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Music

The Final Fantasy XII soundtrack is notable for being the first entry in the main series to not be composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Uematsu did compose the game’s vocal theme, “Kiss Me Good-Bye,” but was otherwise uninvolved with the game’s music, as he left Square in 2004 during the game’s development.

Instead, Final Fantasy XII’s music was helmed by Hitoshi Sakimoto. This was an incredibly fitting choice, as Sakimoto had composed the music for Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance — in other words, the previously released games in the Ivalice Alliance. As a result, FFXII’s sound is very muh in line with the rest of Matsuno’s games. (Sakimoto also worked on Matsuno’s non-FF titles, such as Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, and Vagrant Story. In other words, it makes sense that he did the music for FFXII.)

Final Fantasy XII OST

Composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo Uematsu, Masaharu Iwata, Hayato Matsuo, Taro Hakase & Yuji Toriyama
Arrangers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata, Kenichiro Fukui, Yuji Toriyama & Robin Smith
Catalog #: SVWC-7351~4 (reprint SQEX-10343~6)
Length: 4:54:34
Tracks: 100, on 4 discs
Release Date: 31 May 2006 (reprint 7 November 2012)

As noted above, Sakimoto was the main composer, with Iwata and Matsuo composing and arranging various tracks throughout. (The vgmdb page has a breakdown of who worked on which track.) A limited edition of the OST was released; it apparently contained much more information about the soundtrack. Unfortunately I don’t own it, so there’s not much I can say about it.

Both singles released for the game, “Kiss Me Good-Bye” and “Symphonic Poem ‘Hope’” appear on the OST itself, but I’ll discuss them more in their entries below.

I personally like FFXII’s music a lot, but I have a hard time listening to the OST. It’s a weird thing to say, but I actually enjoy the music more as it’s playing in the game than I do on the OST. I genuinely love the music and think it’s wonderfully atmospheric — a necessary requirement for a game without the traditional Final Fantasy battle system — but that makes it hard for me to enjoy it in album form. I’d rather load up the game and listen to it as I’m running around than passively put it on in the background. I can and do listen to the OST, but not as often as I listen to other Final Fantasy OSTs, and I don’t find myself picking out individual tracks as well as I do with others.

As with all Final Fantasy OSTs the track names can be quite different between translations; I’ve used the names from the English iTunes release here. If you’d like to see alternate names and the original Japanese, check out the vgmdb listing. As mentioned, the music is available internationally on iTunes; I know for sure it’s on the US store, but I’m unable to check other regions. Check if it’s in your country; I hope it is!

Disc One Disc Two
  1. Demo Movie
  2. FINAL FANTASY (FFXII Version)
  3. Opening Movie (FFXII Theme)
  4. Into the Fortress
  5. Boss Battle
  6. Shadow Play
  7. Training in the Sewers
  8. Small Favors
  9. Streets of Rabanastre
  10. Penelo's Theme
  11. To Be A Sky Pirate
  12. Gutter-Churl
  13. The Dalmasca Estersand
  14. Level Up!
  15. Heart of a Child
  16. Cooperation (Imperial Version)
  17. Winds of Change
  18. Mission Accepted
  19. Lowtown
  20. Mission Failed
  21. Quiet Resolve
  22. The Dalmasca Westersand
  23. The Clan Hall
  24. Found Money
  25. Parting Ways
  26. The Garamsythe Waterway
  27. Portent
  28. Unrest
  29. Nalbina Fortress
  1. Visions
  2. Flash of Steel
  3. Victory Fanfare (FFXII Version)
  4. Abyss
  5. Gathering Storm (Imperial Version)
  6. Balthier's Promise
  7. Game Over
  8. Nalbina Dungeons
  9. Among Savages
  10. Drums of War
  11. The Archadian Empire
  12. Chocobo Theme (FFXII Arrangement, Version 1)
  13. The Barheim Passage
  14. Sorrow (Resistance Version)
  15. I Give You My Word
  16. Cooperation (Resistance Version)
  17. The Stone's Secret
  18. Black of Night (Imperial Version)
  19. Giving Chase
  20. On the Bridge of Leviathan
  21. Defying the Empire
  22. The Razor's Edge
  23. Discord (Imperial Version)
  24. The Tomb of Raithwall
Disc Three Disc Four
  1. The Yensan Sandsea
  2. Battle with an Esper
  3. Sorrow (Imperial Version)
  4. Lust for Power
  5. Life and Death
  6. Jahara - Land of the Garif
  7. Ozmone Plains
  8. Golmore Jungle
  9. Eruyt Village
  10. Try to Grow Up
  11. Chocobo Theme (FFXII Version)
  12. Threat Impendent
  13. Battle on the Big Bridge (FFXII Version)
  14. Discarded Power
  15. The Stilshrine of Miriam
  16. Respite
  17. Room of White
  18. The Salikawood
  19. Phon Coast
  20. The Fates
  21. The Sochen Cave Palace
  22. A Moment's Rest
  23. On the Riverbank
  24. The Mosphoran Highwaste
  1. The Cerobi Steppe
  2. The Esper
  3. The Port at Balfonheim
  4. Catnap
  5. Zertinan Caverns
  6. Realm of Memory
  7. The Forgotten City
  8. The Feywood
  9. Ashe's Theme
  10. The Mystery of Giruvegan
  11. To Walk Amongst Gods
  12. The Final Act
  13. Ascent
  14. Sky Fortress Bahamut
  15. Bahamut Shudders
  16. Struggle for Freedom
  17. Struggle's End
  18. Ending Movie
  19. Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in FINAL FANTASY XII-
  20. Symphonic Poem "Hope" ~FINAL FANTASY XII PV ver.~
  21. Theme of FINAL FANTASY XII (Press Conference Version)

