Guest columnist Glen Watts takes time out to laud Yasunori Mitsuda’s Chrono Trigger score.
It’s 1994 and Yasunori Mitsuda is not a happy man.
Having joined Squaresoft two years previously as a composer, he hasn’t yet laid down a single note. He’s not been idle, working as a sound engineer producing effects for Final Fantasy V and Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana), but he was hired to compose.
He boldly decides to hand company vice-president Hironobu Sakaguchi an ultimatum: “Give me something to compose and a pay rise, or I quit”.
Sakaguchi assigns him to a recently greenlit project called Chrono Trigger as sole composer telling him “finish this, and we’ll see about that pay rise”. Mitsuda will go on to work himself so hard that he regularly passed out at work, eventually resulting in a stomach ulcer and Nobuo Uematsu stepping in to compose a few tracks to ease the workload.
Squaresoft’s RPG scores to this point have been quite traditional, mostly orchestral in style, but the time travelling plot of Chrono Trigger required something a little different. Mitsuda shifts between jazz, rock and celtic instruments for his inspiration, the beginnings of a personal style that he will become known for in later years.
Wings That Cross Time:
The score shifts in tone frequently, which means we get bright and upbeat themes such as this one for Spekkio, the guardian of time.
To the complex and downbeat theme for Schala:
Mitsuda often claims that the inspiration for many of his melodies come to him in his sleep. For Chrono Trigger he ‘sleep composed’ the ending credits theme ‘To Far Away Times’.
To Far Away Times:
Two years later Squaresoft releases the Japan only Radical Dreamers: The Unstealable Gem. A visual novel side story to Chrono Trigger.
Mitsuda returns as composer, and shows he’s developing a more subtle style. This is that games opening theme ‘Day of Summer’ and it’s closing theme, ‘Le Tresor Interdit’.
Day of Summer:
Le Tresor Interdit:
Mitsuda will go on to score Xenogears for Square before leaving to go freelance. He would return to score the 1999 PlayStation sequel Chrono Cross, possibly an article for another day.
I’ll leave you with that games opening, ‘Time’s Scar’, best enjoyed LOUD.