Iíve always loved great video game music. Loved. I would sometimes just let Mega Man 2 sit so I could listen to Metal Manís theme. I used the Ninja Gaiden sound test to provide background music for home made radio plays my friends and I occasionally recorded for school assignments. I sat for ages in the first cave in Final Fantasy II (nťe IV) listening to the music swirl around me like the mist that filled the cave.
Needless to say, when I discovered SquareSoft was selling the soundtrack for Final Fantasy III (blah blah VI blah), I had to have it. Never mind that they wanted a ridiculous $40 plus shipping for a 3-CD set; this was a chance to own a genuinely fantastic game soundtrack on disc to listen to whenever I wanted. And I hadnít even heard how phenomenal ďThe Fierce BattleĒ was yet.
Once the soundtrack -- called Kefkaís Domain in its U.S. incarnation for some reason -- arrived, I listened to it over and over. In retrospect, this was a terribly cruel thing to do to my roommate at the time. He was a music major, you see. Despite FFVIís soundtrack being miles beyond practically anything else to have appeared in the video game medium, it was still, you know, game music. That meant the tunes were short, simple, and produced with sound samples from the Super NES audio chip. Great stuff for an RPG, and great if you were familiar with their context. For someone who didnít play video games and spent his days performing classical music on cello... maybe not so much.
That didnít stop me from forcing it on the poor guy, trying to convince him that the Veldt theme was in fact totally great. I feel a little bad about that, but in fairness, the dude listened to The Lion Kingís soundtrack unironically.
I believe I learned about 'Kefkaís Domain via an insert in the Final Fantasy III Strategy Guide, which I had stumbled across in a Best Buy and immediately had to purchase. The Rage list was too hard to pass up, even after Iíd finished the game, to say nothing of the amazing Yoshitaka Amano artwork sprinkled liberally throughout.
The book was notable for being the first time Iíd ever bought a strategy guide -- sure, Iíd ended up with a few back when they were sent out with Nintendo Power subscriptions, but this required an actual commitment.
Immediately after my Best Buy trip, I stopped to visit a friend I hadnít seen for a year. Said friend was pretty much obsessed with classic and prog rock music and had been a dangerous enabler for my own music habits. The first thing he showed me was his latest album purchase, and he encouraged me to pick up a copy, too.
ďAh, I canít,Ē I said. ďI blew my free cash on a video game book.Ē
He gave me a look like I was crazy and spent the next hour lecturing me on the importance of music. And while I didnít disagree, per se, all I could think about was hunting down Gauís Rages. It occured to me after I took off a little later that something had changed; my teenage years of being fixated on music was shifting back to games. And it was all Yoshitaka Amanoís fault.