Final Fantasy has always been one of my favorite RPG games. I was constantly playing from FF III well until XIII and XIII-2. To experience live orchestra music from the game was nothing short of surreal. Classical orchestra music introduced by way of gaming cultivates an appreciation from a younger audience and changes the conversation of how such music is perceived.
This was an event outside of San Diego Comic Con, so non-attendees who are fans could also watch. It was held in Jacobs Music Center on the edge of downtown, almost near the freeway entrance. It was quite an uphill walk from the convention center, but given the traffic it was the faster alternative. It was rather austere in terms of pop-culture presentation, and I guess the orchestra venue wants to maintain the classic appearance of the place. Though there was a Cloud Strife cocktail at the bar.
Brought to you by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.
Prior to the show, there was a Q&A panel with Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy. His last involvement with the series was with Final Fantasy X (e.g. Jecht, Tidus, etc…) Hence the music for the evening came from most of the games under his helm. It was funny how he was commenting on the difficulty of the questions coming from the floor. They ranged from the technicals of differentiating ASCII characters per scan line to get unique shapes and images from the inspirations behind each of the characters. The latter most couldn’t remember much anymore after sheepishly admitting they were a done a long time ago for him. A fan even got the chance to have his mint-condition copy of Final Fantasy III (for the NES).
From the get-go, I was in awe imagining the scenes from the games, heightened with an amazing score. Quite an elevation when you’ve been hooked on then game that has been accompanied by midi-based music. The symphony opened with Terra’s Theme (FF3) and suddenly I was transported to the town of Narshe in a cold winter evening. It then progressed to the all-too-familiar FF battle music, raising up the hype and goosebumps levels. Next was Kefka’s Theme which added a bit of comedic vibe for a few minutes. Music slowsly died out under the applause, and then leveled up again on with the Bombing Mission (FF7) and then the main theme.
The FFX set started with A Fleeting Dream, then To Zanarkand which just made my eyes swell up. After several encores, the orchestra wrapped it with the best ending ever: One Winged Angel (FF VII). The audience was just standing in applause and as much as we wanted more, their reserve repertoire was already used up for the evening.
Judge me for being cheesy, but that night left me with teary eyes and goosebumps all over. I wish they could’ve played all night or at least get a recording of this performance.