Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s new, daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today’s tracks come from The Legend of Dragoon, Sony’s attempt to emulate the prestige JRPG adventures of the late ‘90s.
Surprisingly, for all its faults, The Legend of Dragoon (longplay, VGMdb) nailed both depth and eclectic variety in its grand, (over)world-trotting journey to vanquish evil and make lots of numbers get bigger in the process.
Sony spared no expense when it came to the size and scope of Dragoon’s world, with multiple continents, dozens of diverse cities, and dungeons that range from your typical dark forest to the mythological tree of life. At nearly three hours long, the game’s soundtrack is diverse and wide-ranging, featuring everything from serene pastoral themes to some real apocalyptic shit. Have a listen:
Dragoon’s overworld map has fixed points you travel between, with key locations often stitched together with mountain hikes or grassy fields. The game has several outdoor themes as a result, each unique and wonderful in its own way. There’s the coy and breezy “Whispering of the Trees,” as well as the more dynamic but less interestingly titled “Grassy Plains.” You know it’s aces because YouTube is full of extended versions of it:
No matter how forgettable or derivative some of Dragoon’s environments felt, the tracks that backed them were anything but. The game has a lot of Bad Guy Hideouts, but grinding through them was a little less tedious thanks to tracks “The Black Castle” and “Hellena Prison.” And of course no JRPG is complete without an oppressive desert level, and “Death Frontier” is absolute pure ambient electronic fire:
But the track that absolutely destroys me every time and makes playing Legend of Dragoon feel like coming home is “Peace Between Hills”:
It’s repetitive and relaxing, but also really goes for it with a jazzy solo. I have no idea what instrument composers Dennis Martin (interview) and Takeo Miratsu (previously featured here for Jumping Flash! 2) were trying to recreate here (a sax or a harmonica?) but I can’t help boppin’ along. It’s personality like this that makes Dragoon’s music stand out decades later, even among some of its better-known rivals in the genre.
That’s it for today’s Morning Music, and I hope it leaves you flying on the wings of (proverbial) dragons as you cruise through another Friday. If the day ever starts to drag just pop on this killer menu music. Be sure to drop by the comments to chat about your other favorite, underrated JRPGs, whether next-gen will only truly arrive if Sony makes a new Legend of Dragoon, or whatever else is on your mind going into the weekend. See you next week!