In today’s article, we will be talking about a popular favorite category of game music: boss battle themes!! So far, in the first two articles comparing the music of Brave Frontier and Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius, each pair of tracks have been fairly similar, almost interchangeably so. The boss battle themes, however, while both still very epic and intense, are quite different.
As always, we will begin by listening to each…
“Onslaught“, from Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius:
“Brave Arc“, from Brave Frontier:
Similarities – “Epicness“
First, let’s talk about the two tracks are similar to one another. They can certainly both be characterized under the term “epic“. But what exactly does epic mean, though?
Usually the word “epic” is used to describe music that is either fast-paced/up-tempo, and/or large in sound, meaning there are many instruments involved, or simply the range of pitches present is quite expansive.
For example, you could say that performances of “Flight of the Bumblebee” by young musical prodigies are epic. Check out this talented violinist’s performance:
And this adorable young pianist’s:
I just love the humility in his smile :3
The first example—the violinist—shows epicness in terms of speed, while the second one—the pianist—shows epicness in terms of both speed and pitch range. One of the reasons why the piano alone can produce some of the most epic music is because of the huge range of pitches that the instrument is capable of producing.
Now back to BF’s & FF:BE’s epic boss battle themes. “Onslaught” begins with an electric guitar, with some distortions, then fast-paced tremolo strings are added in, along with very rapid drum-set patterns. During the introduction, from 0:08 – 0:11, all of the instruments playing in unison has a very profoundly epic sound, as the same melody is played in many different registers.
“Brave Arc” is at a tempo that is a bit slower, but we still have the epic sound thanks to the bombastic bass in the brass, mid-register strings and horns, and also high-register strings and horns. The snare drum also adds a bit of interesting syncopation, which nicely punctuates the melody. Toward the middle section, from 0:45 – 1:20, the strings take over the main melody with some fairly high notes, while the brass fills in the middle range.
Differences – Instrumentation and Style
Right off the bat, “Onslaught” begins with an electric guitar, and has percussion in the form of a drum set. While the piece does include orchestral instruments, such as high and low strings and some brass, the overall feel has very much a rock style. This orchestral-rock hybrid is actually fairly common in Final Fantasy games, as Nobuo Uematsu has said himself that he is influenced by 60’s/70’s rock music. Pieces like One-Winged Angel and Jecht have very clear rock influences (especially the latter, as it is essentially just a heavy metal piece XD).
“Brave Arc“, on the other hand, is certainly in a more standard classical, orchestral style. The piece features a standard set of strings, winds, brass, and the only percussion are snare drum and cymbals.
The best part about this difference, though, is that while these two tracks from the two games are different, both games incorporate the other game’s boss battle musical style during other parts of their game. For example, FF:BE has plenty of epic orchestral tracks (field themes, battle themes), and BF has a rock-influenced track or two (Metal Cloud, and… okay, maybe just one lololol).
This particular comparison shows, just with two tracks, how diverse music for video games can be, even within the same conceptual theme. Are there any other similarities or differences that you heard that I didn’t talk about here? Leave your thoughts in the comments!