Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version

A treasure trove of memorable themes and masterful reprises. Essential Listening

Extended Audio Preview

Previewed Tracks

  • 00:00 Opening Theme
  • 04:10 Cyan
  • 05:15 Gau
  • 06:48 Shadow
  • 07:41 Relm
  • 08:50 Strago
  • 09:47 Gogo
  • 10:46 Coin Song
  • 12:13 Epitaph
  • 13:32 Forever Rachel
  • 14:48 Slam Shuffle
  • 15:50 Returners
  • 17:01 Johnny C Bad
  • 18:29 The Empire "Gestahl"
  • 20:02 Under Martial Law
  • 21:12 Kids Run Through the City
  • 22:37 The Mystic Forest
  • 24:21 Mystery Train
  • 25:58 Wild West
  • 27:00 Kefka
  • 28:20 Devil's Lab
  • 29:23 New Continent
  • 30:41 Battle Theme
  • 31:37 Save Them!
  • 32:32 Grand Finale
  • 33:26 The Decisive Battle
  • 34:19 Last Dungeon
  • 35:36 Dancing Mad
  • 38:07 Ending Theme

Rankings

Artist Credits

Tracks

Disc 1 (58 minutes)

  1. Opening Theme
  2. The Mines of Narshe
  3. Awakening
  4. Locke
  5. Battle Theme
  6. Fanfare
  7. Edgar and Mash
  8. Kefka
  9. Mt. Koltz
  10. Returners
  11. Shadow
  12. Troops March On
  13. Cayenne
  14. The Unforgiven
  15. The Phantom Forest
  16. Phantom Train
  17. Wild West
  18. Gau
  19. The Serpent Trench
  20. Kids Run Through the City
  21. Under Martial Law
  22. Celes
  23. Save Them!
  24. The Decisive Battle
  25. Metamorphosis

Disc 2 (57 minutes)

  1. Tina
  2. Coin Song
  3. Techno de Chocobo
  4. Forever Rachel
  5. Slam Shuffle
  6. Spinach Rag
  7. Overture
  8. Aria de Mezzo Carattere
  9. The Wedding
  10. Grand Finale?
  11. Setzer
  12. Johnny C. Bad
  13. The Empire Gestahl
  14. Devil's Lab
  15. Blackjack
  16. ??
  17. Mog
  18. Stragus
  19. Relm
  20. Another World of Beasts

Disc 3 (66 minutes)

  1. New Continent
  2. Catastrophe
  3. The Fierce Battle
  4. Rest in Peace
  5. Dark World
  6. The Day After
  7. Searching for Friends
  8. Gogo
  9. Epitaph
  10. The Magic House
  11. Umaro
  12. Fanatics
  13. Last Dungeon
  14. Dancing Mad
  15. Ending Theme
  16. The Prelude
  • Released Mar 25, 1994 by Squaresoft (catalog no. PSCN-5001~3, retail 3800 yen).

Reviews

A treasure trove of memorable themes and masterful reprises.

Essential Listening

Editor's review by Adam Corn (2014-11-05)

Final Fantasy VI is widely considered to be the greatest soundtrack of the 16-bit era. Only slightly less widely is it considered to be the greatest original game soundtrack ever made. From a personal perspective, it was the first game soundtrack to not just occasionally entertain me with a catchy melody but to genuinely move me. The game now celebrates its 20th anniversary, the experience of playing it is a slightly faded - if still fond - memory, and the soundtracks of three generations of games with much higher technology have succeeded it, but Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version remains in many ways the best of its kind.

Final Fantasy VI's legacy lies in its characters, and its soundtrack in its character themes. Every one of FFVI's fourteen playable characters gets his or her own unique theme (one of them shared between siblings). As with the characters they accompany, the themes are a varied lot - regal trumpets for the Figaro twins "Edgar and Sabin", troubadour-like strummed guitar with lone whistle for the mysterious "Shadow", quirky percussion with catchy woodwinds for the eccentric elderly mage "Strago", and a beautiful, more tender take on those same woodwinds for his granddaughter "Relm". Even the minor, completely optional character "Gogo" gets a tremendously catchy, quirky theme. But it's the themes touched by tragedy that have the greatest impact - noble orchestral strings and solo flute for the ronin "Cyan", and beautiful solo cello for the abandoned child "Gau".

What makes FFVI's character themes more than just a collection of memorable melodies is composer Nobuo Uematsu's use of reprises, beginning right from "Opening Theme" with a lonely yet determined arrangement of the main character Terra's theme. Again Uematsu is best at his most tragic, when he takes the boisterous themes for adventurers "Locke" and "Setzer" and turns them into poignant pieces accompanying scenes of lost love in "Forever Rachel" and "Epitome".

