Jukebox Heroes: The best of Ys Online’s soundtrack

    
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Jukebox Heroes: The best of Ys Online’s soundtrack

Stretching back to the late 1980s, the Ys role-playing series has had a long and fruitful run, with nearly five million copies of its games sold to date. However, Ys’ popularity has mostly been in the east, as its western releases have never been breakout hits (“solid” would be an appropriate term). It’s just not as much of a geek household name over here, which is why you may not even be aware that a Ys MMORPG was in the works for a while there.

Called Ys: The Call of Solum, this MMO reached the beta testing stage in both Europe and Asia, but due to mismanagement and some other factors, it never launched. However, its music did endure, and that’s what I want to examine today.

Ys Online’s soundtrack is worth checking out, in my opinion. It’s not the most groundbreaking album ever, but there is plenty of well-composed and enjoyable tunes among this group. Let’s listen to six select pieces that I particularly liked.

“Echoes of a Lost City”

I love me a good synth track, and not just because it transports me back to the 1980s. There’s something spacey and evocative in these opening notes that sets a perfect mood for a tour through a long-forgotten metropolis. It’s both magical and melancholy, and I would say that it’s not a track you’d hear in most MMOs.

“A Quirk of Fate”

Here’s your quintessential boss fight track — lots of heavy notes, chanting by a chorus that seems to show up at all such fights, and a gradual rising of intensity. It is incredibly short, clocking in at just a minute, and when it ends it makes my brain stumble because I expect to hear a lot more in this vein.

“Cursed Pagan”

Another boss track, Cursed Pagan sounds like a kissing cousin to some familiar Castlevania tunes — and that’s a welcome connection. The light-hearted melody that rises above the clangs and bangs is delightful and fun. I’d listen to this again in a heartbeat.

“Another Story”

A good zone track adds to, not supplants, the experience of wandering, fighting, and discovering. This one would be perfect for many fantasy titles, offering a warm and mellow melody that has just the barest hint of sparkly magic on the fringes. I can imagine this enhancing anyone’s journey.

“Mother’s Earth”

I’m less enthusiastic about this zone track, which kind of seems to be all over the place. Still, there’s a salvageable melody here if you stick it out, going between light and dark moments while also dropping in a storybook feel as it goes along.

“Repose of Souls”

Those Ys souls have been reposing for quite a while now, haven’t they? It feels like this track is a eulogy for a game that never was, a tease of an alternate universe of fantasy adventure. It ends on a triumphant — and defiant? — note, making me nostalgic for a title that I never had a chance to play.

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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Louie

Justin! This article is very appreciated and fantastic. Definitely was not expecting to see anything Ys related on here, great selection of songs from an MMO I’d love to get the chance to play some day. Just finished Ys VIII the other day and with it have finally played through the whole series so it’s just a neat coincidence. Highly recommend the series to anyone who’s interested.

Rialto
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Rialto

It pains me greatly that I never got to play this. I’m amazed there are no private servers at least with as popular as the series is.