In the story mode of Dissidia: Final Fantasy your chosen character moves around a game board between battles. While on this board a remix the overworld theme from your chosen character’s Final Fantasy plays. Most of these remixes are very nice. A few are clunkers. Final Fantasy VIII’s is downright terrible. Some would say this is no surprise as Final Fantasy VIII’s theme is the worst in the series.
I’m inclined to disagree.
Granted VIII’s theme is unorthodox. After Final Fantasy VII’s bombastic movie-score theme, Blue Fields, VIII’s overworld music, can be perceived as lacking. For one thing, it’s much shorter than VII’s theme. For another, it lacks VII’s exultant highs and somber lows. It’s much more an even keeled and nuanced piece of work. Instead of trying to present a feeling of EPIC ADVENTURE it strives to create a sence of vastness and loneliness. It does this quite well.
Unfortunately, it’s also not very good. At least, the way it’s presented in game isn’t good. More so than any other Final Fantasy theme it reeks of MIDI. It strains against its edges. It feels confined by technical limitations and instrumental choices. Let’s take a listen.
First, there’s this bass ostinato that runs under the entire piece. It does a lot to evoke that lonely quality but it’s also repetitive and annoying. The main melody is played by a xylophone, which might have worked, but there’s this odd synthny vibration added to it. The second melody is given to some very synthy horns that add very little to the xylophone. The piece feels “videogamey” and not in a good way. The whole thing is held back by the limits of the Playstation. If it could break from the synth the music would soar.
Which is exactly the case.
This is the orchestral version of Blue Fields from the album Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec. The annoying ostinato is replaced by a steal drum which pulls the bass back and removes the annoying DUN! DUN!-ness of it. Instead of synthy xylaphones and horns there’s a strings and oboes. This gives the music and lyrical and haunting quality; much nicer to listen to and still retaining the lonely feel of the original. This arrangement also lifts about halfway through, with the strings welling up and some tambourines joining in, giving the music an epic quality that was missing in the game version.
Freed from the Playstation the strength of the original composition is made aparent and Blue Fields reveals itself one of the best Final Fantasy themes. I think only Eternal Wind from Final Fantasy III rivals it. I’m about to take on Onion Kid’s story in Dissidia. I hope the game doesn’t butcher this music as well.