Secret of Evermore (Jeremy Soule)

Cover

Secret of Evermore was Squaresoft America’s lone foray into game production. Despite top-notch production values (including use of some pre-rendered elements in the game’s backgrounds) and the same engine that powered the popular Secret of Mana game, Evermore failed to find its audience, and Squaresoft America was reabsorbed into its corporate parent not long after. Composer Jeremy Soule has since carved out a name for himself, providing stirring orchestral and ambient scores for such high profile games as Prey, Knights of the Old Republic, Guild Wars, and the Elder Scrolls series. Secret of Evermore was Soule’s first-ever foray into game music, and it would offer him the opportunity to work with the most advanced synth of the Super Nintendo generation.

On disc, Secret of Evermore is split into two halves: the first eight tracks are arranged, and feature far better synth than the subsequent eleven. They also offered Soule a larger palette for his themes, which he takes full advantage of in arranging “10 Print Hello World” and “Greek Temple.” “10 Print…” is easily an album highlight, a stirring overture for brass and strings that bears only the faintest resemblance to its SNES counterpart, while “Greek Temple” blends orchestral and electronic effects to create haunting yet busy music. Curiously, many of the remaining arranged tracks are rather dull, and do not seem to merit the attention they were given — why rearrange the dull “Merchant Theme,” or the ambient “Ocean Theme?”

The SNES-era tracks are a different matter entirely. The mood is primarily dark and moody, as opposed to the generally more upbeat arranged tracks, and this darkness makes for some excellent melancholy music. Tracks like “Puppet Song,” “Freak Show,” and “The Scientist” exude mystery while remaining highly melodic and enjoyable, while the non-arranged “Greek Temple” tracks are more subdued but equally potent (except for some unfortunate synth effects in the first one). Whether or not you can stomach their sound is entirely up to your tolerance for retro gaming sounds; while Soule’s music is perhaps the most technologically sophisticated ever to grace the SNES, its inherently 16-bit nature will doubtless give some with little patience for that era’s video game synths powerful headaches.

There are also some lighter tracks, most notably the kooky “Tinkerer” and swirling “Ending Theme,” which adhere to the score’s darkness even at their most slapstick. Unfortunately, there are also several ambient tracks, like “The Rat’s Chamber” and “Quicksand Field” that develop little more than a menacing atmosphere. Still, on the whole, the SNES-era tracks are stylistically consistent and enjoyable, despite the omission of several tracks (such as the haunting “Hector’s Camp”) from the disc entirely despite its official “Complete” monicker.

Sadly, the Secret of Evermore Complete Soundtrack is nearly impossible to come by at reasonable prices. It was only issued directly by Squaresoft America, and therefore saw a very small number of copies manufactured before the publisher’s demise left it completely out of print. As such, the relative benefits the score offers have to be weighed against the exorbitant prices the album commands (as of this writing, $200 and up). Still, if you can find a copy for a reasonable price — especially if you’re a Jeremy Soule fan — it is a highly interesting listen despite its weak points.

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2 comments on “Secret of Evermore (Jeremy Soule)

  1. Great, moody soundtrack for a great, moody game. Nice write-up. I sort of wish Square Enix would revisit the game, let some American developer make a sequel or something. I never loved the game, especially compared to Secret of Mana, but it’s an interesting game nonetheless.

    • Thanks! I played the game before Secret of Mana, so it always had a special place in my heart, and I was shocked to find out that Soule had done the music after rediscovering him through Icewind Dale. A re-release, Virtual Console debut, or remake/sequel are long overdue, I’d say!

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