Sorcerian Forever was a PC remake of the scenario-based action RPG Sorcerian released in 1997, ten years after the original. Its original score featured all the music from the game in new arrangements. In addition to offering a synth upgrade, Mieko Ishikawa's Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. were genuinely extravagant in some of their arrangements. But was this such a good thing? The two volumes of the original score will let us find out.
The opening theme is considerably adjusted in the arrangement here. The sound team mainly offer synth changes, but the effect is a major one — gone is the modest electric piano sound of the original in favour of prominent tuned percussion leads, ethereal synth backing vocals, and pop-influenced accompaniment. The effect will certainly be striking, quite in contrast to the original version, yet it's also distinctly over-the-top too. This heavy-handed approach hinders several other tracks on the soundtrack. The moody jazz feel of "Pentawa I" is gone in favour of a sleazy funk sound; the resultant theme is catchy and uplifting, yet nowhere near as deep or meaningful as Yuzo Koshiro's version. While "Desert" retains a subdued feel, it sounds a little too much like trashy new age music. Even the two ending themes have lost their contemplative qualities and now exude a tacky aura akin to relaxation albums.
Yet the more upbeat tracks from the original score often benefit from the heavy-handed approach. Quite in contrast to "Pentawa I", "Where We Meet" and "Pentawa II" sound better than ever in their upbeat arrangements here. The themes are a little overwhelming in context, yet still delightful on a stand-alone basis. Some of the setting themes also suit their portrayals here. "Dungeon (The Lost King's Spectre)" isn't as texturally colourful as the original, yet the big bold synth sound is ideal for belting out those charismatic melodies, while the Romancia arrangements are a delightful revisit of an old classic. Despite the somewhat homogenous approach to the arranging, the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. are also keen to maintain some contrasts on the soundtrack. For example, they enhance the contrasts between the "Forest" themes used in three different scenarios. They also ensure the wonderful "Cave" themes are even more impacting and better integrated than before.
What about the battle music? Unsurprisingly, Falcom continue to jam out here and bring the most out of the melodies of tracks like "Hydra", "Bloody River", or "Luwan and the Gold Dragon". These arrangements still sound very synthetic and are hardly blazing with electric guitars, yet they're still filled with the sound team's flair. About the closest Falcom come to offering a truly rocking theme is "Double Devils" with its heavy drum beats and guitar-inspired improvisations. Gratifyingly, the sound team also retain the haunting feel of certain originals. For example, "Kraken" sounds as hostile as before and this time no longer relies on distorted synth. The final battle theme "King Dragon" also sounds more haunting than ever and the bizarre synthesis really brings it to live. However, it's somewhat regrettable that the theme doesn't develop fully or loop like most would have expected. Overall, though, a great selection of action themes.
The score for Sorcerian Forever is no longer as expressive or colourful as the original music. The Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. often lost the concept of the originals, particularly the softer or darker ones, with their heavy-handed and pop-influenced arrangements here. Nevertheless, the more upbeat or action-packed themes often seem to benefit from the revamp and their melodies sound more delightful than ever. The original score offers the opportunity to finally listen to looped music from Sorcerian, yet Falcom greedily released it in two volumes so it will be an expensive purchase. I'd recommend sticking to the originals to listen to the original intentions behind Sorcerian's music, but the remake score is still good for those wanting a dose of Falcom fun and catchiness.