Bard Banter – Favorites From Star Ocean: First Departure R

Bard Banter is a series which highlights great music found within the best genre of all – the RPG.


The Switch RPG scene was completely stacked last year. From quality early releases, like Tales of Vesperia, Tangledeep, Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon, and a heap of Final Fantasies, to later releases, such as the Collection of Mana, the Grandia HD Collection, another heap of Final Fantasies, Pokemon, and a trove of Dragon Quest titles – 2019 was a star-studded year from start to finish. Even with all of that, the RPG scene wasn’t quite finished, even into December.

Star Ocean: First Departure R was one of the final “big” releases of 2019, and it took many – including myself – by complete surprise. This was my first foray into the Star Ocean series, and this enhanced version of a decades-old game did not disappoint in the slightest. Since I gushed about this title at length in my review a month ago, I’ll spare you the details here. Whether you’ve read my take or not, one thing is for certain; Star Ocean: First Departure R excels in many ways – one being its musical composition.

Motoi Sakuraba is a veteran composer with over three decades of experience in the scene, and that certainly shows here. He has composed/contributed to a variety of games and series – RPG or otherwise – including Dark Souls, Tales, Mario Golf, Golden Sun, and of course, Star Ocean. Sakuraba’s score in Star Ocean: First Departure R is a testament to the care and detail in even his earliest works, considering the original version of the game released way back in 1996. Though the tracks present in this latest version are newer takes on many of the same songs, it also goes to show that some pieces, no matter how excellent they may have been originally, can still be improved on over time.

This Bard Banter will be a bit different than the norm – instead of breaking down each track and providing song-specific commentary, we’re going to go straight to the music. But before that, I’d like to offer up a broad statement regarding the entirety of the soundtrack. As a sci-fi themed RPG series, you would expect to be presented with lots of techno-inspired tracks, but Star Ocean: First Departure R is actually quite the opposite.

If you’ve played the game, you know that this is because it dabbles in traditional high fantasy and technological themes equally, and Sakuraba capitalizes on that with what ends up being an emotional, eclectic score. Though the combat themes here aren’t really my thing, the ambiance provided through other pieces are top notch. If I’m being completely honest, some of these tracks are easily among my favorites in any RPG.

With that in mind, let’s have a listen at my personal favorite tracks from Star Ocean: First Departure R:

Calm Time

Sunny Place

Sweet Time

Federation

Ancient Ruin

DIM

What Should Be

New World


That sums it up for this Bard Banter, but there will be more to come soon! What are your thoughts on Motoi Sakuraba and Star Ocean: First Departure R? What are some of your favorites from the game? What did you think about mine? Let me know!

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