Final Fantasy VIII: Original Soundtrack is the complete soundtrack for Final Fantasy VIII composed by Nobuo Uematsu. The soundtrack includes liner notes with a message from the composer; an interview with Uematsu called "Privately Attack Nobuo Uematsu with Questions"; lyrics to "Liberi Fatali" in Latin and Japanese (kana); lyrics to "Eyes on Me" in English and kana; and main characters' portraits and screenshots from some of the game's FMVs.
Uematsu did not use multiple sources to find MIDI instruments, instead using a Roland SC88 synthesizer for the entire score. Uematsu wrote notes based on character designs and screenplays, creating a general picture of the songs' moods. He could not express a character's emotions solely with plot, instead using images of appearance and attire.
It's important to know when their emotions are at their height, but it usually takes until a month before release for them to finish the ending dialogue!
Uematsu wrote no character themes for Final Fantasy VIII because he found them largely ineffective. The only times he decided to include a personal theme was whenever a character was highlighted. The romance between Squall and Rinoa resulted in the creation of the game's vocal theme, "Eyes on Me".
The Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack was the first for all of its tracks to bear English language titles, with minor deviations. The song "Ami" derives from the French word ami for "friend". The song's naming was also inspired by 1986 novel by Chilean writer Enrique Barrios, entitled Ami, el niño de las estrellas.
The soundtrack received mixed reviews, being called "one of the most memorable scores you will ever hear" by some sources, and yet being pointed as "dull" by others.
The Black Mages have covered more themes from the Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack than from any other soundtrack in the series.
Disc One (62:07)
- "Liberi Fatali" - 3:07
- The opening theme of Final Fantasy VIII. Also included on FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC: Final Fantasy VIII album in the same format.
- "Balamb GARDEN" - 3:29
- Eponymous theme of the location. It was orchestrated for FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC.
- "Blue Fields" - 2:54
- The game's world map theme. It received an orchestration as included in FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC, as well as being included in the Piano Collections: Final Fantasy VIII album.
- "Don't Be Afraid" - 2:52
- The game's battle theme. It is included as an orchestrated arrangement in the album FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC. It is also played live during the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy concert tours.
- "The Winner" - 1:07
- "Find Your Way" - 3:47
- "SeeD" - 4:16
- The theme for SeeD, played during mission briefings and related scenes.
- "The Landing" - 4:36
- Played at the beginning of the Siege of Dollet, while the SeeD forces reach the shores. Also played during the clash of the Gardens when Galbadians on motorcycles start invading Balamb Garden.
- "Starting Up" - 1:19
- Played when the Communications Tower in Dollet begins its transmission.
- "Force Your Way" - 3:53
- The game's boss battle theme. It is included as a heavy metal arrangement in the Black Mages' first eponymous album.
- "The Loser" - 1:26
- "Never Look Back" - 3:23
- "Dead End" - 1:11
- Heard when Squall, Zell and Selphie run to the beach of Dollet. Also played when Squall jumps down from the carousel clock in Deling City.
- "Breezy" - 2:43
- "Shuffle or Boogie" - 2:04
- The theme for Triple Triad played during card battles. It is included in the Piano Collections album.
- "Waltz for the Moon" - 3:00
- Played during the Graduation Ball, when Squall first meets Rinoa.
- "Tell Me" - 3:24
- Heard when Quistis speaks with Squall in the secret area of the Training Center.
- "Fear" - 2:24
- The theme played in the Training Center of Balamb Garden.
- "The Man with the Machine Gun" - 2:49
- "Julia" - 1:23
- "Roses and Wine" - 2:18
- First played when Laguna and Julia converse at the Galbadia Hotel. Also played when Squall attempts catching Rinoa in space.
- "Junction" - 1:37
- An ambient track played during mysterious moments, and most memorably at the Deep Sea Research Center.
- "Timber Owls" - 2:51
- Played during scenes with the Forest Owls.
Disc Two (62:31)
- "My Mind" - 3:12
- Eventually comes to be a love theme for Squall and Rinoa, which follows the melody of "Eyes On Me".
- "The Mission" - 3:36
- First heard during the Forest Owls' train mission, and it also can be heard during the chaos in Balamb Garden.
- "Martial Law" - 3:48
- Played whenever the party visits Timber.
- "Cactus Jack (Galbadian Anthem)" - 1:30
- Heard during Vinzer Deling's speech on live television.
