• I don't care for the rock-opera remix of the opera Shovel Knight composer virt did for OCRemix's Balance and Ruin FF6 fan album. It's a landmark achievement in terms of production values for fan remix projects, but it's not very listenable. Like, good for you that you made an FF6 track, or something kind of based on one sort of, sound like "Bohemian Rhapsody," but I put the damn thing on, and within a minute or two, I'm holding my forehead and muttering, "oh, God, just go away." It's extremely Drama Kid - involved with itself and demanding and screamingly insistent on attention, attention, attention. The singing gets gratingly whiny and increasingly histrionic about a who-cares Romeo and Juliet plot that has jack all to do with FF6; it's wrapped up in its own irrelevancies and doesn't want much to do with its source, I imagine, because it just can't bear to share the stage. By the time the lead starts screeching for a knife to stab someone - who? I don't know; the song doesn't know; I most certainly don't care - at around the five-minute mark, I'm ready to walk it out the door. My ears greatly prefer "The Nightmare Oath" (which they must have been tempted to cut given a contribution from virt; I'm so glad they didn't) and the vaporwave cool of "On the Run", a vocal remix of the Returners theme takes the source in a completely new direction but is still of a piece with it, musically and thematically.

  • I don't care for the opera. Yes, it was a novelty in its day: the composition is markedly more elaborate and "mature" than its contemporaries, in that it sounds more similar to classical pieces than 16-bit leitmotifs that loop after a couple minutes, and it was neat to note, "hey, that electronic trill on the soundtrack kind of sounds like a human voice." For U.S. RPG fans, it was a big departure to advance the story in ways other than combat, through elementary hitting marks and cues and such, because our domestic market for RPGs was so precarious that the other 16-bit titles that did this more extensively and better never reached our shores. The five-minute race to prevent Ultros from shoving a Looney Tunes 10-ton weight onto Celes to stop the performance, where you have to weave your way through the maze of rafters above the stage and try to avoid fights or wrap them up ASAP, is neat. The actual pincer fight with Ultros above the orchestra pit, with the conductor joining in to score the battle, is neat.

    There's a lot that's good in it! But *only* good. The scene doesn't deserve its mythic status. I think of other RPG setpieces, and the bombast is not only impressive to the senses but also bolsters the storytelling. Lunar: Eternal Blue's opening cinematic, of Lucia awakening on the Blue Star, establishes its key character and her place in Lunar's history wordlessly, demonstrating fluency in the language of cinema its predecessor did not have. FF7's raid on Reactor No. 1 used the new freedoms of 3D to play with scaling and camera angles in its environments, lending an unprecedented sense of scope and looming threat to its world and the challenges its protagonists faced. The opera, though it does feed one of FF6's themes, doesn't further its enduring, actually-worthwhile message, the one about finding a reason to live when you've lost everything; instead, it's the centerpiece of the particularly nasty version of the "give up on being a strong, independent woman and start being a fainting damsel" storyline that had moments here and there in '90s gaming (Sonya in the MK movie, Lucia herself a bit) and is impressed upon Celes so the devs can play lip service to the idea of female leads but job them in favor of putting over their real favorite, Locke - to the detriment of both characters' development, and the neglect of their core issues of dealing with previous misdeeds and projecting one's past onto others respectively. Other than shoving Celes in a helpless-princess role, the scene doesn't even have any relevance or emotional resonance for our actual cast, revolving instead around the fates of the cast of an in-game play. It could be cut entirely from the game with no loss to the story.

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