Jukebox Heroes: Mabinogi’s six best music tracks

    
6

When evaluating an eastern MMORPG that boasts a huge soundtrack, I am often filled with a mixture of dread and anticipation at the start of such projects. There’s always the possibility that the score might end up being the next Aion or Lineage II, with rich veins of incredible tracks running all through it. Then there’s the possibility that it’s 350 or so forgettable tracks that will take me weeks to slog through.

Unfortunately, Mabinogi skews more toward the latter than the former, although it isn’t without merit. It’s one of those eastern MMO soundtracks that I’d lump together with, say, MapleStory or Tree of Savior: very prolific, very scattered, and lacking any unified sound or real artistry. The tracks here are simply all over the place, representing pretty much every genre while pumping out scads of pleasant-sounding but not-too-memorable tunes.

Today, we’re going to take a listen through my expedition into this sandbox MMO’s score and see what gems I was able to find in its incredibly long runtime.

“Title Theme (Hero Version)”

There are, no lie, at least 15 different versions of the main title theme, presumably rolled out for different occasions over the years. While many are attractive, only the heroic variant felt suitably epic enough to warrant an increase in volume. It’s a very rich and full track that tweaks this upbeat tune to give it more weight and import. Some terrific piano work here.

“Wishes Travel (Theme of Taillteann)”

This mellow track delivers that comfortable JRPG musical staple, which is the peaceful village tune. It’s not as simple as it might first sound, gradually blossoming into a more complex piece with swirling instruments that weave in a wistful, slightly sad thread along with the tranquil atmosphere.

“The Final Dance”

If the previous track lulled you to sleep, then this one will wake you back the heck up. A heavy rock boss track, The Final Dance wails away on the electric guitars in a nonstop action riff. For the record, these kinds of tracks aren’t my thing, but plenty of people seem to like them in other MMOs, so I thought I’d throw it in here.

“Bangor”

Sometimes a striking instrument — or two! — can transform a standard track into a breakout one. The breathy flute and echoey chimes move together to establish an otherworldly setting that may sound like something ripped from a New Age album, but still, I kind of like it. Never underestimate the value of an appealing low-key track for MMO adventuring!

“Field Alban Dungeon”

I love, love, love the buildup to the action during the first minute of this track. Right from the start, you know something awesome is going to come, and it really didn’t disappoint me. Then again, I loved the overt earnestness of 1980s movie soundtracks, of which this sounds like it could belong. Possibly the best action track that I was able to find for this game.

“Field Tutorial Zone”

What attracted me to this track is its sheer optimism that bursts out of every note. If it is a mere tutorial zone tune, it’s one where a lot of work and effort was poured into making it far better than it had a right to be. Seriously, this could be the main title theme to an MMO right here, not some track that’s buried in a tutorial area somewhere.

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Fenrir Wolf

Huh! This game has a musical identity. I love this, especially after talking about MMO soundtracks the other day.

The Final Dance is ruddy rockin’. A masterclass.

Other MMOs could take note, here, I feel. I mean, I don’t know if this MMO is for me as the complete package, but the music most assuredly is.

God, this track is really getting me pumped. I dig it. It has so much emotion and heart. I must ask, why was this not on the list? Or was it and it didn’t get enough votes?

Good this. Yes. Very good.

Reader
Brent Bechtold

It kind of varies from Chapter to Chapter as each story arc had a different team and director behind it, and I’m pretty sure this goes for composer. For instance the Celtic themes that were shown off here were from Chapter 1 and return a bit later in Chapter 3. Naduha’s battle theme for instance

The PROBLEM is that this game is such a hodgepodge that sometimes the uninspired Chapters lead to…uninspired music. For instance a good chunk of NPC’s get their own theme. Then there’s….ugh.

Why use Boléro instead of a new theme? Dunno, they’re Norse Giants and don’t really have a Spanish theme going. Worse yet, there’s no overworld music in that entire region that Chapter introduced.

It’s better to think of each Chapter or even each Generation having it’s own musical identity rather than the game itself, and then things become a lot less eclectic.

It’s worth noting that if you really just want the music, the music is client side so you can just download the game, copy over what you want and just delete the thing. It ain’t piracy if it’s free to play.

(This also means you can replace the less inspired tracks with your own soundtrack but that’ll just generate another wall of text while I wax about that.)

Reader
PanagiotisLial1

What impressed me on Mabinogi is I met among others 2 players who played only to play music ingame. See they could actually play any music there and at times you saw randomly people on some spots playing along some music

Reader
Fenrir Wolf

That was something I adored about my time with LOTRO. That groups would get together and put on performances. They had a propensity for pulling something beautiful out of that limited system, all I could muster were plinks and plonks.

Reader
Brent Bechtold

Okay I’ve been lurking for years waiting for percisely this moment (No, really!) and it’s the midi tracks from circa 2008? I mean, I’ve got nostalgia for them sure, but c’mon, none of the ending themes for the various story arcs? No Age of Alchemy?

That one in particular felt emotionally satisfying after slugging through 3 Generations- especially given the way the credits played the cutscenes backwards. Suitably epic.

And as for the title theme, I feel the theme for the Memento update is probably the best mix. It’s amazing what a small string section can do.

Reader
drelkag


comment image

Best track in Mabinogi to go with the best dancer.