Just a few days ago Topiki and I had an interesting experience, a dear friend bought us tickets to Final Fantasy Distant Worlds. It was a doubly special occasion as it was not only Nobuo Uematsu’s birthday that day, but also my first time attending a symphony. Here is not only a set list of what we heard, but my thoughts on it as well.
We started out strong with the theme from Final Fantasy VIII ‘Liberi Fatali. I can honestly say that I have been a fan of this song since Sept 9th 1999. the song draws your attention in, and reading the translation of its lyrics is bone chilling. The Omaha Chamber Choir did a remarkable job with the song, the opening animation was lengthened with footage from the parade scene to last as long as the full song. It really was a beautiful start….well aside from seeing Seifer’s mug on a big screen anyway.
Next came the Final Fantasy I-III Medley 2010 Version. Again the Distant Worlds Philharmonic Orchestra did a fantastic job, but something about this one caught me as off. They showed us in-game clips from both I and II’s original game play, it was amazingly nostalgic to watch 🙂 However when it got to III we got cinematic clips from the DS version, it was gorgeous but I can’t help but wonder why the other two games didn’t get the same treatment.When they were rereleased on the Playstation 1 they were given truly beautiful openings, so why not show them?
Final Fantasy V’s ‘Main Theme’ got the same treatment , I’ll admit the in-game shots were awesome, they really made me want to replay this game, but no sign of Square’s beautiful CG opening. I’m really curious as to why they left the PS1 versions out entirely. It’s weird.
‘Zanarkand’ from Final Fantasy X was something completely new to me. I couldn’t for the life of me get into this game so it came as no real surprise that most of the cinemas it showed were something I’d never seen before. I did love Yuna’s water dance though (I saw that when Topiki played it) it was even more beautiful with a live orchestra playing the accompanying music.
I laughed as soon as Cloud Strife popped up on the screen for ‘JENOVA’. I had forgotten how ludicrous the 3D models looked in that game. the music was of course awesome and they showed some very fitting footage of Nibelheim burning and of the inners of the Mako reactor. It was pretty nifty.
Final Fantasy V was seen for the second time with the song ‘Good Friends’. this one never fails to bring a smile to my face, it brought back a lot of precious memories of what was once an amazing franchise. We also got introduced to a guitarist named Ron Cooley who came out for both this and the next song.
At long last final Fantasy IX was getting some love with ‘Vamo’ Alla Flamenco’! We got lots of clips of everyone’s favorite black mage Vivi which made me so happy I could burst! We also got the footage of Zidane running through Evil Forest as it was turning to stone. I love this game and this cast so and watching them again was fantabulous!
I was really disappointed though when it came time for one of my favorite games ever. Final Fantasy IV’s ‘Theme of Love’ was a hackneyed embarrassment of video editing, the reused the same footage over and over and over again, come on guys you can do better than that. Still though, I do adore Cecil and Rosa and seeing them together did make me exceedingly happy.
Proof that someone in Japan hates me is this Final Fanatsy VIII’s ‘The Man With The Machine Gun.’ Laguna’s theme…….why does Laguna even have a theme? Well blessed be whoever spliced together these forgot that he had cinemas. Thank you Japan! So for the most part we got to watch Laguna, Kiros, and Ward fighting, or Squall trying to crash the Garden. Well good times all around.
The last song before the intermission was Mr Uematsu’s favorite rendition of the Chocobo theme ‘Swing De Chocobo’. Strangely enough there was footage from Final Fantasies II-XIII with the exception of VI. Honestly that made me pretty darn sad. The song though was really lively and fun, I adored how upbeat it was!
After the intermission we dropped straight into the opening of Final Fantasy VII ‘The Bombing Mission’. As with Liberi Fatali, I can honestly say I’ve liked this opening song for a long time.It springs to mind guerilla warfare. Way cool.
I think someone really enjoyed Squall being a maniac. My justification for this thought process is simple, yet again we are sitting there watching as Squall rams Balamb Garden into Galbadia. Don’t get me wrong, I love this scene, it speaks of general insanity…seriously couldn’t you come up with a better plan? By the way this set of gorgeous CG was brought to us by ‘Fisherman’s Horizon’. Personally I was hoping to see Fujin kick Raijin off the pier in this one, but no such luck.
