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Distant Worlds IV - Dalmasca Estersand from Final Fantasy XII
(Up Next: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age - Eruyt Village)

Announcing the Winners of Our
Distant Worlds Atlanta Essay Contest

May 29th, 2013 by Tony Garsow

Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy will be in Altanta, Georgia on June 7th and 8th, performing the music of the Final Fantasy series. Partnering with Square Enix and AWR Music Productions, Final Fantasy Network recently held an essay contest to give away two pairs of tickets to the performance. Today, I’m proud to announce our two contest winners:

Alex “Kino Orunitia” Beeler and Rena!

You can read their winning essays by expanding the article below. Thanks to everyone for your submissions and making this contest a success! If you still want to order tickets to attend this June’s performance or details on each night’s performance, check out the details here. Stay tuned to Final Fantasy Network for more contests in the future, and follow us on twitter: @finalfantasynet for all the latest news and updates — including contests!

Submission: Alex “Kino Orunitia” Beeler

The music of Final fantasy is at its very essence an overwhelming valley of emotion. The various composers of the series have strived to create very unique works that almost always delivered to their promise of further bringing the player into the world and surrounding them with the themes that are presented. Joy, Sadness, Sorrow, Adventure, Danger, Love, Fear, Passion; These are just a few of the very powerful emotions that the music of Final Fantasy has brought to life in each and every one of their titles spanning the years of the franchise.

Joy can be found in many various places throughout the series but in every single title that it makes its appearance every fan can’t help but smile when they hear the “Chocobo’s Theme”. Such a simple medley in its essence has taken many different shapes but in every one the composers find a way to provoke varying levels of happiness and excitement within their audience. Many players including myself were entranced by Soken’s “Good King Moggle Mog XII” which was almost like it came straight from a world of Tim Burton which brought about many other fond memories.

Sadness can be found in each title as the writers spin their web of various story elements. Final Fantasy VII’s “Aerith’s Theme” undoubtedly provoked mixed emotions among players. Losing a character in the main scenario is a powerful change, and losing loved ones can be even more provoking. The titles that do it right use every single element they have at hand to make sure that the point is driven home and straight into the hearts of their players.

Sorrow is another emotion easily found in the composers various works. FFIX’s “Kuja’s Theme” is a powerful track that the game made very good use of to provoke suspense, deep thought, and intense reflections on the characters involved in those scenes. To be created for such a purpose and only to realize that you have no place in the very world you live in truly casts the illusions these pieces are trying to reflect.

Adventure is the very bread and butter of Final Fantasy. Among all other themes I feel this is the driving force behind the creation of each and every title. Instilling this drive in their players is a noble and amazing aspiration and is one of the things that they have brought home and gotten down to a near science. Given how powerful this tool is in music it’s quite unfair to say that one track specifically represents the series as a whole, but Final Fantasy XI’s “Battle Theme” is a prime example of a simple track delivered with utmost potential. No matter how many times I heard this track each and every single one instantly brought my mind to the moment and drove inspiration to fight and press onward.

Danger is a theme delivered time and time again to perfection. Final Fantasy XI’s “Awakening” will always ring true as an example of almost wonderment to my long MMO career. Reaching that pinnacle of endgame and this new fight and trying to fight with your comrades to succeed and find victory while this music continuously played brought many feelings to mind. Its rhythm and tempo were paramount in this track to instill a sense of fear and adrenaline in the players as they fought through these terrifying zones seeking fame and fortune together.

Love among all things is something that simply works or doesn’t. Final Fantasy IX’s “Song of Memories” brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. It is pure, simple, and deep. Her voice is nothing short of perfect among the flow of the harp. It’s involvement in the characters memories, Garnets past, and in Zidane’s heart is apparent and it tugs at the player with ease.

Fear meddles in the waters of excitement but pushes the player to new levels of determination if carried out effectively. I have to give very high compliments to Soken for giving us Final Fantasy XIV’s “Fallen Angel” ‘and’ “Rise of the White Raven”. Never has an endgame boss pushed limits on a group of players as Rivenroad did in both versions it was implemented in. Both regular and especially (Hard) mode were carefully planned masterpieces for every individual involved in their construction. The fight itself demanded absolute perfection from every participating member, and the choir that was dauntingly singing as meteors were trying to crash into the very ground as the players struggled to defeat this powerful foe and stay alive was a phenomenal experience to be immersed in.

