by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Hiroki Kikuta is a fascinating, incredible composer. He may not have composed for as many games like say, Yasunori Mitsuda or Nobuo Uematsu, he still has left an indelible mark on RPGs/video games in general, over the years. He’s still actively composing, with upcoming work in Indivisible, which I’m quite excited for. But what he is most known for in the West is Secret of Mana, one of the greatest RPGs of all time. Hiroki Kikuta is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite composers and he has put together something truly special here. Yeah, I said it. Hell, Tangledeep also has some of Hiroki Kikuta’s work in it, which is a game I definitely want to spend more time with. Today’s album is a really unique one. I can’t really dissect it on a track-per-track basis, because it’s one track. Back in the day, a lot of chiptune OSTs were one long track, instead of a collection of separate midi files. I used to have quite a lot of them on an old hard drive, and it was nice to just settle in, and listen to a game’s original, unaltered music.
The Unbreakable Unity is a tribute to Hiroki Kikuta’s earlier 16-bit days, with a near 40-minute track. It has that distinct Super Nintendo feel, and makes me think of Secret of Mana more than anything else. Listening to it is incredibly peaceful, and having to listen to the entire album without breaking or stopping takes me back in time. The Super Nintendo’s sound chip was unique, and no console before or since has been able to duplicate the incredible feats it offered. A lot of the beats and sounds you hear in The Unbreakable Unity will feel familiar if you played Secret of Mana or Trials of Mana, but in a new, exciting way. It feels like it belongs to an RPG that doesn’t exist but should. Kikuta received the idea for this album after viewing Alfons Mucha’s The Slav Epic. This piece of art inspired The Unbreakable Unity, which serves as a theme for a dark natural dungeon, or perhaps a confusing forest. Something awaits in a glen, hidden until prophecy and urgency call for it again.
Before opening up the press release, I listened to the song, and the feeling I got was certainly that of a mystical forest. This music is for a nice, long forest dungeon with a hidden power lurking deep within. Perhaps a source of Mana awaits, or this could be where the legendary Mana Blade is left hiding, covered in moss and rust. All it needs now is an intrepid hero to stumble upon it and free it, before bopping Rabites with it. It’s a soothing, relaxing song, but still manages to create tension and a sense of unease. You have no idea what’s hiding in these woods, whether it is good or ill. The woodwinds and beautiful SNES-era synthesizer are paired nicely, and I’m just waiting for the bushes to rustle and an adorable foe to leap out! You can find The Unbreakable Unity: Memory of Nostalgic S-NES Sound album on Bandcamp now, and I highly recommend you go pick it up.
Hiroki Kikuta recently discussed his album, saying this:
“The distinctive SNES sound was a result of hardware specifications. To tell the truth, it reminds of the many laborious days I spent on this music in the past. However, I recently found anew that the SNES sound is extremely important for people who played RPGs in the ’90s. Many become happy when they hear this good old SNES sound. I enjoy it, too! So I decided to create new SNES music that is fresh yet nostalgic!”