PHANTASY STAR 1st Series Complete Album

PHANTASY STAR 1st Series Complete Album. Booklet Front. Click to zoom.
PHANTASY STAR 1st Series Complete Album
Booklet Front
Composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi / Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi / Masaki Nakagaki / Tokuhiko "BO" Uwabo
Arranged by Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi / Masaki Nakagaki
Published by Wave Master
Catalog number WM-091~4
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Release date March 27, 2008
Genres
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Overview

Did you know that until 2008, the only way to obtain the original soundtracks to the classic Sega Genesis series, Phantasy Star, was to either obtain the Phantasy Star Collection Sound Collection I to get the first three soundtracks in medley form or a game rip for Phantasy Star IV? Well, that problem was solved with the release of the Phantasy Star 1st Series Complete Album. It features the soundtracks to all four original games, even including the various synth versions and a few arranged pieces from the series. Composed by Tokuhiko Uwabo, Izuho Takeuchi, and Masaki Nakigaki, it is the ultimate collection of early Phantasy Star music. Is it worth picking up, if you can find it?

Body

The majority of the first disc features the soundtrack to the first game, Phantasy Star and its tracklist appears twice, in FM synth and PSG version. I'll only be focusing on the latter, more of a chiptune version, for this review as the tracks are identical save for the difference in synth. The first piece that comes to mind when I think of the original Phantasy Star is the "Title" music. It's a bright, bouncy theme and has one of the most recognizable melodies in the game. The bright and bouncy theme does continue throughout a variety of other pieces, such as "Town," which is a bit repetitive and doesn't really boast a strong melody, and the "Shop" music, which ends before it really goes anywhere. The two battle themes, "Battle" and "Dark Force" are very different in their approach. "Battle" is a fairly short theme that features some tense sections, but for the most part, it lacks power and isn't too engaging. "Dark Force," on the other hand," is a much more engaging battle theme with both heroic and ominous atmospheres interspersed.

The dungeon themes from Phantasy Star are pretty nice as well and are some of the more memorable pieces on the soundtrack. "Dungeon 1" is an energetic theme with hints of exploration with a futuristic vibe. "Dungeon 2" is a faster paced theme, with a stronger melody and some slower, dramatic bridges for some nice atmospheric differences. If I'm not mistaken, "Sky City" is also a dungeon theme and features a more ominous and mysterious atmosphere, but manages to be engaging as well. The world map themes are pretty diverse as well. "Palma" and "Motavia" are fast paced themes that are befitting for exploration and give a sense of adventure. "Dezoris," on the other hand, is slightly less engaging and features a more mysterious atmosphere, yet fitting to the planet you are on. Overall, the soundtrack to Phantasy Star is pretty decent. It was in the early days of RPG music, but it still manages to throw in a few pretty memorable themes.

The first disc of the soundtrack also features some arranged pieces from throughout the series. They include the arranged tracks selected across the series from the Phantasy Star Collection for the Saturn in remastered synth. There is also an arrange version of "The End of the Millenium" previously featured in the Phantasy Star Sound Collection II. It's a nice synth/rock take on the original. There are some sweet guitar lines, some futuristic soundscapes, and a slightly progressive sound. The electric guitar, though, as mentioned before, really helps make this a fantastic arrangement. These arrangements are a nice touch, but I generally forgo them in favour of the main release.

The second disc of the soundtrack is solely dedicated to Phantasy Star II and features music from the Japanese and overseas versions of the soundtrack. They are, for the most part, identical, with slight changes in synth, so I'll only focus on the Japanese section. The soundtrack to this game opens up with "Phantasy Sprite". It's a theme that takes some time to build, but it never really becomes fully engaging. It's a bouncy theme, with some slightly dramatic sections, but it comes off as a rather weak theme. Much weaker than the "Title" screen from the first game, which I believe this replaces. Along the lines of bouncy and bright, "Step Up," is a fun little theme, but it's rather repetitive and doesn't develop well. "Pleasure Stream" is also quite happy and features some nice percussion lines and slower bridge sections to help add a bit of a more serious atmosphere. "My Home" is another playful theme, but I find the melody to be a bit uninspiring. "Exciting Town" manages to create an atmosphere befitting of its name, but it lacks a catchy hook, in my opinion.

