Three discs of music, including arrangements by top Japanese composers
After our look at the Ragnarok Online 10th Anniversary Package last week, I wanted to turn my attention to this year’s special release, dedicated entirely to the music of Ragnarok Online. Elemental Tunes features four elemental-themed discs containing the game client, unreleased soundtrack material, and two arrange discs, with one each dedicated to big-name Japanese composers and up-and-coming doujin artists.
You can see the fancy packaging and artwork above, but check out our review of the music collection below.
Ragnarok Online Elemental Tunes
Release Date: November 28, 2013
Price: 10,000 Yen ($100)
Artist(s): Various Artists
It’s great to see GungHo once again giving the music of Ragnarok Online the attention it deserves. The soundtrack itself has been released several times, but the Water Isnignia Disc picks up where the “Complete Soundtrack” (no longer so) leaves off. There are only three tracks from legendary Korean music studio soundTeMP, and they tend to lean towards the atmospheric end of the spectrum, but a lot of other artists are featured. I can’t say a lot of the new material stuck with me outside of the catchy and mischievous “Octopus Scramble” by Take One Media, the beautiful new age “Pachamama” by Sound Dog, and the playful “Jittering Nightmare” by Style M.
The Fire Insignia Disc houses arrangements by better-known Japanese composers, visiting everything from rock to electronic to Celtic and instrumental, focusing mainly on newer Ragnarok Online material rather than relying on the classics. Secret of Mana’s Hiroki Kikuta wins the day with his stunning “Fireflies Heaven” (playing in the background in the above video), which is simply gorgeous. Yoko Shimomura’s contemplative “Labyrinth,” Yasushi Asada’s impressive rock fest “Kingdom Memories,” and Shinji Hosoe’s dreamy Asian-flavored “Not so far away” are also delightful.
Next up, the Wind Insignia Disc brings in a bunch of doujin artists who mainly rely on electronic remixes, and tackle a blend of old and new. The complaint I had with the 10th Anniversary Package CD was that the arrangements didn’t differ much from the originals, and I think this disc suffers from the same approach. Still, the melodies of these songs are solid, so you won’t dislike them, it’s just that they don’t offer anything groundbreaking. DJMAX artist Tsukasa’s “Rose of Sharon,” Sound Cyclone’s “One Step Closer,” Minamotoya’s “Purity of Your Smile” and Saitama Saisyu Heiki’s “Wanna Be Free!” are my favorites of the bunch.
Overall, I can’t say anything outside of the Fire Insignia Disc blew me away (really good to see the artists step up their game), but this is definitely something to seek out for any Ragnarok Online music fan (that should be everyone!). Unfortunately it’s also hard to come by outside of Japan, and retails for about $100 USD. I’m not sure how GungHo justifies the price tag given the lack of other physical items, but that’s what you'll be looking at. It'll be interesting to see if they continue to support the music for the original Ragnarok Online into the future. I hope they do.