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Boss Fight Books’ ‘Final Fantasy VI’ affords an enchanting take a look at music in gaming

If you’ve been following my work on MobileSyrup over the previous 4 years, you’ll know that Final Fantasy is my favorite online game sequence of all time.

While I like the sequence for its compelling tales and characters, robust gameplay mechanics and grand sense of journey, it’s Nobuo Uematsu’s music that’s really captivated me. As the only real composer of the primary 9 Final Fantasy video games, in addition to a contributor to a number of others, Uematsu’s work has come to outline the long-running sequence since its inception.

His work has gone on to be celebrated within the trade and featured in lots of live shows world wide, together with the ‘Distant Worlds’ reveals.

Nobuo Uematsu

Meeting Uematsu at Distant Worlds 2017 stays one of many coolest experiences I’ve ever had.

But of all of his prolific works, maybe his most iconic is Final Fantasy VI, the 1994 SNES JRPG that’s broadly regarded to be one of many biggest video games of all time. With that in thoughts, author and musician Sebastian Deken has teamed up with Boss Fight Books, the writer of fantastic documentary-style non-fiction books about video video games, to investigate Uematsu’s work on FFVI.

Right from the beginning, Deken displays a robust author’s voice that’s directly subtle but in addition welcoming. This implies that even for those who’re somebody like me who tremendously appreciates the music of Uematsu however is aware of little about precise music criticism, you possibly can nonetheless observe together with Deken fairly properly. He will get into some technical breakdowns of particular chord charts, but it surely by no means feels overwhelming.

Making this even higher, the good thing about this e-book popping out in 2021 (versus, say, nearer to 1994) is that FFVI‘s rating is now accessible on all types of digital platforms, together with Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. Because of that, Deken invitations you to hear alongside every time he refers to a given piece, and it makes for an particularly engrossing studying expertise.

The e-book additionally adopts a sensible construction, with the early sections serving as a historical past lesson on music in gaming and the way it began off as transient little “ditties” — purely serviceable, Deken notes, however not precisely memorable. Even as time went on and the likes of Koji Kondo (Mario and The Legend of Zelda) and Koichi Sugiyama (Dragon Quest) introduced true musicality to the medium, the video games themselves have been decidedly primary of their tales and characters.

Uematsu, in the meantime, helped elevate music in gaming by way of highly effective compositions that went hand-in-hand with the extra subtle storytelling of Final Fantasy to elicit really profound emotional responses, particularly in VI. Deken explores how notably spectacular this was given the technical limitations Uematsu confronted on the SNES. It’s straightforward to listen to renditions of Uematsu’s music in trendy video games like Final Fantasy XIV or large orchestrated live shows like Distant Worlds and overlook their humble roots.

“Through his passionate analyses, I myself have found even more appreciation for Uematsu, my favourite musician of all time, and FFVI, one of my all-time favourite games.”

Naturally, the e-book examines this by way of particular person dissections of every character’s themes, whether or not it’s the solemn-but-hopeful “Terra’s Theme,” the Ennio Morricone Western-inspired “Shadow’s Theme,” the honourable-yet-tragic “Cyan’s Theme,” the heroic “Locke’s Theme,” and, in fact, the excellent majesty and build-up of Kefka’s seventeen-minute-longDancing Mad” battle theme.

Final Fantasy VI opera house

Celes on the opera home.

To additional illustrate the brilliance of those themes, Deken notes that Uematsu truly composed them with out particular characters in thoughts and then assigned them to every one. Despite that, each sounds pitch-perfect to who every character is. Moreover, Deken unpacks how Uematsu used leitmotif — on the time, to unprecedented impact — to thematically tie characters and story parts collectively, like “Forever Rachel” being a extra melancholy model of “Locke’s Theme” to additional depict his tragic love story.

Deken properly dedicates a complete part of the e-book to the place that is maybe most evident: FFVI‘s iconic opera home part. Despite the simplistic visuals, lack of voice appearing and minimal audio choices, the burden of the scene — the previous Imperial normal Celes pouring out her coronary heart on stage — is superbly conveyed by way of “Aria di Mezzo Carattere.” He even goes into how scenes just like the opera home — achingly sentimental and introspective as they’re — go towards the “tough guy” masculine-centric advertising employed by Square Soft (now Square Enix) in 1994, which was new and fascinating context even to me.

The e-book can also be remarkably well-researched; Deken regularly cites interviews going again so far as 20 years with Uematsu and different key Final Fantasy builders like sequence creator Hironobu Sakaguchi to dive into the influences behind the work. Adding additional perception is new commentary from Uematsu himself, as supplied through e-mail exchanges with Deken. These all assist painting Uematsu, the person, in all of his genius and humility.

Final Fantasy VI airship

The overworld music for Final Fantasy VI stays a spotlight of the soundtrack.

Ultimately, as somebody with subsequent to zero information on the precise artwork of making music, I realized so much studying Deken’s tackle Final Fantasy VI. Through his passionate analyses, I personally have discovered much more appreciation for Uematsu, my favorite musician of all time, and FFVI, one in all my all-time favorite video games. But even for those who’re a extra informal fan of Final Fantasy or video games, Deken’s Final Fantasy VI makes for an illuminating learn on each a gaming traditional and the evolution of music within the medium.

Deken’s Final Fantasy VI e-book might be bought digitally now on Boss Fight Books’ web site. A paperback copy will launch on July thirteenth.

If you need to play (or replay) Final Fantasy VI, it’s value noting that it — in addition to the previous 5 video games within the sequence — are getting enhanced ‘Pixel Remaster’ variations later this 12 months. These will even characteristic preparations of the unique music overseen by Uematsu.

Image credit score: Square Enix

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Written by Gideon

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