Kiss Me Good-Bye

Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Vocals/Lyrics: Angela Aki
Catalog #: ESCL-2810 (Japanese release)
Length: 20:00
Tracks: 4, on 1 disc
Release Date: 15 March 2006

Ever since Final Fantasy VIII’s “Eyes on Me,” the Final Fantasy series has used a vocal theme song in the endings or at significant moments in many of the main series titles. For Final Fantasy XII this song was “Kiss Me Good-Bye,” sung by Angela Aki. (Technically FFVII’s “One-Winged Angel” is the first vocal theme in the series, but “Eyes on Me” is the first in the line I’m talking about here, which is typically though not always sung by a female vocalist and used at a significant moment in the plot.)

While a Japanese version of the song does exist (and was sold as a single), the song was in English for both the Japanese and English releases of the game. This is notable mostly because the songs for both Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy X-2 were changed to English versions, something that would happen again with Final Fantasy XIII. It seems to happen intermittently with the series.

Anyway, the song. While I’m not much for analyzing lyrics, I do think the song is gorgeous, and Angela Aki’s voice is absolutely lovely. I’m reminded a lot of “Eyes on Me” when listening to it, and fittingly when “Kiss Me Good-Bye” was released in the US it came with a cover of “Eyes on Me.”

There’s an interesting interview with Aki about the song’s creation here.

Japanese Version English Version
  1. Kiss Me Good-Bye
  2. Santa Fé
  3. 青い影
  4. Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in FINAL FANTASY XII-
  1. Kiss Me Good-Bye
  2. Santa Fé
  3. Eyes on Me
  4. Kiss Me Good-Bye (Japanese Version)

Symphonic Poem “Hope”

Composers: Taro Hakase, Yuji Toriyama
Arrangers: Yuji Toriyama
Catalog #: HUCD-10015 (HUCD-10014/B - limited edition)
Length: 8:45
Tracks: 5, on 1 disc
Release Date: 1 March 2006

There’s no getting around that this is a weird release. It’s basically just the ending theme (the one played over the credits), except they put it out as a single and split it up into five tracks, or movements. For years I actually had no idea what it was until I finally figured out that oh, it’s the ending theme. Then it made sense.

There was even a limited edition released for it — again I don’t own it, but apparently it just contained a DVD with some of the FMVs from the game and other miscellanea.

Like, don’t get me wrong, the music is good and all, it’s a lovely extension of the ending theme and the performance is great, but I don’t see the point of releasing this other than for pure promotional reasons. And I’m the kind of person who has 2000+ Final Fantasy songs in her iTunes library and gets excited when OST PLUS albums come out. When you go too far for someone like me, you should probably rethink something.

Then again, Wikipedia tells me that this release somehow reached #15 on the Oricon charts and stayed on the chart for 16 weeks. I have no idea how this happened. I guess Final Fantasy fans will pay for anything. That or nothing else was going on in March 2006. Actually, now that I look at the dates, it actually came out before the game itself did, and was the first piece of music released for the game. Maybe that had something to do with it.

Symphonic Poem "Hope"
  1. 1st mov. Overture
  2. 2nd mov. March of a Wise man
  3. 3rd mov. Road of Hope
  4. 4th mov. Romance
  5. 5th mov. Road of Hope ~ Refrain

Selections from Final Fantasy XII OST

Composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo Uematsu
Arrangers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Kenichiro Fukui
Catalog #: TOF-033
Length: 73:23
Tracks: 31, on 1 disc
Release Date: 31 October 2006

Essentially this is a “best of” album for the FFXII OST, and it does seem to have been released in the US around the same time the game came out in North America. I presume, then, that the entire point was to provide an option to fans that allowed them to purchase music from the game without the heavy costs of importing — something I do appreciate, as a fan who has paid those extremely heavy costs many, many times.