Though his character themes steal the show, Uematsu nails virtually ever other RPG staple in the soundtrack. The town themes don't have quite the simple catchy quality of such early classics as FFI's town theme, but "Kids Run Through the City Corner" and "The Day After" are lovely in a more subdued way, and Uematsu's range in scoring such moody pieces as "The Mines of Narshe", "Under Martial Law", and "The Empire Gestahl" is impressive. Did I say not catchy? "Slam Shuffle" for the thieves' town of Zozo is insanely catchy. You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy with so addictive a theme.

The environment themes hit a trifecta of textbook JRPG melody and variety with the beautiful "Mystic Forest", the spooky waltz "Mystery Train", and the jungle-like "Wild West". And Uematsu foreshadows the electronic-orchestral fusion mastery he would later exhibit in Final Fantasy VII with his dungeon themes here, beginning with the rhythmic and mechanical "Devil's Lab", and concluding with an epic combination of pulsing electronics and driving orchestrations in "Final Dungeon".

If there's one area where the themes in Final Fantasy VI OSV fall short - at least of the best of their series counterparts - it's the battle themes. Make no mistake, the battle themes are both melodic and to a degree intense... just not as melodic or intense as some of the ones from FFIV and FFV before, and FFVII after. Even the seventeen-minute behemoth "Dancing Mad" has lost some of its impact over the years, partially from Uematsu himself one-upping the piece's synthesized chorus with the sampled one so famously used in FFVII's "One-Winged Angel". The SNES-generated sound is also more an issue here than it is in the rest of the soundtrack, as there's a slightly toy'ish quality to the lead trumpet that lessens the battle themes' intensity.

On the topic of sound quality, I'm inclined to say Final Fantasy VI's orchestral sampling is as good as it gets from an SNES sound chip, though as someone who prefers live instrumental and studio synth soundtracks to game-synthesized ones I'm no authority on the matter. It's also why I can't say with honesty that the synthesized and sampled sound doesn't feel like the one thing holding the soundtrack back. VGM purists will scoff at the notion and love every synthy second, but hearing Uematsu's strongly orchestrally styled themes I can't help but wish there were an actual orchestral performance to take them to the next level (much like Shiro Hamaguchi took the much lesser soundtrack to FFVIII and arranged a great orchestral album out of it in Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec). That said, the sampled and synthesized instruments do have a unique quality, especially the woodwind-inspired ones. Decades from now you could play a single note from any of them, and I'm confident I'll instantly tell you, "FFVI".

Nobuo Uematsu saved his best for last so let's end there as well: Final Fantasy VI's "Ending Theme" is a masterwork that anyone with an appreciation for narratively-driven instrumental music should experience. Though it's not unusual for a composer to arrange some themes from a soundtrack together into an ending credits suite, for a composer to arrange no less than thirteen character themes seamlessly - into a grand finale of over twenty minutes - is a feat I've not heard achieved anywhere else. Even lesser character themes ("lesser" being relative) receive loving reprises, and while every minute is exquisite, the Celes-Locke and Relm-Shadow segments in particular can be chill-inducing. If John Williams' ending suites to the original Star Wars trilogy are the classic examples of closing character reprises in film, Uematsu's finale to Final Fantasy VI is their game music equivalent, and no less impressive.

Twenty years after its original release, for VGM enthusiasts there still isn't a game soundtrack that for three hours remains so consistently inspired as Final Fantasy VI. And for soundtrack fans in general who can hear past the constraints of a decades-old sound chip to the compositions beneath, it's a treasure trove of memorable themes and masterful reprises possibly unequaled to this day.

How could anyone not say it's the best?

Reader review by Isaac Engelhorn (2000-09-02)

There is a group of fans that absolutely worship this score and I must admit that I am one of them. If I were to be stranded on a desert island with nothing but five soundtracks that I could choose, this would most definitely be one. Nobuo Uematsu transcended all that seemed possible and created a score of boundless and adventurous spirit that has yet to be topped in the videogame music world.

The Final Fantasy series has certainly had its recent ups and downs, but without a doubt in my mind, the sixth installment is the pinnacle of FF music, and indeed game music thus far. Years ago, when I was in fifth grade, the unforgettable Final Fantasy IV was released, which was my first true introduction into the wonders of game music. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I played part six. While IV impressed me by its almost orchestral sound system (at least I thought so at the time), VI completely blew me away with its incredible traditional arrangements and its knack for unhampered thematic progression.

