The 7th Saga Soundtrack, Norihiko Yamanuki, 1993
It’s probably no surprise that sometimes, games are remembered not for the whole of their various strengths and shortcomings, but rather simply for their most outstanding and pronounced feature. And so when seasoned gamers think back to developer Produce’s The 7th Saga, what’s brought up first isn’t so much the game’s peculiarly sombre atmosphere, or the variety of characters to control. Instead, what dominates retrospective conversations about The 7th Saga is its absolutely unforgiving difficulty level (dialed up for the US release), which required hours and hours of grinding right from the very start. It’s a shame then that its reputation as the SNES’ most difficult RPG often overshadows The 7th Saga’s several accomplishments.
One of these is a surprisingly understated, at times haunting score by Norihiko Yamanuki that plays counter to almost all JRPG clichés and norms. It’s difficult to contextualise the stylistic surprise that is the The 7th Saga soundtrack within Yamanuki’s body of work – mainly because his discography is so small. Outside of The 7th Saga, the only game music credit for Yamanuki identifiable on English-language websites is Madou Ou Granzort, a solid if not outstanding PC Engine score.