- "Only a Plank Between One and Perdition" - 2:24
- "SUCCESSION OF WITCHES" - 3:18
- "Galbadia GARDEN" - 3:37
- Eponymous theme of the location.
- "Unrest" - 2:36
- Heard when the party is waiting at Galbadia Garden.
- "Under Her Control" - 3:30
- Played when the party is in Deling City.
- "The Stage is Set" - 3:39
- Played during the preparation to assassinate the sorceress, as well as when the party enters the MD level of Balamb Garden.
- "A Sacrifice" - 3:26
- Heard when Ultimecia gives her speech to Deling City.
- "FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC" - 4:33
- This song is played during Ultimecia's parade in Deling City, and is included in FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC. A rearrangement is included in the Piano Collections album under the title "SUCCESSION OF WITCHES". The name is an anagram of the phrases "Succession of Witches" and "Love," the two main themes of the game. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, the American synchronized swimming duo consisting of Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova were awarded the bronze medal for their performance to the pieces "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" and "Liberi Fatali".
- "Intruders" - 2:31
- Heard when the party traverses the sewer system of Deling City, and during Galbadia's invasion in Balamb.
- "Premonition" - 4:36
- "Wounded" - 0:53
- The song that plays when Squall is injured by Ultimecia at the end of Disc 1 with Edea's Ice Strike Limit Break.
- "Fragments of Memories" - 3:13
- This song is played in Winhill during Laguna's stay, and during some flashback scenes. The theme is included in FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC as the last track.
- "Jailed" - 3:50
- The theme played in the D-District Prison.
- "Rivals" - 3:30
- "Ami" - 4:37
Disc Three (63:38)
- "The Spy" - 3:46
- "Retaliation" - 0:45
- Played during a cutscene showing the missiles approaching Balamb Garden.
- "Movin'" - 5:18
- Plays when Balamb Garden first flies and escapes from the missiles, and also played when Ultimecia (possessing Rinoa) is in space to release Adel.
- "Blue Sky" - 0:44
- Played on the balcony of Balamb Garden after it takes flight if Rinoa is in the party.
- "Drifting" - 2:56
- The theme of Ellone in certain respects, as played during scenes with her. Also played when Rinoa is floating in space after Adel's release.
- "Heresy" - 4:10
- Played when the group meets with NORG.
- "Fisherman's Horizon" - 3:35
- Played in the song's namesake, and when Squall and friends visit Winhill. Included in both FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC and Piano Collections.
- "ODEKA ke Chocobo" - 1:16
- "Where I Belong" - 3:40
- Heard in Trabia Garden and somewhat represents Selphie.
- "The Oath" - 3:25
- Played during scenes when Squall's leadership and heroism is highlighted, as well as when the party, Fujin and Raijin confront Seifer in the Lunatic Pandora. The theme is included in FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC and Piano Collections.
- "Slide Show Part1" - 1:23
- Heard when Laguna is acting for a movie in Trabia Canyon.
- "Slide Show Part2" - 1:47
- Played when Laguna faces the Ruby Dragon during the "movie". This song is included as the last track in Piano Collections.
- "Love Grows" - 4:28
- This song is played during scenes between Squall and Rinoa. The theme is included in FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC. It shares the central melody of "Eyes On Me", and has been played during Distant Worlds concerts.
- "The Salt Flats" - 3:36
- Heard in the Great Salt Lake.
- "Trust Me" - 3:13
- "Silence and Motion" - 5:47
- The theme of the city of Esthar, included on Piano Collections.
- "Dance with the Balamb-Fish" - 3:39
- Played during the Graduation Ball, in Dollet, and at the Lunar Base, the theme was included in FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC.
- "Tears of the Moon" - 1:12
- As the name implies, played during the Lunar Cry.
- "Residents" - 3:06
- "Eyes On Me" - 5:38
- Final Fantasy VIII's theme song. Played when Squall and Rinoa head home on the Ragnarok. In the game's world, the song is sung by Julia about Laguna, and how she feels for him. Sung by Faye Wong in actuality, the song is present on FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC as well and was arranged for Piano Collections. The single peaked at number 9 on the Oricon charts in Japan.
Disc Four (61:14)
- "Mods de Chocobo (featuring N's Telecaster)" - 2:24
- "Ride On" - 3:03
- The theme that is played when the party flies in the Ragnarok.
- "Truth" - 3:40
- Played at Edea's Orphanage and therefore seems to represent her.
- "Lunatic Pandora" - 3:28
- Eponymous theme of the location.
- "Compression of Time" - 4:34
- Heard during the brief state of time compression.
- "The Castle" - 5:19
- Played during the party's travails through Ultimecia Castle. Included in Piano Collections.
- "The Legendary Beast" - 5:50
- Played during the fight against Griever, the second tier of the final boss.
- "Maybe I'm a Lion" - 5:35
- Played against the third tier of the final boss, and was rearranged by The Black Mages for their second album.
- "The Extreme" - 6:44
- Played during the final battle with Ultimecia's final form and was rearranged by The Black Mages for their third album.
- "The Successor" - 3:37
- Played during the final scene, when Ultimecia gives her powers to Edea. This song is present on Piano Collections.
- "Ending Theme" - 13:20
- The game's ending theme begins with a mysterious opening that leads into a different arrangement of "Eyes On Me", then plays the series' main theme, the central melody of "Liberi Fatali", and finally the "Prelude", played in a minor key, as opposed to its characteristic major key. This song is included (unchanged) on FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC, and as a different arrangement for Piano Collections.
- "Overture" - 3:36
A limited edition first print version of the soundtrack was also produced. The cover shows the Final Fantasy VIII logo on a beige background instead of FMV montage, but is now mostly associated with the SonMay and Ever Anime bootleg copy. The limited edition comes in a beige box measuring 10" by 5.75" which opens up like a folder. The liner notes include a "Special Interview" of Nobuo Uematsu done by Yoshitake Maeda, not included in the regular edition. The liner notes with the package are scaled to 10 inches by 5.75 inches and are sewn into the inside cover.
FF VIII: Music Collection
Final Fantasy VIII Music Collection: Music From The Final Fantasy VIII Video Game is the North American release of the Final Fantasy VIII: Original Soundtrack album. While the packaging differs, the tracks and names are the same and it contains the same liner notes (translated into English) as the regular Japanese version. This album was available for a limited time through Square's website.
Liner Notes (translated from the original Japanese)
All versions of the Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack include a message from Nobuo Uematsu; the message is in Japanese in the Japanese versions of the soundtrack and can be found in English in the Final Fantasy VIII Music Collection version. The regular Japanese version also includes a "special interview" with Nobuo Uematsu (no translation of this available), and the limited edition also includes an interview with Uematsu, by Yoshitake Maeda, which is not included in the regular edition.
Message from Nobuo Uematsu
I received a letter asking for me to answer a survey about me from DigiCube the other day. I was able to answer every question with ease, but I had to stop and think when I put down "I am always happy" when I had to answer the question: "When do you find yourself happy?" Looking over the past few years, I can't remember being unhappy. It may be just that I am spending my summit of my life, but it's not that I haven't had angry or distressing moments. Don't think that middle-aged men don't have any worries!
Well, if I count how many times I have been happy these couple of years, its number well exceeds the number of times I have been put down. I'm sure I am not the only one. Some of you may have no money, but enjoy spending time with your children. You may have been fired, but found some freedom instead. If you have been dumped, you have another chance to start another affair. You may have received a low grade on your test, but maybe you love playing soccer. We go through a great number of experiences. They are fall upon you, so you are the one who must interpret their meanings.
I think that those meanings that you have created become "truths." Even if there is one single event, there could be as many truths as the world's population. If you decide to interpret an event in a negative way, you can only find yourself caught inside an unhappy truth. We can't liberate ourselves from pain by looking back to our distressful past, for we are the ones who are eager to hold on to that pain. It may be a good idea to open up and say "Here I am. I'm ready for anything!", as you disconnect yourself from pain. That is why I decided to have a change of mind this time. I declared myself that I will accept any hardship, and they decided to give me all the hardship possible. (LOL) Right now, my body is like an old towel wet and soaked. ...But it was fun. Concentrating on something is my means of acquiring happiness.
- Nobuo Uematsu (1/6/1999)
Limited edition interview with Uematsu
I don't know if he agrees, but I think I find a queer relation between me and Nobuo Uematsu. It first started when I started playing Final Fantasy on my Nintendo. The beautiful arpeggio at the title had an impact upon me that was as great as the fanfare in Dragon Quest. Since then, I have become a fan of FF music. I jumped on to the chance when I was brought up a plan about creating an arrangement of FF4 (2 U.S.) music in Ireland a few years later. Irish traditionals are one of my favorite styles of music, so Celtic Moon still is my favorite CD. I remember meeting Shannon Sharon, who is the most renowned accordion player in Ireland. Meeting Nobuo was a greater experience for me, though...!
Anyway, my ardor of Irish music increased significantly by this event. Since then, I have been going to every Irish performance in Japan, as well as Irish cafes nearby. I was surprised when I found out that Nobuo went to the same cafe. He told me that he also had begun to love Irish music, that he began to learn fiddle. At the same time I was into Irish music, I was also into Asian Pops. I even wrote a book called Encyclopedia of Asian Pops. That was why I was excited to hear that Faye Wong was going to sing in FF8. I couldn't believe that Nobuo chose her out of thousands of others. Faye was born in Peking, and started off her career in Hong Kong as a vocalist. She led another new era in Asia as the best singer in the 20th century, too. Hearing that Nobuo chose her, I started to feel that he was my buddy. Of course, I don't know if he agrees.
Where do you start when you start your job?
- I read the screenplay first. I usually start with the main theme, but this is probably the hardest task.
Do you get to choose where the main theme comes in?
- Yes. I usually choose between playing the main theme, like in the opening and the world map, but I don't know which song is the main theme this time.
Why is that?
- At first, I was going to make the opening song the main theme, and to play it in various spots throughout the game. Still, I began to realize that I have always been playing the main theme in the world map. This time, I decided to experiment by not playing the main theme in the world map. In addition, when I created "Eyes On Me," both songs had become the main theme. I, myself, couldn't decide which one to be the main theme. That's why a main theme does not exist in FF8.
Do you get a general picture by reading the screenplay?
- There is a secret page for SQUARE staff in the SQUARE home page that includes character designs, screenplays, etc. I print them out because I don't like reading on computers. Then, I start taking notes by blocking scenes by their moods. This way, I can get the general picture of what kinds of songs and how many of them I must write.
Are your song themes affected by the main characters?
- Yes, yes. I won't be able to express the emotions of the heroes just by following the plot. For example, I won't be able to tell if a girl is brave and strong or kind and modest by just reading the plot. I need to see how she looks like and how she dresses to have a better idea. The dialogues aren't usually complete at first, but reading them is crucial, too. It's important to know when their emotions are at their height, but it usually takes until a month before release for them to finish the ending dialogue...! (LOL)
Why is it that there are no character themes this time?
- Did you realize that? I found that the effect of character themes wasn't as great as I thought in FF6 and 7. It is reasonable to have character themes if each of the main characters has their own highlight in the game, but in FF8, the "main character" is focused in a single couple of Squall and Rinoa. Considering "Eyes On Me," I let the other characters take a step back music-wise.
It's a change of subject, but what kind of an environment do you work in?
- I usually come to work on time, turn on my keyboard, and then decide to work. I don't have expensive equipment in my room. I have a hard time trying to learn new machines, so I stick to my old ones. It's a waste of time to go over the manual, search my hard drive, or go get a floppy disk just trying to find a single trumpet synth. I could be coming up with a great melody in the very moment! The only instrument I used is the "Roland SC88," which is a beginners' synth that costs about 50,000 yen (about $400). Just one. The maximum simultaneous sound is like 64 or 128, and I don't need to worry about quality unless I want to have a special traditional instrument. I can't say that its symphonic re-creation is the best, but it has most that I need. Best of all, everything costs only 50,000 yen. I hear that people say that "Nobuo is surrounded by computers these days," but the truth is that I'm really bad at computers.
What do you think of the evolution of gaming machines in music?
- Everything is becoming simpler in that I can do anything I want. Because I can have sound sampling in PSX or SNES, it's even possible to surprise the audience by orchestrated hits. Still, I think everything isn't perfect yet. I don't think there is meaning to using sampling to mimic real instruments. If I were to use sampling, I would like to use it in a hip-hop kind of way. I think we're in the midst of a transition from synth game music to recorded game music right now.
What about the NES era?
- The NES had only three tracks, and each of their sounds was very unique. I had to focus on the melody itself and think about how each chord will move the audience. I struggled to produce originality in the same three tones, just like any composer from that period. It's amazing to listen to how each of us -- Konami composers, Koichi Sugiyama, and Namco composers -- each had totally different creations by using the same three instruments. There was an originality in "Game Music" back then. In the future, game music will not be much different from movie soundtracks.
Why did you decide to put a vocal song?