This leads me to acknowledge this soundtrack's best feature: I've yet to hear one soundtrack from a videogame or a movie that contains so many memorable themes. There are so many great melodies rolled into one neat little package that it makes it nearly impossible to pick out a favorite. There are a couple throwaway tracks, but who cares? There's so much great stuff here that the bad is completely overshadowed and ultimately overlooked. I will admit that this is much darker than its predecessors, but I believe that this is simply a direct turn into musical maturity. The previous FF scores may have been lighthearted, and therefore fun to listen to, but one can hardly make any argument that they were "mature", though I hold them dear to my heart as well. This particular score fits the game like a glove and enhances its emotional impact at least tenfold, yet it still contains a bit of that humorous Uematsu charm that we all know and love. And it is still lighthearted compared to FFVII that was to follow.

The basis for this soundtrack is generally carried by the Wagnerian technique of leitmotif, or character theme, which you may or may not know, was also the basis for John Williams' Star Wars scores. Though Wagner pioneered this technique, Nobuo, in my opinion, maximizes it to the fullest extent, surpassing Wagner entirely. There is a theme for every character and many of these receive a secondary arrangement such as "Coin Song" for Edgar and Sabin and "Forever Rachel" for Locke. Many of these character themes sound traditional, and then there are some that take other routes. "Shadow", for example, sounds as if it came straight out of an Ennio Morriconne spaghetti western soundtrack. While not easy to pick out a favorite, I can say what I don't like. I never cared for the Ghestal/Empire theme that is used in several militaristic tracks, and I've always found Strago's theme to be particularly annoying. Overall though, the character themes form a set of thoroughly entertaining and endearing melodies. More great tracks include the second overworld theme "Searching for Friends", which is similar to Terra's overworld theme but seems a bit more thoughtful and stirring. "Devil's Lab" is certainly a fun listen, and "The Fierce Battle" sounds absolutely ferocious - I believe it to be the second best battle theme in the series right after "Dancing Mad" on the same CD!

One cannot write a review for FFVI OST without mentioning the immortal opera sequence. This also sounds as if Wagner inspired it, as it nearly matches his style. I've never been one to care for opera, but no one can deny that this is just incredible. Once the intro hits the forefront, you are immediately drawn in by its raw power, and the cinematic sequences that follow are just incredible. The best track in the opera sequence is probably the famous "Aria Di Mezzo Carattere" version of Celes' theme, which is one of the most praised tracks in FF history.

If you're looking for the perfect score, then you won't find it here because if it's perfection you're searching for, you're never going to be satisfied. There is no such thing as perfect! If I really have to demand it, then the one thing that irks me the most about the soundtrack actually has little to do with the composition itself, but rather the CD release. I just wish that the ending theme had been split into two tracks. It seems kind of ridiculous to stick all twenty-one minutes into one track when it contains two very separate compositions. Even so, I really shouldn't complain, considering I believe this to be the second greatest piece of music ever composed, just behind the "Presto" movement from Beethoven's ninth symphony. My personal favorite section is the *hugely* bombastic arrangement of Setzer's theme which kicks off as the end credits begin to roll. Combined with the ingenious "Dancing Mad" that comes just prior, I'd say the two conclusive tracks of Final Fantasy VI make for the most enthralling forty solid minutes of music *ever*, and I don't see how it's possible to not view it as such.

As a whole, this, my favorite game soundtrack, makes a timelessly inspiring listen, leaving its own niche in the souls of those who hear it. I recommend it wholeheartedly. Honestly, I don't know how anyone could think that any other game soundtrack out there today could top it. The future may hold a soundtrack that I like better, but until then, Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version will be the game score by which I judge all others.

The Mount Everest of Final Fantasy scores.

Reader review by Nick Melton (2002-04-04)

This 3-disc work, by Final Fantasy music composer Nobuo Uematsu (who also composed the music for FFs 1-5 and 7-9, and some of 10), is probably my favorite musical work of all time. I have purchased many FF CDs in my time, and I know many of the scores like I know my best friends. But this score is different. It overshadows everything else Uematsu has written.

There are so many reasons why. The foremost, I believe, is the character themes. Chances are this OSV would not be so great if the character themes were not of excellent nature, as much of this is driven by the character themes. Almost every character has more than one arrangement of their theme. The main theme of the game is a character theme. The final battle music is based on the villain's theme. And the incredible ending theme is basically just a medley of the character themes. The themes are all outstanding, but some more so than others. Shadow's theme, for one, isn't that good, and Stragus' is a bit annoying and repetative. The Empire / Ghestal theme is pretty mediocre as well. But others, like Celes' and Terra's, really shine. Kefka also has a wonderful theme, as does Setzer.

