Recently I when I have been doing my OSTM pick for the week I like to do a game that is releasing somewhere around the time I pick it. Usually a week before or a week ahead. This has been the theme for a few weeks and I like that format, keeps it relevant and also lets me know about great new music that is released. So this week I would like to recognize ‘Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King’. Now for people who have been a fan of the series will know that this game released on the PS2 in 2005, so why am I suggesting to listen to it this week when I just explained I do time relevant games? Crazy you say, well no. The game is just being rereleased on the DS. This to me gives new life into the game and I feel that we should appreciate how far it has come.
First off I have to praise the composer Koichi Sugiyama. Until I started to do research into this soundtrack I had no idea he has been the composer on almost all, if not all (I don’t know about obscure titles) Dragon Quest/Warrior titles. That is up there with our good friend Nobuo Uematsu, and his work with Final Fantasy or Koji Kondo and Legend of Zelda. The later two composers I could name off the top of my head where as Koichi I had no idea he was so talented and been in the industry for so long. It’s also worth noting that Koichi has 2 Guinness World Records. One for being the oldest composer in video games (He is 85, but as of the record he was 84 and 292 days). The other for having the first ballet inspired by a video game. It is referring to this ballet.
This soundtrack, even though released in 2005, still holds it’s own against any soundtrack or composition from recent years. Some titles show their age either by picking a trending style or taking hold of a certain genre of music. Orchestrated music is always timeless and always makes for a great soundtrack if it fits the game. Some songs are a bit silly and out of place through the album, but while playing the game they make sense, playing them out of context will sound abrupt.
I have never played the game myself, but everywhere seems to give it high scores. I also suppose they are on the 9th or 10th title so it can’t be all that bad! I still remember playing the original on the NES with my mom, brother, and sister. My mom was really into it, more so than we were. I think it was the kind of game that she could play because it was turn based, and did not require you to do things in real time. Heck it was probably good for us too so we could just let the game play without the need of platforming skills or the ability to fly a jet in Top Gun. Back then there was no Let’s Play videos, no guides, no internet; there was just word of mouth and trial and error. The part that sticks in my mind the most is when my mom was going back to a starting zone and encountered a slime. She was a high level compared to the slime and she froze when the screen said “Slime has run away!”. She couldn’t believe it and told us kids to come look at it. We all were in awe that our mom had scared away a monster! She still plays these games and has a pseudo shrine in her game room to them. I remember on her birthday one year I got her the slime controller and she proudly displays it on her shelf with all of her Dragon Quest/Warrior games. I have many memories in my 20+ years of gaming, but the one where my mom, my hero, could scare away the monster is probably one of the best I will ever have!
This week when you are doing homework, reading a book, or just needing to concentrate I would really recommend this album. It got me through my busy work day and into the night. I’m going to give it another go tomorrow as well.
Dragon Quest Series
Koichi is a true force in the realm of video game music. His 30+ year presence in the space is a testament to his work. You can find this soundtrack and more here: