- Atlus
  - Capcom
  - Cave
  - Falcom
  - Konami
  - Microsoft
  - Namco Bandai
  - Nintendo
  - Nippon Ichi
  - Grasshopper
  - Sega
  - Sony
  - Square Enix
  - Western Games

  - Castlevania
  - Chrono
  - Dragon Quest
  - Final Fantasy
  - Kingdom Hearts
  - Mana
  - Mario
  - Megami Tensei
  - Mega Man
  - Metal Gear
  - Resident Evil
  - SaGa
  - Silent Hill
  - Sonic
  - Star Ocean
  - Street Fighter
  - Suikoden
  - Tales
  - Ys
  - Zelda

  - Masashi Hamauzu
  - Norihiko Hibino
  - Kenji Ito
  - Noriyuki Iwadare
  - Koji Kondo
  - Yuzo Koshiro
  - Shoji Meguro
  - Yasunori Mitsuda
  - Manabu Namiki
  - Hitoshi Sakimoto
  - Motoi Sakuraba
  - Tenpei Sato
  - Yoko Shimomura
  - Koichi Sugiyama
  - Masafumi Takada
  - Nobuo Uematsu
  - Michiru Yamane
  - Akira Yamaoka

Home Contact Us Top


Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Songs of Ragol Odyssey: Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Original Soundtrack Album Title: Songs of Ragol Odyssey: Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Scriton Digital Contents
Catalog No.: SCDC-00215/6
Release Date: September 19, 2002
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Following the death of the Dreamcast, Phantasy Star Online was episodically adapted into the GameCube and Xbox release Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II in 2002. Hideaki Kobayashi and Fumie Kumatani returned to the score to elaborate on the successful but naive formula of the Phantasy Star Online Original Soundtrack. This two disc album release commemorates their achievements. It features the new compositions for Episode I, the altogether darker score for Episode II, and the iconic or infamous vocal tracks for the series. The result is probably the definitive album release of the PSO franchise.


The first disc of the soundtrack focuses on the new themes offered in Phantasy Star Online Episode I. Having extensively experimented on the Phantasy Star Online Original Soundtrack, Hideaki Kobayashi seems more aware of the qualities needed for great ambient themes here. He instantly succeeds with "Prenotion", a subtle yet immersive gem feature smooth synthpads and string backing. While the initial soundscapes are beautiful, what makes this theme so good is the expressive yet understated development with its wailing overtones and mysterious bass. It forms the basis for even more expansive creations such as "Crossing3084", "Healing", and "Day Dawns" to appeal with their warm and smooth mixing. The latter is a particular favourite with its eventual recount of the series' main theme. "Healing" meanwhile inspires a large amount of synaesthesia and are directly associable with calm emotions and abstract imagery. "Leavin Flow" and "Rose Confession" are also absolutely lovely themes mainly focused on small acoustic ensembles.

That said, the soundtrack is not merely a relaxing and atmospheric one. Tracks such as "Image of Hero" and "Chaotic Bar" inspire a player's activity with their slightly funky grooves and upbeat personality. Meanwhile "Valentine" inspires romantic feelings without being totally sickly while "Day Light" is a much-needed light-hearted frolic. The biggest anomaly is probably "Weird Night", but I'm not convinced that cheap R'n'B beats and voice samples quite fit here. Kobayashi reserves the actual action themes to last though and, as might be expected, they're a crazy bunch. "Tricktrack" is unbelievably appealing with its blend of eccentric distorted beats and immensely lyrical passages. Meanwhile "A Longing to Ancient Times" is a tense orchestral theme with a mixture of foreboding and courageous moments. The "The Nearest Place to the Heaven" themes are a good way to bridge the two episodes with their warped and unresolved nature. They just seem to indicate something even more epic is about to unfold...

And indeed it does. Episode II's "Silent Palace" couldn't be more of a contrast with Episode I equivalents like "Prenotion". While it is once again beautifully composed and smoothly mixed, it exudes feelings of terror and isolation rather than comfort. In later additions to the soundtrack, Kobayashi provides some deliciously dark twists. "A Longing to Ancient Times" has all the characteristics of romantic dances — with sweeping string passages and intimate piano work — yet the dark unresolved chord progressions and the series' characteristic reverb ensure the psychological effect is mainly negative. As with many additions to the soundtrack, it's a disturbing beauty. "Abysmal Ball -intermission-" is a further perturbation on romantic conventions with the call and response figures between the piano and strings sounding increasingly freaky. Meanwhile "Jungle -A Lush Load-" isn't quite as rich overall, yet its restrained quality ensures the best moments are even more profound.

One of the most interesting features of the Episode II soundtrack is how is features some arrangements from the Episode I soundtrack. Most notably, both the versus themes — "Tricktrack" and "A Longing to Ancient Times" — return with two variations each. The action versions entitled 'Part 2' are similar to the originals, but they are also given peaceful ambient rendition for normal gameplay entitled 'Part 1'. These pieces are some of the most thoroughly developed on the soundtrack and the development can be quite unexpected. There are nevertheless plenty of original battle themes with a blistering variation of "Jungle" or the explosive "Abysmal Ball -Banquet-" before the final battles. Of course, Hideaki Kobayashi saves the climax of the soundtrack for these battles. "'IDOLA' have the Immortal Feather" is the weaker of the two, simply because some of the synth work sounds rather tame compared to the arranged version. Fortunately "'IDOLA' have the Divine Blade" compensates with a mash of frenzied beats and intense orchestration.

Love them or hate them, Episode I's vocal themes have returned to introduce and lead out the soundtrack too. The 'lala version' of "The Whole New World" is a little more tolerable since Loren's voice isn't quite as obnoxious as the lyricised version. It's an incredible composition to depict the ethos of the series, but the mischosen vocalist spoils it. Endless 'la's are less appropriate for the Episode I ending theme "Can Still the Light" given the voice had a bigger role in the original composition and the lyrics were a little deeper too. I'd recommend sticking to the Phantasy Star Online Original Soundtrack version here. The exclusive piano arrangement is still nice though. As for Episode II, "The Whole New World" is weakened even further with the cheap ethnic infusions featured on the opening theme. The original ending theme "World With Me" did not click with me either, since I don't think the deep string and piano work are compatible with the cheap backing beats and Loren's strained vocals. In fact, it sounds like an inferior version of The Bouncer's "Love is a Gift".


Lame vocal themes aside, the Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Original Soundtrack is a pretty special work. Kobayashi and Kumatani really elaborated on the ambient and action elements of the earlier soundtracks to produce altogether more refined and developed pieces. They offer so many highlights across the two discs and nearly always maintain high production values. The contrast between the two soundtracks is also quite remarkable — Episode I being soothing and uplifting, Episode II being distressing and moody — especially given they have so much in common stylistically. Overall, this is the recommended purchase for those looking for the series' music.

Overall Score: 9/10