Phantasy Star Collection Sound Collection II is an album that was released shortly after the the first sound collection in 1993. While this one bizarrely doesn't feature the original soundtrack to Phantasy Star IV, it does feature 12 arrangements from that soundtrack, arranged by Akira Sasaki. How does it compare to the first volume, given the focus on a sole game score?
Much like the first volume, this arrange album also features some of that 80's vibe. The album opens with "The End of the Millenium," 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. What a great way to open. The next track, "Algol Star System," is interesting in the fact that it's a medley of all the world map themes in the game. Like its predecessor, it takes on a synth/rock vibe on its own. The first section of the arrangement is definitely more synth oriented with some rock influence in the forms of riffs. As it progresses, the tempo slows to a more mysterious atmosphere, with a slightly stronger focus on rock in the melody. As the song comes to a close, the tempo increases a bit, the arrangement sounds a bit like pop music, and there are some wonderful harmonies between the synth, piano, and electric guitar.
"Behind the Circuit" is a fun arrangement, with a bit of big band and funk influence. It's also a bit ominous sounding at times, with the dramatic bell melody lines. As it progresses, it features an awesome guitar solo, adding to the fun factor of the arrangement. It does meander a bit until it gets to this point, but the wait is worth it. It's not the strongest arrangement, but it's still very much enjoyable. The next arrangement, "Her Last Breath," is a definite departure from the first part of the album. It's a much more melancholy theme, opening with some beautiful acoustic guitar work that continues throughout most of the arrangement. At various points, drum pads are added to give it a more pop vibe and some synth lines are added to give it some different texture. In the end, it's a very sorrowful arrangement and a beautiful interpretation of one of the sadder scenes in the game itself.
"Temple Ngangbius" opens with some church like choir, giving a holy atmosphere reminiscent of a temple, but as it progresses, it moves towards a more ethnic vibe, particularly in the percussion. The melody during this time is sparse, and the music tends to go for atmosphere, but it is a nice departure from the regular soundscape featured thus far. There is also some harpsichord toward the end before it repeats the choir section as well. It's interesting, but also not a particularly strong arrangement. "Landeel" is a nice jazz arrangement. Predominantly piano, it adds some interesting synth and percussion leads as well to help give a bit more texture. As with many of the pieces, electric guitar is also added and I think it helps accentuate the overall feel of the track.
"Land Master ~AXV-25~" is a pretty upbeat rock arrangement with some slick guitar harmonies and interesting change in tempo. The inclusion of synth orchestra is also a nice difference in atmosphere and texture. "Fight" is another medley featuring, as one would expect, battle themes. It features a broad spectrum of styles, ranging from progressive and jazzy soundscapes, to darker orchestral offers with an industrial rhythm. It's definitely one of the better medley arrangements on the album. The album ends with "A Promising Future" which like "The End of the Millenium" is a synth rock arrangement, but with stronger pop tones included. It's a bright theme, with some nice electric guitar leads and synth orchestra backing. It's a hopeful and optimistic way to end the album.
Overall, I think this is an album on par with the first volume. While it doesn't feature the original soundtrack to Phantasy Star IV, it does pack a few extra arrangements. It manages maintain the atmosphere the first volume had, while adding some nice additions not heard, such as some more jazzy and ethnic pieces. It's definitely worth picking up in my opinion.