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|Reviewed by:||Mark Goninon|
|Name:||Little Big Adventure Symphonic Suite and Original Soundtracks (CD Edition)|
|Number of Tracks:||31|
|Release Date:||Feb 2021|
Little Big Adventure (aka Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure), an action-adventure developed by French studio Adeline Software and released back in 1994, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. To commemorate the occasion, the composer for the game Philippe Vachey released an album that would not only include music from the original soundtracks for Little Big Adventure and its sequel Little Big Adventure 2 (aka Twinsen's Odyssey) but a rearrangement and rerecording of some of these tracks by an orchestra at La Seine Musicale (a relatively new venue in Paris). Four piano solos are also included and performed by pianist Nicolas Horvath.
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I have fond memories of the soundtracks to both of these games. The music ranged from warm, whimsical pieces you'd expect from a world filled with anthropomorphic characters to dramatic, epic ones often found as background music to war films. There's even some funky disco music thrown in for good measure! Best of all, all this music was recorded in Red Book Audio, which meant while the game data was stored on one of the tracks of the CD-ROM, the remaining tracks operated much like a regular audio CD to the point you could pop the game CD into a CD player and it would play the soundtrack! Listening to a game soundtrack with CD quality music back in the early 90s was definitely a treat which is why I believe soundtracks to the LBA games should be considered amongst the best of that decade.
I received the CD Edition of the soundtrack as a gift from a very generous sister-in-law (thanks sis) and the 31 tracks are split across two discs. The first disc is the "Symphonic Suite" disc and contains 12 new arrangements or interpretations of music from the original soundtracks, played by a live orchestra. The second disc has 9 tracks from the original LBA soundtrack and 6 tracks from the LBA 2 soundtrack, with four piano solos in between performed by Nicolas Horvath.
The CD case also comes with a rather chunky booklet which not only has the track list but many pages of the Adeline Software team reminiscing about their days working on the Little Big Adventure games.
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There is not much more I can say about the original LBA 1 and LBA 2 soundtracks that I haven't already said: most of the music here I remember fondly and some would obviously benefit from receiving the live orchestral treatment. The Uncle Art album "A Temporal Shift" brought the majesty of the Frontier: Elite II themes to life and I was hoping for more of the same with this album. For most of the tracks I think this is the case and the best examples of this happen to be "Opening for LBA", "Hamalayi" and, my personal favourite, "The Empire". The live orchestra really makes "The Empire" stand out on this album and I love how Philippe has brought the Celtic vibe to the fore in its newest iteration. Even "Funky Town" received some love on this album and while it took me a couple of listens before I appreciated "FT LAps", I kind of like it better than the original now: it's still pretty funky but now epic at the same time, as if it symbolises one last hurrah for the Adeline development team.
There were some tracks though that didn't feel like improvements over the originals or where the source material didn't really need the orchestral treatment. For example, I was never a big fan of the original "Emerald Moon" track, but I kind of preferred the Vangelis-like dreamy synths and prog rock feel to it whereas the new one sort of meanders and seems less focused. It's the same with the track "Desert". While I liked the simplicity of the desolate, lonely synth, the newer version seems less focused, more ambient and the minimalist track really doesn't benefit as much from a live orchestra. I was also really disappointed there was no orchestral treatment for the original LBA 1 theme which is one of my favourite pieces of video game music ever. While the "Music Box" gets close in recreating some of the passages from the "LBA1 Theme", it's not quite enough.
The four piano solos included on this album are of a high standard but I tended to appreciate the ones where the original melody was noticeable meaning "The Honey Bee" and "The Village" were my favourites. "Song for Gabriel", while it sounds beautiful on the piano, never quite impacts me emotionally as the original does.
It's probably only a niche audience that can truly appreciate this album but overall, despite some missed opportunities with certain tracks that could have received the live orchestra treatment, this album should appease the fans and for anyone who is curious to hear what quality PC game soundtracks from the early 90s sound like.
If you're interested in purchasing the soundtrack it's available on vinyl, CD and digitally off the official Wayô Records website.