The next song we got was a pretty awesome compilation of battle themes, I have to admit (reluctantly) that Seymour’s theme was pretty damn cool, and I’ll always love the boss music in V. I was doing great until we circled back around to JENOVA again and I was stuck staring slack-jawed at Advent Children. Really? VII didn’t have enough footage on three discs, we needed to bring out AC? ACK! That’ll leave a bitter taste for awhile.
I found the footage from Final Fantasy XI’ ‘Ronfaure’ to be extremely repetitive. I’ll admit though that despite my hesitance towards MMO’s I thought for just a minute about playing this one. Those Behemoths looked wicked and I would love to take a crack at one of them.
As one of the most beloved RPG characters of all time it was no surprise that they played Aerith’s theme. It was just as beautiful as I remember it being and watching her again brought up a swell of emotions in many of the people in attendance.
Only two songs were played that were not composed by Nobuo Uematsu, one of the two was Masashi Hamazu’s ‘Blinded By Light’ from Final Fantasy XIII. I’ll be honest I don’t remember this song, however I spent most of the game seething and can’t hear the word snow now without wanting to hit things. Given the trauma that this game inflicted upon my soul, it’s no surprise that I didn’t remember the soundtrack. Hope’s still adorable though.
The next song wiped away the pain I felt at Snow’s grin it was Final Fantasy VIII’s poorly named ‘Don’t Be Afraid’. this song was what was playing as Squall’s scrawny butt ran from X-ATM092, also known as Giant spider of doom! I couldn’t help but laugh all over again at his desperate dive for the ship. The song was great, and the video footage was of course spectacular.
Next was the second song not composed by Uematsu, it was in fact written by Patty Hill, we know it as ‘Happy Birthday’, it was dedicated to him though. The audience, orchestra, and choir all joined together for this song. He looked way excited and at the end they played the victory music that so many fans have come to know and love.
Next was a special surprise his birthday, they played what friends and family said was his favorite song. It was the first concert that they had played it for, Needless to say it was amazing, from Final Fantasy IX it was Unrequited Love. Regrettably there was no video footage for this one so enjoy a nice shot of Garnet!
Next was the entire reason I was there in the first place ‘Draco and Maria’ from Final Fantasy VI, it was the biggest disappointment. For starters they changed the lyrics. For a plot point where you fail if you say the wrong lyrics I must say this was insanely disappointing. The singers did a fantastic job of course, and so did the orchestra. Fans of this game were jipped though, for most of the opera scene we had no visuals either. his is due to two things.The first being the lyrics would have been on the screen if they used in-game clips of the characters singing. That’s a surefire way for the audience to notice the lyric change. Second as I’ve pointed out multiple times now, for some reason the PS1 remakes were completely cut from the footage. It’s a shame this should have been so cool.
As if to continue the trend of ripping off fans of VI, the next song they played was ‘Terra’s theme’. Well that’s exciting, finally some real action for my favorite Final Fantasy game….so we started with a still shot of Celes, then Cyan, Sabin, and finally a torso shot of Terra. Something is horribly wrong with that. So then we cut to the magitech armor belonging to Biggs, Wedge, and Terra trudging through the snow, and I’m like “YEAH FOOTAGE!” So then they start rolling credits for the event during the song…………but where’s my VI footage? Oh non existent of course. We saw more footage of freaking Dissidia then we did of VI. Bastards.
So now I was mad, and the encore didn’t help. It was unsurprisingly ‘One Winged Angel’ of Final Fantasy VII fame. The songs freaking cool, the video clips though were back to freaking Advent Children, which I could have dealt with that, but Kadaj!!!!!!!!!!! Why are we watching Kadaj for Sephy’s theme song?!? Tch…bastards. However Nobuo Uematsu did join the choir for the song, which is cool.
So overall unless you are a Final Fantasy VI purist and hate Kadaj as much as I do this really was an awesome experience. I’m glad that I went, it’s an experiance that I would recommend to any fan of these games, Young or old, new or classic. It has been a long time since I’ve said this but “Thanks for the experience Square!”.