The World is Square is a jazz/rock tribute to some of the best RPG music ever released from classic Squaresoft titles.
Some of my greatest childhood memories involved Squaresoft games. Games such as Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger inspired me, invoking art and conversation that lead to friendships I still hold today. Their iconic music contained epic ballads dedicated to a celebration of the pixel-based or polygonal characters, and while it seems so silly to revisit the thought today, it was everything to my younger self.
The challenge was also an inspiring allure: looking to rise to the occasion and defeat a tough boss fight, or figure out a perplexing enemy with unique attack requirements. Spending late nights up, wondering if your team was strong enough to get through that battle to find an elusive save point, and then doing it — made it all worth it.
The World is Square takes the majesty of the music from these beloved games and distills them into a bubbling, jazzy and nostalgic concoction, ready to sip slowly, taking in its familiar ‘notes’ and relishing in its complexity. Check out the following tracks and enjoy the excellence that Mustin has brewed for us all:
Fear of the Heavens
Beginning with an almost synthwave-sounding intro, it dives into the melody with some simple strokes of a guitar and ambient birds chirping in the background. As it builds up, beautiful vocals round out this memorable tune, which brings to mind the serenity of Secret of Mana’s many forest environments.
Main Theme of Final Fantasy IV
A slow intro with a piano and some playful guitars weaves a tapestry of intrigue, inciting curiosity, but when the piano notes hit for the main melody of this title track, it all begins to come together. I am particularly in love with the saxophone-like synthy play throughout. Exceptionally jazzy take of one of the most iconic tracks of 90’s gaming.
Theme of Love
The personification of the emotion behind Final Fantasy IV itself, this track kicks hard with a brilliant drumline and soars above and beyond with a gorgeous, classical Japanese violin sound. If you remember this track as fondly as I do, you’ll love this rendition. Amazing work, all around.
Forest Butterflies (Secret of the Forest)One of the funkiest tracks that I personally recall from Chrono Trigger’s soundtrack, this rendition gives it an extra-crunchy bass line. Playful piano also flows throughout, adding that perfect jazzy touch to this iconic track.
From the Bottom (Depths of the Night)A somber reminder of the loss and tribulations from seemingly endless fights in the quest to do what’s right. The original track was a chilling showcase of the range of emotion Mitsuda Yasunori could make with basic chiptune instruments. This version adds some thick and sexy jazz guitar to the track and brings in some heavy piano chords to help squeeze the potential out of every note and bar.
Coin SongThis sad tribute to Edgar’s sacrifice leaves a lasting impression long after its melody fades from your ears. With a flip of a coin, the fate of a kingdom was decided. The melancholy take on this unforgettable track adds in the storming drumline from the intro sequence of the game to emphasize the battles that took place and the sacrifices of many.
Lonely Girl (Terra)
The overworld theme for Final Fantasy VI and likely the most memorable of all the classic Final Fantasy tracks ever composed, the “parum” from the drumline brings to mind the march that takes place by your characters towards their inevitable destiny. This slower, heavy-strummed version gives almost a hip hop take towards this immortal theme and feels sad as a result. Still an amazing track and a wonderful take on Terra’s theme.
Serenity (Final Fantasy VII Main Theme)A vocal-heavy version of the standard stair-stepping piano track that helped define the musical landscape of Final Fantasy VII — arguably one of the best soundtracks that Squaresoft ever produced. This version is a bit off pace from what I prefer, but it’s jazz, so it’s understandable. It’s still perfect to jam out to while you recover from the loss of Aeris, along with the rest of us.
The World is Square does a great job at taking a handful of the best songs from classic Squaresoft games and makes sexy, yet often sad renditions from their orchestral masterworks. Some of these tracks perhaps should be left untouched, but having an eclectic mix of variety such as what this album offers, showcases a fair argument for artistic interpretation.