The thing is... why is only a third of the soundtrack? It’s a good third and the songs chosen aren’t bad, but if you didn’t happen to see this in your local store in North America in 2006 or 2007 I can’t think of any reason why you would look for this album today. It’s not the whole soundtrack, it’s missing a lot, and unless you’re a die-hard collector it’s hardly worth the money.

I do appreciate the effort to try and bring these things to overseas fans, I honestly do, but this seems like a half measure to me (or really a third measure given the content). I suppose not everything had moved to iTunes by 2006, but I certainly remember buying Final Fantasy soundtracks online in 2007. It’s probably not surprising, then, that this is the last release I can find for the record label that published this album before the label closed. It’s an interesting look at history of Japanese music in the west, if nothing else.

Selections from Final Fantasy XII OST
  1. Opening Movie (FFXII Theme)
  2. Boss Battle
  3. Training in the Sewers
  4. Penelo's Theme
  5. To Be a Sky Pirate
  6. Gutter-churl
  7. The Dalamsca Estersand
  8. Quiet Resolve
  9. Parting Ways
  10. Nalbina Fortress
  11. Flash of Steel
  12. Balthier's Promise
  13. Nalbina Dungeons
  14. The Archadian Empire
  15. Black of Night (Imperial Version)
  16. Discord (Imperial Version)
  1. The Yensan Sandsea
  2. Life and Death
  3. Golmore Jungle
  4. Chocobo Theme (FFXII Version)
  5. The Salikawood
  6. A Moment's Rest
  7. On the Riverbank
  8. The Mosphoran Highwaste
  9. The Cerobi Steppe
  10. Zertinan Caverns
  11. Ashe's Theme
  12. To Walk Amongst Gods
  13. Bahamut Shudders
  14. Struggle for Freedom
  15. Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in Final Fantasy XII-

Piano Collections: Final Fantasy XII

Composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto
Arrangers: Casey Ormond
Catalog #: SQEX-10347
Length: 61:48
Tracks: 13, on 1 disc
Release Date: 7 November 2012

Released quite a long while after the original game, this is the obligatory piano album for the game. Nearly every game in the main series has had a piano album; this one is performed by Casey Ormond.

What’s interesting about this album is that the arranger was actually a fan who had posted a piano arrangement online, and that Sakimoto not only heard it but ended up reaching out to Ormond to keep in touch. There’s a full interview with Ormond here about how this album came to be, and it’s absolutely fascinating.

I’m really terrible at listening to the piano albums; I enjoy them, I just never remember to put any of them on. (This goes for all of the piano albums in the series.) Considering how distinctive Sakimoto’s sound is, though, I think it’s remarkable how good the arrangements are. I definitely recommend checking the album out; it’s available on iTunes in the US and hopefully in your country as well.

Piano Collections
  1. Opening Movie (FFXII Theme) - To Be a Sky Pirate
  2. Streets of Rabanastre
  3. The Dalmasca Estersand
  4. On the Riverbank
  5. To Walk Amongst Gods
  6. Penelo's Theme
  1. Ashe's Theme
  2. The Archadian Empire
  3. A Moment's Rest
  4. Nalbina Fortress
  5. Lowtown
  6. Eruyt Village
  7. The Skycity of Bhujerba

Theatrhythm: Curtain Call

Technically this is not an album (although one was released) but a rhythm game for the Nintendo 3DS. Have you ever wanted to tap along to Final Fantasy music? Now you can — and you can play as Vaan, Ashe, Fran, and Balthier in the process.

Curtain Call is actually the sequel to 2012’s Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, but given that Curtain Call includes all of the content from the first game, we’re going to ignore the original.

As mentioned above you can play as four of the six playable characters from Final Fantasy XII, and you can tap along to a number of songs. The songs included in Curtain Call are as follows:

Field Music Battle Music
  1. Streets of Rabanastre
  2. The Dalmasca Estersand
  3. Heart of a Child
  4. Giza Plains
  5. The Mosphoran Highwaste
  6. The Archadian Empire
  7. Phon Coast (DLC)
  1. Final Fantasy (FFXII Version)
  2. Boss Battle
  3. Battle with an Esper
  4. Life and Death
  5. Flash of Steel
  6. Struggle for Freedom
  7. Ending Movie

If you enjoy Final Fantasy music at all, by the way, I highly, highly recommend Curtain Call if you haven’t already picked it up. It’s a love letter to the entire series and super fun.