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Final Fantasy IV – “Battle 2”

September 23, 2010

Final Fantasy IV (1991; known as Final Fantasy II in the US) has one track that stands out for me the most (understand, out of a series of excellent songs), and that is the boss theme, “Battle 2”.

“Battle 2” is first encountered in a misty cavern where your (anti-)heroes must slay a mist dragon. It is subsequently used for every standard boss. The track begins with Final Fantasy‘s trademark dramatic string flourish, followed by a solid bass line before hopping into the melody – there are plenty of Final Fantasy songs, mostly from the old generation, that begin in this manner. The music reflects the monstrous, magical qualities of the beasts as well as the desperation of the battle. Most of the magical/dramatic effects come from the strings that command the melody and are supported by trumpets. However, at the height of the song, the trumpets gain the lead for a solo. Not only did Nobuo Uematsu have a nice strong melody here with long, punctuated notes to make it easy to remember, but he also had a great instrument library, particularly with the drums. While Final Fantasy IV was remade for the Game Boy Advance, it was also recently remade on the DS. However, the bass and drums in this case seem to make the song a bit overwhelming…

“Battle 2” even made a cameo appearance in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996) in “Fight Against Culex.” Culex is a hidden boss found in a mountain side who comes at you with the help of the four elemental crystals. It’s a pretty tough battle, but he can be beaten with some turtle armor. The same composition was used, but it has a slightly different synth library (Final Fantasy IV is better). Interestingly, the theme emphasizes a tambourine for the first section of the song that is admittedly a little annoying…

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to have been any excellent arranges of “Battle 2”. I wasn’t even impressed with “Survival Instinct” from OCR’s arrange album, nor SSH’s guitar arrange. Here’s to hoping The Black Mages will produce a fourth album featuring this song…

What is interesting is the Final Fantasy IV soundtrack contains single-loop songs, as opposed to the double loops found on most albums. The album has been released on iTunes for $7.99, which beats the heck out of the $24.99 (plus shipping) it usually costs to buy from Japan.

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