is that so few new gamers look back to the past unless they are playing some larger series. With one shot games or series that have petered out, it is harder to entice new gamers to take a chance and spend their time on them. It’s an unfortunate consequence of the franchise-based industry that we have and I hope that excellent music, battle or otherwise, isn’t so quickly forgotten.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer