MusiCube | Chrono Trigger Symphony: Volume 2 Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 22.10.2013 1

Within a world full of stellar, cinematic and content rich RPGs still stands a game still considered one of the best of the genre, Chrono Trigger. A compelling story, solid battle mechanics and a memorable cast make the classic Square adventure a delight to return to time and time again.
 
The game's soundtrack, composed by Yasunori Mitsuda with help from Noriko Matsueda and Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, forged brand new worlds full of danger, whimsy and intrigue. The soundtrack itself is regarded as one of the best in any game to date and is the focus of composer Blake Robinson's latest project, the Chrono Trigger Symphony. Robinson's new album is a three-parter, containing orchestral arrangements of the classic Chrono Trigger songs, from battle themes to smaller jingles.

The second volume includes 24 further tracks, which we've broken down individually for this review.

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Desolate World
The second part of the Chrono Trigger Symphony takes us beyond the outskirts of time into the far future, and the opening track instantly places you into this barren landscape, void of civilisation and purpose. This version sticks close to the original, weaving pockets of air and soft bell chimes into the far distance. The choir takes the centre stage, luring players into a world that might be with a soft but powerful opener.

Mystery of the Past
Starting off as a short but memorable piano jingle when players encounter an accident stone, Robinson extends "Mystery of the Past" to just over forty seconds with a haunting loop to get the message across. Dancing harps and a tricking, soft string section builds and closes this track, heightening the original intention of mystery and a foreboding sense of danger.

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Dome 16's Ruin
Crono and friends wander into an urban, monster filled landscape for the first time and this particular track, "Dome 16" echoes those first steps. The original was set at a faster pace, highly bass driven and presenting that blend of danger and intrigue. Robinson's version is a little slower, incorporating a slightly different feel through a string and chorus driven second half. It doesn't quite have the same attack as the original, but is still an effective piece.

Those Without the Will to Live
One of the key and memorable tracks for most Chrono Trigger players, "Those without the Will to Live" is played throughout most of the domes in the future. It was a quirky, bouncy track that would rely heavily on the stomping bass with sitar and saxophone response. The remade Chrono Trigger Symphony version plays on the similar mood, highlighting a backing string line and delicate music-box style piano towards the mid section. The bass is perhaps less prominent in this version though, however the composition as a whole stays true to the original.

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Lavos' Theme
The villain of the piece, it's only fitting that Lavos have a powerful and pronounced theme - a composition that stems from a handful of notes played on the organ but layered with sinister intent. It trickles into a highly contrasting interlude, a short break from the intense battle and flowing into a gentle, piano solo. It's a rewarding expansion of the original song, sinking into a moment of calm as the battle draws to a close with a triumphant roar from the chorus. However, it isn't over just yet…

The Last Day of the World
During key moments and if players get a "Game Over" this particular track, "The Last Day of the World" will kick in. It's a mournful, respectful tune that pours an emotional journey into the pitter-patter of piano keys, layering a string section that peaks and closes with a reassuring chime. There's another chance to leap into action and save the world. Just heal first and be better equipped next time. It's another track that remains strict to the original composition, but refines the melody with subtle layering.

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Johnny of the Robo Gang
After trundling through the barren cityscape, players will encounter the leader of a robot gang, a cheeky chap on wheels who's game for a race or two called Johnny. A rather dodgy dealer, his theme tune sums up the mood perfectly. Gone, for only a moment, is the grim outlook and replaced with a smidgeon of comedy. Robinson continues that tread, playing off the melody with a more jazz themed piece; encompassing soft drum work and snappy piano chords to drive the theme home. Throw in a micro trumpet solo and it makes for one of the standout interpretations on the album.

Bike Chase
After a quite literal wheeling and dealing, it's time for a brutal race across the wasteland for Crono and company. This particular rendition of "Bike Chase" attempts to interpret the composition as orchestration despite the original perhaps not suited for that style of instrumentation. It works for the most part, but a difficult song to restyle given the pacing and bass-heavy approach of the midi track.

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Robo's Theme
Robo is a walking, talking robot that's full of energy and roaring to go, well once he's restored back to scratch, however. Robo's theme is a merry, fairly organic piece despite being made from synthetics and metals. Delicate piano work, triumphant string sections and a brief moment of calm make this song one of the stand out pieces from both the original soundtrack and Chrono Trigger Symphony.

