One of the most underrated, undernoticed soundtracks of 1996.
Reader review by Adam Page
The idea behind Tobal No. 1's soundtrack is just as appealing to me as its execution; maybe that's why I enjoy it as much as I do. A consortium of some of Square's greatest composers (excluding Uematsu) created a unique and versatile soundtrack to possibly the most unique and versatile 3D fighting game to date. It was this idea that put me in the mood to appreciate their efforts, even before I had heard a single song from the soundtrack. As it turns out, I didn't need that primer in the first place, because what they came up with is awesome on its own.
Let's take a brief look at each composer's history, just to get a frame of reference: Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Gun Hazard), Ryuji Sasai (FF Mystic Quest), Kenji Ito (Seiken Densetsu, Romancing SaGa series, SaGa Frontier), Noriko Matsueda (Front Mission, Bahamut Lagoon), Yoko Shimomura (Front Mission, Live A Live, Super Mario RPG), Yasuhiro Kawakami (FF Mystic Quest), Junya Nakano (Gun Hazard), and Masashi Hamauzu (Gun Hazard). With so many different composers - so many different perspectives - you might expect a disjointed and chaotic collection of music. Not so. As it turns out, the diversity of skills and talents make up one heck of an appropriate and involving soundtrack.
Immediately, the most notable thing about this soundtrack is the total absence of typical fighting techno and rock. In fact, it's hard to credit the overall soundtrack to any particular style. The safest blanket description would have to be "funk", but even that's inadequate. "Tobal No. 1" has an acoustic alternative sound, while "Character Select" is an '80s groove. "Vision On Ice" is serene and spacey, but "Disused Mine" sounds like a gangsta brass band. A slash of Latino in "Toridon!!" and a dab of hip hop in "Your Name Is..." add more spice to an already overwhelmingly flavorful dish. But even each of those examples has a flavor all its own that somehow sets it apart from the genre it represents. This diversity of sound and feeling sets Tobal No. 1 apart from other fighting game soundtracks (as well as other game music soundtracks in general) and makes it a welcome addition to a CD collection.