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The Emotion of Sound: An Alternative Reason for Wanting to Play Final Fantasy XIV

September 28, 2010

It all started with Final Fantasy VII. Aerith died, the music played, and the realization that video games could evoke emotions like sadness dawned on me. It was a single moment, punctuated with music that struck the heart, and it steered me towards an appreciation for gaming.

With that appreciation for gaming comes a longing, however. There are times when, like a personal orchestra, a song will play in your head and won’t disappear: the soundtrack of your life, some folks call it. It comes and goes and the song changes, but when that song plays, you can’t help but remember things, pieces of memories or adventures you’ve had in the real world or in your mind, and you feel things you ever thought you would feel (or would have to feel again).

When I remember Don’t Be Afraid, one of the battle themes for Final Fantasy VIII, I imagine the frenetic excitement and tense moments brought about by rushing deadlines and running from one end of my high school to the next.

I also remember summoning Odin, and watching him perform Zantetsuken on a Tonberry King.

I see myself playing Magic: The Gathering with friends when I remember the theme for Final Fantasy IX’s Tetra Master game. I remember never winning a game against my friends, and yet I hear the music and it feels alright to lose.

Of course, I remember winding down from school, relaxing to Tetra Master in FFIX as well, as I won far more in that card game than in the one played with real cards.

I imagine the bittersweet taste of love found and lost when I think of Final Fantasy X’s Suteki Da Ne.

I remember this one well.

Final Fantasy XII taught me to find my destiny and fight for it, and so I worked hard to make sure my academic life in college was a good one, even if I still had no idea what I wanted to do.

Also, despite the seriousness of Kiss Me Goodbye, my fondest memory of FFXII is going around posing as Captain Basch fon Ronsenburg of Dalmasca, and reminding people to not believe Ondore’s lies.

When I think of the Japanese theme for Final Fantasy XIII, I am reminded of Sazh Katzroy and his love for his son, and I think that I would want to love my own children as well as he loved Dajh.

Seven numerical iterations after the Final Fantasy that started a change in me, and so many songs later, I can’t help but want to experience the emotion of sound again. When I hear the Final Fantasy Theme as rendered in Final Fantasy XIV, I want to imagine an a ceremony for my becoming a full-fledged adventurer.

I want to not simply imagine myself as playing a character. I want a part of that character to be me, and the kind of person I want to be, and I want to remember that I am constantly working towards my own goals, in-game and out.

Whether I love or hate the game in the long run is beside the point. I want to try Final Fantasy XIV to see if it spurs something in me that makes me want to be a better man in my reality.

I think that’s one thing, at the very least, that certain games can impart to certain people, and I’m glad to be receptive enough to that idea in addition to having ready access to memories and thoughts through music.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2010 21:43

    You nailed it. The Final Fantasy series truly is defined by the music/sounds and the feelings they evoke. From the (now a staple) theme when you crossed the Garland bridge in the first Final Fantasy to the goofy music for Kefka; the haunting ‘click-click’ of the Ghost Train and the eerie song in Zoso; the Opera (my personal favorite) and the tribal song of the boy in FF3, to all the great works you’ve listed here – they’re all so very memorable.

    • September 28, 2010 22:11

      The games you mentioned are from Final Fantasies prior to FFVII, I assume? šŸ˜€

      Anyway, thank you. It makes me feel good to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts on games, sound, and memories. šŸ™‚

  2. September 29, 2010 01:26

    Yep, they’re primary from Final Fantasy I – III (US naming convention). If you’ve not played them, you really should – particularly 2 and 3. The original FF was for NES and is pretty much a dinosaur with little character development. It does however have the first instance of what has become a staple song in Final Fantasy games as I mentioned above.

  3. Tesh permalink
    October 2, 2010 06:32

    Interesting.

    I’m a huge fan of Square’s music (especially the Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross games, highly honorable mention for Kingdom Hearts), but I haven’t heard all of these. The FFXII and XIII pieces especially are definitely good bits of music, but I don’t know their emotional framework, so they don’t resonate the same way for me.

    Sure, that’s easily predicted, but it’s interesting to test it out for m’self.

    The XIV piece, on the other hand, picks up pieces of the music that hace become thematic for the series on the whole, so it has a much stronger effect.

  4. October 15, 2010 04:51

    This was the prevailing theme for me as I played FFIX; I often found myself humming or whistling it without thinking:

    • October 15, 2010 04:52

      Sorry, didn’t realize it would embed the link! Anyway, the part I used to get stuck in my head starts around 0:49.

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