The last emotion to remark upon, but not nearly the last of possible to mention is Passion. The absolute pinnacle of passion in the series is Final Fantasy XIV’s “Answers” brought to us by the one and only Nobuo Uematsu. The lyrics, the talented vocal artist Susan Calloway, the choir, and each and every carefully selected instrument in this piece speaks volumes and plays at so many different faucets of emotion. In and of itself I believe it speaks of the extreme passion that Nobuo pours into his work, that the development team has placed into the story, and what the series as a whole stands for and hopes to accomplish.

I am part of an Indie game developer team working on our very first game, and I will have to say that Nobuo Uematsu has been a favorite composer for years, but knee-sock aficionado Masayoshi Soken has stolen my heart with his work on Final Fantasy XIV. Final Fantasy IX is one of our largest sources of inspiration as a series title and in large part because since their departure from classic Fantasy after the early entries it embodies the very essence of Fantasy to both me, and us. The lovable characters, their various themes, the music that really creates a lovable and powerful atmosphere for the struggles the player endures are what make it my favorite.

To go to this concert would be a wonderful experience, and to experience the music first-hand would be an incredible one night journey into the worlds I have loved for so many years. Thank you for taking the time to read my entry and best of luck selecting two winners. I hope that even if I’m not picked I have gotten a smile or two from you and maybe even gotten you to take a second look at some of the various pieces I’ve come to admire throughout the experience it is to be a Final Fantasy player.

Submission: Rena

The Final Fantasy series is full of unique and fantastic tales, but the one that I cherish most is the sequel to 2010’s Final Fantasy XIII: Final Fantasy XIII-2. One of the aspects that stood out the most, for fans and critics alike, is the music. While most of the Final Fantasy series has focused on classical themes (even in its 8-bit chiptune music days), Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes the soundtrack in a new and unique direction while still keeping to Final Fantasy’s musical roots, something that makes it very special amongst the many Final Fantasy soundtracks.

What makes Final Fantasy XIII-2’s music so unique is its use of modern-styled music in combination with classic orchestrated themes. Music filled with pianos, violins, and brass instruments becomes connected with rough metal chords and sugary sweet pop tunes. Though Final Fantasy XIII tapped into this combination a bit with its soundtrack with themes like “Serah’s Theme” and “The Sunleth Waterscape,” it was its sequel that really immersed its soundtrack with these unique themes.

For the modernized aspects of the music, the soundtrack of Final Fantasy XIII-2 relies on rock, pop, electronic, and even some rap styles (of music). Some of these music styles were used in the past (mainly through the game’s main themes, like Final Fantasy XII’s “Kiss Me Goodbye” and Final Fantasy X-2’s lyrical themes), but no Final Fantasy soundtrack had really been immersed in these musical styles until Final Fantasy XIII-2. New Bodhum and the Sunleth Waterscape share a common theme with pop and electronic styled music, while riding on Chocobos features a unique soundtrack consisting of variations of the classic Chocobo theme like “Groovy Chocobo” and a metal version, “Crazy Chocobo.” However, the soundtrack isn’t without its classic orchestrated themes, though it still manages to make them unique. Character themes, like “Serah’s Theme -Memories-,” “Yeul’s Theme,” and “Noel’s Theme -Final Journey-,” feature lyrics reflecting each character’s stories and desires while still retaining a classical style. The game also features an epic final battle theme classic to Final Fantasy and other epic themes, like “Caius’s Theme” and “Closing Credits.” Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, and Mitsuto Suzuki manage to successfully make the game’s soundtrack unique amongst the rest while still creating a classic Final Fantasy soundtrack.

This is certainly not a soundtrack that comes to mind when fans think of the best soundtracks of the series, so why is this music so special to me – not only because of the game’s unique music, but also because this was one of the first Final Fantasy games that I had completed. I was never able to play the classic Final Fantasy games, like VI – IX, but got into the series long after those games were released, thanks to Kingdom Hearts. I’ve played a few of the games in the past, though only three of the numbered titles, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 ended up becoming the second Final Fantasy game that I had completed. For that reason, this game holds a very special place in my heart and listening to the music brings back memories of running through New Bodhum, the Archylte Steppe, and Academia, fighting monsters, changing the future, and protecting Gran Pulse and Cocoon from Caius alongside Noel and Serah. It may not be a huge highlight amongst the Final Fantasy series, but, to me, this is an incredible game that I will always cherish.

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