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Phantasy Star Universe Ambition of the Illuminus Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Phantasy Star Universe Ambition of the Illuminus Original Soundtrack Album Title: Phantasy Star Universe Ambition of the Illuminus Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Wavemaster
Catalog No.: WM-0600
Release Date: July 31, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The expansion Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus introduced a sinister new plotline and numerous new areas into Phantasy Star Universe. Led by Hideaki Kobayashi, the full team of composers from the original score returned to craft a handful of new pieces for the expansion. The resultant soundtrack release blended vocal remixes, colourful setting themes, and much darker tracks into a high quality package. Let's take a closer look...


The album opens with a hyperactive remix of the vocal theme "Save This Album". One thing I like about Sonic Team is their ability to provide innovative twists on well-established formulas. While this mix resembles the typical upbeat trancey anime vocal theme, Kobayashi takes things one step further with his dense layering, elating development, and superb mixing. The vocals and beats blend together so well and the version is perhaps even more enjoyable than the original. Less appealing are Rumblebee's performances on the 'Remix Version' and 'Remix Short Version' of the theme. I like the principle of grunging up the original theme, but the abrasive vocals seem poorly adapted to the catchy melody and only a few sections quite capture the elation of the original. Still, the electric guitar and drum kit work is pretty appealing.

Ambition of the Illuminus provides some interesting deviations from the standard sounds for Phantasy Star Universe. "Shitenkaku" is spectacular for the way it blends wails of traditional Japanese instruments with the modern electronic flavour of the series. It surpasses even the majority of the material on the PlayStation 2's Shinobi. Meanwhile "Paracabana Coast" takes its influence from soft acoustic pieces with its pensive guitar work and warm piano lines. The track is a beautiful complement to the scenery. Demonstrating once again that Sonic Team are the master of stylistic fusions, "Habirao F.D." does something even more unexpected — by blending the oriental, acoustic, and electronic influences of previous tracks into one. Other enjoyable additions include the frivolous jazz piece "Casino Volyale" qnd the pumped-up remix of "Paracabana Coast".

However, much of the soundtrack is shockingly dark too. "Old Rozenom City" is one of the best-produced ambient themes out there and simply so imposing in and out of context. "De Rol Le" is even more grisly than most of the series' action themes with extra-blistering beats and uncompassionate dissonant orchestration. Towards the end soundtrack, "Illuminus" provides a twisted imperial march to represent the mysterious group threatening the human race, while the exquisite "Growl From the Dark Faith" provides a more ritualistic interpretation of the group by blending action-packed orchestration, epic choir chants, and ethnic instrument solos. For the final battles, the electrifying element of the series' music returns for the anthemic "Mother" before Kobayashi stands up against the most epic video game music out there with "Fight the Vicious Fate". These tracks are awe-inspiring from whatever direction they are approached.


Wow! The Ambition of the Illuminus soundtrack certainly delivers. The soundtrack distances itself from the more ambient and introspective albums in the Phantasy Star series by taking a much more direct result. Whether the driving vocal themes, uplifting setting themes, or brutal action cues, there's always so much substance and variety needed to enjoy the moment. The soundtrack is shorter than most game albums out there, but is still a compelling 63 minute experience filled with diverse and expansive tracks. This is highly recommended for those who can't get enough of the franchise's distinctive music.

Overall Score: 9/10