Let's face it, Ys III: Wanderers From Ys had, by far, the best music in the series, beating out Ys and Ys II primarily because of greater amount of catchy and rockin' tunes (though vice versa for people who preferred the music of the first two games). For Ys III, the music was first composed by Falcom veteran and presumed leader of their Sound Team J.D.K. , Mieko Ishikawa, but more compositions were added by Masaaki Kawai in addition (including the three classics, "Believe in My Heart," "Dear My Brother" and "Darling Elena") later on in the game's life. Ryo Yonemitsu arranged their music for multiple platforms and released many arrangement albums. No official soundtrack was released for this version, but the audio was redbooked onto the game, making it easy for people to play the music on their CD player.
Unfortunately, each arranged album lacked in quality of Yonemitsu's usual standards (particularly in the Ys III Perfect Collection, which lacked severely), not to say they were bad, but weren't some of the greatest Falcom CD's ever made. This was back in 1989. Since then, Falcom's beloved Sound Team J.D.K. has changed dramatically, losing Mieko Ishikawa, but in compensation, gained new talent; nevertheless, they couldn't keep up with the older members of the group.
The year is now 2005 and Falcom have planned to create a remake of Ys III, featuring new graphics, new (and hard) bosses, and, most importantly, Ishikawa and Kawai's music arranged by Sound Team J.D.K. (mainly Yukihiro Jindo, with Masahi "Jill" Okagaki arranging Kawai's "Believe in My Heart"). But what's this? Ys III music not arranged by Yonemitsu? It would take a lot of effort to impress me on the same level as what Yonemitsu did on the TurboGrafx-CD. And, the moment the music started playing, I was simply blown away. I thought it was simply not possible to rival Ys III's music in anyway, but this version not only rivals it, but surpasses it in many ways.
At the very beginning, we are treated to "A Premonition =Styx=," a dreamy and calming piano solo that opens up the soundtrack very appropriately, showing off the dark but airy theme that accompanies the musical adventure. But if you thought that composition was great, check out the following orchestral version of the same track directly after. It simply surpasses and entertains far more than its simpler counterpart. Another introductory track, "Prelude to the Adventure," is simply mind blowing. It's bombastic and undeniably one of the more amazing orchestral epics on the first disc. Despite how good it is, I can't help but hate the horn sample. It sounds too synthetic to match crisp clear quality of the strings and percussion, but I guess it's not such a big deal.
"The Boy Who Had Wings," A.K.A Theme of Adol, will get you movin' and groovin'. It's a dance remix with, surprisingly, the violin as the main instrument. This track is one of the few on the Original Soundtrack that is mixed in dance style; accompanied by an electronica beat and a dangerously addictive melody, it sounds much better than you may think initially. I was a slight bit worried for "Be Careful," a favorite of mine on the TurboGrafx-CD version, hoping that it would match the outstanding quality, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. It starts off very MIDI sounding, but quickly adapts to the new hardware and makes excellent use of the guitar and time. It's tracks like these that make the music of any Ys game worth your money.
"Illburn Ruins," if I must say it, I can't explain how incredible this arrangement. The fabulous classical guitar and intense rock backing is set to fire up the mood, and with the great melody, rest assured, you'll be in for a delicious delicacy of a track. After hearing the many eclectic action themes, we come across the Kawai classic, "Dear My Brother" and, my goodness, how sad it is. Take your time to relax with every second of the piece, for what's found on Disc Two will surely leave you breathless for day and night. If you're a Ys III music nut, then you must know "Valestain Castle" and its multiple arrangements. While this version isn't the best, nor particularly original, the raw power is as great as ever, though I do wish the electric guitar could be heard more easily amongst the gothic thrashing of the backing of the piece.
The following track, "Prayer For Kindness," is your typical, but good, gothic organ composition. It's nothing too awesome but it flows well after "Valestain Castle." Returning to the dance style, we get the totally impressive "Sealed Time," and, my god, how interesting it is. Much like "The Boy Who Had Wings," the arrangement is full of grand ideas, featuring electronica beat, electric guitar, synths, and a downright astounding melody. It's easily one of my favorites from the entire album. "Darling Elena" can be too touching for some, and its arrangement for this soundtrack can push you to tears. It's a combination of piano with a variety of simplistic instruments backed with a soft, sentimental synth choir. Definitely worth listening to, even if you have to shed a tear or two. From what I know, the only arrangement on the album not handled by Yukihiro Jindo is Kawai's "Believe in My Heart," arranged by Masahi "Jill" Okagaki. The whole effect that this piece portrays is very dramatic and singable (which is why they arranged it into a vocal theme on Ys The Oath in Felghana Super Arrange Version).
Moving on, to tell you the complete and utter truth, I bought this album mainly to hear "The Strongest Foe," in my opinion, the single most powerful final battle theme ever composed. I wasn't let down by the arranging of this epic theme. Not one bit. I thought every single little piece fitted perfectly, and the mixture between orchestral and rock styles presents a bold statement to the listener. I fully recommend listening to this track on high volume, and don't worry, you can thank me latter. it is impossible not to appreciate this superlative track. The ending themes, "Departure at Sunrise" and "Wanderers From Ys," couldn't end such a rich soundtrack in a better way. Both are bombastic, the later in particular, and they are arranged in such a style that you can't get tired of them. If I had to choose one as a favorite, I would select "Departure at Sunrise" mainly due to its stronger melody. The last track, "Dancing on the Road," provides some fun musical relief, and even though there is virtually no development, it's still entertaining.
I can't spot any compositional / arranging weaknesses, which is always a plus when considering an album purchase. The track times are perfect and the arranging is perfect. What more to ask for? So, to conclude, do what you can to get your hands on this large pot of gold. But unlike pots of gold, Ys The Oath in Felghana Orignal Soundtrack is priceless.