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Jukebox Heroes: TERA's soundtrack


Within the small but passionate video game music community, there's a common gripe that goes around regarding studios' haphazard methods of distributing and selling original soundtracks. My general thought is that it's not that hard to just make a soundtrack a digital purchase through Amazon, iTunes, etc. for those who are interested in purchasing it, but more often than not, one has to look high and low to figure out how to get the desired music.

What's even worse is when a soundtrack is released in different editions by region. Take today's subject, TERA, as an example. TERA's OST was at least released, but in two different editions: the limited 26-track edition given to Europe and Japan and the expansive 50-track edition that debuted in the US. It's just silly to do this sort of thing, but we see it all the time (and don't get me started on the way-too-expensive Japanese import of Final Fantasy XIV's Before Meteor).

Anyway, I have a burr in my saddle about this today because TERA is a tremendous soundtrack. It's rich, evocative, and just plain catchy in parts. If you've listened to only part of this score composed by Inon Zur and Rod Abernethy, then you owe it to yourself to scrounge up the full deal. Here are my favorites!

1. Nature Knows (Elin Popori Theme)

I'll straight-up admit that I'm pretty much a stranger to TERA. I love the soundtrack, but it's not connected in my mind to anything in the game. I do feel a strong bond with this track... I know, I know, it's very light and fluffy and full of feel-goodery, but why is that a bad thing? I'm arguing with myself. Great. A mental breakdown for the whole world to see.

Nature Knows is a very relaxing theme that pokes the idyllic fantasy village motif right on its button nose. It's the "strolling through the Shire before Frodo leaves for a journey to Mt. Doom" sort of tune and could easily be something that the Care Bears have on their cafe jukebox. But it's good, darn it. You don't have to be blaring horns and slamming cymbals just to get noticed.

2. Elinu's Dance (Theme for Pora Elinu)

Here we go again with a not-quite-ready-for-epic tune that amps up the tranquility. In this track and Nature Knows, the guitar is really allowed to take center stage with a gentler melody. So if you like this sort of thing, it's a great piece that unfortunately doesn't have a lot of contemporaries in other MMOs. If not, well, you're in for a world of pain in this week's column.

3. The Children of Karas (High Elf Theme)

If you know me, then you know that putting Elf-anything in a positive light is as annoying to me as digging out a tick with the aid of a lighter and a dull pen-knife. But I couldn't be honest and omit the High Elf theme here. Elves tend to get very floaty, ethereal themes in MMOs, and while this one isn't that different from what you'd find elsewhere, it's still audio cotton candy that must be devoured as a part of the experience.

4. Turnabout

Turnabout is a really short (about one minute) track that features a guitar strumming a merry tune. It's a total earworm song, burrowing into your mind and echoing there four or five times the length of the actual song after you've finished hearing it. You're welcome.

5. Tera Nova

OK, I'll give you one rousing action piece for this column. OK? Just one. Drink deep from its excitable vibes, as it's going to have to last you until next week.

Actually, when I went back to review the tracks that I'd picked out a long time ago, I kind of realized that the best TERA music isn't the loud stuff but the kind of thing that you'd hear while walking down the sidewalk at a theme park. That's perfectly fine with me because I'll remember those tunes long after my brain ejects tracks like this one from short-term memory.

6. Dagon's Drums

Man, I could've made this a top 20 list easily, but I'm going to end with Dagon's Drums. It's another quieter piece, although instead of being smiles-and-sunshine, it's slightly ominous while thumping out a tribal beat. Maybe someone's on the warpath; maybe it's a junior high dance and everyone's nervous. Who knows? I just really liked the percussion and how the rest of the music plays off of that, creating this magical atmosphere of wonder and trepidation.

MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!

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