Derelict Factory
The menacing, seemingly empty "dungeon" of this part of the game starts off with an air of intrigue, the bass line playing catch-up in the background, growing with danger as it appears to players that they're not quite alone in the "Derelict Factory". It reaches its peak and softens as the action draws to a close. It's a solid version of the song that retains much of the atmosphere without straying too far with orchestration.

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Battle 2
An unused track from the original Chrono Trigger on the SNES, the song was eventually used as part of a monster-battling mini game on the DS. Again a difficult song to rework in orchestral form, yet Robinson manages to highlight the intensity and strength of this song through a layered chorus and pounding trumpets for a solid take on the much loved battle cries.

The Brink of Time
The outskirts, the very edge of time itself and "The Brink of Time" captures that mood in a very elegant and satisfying way. This particular song would be played in this place whenever Crono and friends would pay a visit. Full of intrigue and whimsy, Robinson brings the different instrumentation together to create a sublime rendition of this memorable tune.

Jolly Old Spekkio
This part of the album is where Chrono Trigger ventures into a more tribal element, taking one big leap far back in time to where civilisation began. "Jolly Old Spekkio" is a theme of a master of magic, who steps in to the ring to give our heroes a lesson or two on elements of the past. It's a rousing, charming piece that works well with the patting bongos and baseline, which sit below an energetic flute lead and chorus applause.

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Fanfare 3
It's difficult to capture the very short fanfare sections without sinking into some form of tangent, so quite simply it's a direct a cover as one could possibly hope for.

Creeping through the Sewers
At one point Crono and his group of time-travelling misfits will wind up deep below ground, attempting to brave a sewer full of starving beasts. "Ceeping through the Sewers" is another track that places itself close to the original, weaving a medieval tale through a curious harpsichord and flute lead. It may not be a sinister a place as it first sounds.

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Boss Battle 2
A sheer sense of immediate danger, a posing threat but our heroes are ready and willing to fight. "Boss Battle 2" is a song that swings between chaos and triumph through rambunctious trumpets, sustained chorus notes and marching drums. This particular interpretation of the song plays on the feeling well as one of the stronger tracks in the selection.

Primeval Mountain
This had potential to be one of the more difficult themes to re-orchestrate due to the tribal and simplistic nature of the original song. Bass, keys and deep drum work help highlight the primitive air of this old world, and Robinson doesn't stray too far from that mood by simply weaving flute work and more delicate strings to conceive a more shadowy voice.

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Ayla's Theme
One of the standout interpretations of the Chrono Trigger Symphony, "Ayla's Theme" is a swinging, tribal dance number that maintains that organic groove and simply builds upon it with more pronounced trumpet work and climbing strings.

Rhythm of Earth, Wind and Sky
The most organic sounding track that relies heavily on the bongo and bells to establish this rhythmic, army of tribal dances. "Rhythm of Earth, Wind and Sky" compliments the original version perfectly well and maintains that tribal sound.

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Burn! Bobonga! Burn!
Fierce, controlling and highly rhythmic, "Burn! Bobonga! Burn!" is another standout track on the album, slipping in a trumpet lead with intricate bongo work and a raw chorus sound for the ultimate precursor to war.

The Fiendlord's Keep
The title sounds sinister and this particular track echoes that sentiment to a tee with foreboding sense of fear, trickling into a mellow piano closer.

Strains of Insanity
"Strains of Insanity" is a very simple, yet effective piece that lulls players into a sense of confusion and weariness. It's the last moments of battle before one of the bigger showdowns of Chrono Trigger, fuelled with puzzles and traps at every corner. Robinson maintains that mood without diverting or adding too much.

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Magus Confronted
The candles are lit, the enemy lurks in the shadows and with the flick of a switch the battle is in full swing. This particular take on "Magus Confronted" breaks down the different phases of the song well: the unknown, the battle commences and the eventual swing towards success. It's a stirring, rewarding end to the album and starts the shift towards the third and final part of The Chrono Symphony.


 

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Blake Robinson has produced another cohesive and sublime collection of Chrono Trigger arrangements that stay close to the source material but add a rich refinement and some improvisation to act as a rewarding celebration of the classic RPG, it's well worth a listen or three.

The album can be purchased on Loudr or iTunes.

Box art for Chrono Trigger
Developer

Squaresoft

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (10 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

I'm really hoping Blake heads to the Mana series next! Smilie

These soundtracks are fantastic Smilie

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