Jukebox Heroes: The best of Dragon’s Quest X’s soundtrack

All right!

While just about everyone knows about Square Enix’s ashes-to-glory story with Final Fantasy XIV, what often goes unnoticed is that the company runs a second MMORPG that stemmed from one of its long-running franchises. Dragon Quest X is relegated to the periphery of our attention mostly because it’s yet to be localized anywhere other than Japan and China. Maybe some day, but certainly not now.

However, just because we can’t play it doesn’t mean we can’t listen to it! The Dragon Quest X soundtrack has been out in the wild for a while now, and I eagerly dove into it hoping that it might show some of the excellence that FFXIV brought to the scene. Instead, I got a very odd experience that’s hard to explain. The best I can compare DQX’s score to is very old cartoons or high school musicals where a full orchestra does all it can to provide the setting, mood, and action. The music lays a strong hand on you, which is not something I’m accustomed to with MMORPG soundtracks, and I feel that it’s not all it could be as a result.

Still, there are a few interesting tracks to hear and discuss, so join me today as we look at the “other” Square Enix MMO!

“Overture X”

This is a grand and rather cheerful procession into the game proper. It reminds me a lot of the style you’d hear from an amusement park parade, where the instruments don’t hold back in the least. Go for broke, why not?

“City Theme”

My biggest compliment for this game’s soundtrack is that, by and large, it’s upbeat and not that dour. I’m not a great fan of how it tries to pull this off, but at least I’m not listening to French horns blat and drums wail away. The city theme is… adequate? I would go a little crazy if I had to hear this on repeat (or even more than once), but it’s chipper and trying.

“The Heavens”

I hear hints of Star Wars in this, particularly in its quieter moments. It’s like three notes away from a John Williams movement; not quite there, but close. It’s a sort of sad, sort of peaceful track that doesn’t do anything to dissuade you from associating this with a musical.

“Melody of the Blade”

So why not an action track? And why not an action track with blaring Rocky-esque horns? Gotta fly now! In any case, this definitely sounds like a piece from a ’70s cop thriller or something similar. It’s just way too over-the-top for a combat track these days.

“Bright Horizons”

This track unloads two barrels of Disney right into your earholes. Princess are singing, birds are chirping, and everything that can possibly dance in a coordinated style is doing just that. How does this fit into an MMO? I ask you, how?

“The Dwarf Race”

Each of the races have their own main theme, and as you might expect, the Dwarf one is peppy and cheery and saccharine and doing ballet moves, just like every Dwarf you’ve ever encountered in fantasy. Wait a minute.

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!
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I really wanted to play this, shame it never came stateside