- Actually, some of us came up with a plan to use a famous vocalist in the ending of FF7. It didn't go through because the plan was too abrupt, and there were no themes or reason in the story for a vocal song to suddenly come up in the ending. On the other hand, the "song" has a meaning in the FF8 plot, and it closely relates to its main characters. That's why I wrote a ballad that I thought would suit the theme. Then, I asked everyone to bring in CDs with vocalists who would match it. We listened to countless CDs in our staff meetings, but none of them seemed to match our expectations...until one CD was played. Everyone looked around and asked, "Who is this...!?" even though it was the first track in the CD. We didn't have second thoughts. Some of you may ask why I chose Faye Wong, but I can't just say that it was my instinct. I didn't even know her when I listened to her CD, but her voice and mood seem to match my image of the song exactly. The fact that she was Chinese fits the international image of Final Fantasy, too.
What kind of a person was Faye Wong?
- I wasn't the one who participated in the negotiation, so I couldn't get to know her at first. Still, I found out that she was extraordinary as I gathered her information. She accepted our offer, but the recording had to take place in Hong Kong due to her schedule. Thus, I organized an orchestra and gave her a copy of the tape before everything. Her style was to concentrate alone for a while before recording, and sing in a one-shot deal. She also liked to sing in complete darkness. I have to say she had mystic qualities.
Her mysteriousness is one of her traits.
- I think we each received different impressions of her. Still, her skill as a singer is superior. Her voice is truly heavenly.
Do you think game music and regular commercial music would merge together someday?
- I don't want to join the competition of pop music. "Eyes On Me" is still game music, although it will be released as a single. I'm not a pops pro, either. Also, game music still doesn't have the characteristics to compete with them. I think it's up to the composer's choice. Some makers would try to create a commercial "hit" of its music, like in the movie "Titanic." Others, like many of the European movies, totally separate from commercialism. That's why different composers will have different goals in game music, too.
Is it difficult to write music that matches the game's atmosphere?
- Well, it is said that Final Fantasy is moving away from a "free game" more and more. We, as the creators, know this the best. Some criticize us for this, but we're doing this because we won't be able to find something new unless we try and go forward. If we aren't the ones who experiment, somebody else definitely would. We may stop at a dead end, or we might be able to find a new horizon. We won't know that unless we go on.
Was this idea of Final Fantasy present from the beginning?
- ...Maybe from about FF3j (unreleased in the U.S.). We have a lot of people who love movies, so maybe that's why we're trying to recreate a movie in a game. Still, we often discuss that we will never be able to catch up to movies just by trying to mimic them. Right now, we're in a land where no one else has stepped in. That is why we think we'll experiment as of now.
Does this "cinematic thinking" come important in song writing?
- Yes, definitely. It would be strange not to have Hollywood-style music in the FF8 cinematic action CG movies. Still, I'm not a movie expert, so it's hard for me to write cinematic music.
Then, what genre are you best at writing?
- I'm good at writing ballads in the '70s style. I love writing lyrical songs. Still, I try not to be too genre-specific because now is the time that we, game creators, need to find out what we really must do. My task is to make sure that I am able to express the emotions I want to, and not just brushing up on my skills. I think it will be a shame if we won't be able to cry as we play our own game. I think we had some success this time, in that meaning. What do you think?
A CD titled "Final Fantasy VIII Music Collection" was released as a freebie along with the Japanese PC-version release. The first print of this release has Yoshitaka Amano art on the CD, while the regular version has Quistis's character art drawn by Nomura. The CD includes "The Man With the Machine Gun" and "Mods de Chocobo" from the original soundtrack, "Love Grows" and "The Oath" from FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC: Final Fantasy VIII and "Shuffle or Boogie" and "Ami" from the Piano Collections: Final Fantasy VIII album. The catalog number for this release is SQMW-4001.
Another promo-only Final Fantasy VIII music CD exists, called "FINAL FANTASY VIII Original Soundtrack - Special Sampler." Its catalog number is TGCS-624 and it contains a selection of tracks from the original soundtrack. Weirdly, even if the CD has 11 tracks it simply repeats the first five tracks twice, with "Eyes On Me" appearing on the CD three times.
Published by DOREMI Music Publishing, the sheet music book Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack Piano Sheet Music contains Asako Niwa's piano arrangements for the music on the Final Fantasy VIII: Original Soundtrack. The difficulty level is beginner to intermediate.