As fans of the series have come to know, Dragon Quest has some of the most whistle inducing soundtracks in all of gaming. With its charming MIDI orchestrations, the games were able to fill this player with great emotion. This emotion was heightened when the North American release of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King contained an orchestral rendition of the Japanese version’s MIDI soundtrack.
Because of the music, I felt immersed in a Dragon Quest world like I never was before. The announcement of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten past for Nintendo 3DS being localized for the west (FINALLY!!) instantly turned me to YouTube to experience the newly orchestrated soundtrack. My ears were pleasantly satisfied. However, recent gameplay videos are telling a different tale for this localized version. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past seems to have a MIDI soundtrack in the west where the original release in japan contained a live-recorded orchestral soundtrack.
I have yet to play a mainline Dragon Quest game in which the soundtrack has left me disappointed. In a recent gameplay video captured by Gamespot.com, the Comic Con demo of Dragon Quest VII contains MIDI music. Keep in mind, the MIDI soundtrack is still of high quality; however, it is missing the soul that the original soundtrack had.
The song at the 1:20 mark during Gamestop’s gameplay video can be compared to an orchestrated version found in the Japanese version in the next video (uploaded by YouTube user Gooieooie).
I am not going to sit here and pretend like the MIDI version of the soundtrack is a huge turn off, because it is not. Can you tell it is not a live recording? Yes. Will it matter if you are listening to the game using the Nintendo 3DS speakers? Probably not. It is a little disappointing to see the lack of an orchestrated soundtrack in the West; however, there is a silver lining: the MIDI version should make for cleaner loops and longer renditions.
Before I close the article, I want to remind the readers that the use of MIDI in a Dragon Quest game is not the end of the world. I will provide you with one of my favorite orchestrated Dragon Quest tracks and one of my favorite MIDI tracks.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King – Uploaded by YouTube user Ryudooo.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride – Uploaded by YouTube user Dragon Quest.
What do you think of the soundtrack change for western audiences?