Another reason for this OSV's brilliance is the immortal opera sequence. Despite the hideous synth vocals, the music is glorious and powerful. I've never been a fan of opera, but these four tracks I can listen to over and over again. "Aria De Mezzo Carattere" is probably the most praised track in the history of FF, and is an arrangement of Celes' theme (proving once again the greatness of the character themes). "The Wedding Waltz ~ Duel" is a beautiful and exciting track, and "Grand Finale?" is fabulous battle music. The opera sequence is probably one of the only reasons to buy the OSV.

I could go on and on about many other tracks because almost every track on this OSV is fabulous, but that would take up a lot of time. Thus, I will just talk about the two most important tracks: "Dancing Mad" and "Ending Theme", both on the 3rd disc. "Dancing Mad" is split up into four sections: tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, and the final battle with Kefka. This piece is brilliantly written... so much so that when the time for the 3rd tier comes around it is nearly impossible to not mistake it for a J.S. Bach piece! The battle with Kefka, at the end, is quick and exciting, with fragments of the evil fiend's theme thrown in here and there. This is my second favorite battle theme in the series; "One Winged Angel" from FF7 is the first.

Next comes "Ending Theme." This piece is staggeringly long, over twenty minutes in fact. But it is amazing. The first half is a medley of the character themes, all arranged so that they are played to their full potential. The second half consists mainly of a bombastic arrangement of Setzer's theme, and then the piece ends with an exciting coda. I believe this coda even blows away the coda to Rossini's "William Tell Overture." It is THAT exciting. This piece is Uematsu's greatest work, his tour-de-force. This is wonderful.

To end my rambling, I will say this: Buy this now!! Buy it or i'll stalk you and hold you hostage until you do!!! Don't deprive yourself of the greatest musical work of the 20th century. The FF6 OSV awaits!

Another brilliant piece of work by Nobuo Uematsu.

Reader review by Aaron Lau

I know anyone who even has the slightest inkling of gaming soundtracks knows about Final Fantasy VI already, but I'll go into detail about it anyway. FFVI, considered to be Nobuo Uematsu's best work ever, is in a nutshell the best. This three disk set comes with power packed in each one.

As usual, "Main Theme/Tina" is wonderful. Simple in composition, yet beautiful, this is a benchmark theme. Of course, you've got many variations scattered throughout the soundtrack, all sounding excellent. All of the characters' themes are great, especially Lock's, Cayenne's and Celes'. "Techno de Chocobo" is rocking. In any RPG so far, FFVI has the best battle themes yet. "Battle Theme" is way cool and the "Fierce Battle" is just too awesome. "Ending Theme" is simply amazing - one super-long song with variations of all of the characters' themes, along with a way cool "Epitaph"/"Setzer" staff role. The Final Fantasy theme, of course, is here, and this is the very best one I've ever heard. Never have you heard so much power, so much grandiose involved on the finale. It's simply astounding. Well, what can I say? After nine years of Final Fantasy, it all comes down to this. With Final Fantasy VI Nobuo Uematsu has continued cranking out the power with no signs of stopping.

A classic score. No other game soundtrack tops this!

Essential Listening

Reader review by Jon Turner

Out of the Final Fantasy CDs that I have, Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version (Final Fantasy III in America) is the best and is, without question, a classic. Nobuo Uematsu has really outdone himself with this score. Here, we hear some of his most beautiful, haunting, and exciting pieces of work.

There are plenty of highlights on this album. First, there are individual themes for all of the characters throughout the game, each of which is downright impressive. The themes are effective, beautiful, occasionally funky (such as Mog and Strago's themes) and truly memorable.

Secondly, there is an *opera* sequence in the score. Uh huh, an opera sequence, with four tracks total! Even when you are not playing the game, you can still feel the emotion and the pageantry of that experience through the music.

Finally, and best of all, there is an extended finale track which runs for 21:36! That is really quite a long piece for an ending theme, but it is worth listening to over and over again (and it will make you want to cry and wish that it doesn't ended so soon!). This piece, in my opinion, is the definitive highlight of the soundtrack. All the characters themes are reprised (in a film score end title manner), and after a heavenly treatment from the beautiful Final Fantasy theme, the piece ends in a spectacular climax that it surpasses all of the other Final Fantasy ending themes (including FF IV).

This score perfectly recaptures the experience of one of the all-time great games. My advice to game music fans is to snatch a copy of this CD while they still can. It is a definitive classic.

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