The PS1-era JRPG has remained a classic for a number of reasons, but chief among them was the beautiful score by composer Yasunori Mitsuda. According to a recent Facebook post, an “Original Soundtrack Revival Disc” for Xenogears is coming out in April.
It’ll be on Blu-Ray and include work from ANÚNA, an Irish choral Mitsuda said he was currently recording with for the remastered soundtrack. There was already a 20th anniversary concert planned for the game in Japan this April, and yesterday Square Enix confirmed the news on its website. According to the game publisher’s post, the remaster will be 96kHz / 24bit and will include new tracks as a result of the collaboration with ANÚNA.
Square Enix’s SNES and PS1 JRPGS were often released alongside soundtrack CDs, although very few of them ever made it to the states. One of those was Chrono Trigger, another game Mitsuda was the composer on and which, partly for that reason, still has one of the most memorable scores in video games. More recently, Mitsuda contributed a track to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the latest in series that’s a spiritual successor to Xenogears. Outside of that, he’s probably most associated with the Inazuma Eleven series, having worked on both the games and anime.
Everyone who’s played Xenogears (for the uninitiated: a game about people fighting in mechs to overthrow an empire and kill God) has their own favorite tracks, but here are a few of mine:
“Forest of the Black Moon” is a re-occuring track in the game that strikes a balance between its industrial and pastoral sides. It almost sounds like if you took Chrono Trigger and augmented it with some of the more plodding, ponderous stuff in Final Fantasy VIII.
Contrary to title, “Invasion” is a laid back track for exploring back alleys and, at one point, the game’s love-it-or-hate-it sewer section. It’s lighter, jazzier, and works perfectly for spending an hour stuck in the same location searching helplessly for the exit.
“Shevat, the Wind is Calling” is probably what Chrono Trigger would have sounded like if Mitsuda would have had the PS1's sound chip at his disposal. It meanders between upbeat and melancholy and has some of the best bass work in the entire game.
Finally there’s “Omen,” another of the game’s re-occurring melodies that most notably follows the player as they climb up the seemingly endless tower of Babel, an obtuse dungeon that’s a pain in the ass to navigate. The music is great though, both ominous and yet unobtrusive, it’s accompanied by the clanking of heavy machinery that draws a beautiful contrast with the religious overtones brought on by the organ and bells.
If you like any of this stuff you should also check out Mitsuda’s other work, including his acid jazz adaptation of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack “The Brink of Time.” The album has fried eggs and bacon on the cover, and the music is wild.
Square Enix has taken to releasing remasters of old soundtracks through iTunes, so hopefully the Xenogears revival tracks will be available there, or somewhere else equally as accessible.