If you start a weekly column about video game music, eventually you have to talk about Nobuo Uematsu. So many lifelong gamers grew up with Final Fantasy and its iconic music that even those who don’t know his name can probably hum a few of his tunes. However, before we launch into a discussion on the best and most nostalgic works of an industry titan, we first need to recognize his most ridiculous accomplishment: Blue Dragon‘s “Eternity.”
Your ears do not deceive you, friends. That is Ian “Deep Purple” Gillian singing the boss theme of a Mistwalker RPG. For a lesser mortal, this would be the pinnacle of a career–a magnum opus. For Uematsu, it’s probably one of his weaker works.
Of course, boss battles are his specialty. Take Lost Odyssey‘s “Howl of the Departed” (below) for example. The opening is so grand and histrionic that it almost seems laughable at first. Then that guitar kicks in and you are swept away. That’s the power of an Uematsu boss theme: the song goes on a journey right along with you.
Truth be told, Lost Odyssey probably has the most consistently impressive soundtrack of any project he has worked on. Whether it’s the catchy “Dark Saint,” the tense “Escape!,” or the tragic “Parting Forever,” the entire OST tugs on the heartstrings at every opportune moment. Not even the map theme is exempt. Listen to the haunting first half of “Neverending Journey” and tell me you anticipated the abrupt shift into a determined guitar piece.
But you aren’t here to listen to me extol the virtues of this generation’s great overlooked JRPG. You want to know which Final Fantasy boss theme is objectively the best. Is it Kefka’s “Dancing Mad” or Sephiroth’s “One-Winged Angel“? The answer is neither. The best Final Fantasy boss theme is The Black Mages’ rendition of “Maybe I’m a Lion.”
What’s that? There’s a Deep Purple song called “Maybe I’m a Leo”? Well, that just brings this article full circle, doesn’t it? It’s almost like I planned that.
Music Mondays is a weekly column by Austin Yorski and Robert Heck dedicated to discussing the most interesting audio experiences in electronic interactive media. Tune in every week for more original game soundtracks that you need to hear. Feel free to disagree with, add to, or question everything. I welcome your feedback.