However, the Phantasy Star II soundtrack isn't as bad as I am making it seem. There are some strong tracks too. "Restation" is a fantastic energetic theme with some nice changes in tempo giving a great sense of adventure. "Rise and Fall" is a nice progressive theme with some driving percussion and a pretty decent melody while "Movement" is another driving theme with tones of energy, but it doesn't particularly satisfy me too much in the melody department. "Promised Mystery ~ Hidepipe" is a fun theme that boasts a great melody and has a nice 80's vibe to it. Ironically, "The Place of Death" is a bit on the bright and happy side, given its name, but it's one of the stronger melodies on the soundtrack. All in all, Phantasy Star II is a mediocre soundtrack, but I find it has more misses than hits.

The third disc is dedicated to Phantasy Star III and unlike the former two discs, there is only one version. The soundtrack opens with "Main Theme," which is a beautiful piece of music that boasts an extremely strong melody with a hint of drama and a sense of starting anew. The "Shop" music is also great. It's a bright and cheerful theme with some great variations in the playful melody as it progresses. The two town themes differ from one another greatly. "Town 1" is a more peaceful theme with a focus on synth woodwinds and strings with a beautiful melody that develops pretty well. "Town 2," on the other hand, is a bit more mysterious, with clear ethnic vibes, featuring a dramatic organ line, but is ultimately on the repetitive side with little variation. Similarly, "Castle 1" is a nicely developed melody in the style of a waltz, whereas "Castle 2" is another dark, ethnic theme featuring some mystery, but is ultimately unfulfilling. The two versions of the labyrinth theme, "Labyrinth" and "Labyrinth ~ Long Corridor" are pretty much identical and feature a mysterious and ominous atmosphere, but falls far short of being satisfying.

Moving on, "The Ground" is interesting as it is the world map theme. It features a Solo, Duet, Trio, Quartet, and Quintet versions, dependant upon how many people are in your party, bringing a bit of interactivity to the game. It's a nice theme that develops over time from a simplistic woodwind melody to a full on heroic marching tune. It's one of the highlights of the soundtrack for sure. The three battle themes, designating one for normal, hard, and easy battles, all suffer from lacking in the development department. The normal and hard themes feature a dark, driving theme with a focus on the organ, whereas the easy theme is more heroic and bouncy in nature. "Dark Force ~ Cause of the Dark" is the final battle theme and features a dark and foreboding atmosphere, with a melody that sounds a bit ethnic in style, but it kind of rambles on and doesn't really go anywhere. In the end, Phantasy Star III improves on some aspects of the previous themes, but at the same time, also maintains a lack of development in some of the themes featured.

Lastly, Phantasy Star IV resides on the final disc. "End of the Millenium" is the title theme and is easily the best in the series. It's energetic, mysterious, futuristic, and beautiful and hosts one of the most memorable themes in the series. The town themes are quite fun as well. "Motavia Town" and "Motavia Village" both feature calm and peaceful melodies with a strong focus on woodwinds to carry their fantastic melodies. The Dezoris town themes, "Dezoris Town 1" and "Dezoris Town 2" differ from one another. The former is a bit more mysterious and cold, easily depicting the snowy landscape of the planet, whereas the latter is a much brighter, cheerful, and warm theme.

Several themes on the soundtrack really have the vibe of classic game music. The field theme, "Field Motavia," in a way, reminds me of one of themes in The Legend of Zelda II, but only in the intro for some reason. I may be delusional (something I wouldn't doubt at this point), but it's a calm, yet adventurous theme with a great melody. The two field themes for Dezoris, "Dezoris Field 1" and "Dezoris Field 2" follow in the footsteps of the town themes for the planet. The former is a calm, mysterious theme that reminds me of some of the dungeon themes in Etrian Odyssey, for a more modern comparison, while the latter is bubbly and cheerful in nature. "Ryucross Field" meanwhile is a slow world map theme that has a nice crystalline sound to it. The two dungeon themes from the first game also make a return with updated synth. The synth upgrades really do wonders for the theme, given them new life. "Behind the Circuit" is a nice electronica/techno like theme, in FM synth of course, but it features some great progression, rhythms, and melodies.

One area in which the other games fall short was the battle themes, but I think that Phantasy Star IV succeeds wonderfully in this department. "Meet Them Head-On ~ Winners!" is an energetic theme that features a dark and tense atmosphere and boasts one of the most insanely catchy rhythms and melodies from the Genesis era. "Defeat at a Blow!" is another very driving, foreboding theme. The difference between this theme and the former is that the focus is done using synth orchestra sounds rather than a more inorganic beat. "King of Terrors" meanwhile is a great progressive battle theme with a strong focus on strings and organ that help to create a very tense atmosphere. Lastly, "Ooze" takes a while to get going and starts off with an ominous atmosphere with pulsing percussion. As it advances, it transforms into a more progressive theme with industrial influences that heightens the dark and foreboding atmosphere of the final battle. It's easily the best one in the series, if you ask me. All in all, I think that Phantasy Star IV manages to be the most accessible of all the Genesis era games.

Summary

This album is definitely a must for fans of the original Phantasy Star series. It features the soundtracks for all four games, sometimes in multiple versions. The scores become more accessible as the series progresses and features some of the most memorable melodies from the Sega Genesis era. Those who are classic gamers will enjoy this one no problem, but those newer to the scene may find this a bit unwelcoming. It may grow with you over time though, so I wouldn't necessarily rule it out. Check out some Youtube videos if you want to see if it would mesh well with you. For fans of the series, get it while you still can.



Album
8/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Don Kotowski

The tracklist in the booklet contains several typos ("Oganic" instead of "Organic," etc.). They have been preserved in the tracklist above.


DISC 1

PHANTASY STAR (1987): 1~39
   PSG Ver.: 1~19
   FM Ver.: 20~39
All composed by Tokuhiko "BO" Uwabo.

PHANTASY STAR COLLECTION (1998): 40~49
The Phantasy Star Collection tracks are arrangements of:
   40: Phantasy Star III - Shop
   41: Phantasy Star - Palma
   42: unknown (original)
   43: Phantasy Star III - Main Theme
   44: Phantasy Star - Land Master
   45: Phantasy Star - Town
   46: Phantasy Star - Dungeon 1
   47: Phantasy Star II - Restration
   48: Phantasy Star III - The Ground
   49: Phantasy Star IV - Land master AXV-25
Composition:
   Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi: 40, 43, 48, 49
   Tokuhiko "BO" Uwabo: 41, 44~47
Arrangement uncredited.

BONUS TRACK: 50
Composed by Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi. Arrangement uncredited.


DISC 2 - PHANTASY STAR II (1989)
   Japan Ver.: 1~22
   Oversea Ver.: 23~44
All composed by Tokuhiko "BO" Uwabo.


DISC 3 - PHANTASY STAR III: Generations of Doom (1990)
All composed by Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi.


DISC 4 - PHANTASY STAR IV: The end of the millennium (1993)
Composition:
   Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi: 1~3, 5, 6, 8~10, 13, 14, 18, 20~26, 29, 33, 35, 36, 39, 41, 44~47
   M. Nakagaki: 4, 7, 11, 12, 15, 17, 27, 30~32, 34, 37, 38, 40, 42, 43
   Tokuhiko "BO" Uwabo: 16, 28 (tracks originally from Phantasy Star)
   Hiroshi Kawaguchi: 19 (track originally from Fantasy Zone)
Arrangement:
   M. Nakagaki: 16
   Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi: 19, 28


Staff Credits

Presented by: SEGA
CD Producer: Yosuke Okunari (SEGA)
Director: Takahiro Ishikawa (WAVE MASTER)
              Kenji Tsujisaka (WAVE MASTER)
Commentator: Tokuhiko "BO" Uwabo
                      Izuho "IPPO" Takeuchi
Illustration: Hitoshi Yoneda ~ PSII & PSIV
Artwork: takami2 (t-na)
Re-Recording: Shigeharu Isoda (WAVE MASTER)
                      Kenji Tsujisaka (WAVE MASTER)
Mastering Engineer: Megumi Aoki (TRC NORTH)
Copyright Administrator: Kazuo Koizumi (WAVE MASTER)
Licensing: Junichiro Takahashi (SEGA)
               Makoto Matsui (SEGA)
Sales Promoter: Mitsuaki Sugibayashi (SEGA)
Big Thanks: baddy (Pulse Therapy)
                  Roskil (Pulse Therapy)
Special Thanks: Yoshihiro Ito (SEGA)
                        Masaru Setsumaru (SEGA)
Executive Producer: Fumitaka Shibata (WAVE MASTER)
30.04.12
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