Incredible arrangements of already fantastic music!
Reader review by Daniel K
Phantasy Star Sound Collection 1 is a two-CD set with music from the first three parts of Sega's legendary RPG-series. The first CD has the complete original sound versions of the games, while the second CD features 12 arranged tracks. Both discs are of spectacular quality.
The original music is, despite its age, very enjoyable. PS1 was released for Sega's 8-bit-system Master System, and PS 2 and 3 were released for the 16-bit-system Mega Drive ("Genesis" in America). Even though I can grant that hearing this music so many years after playing the games gives me a warm nostalgic feeling, nostalgia is far from the only reason for my liking of these compositions - they are indeed very good music. This is proven by the fact that I like those tracks I never heard during gameplay just as much as the more classic themes. Yes, the synth was pretty terrible (although the Mega Drive was a 16-bit-system, its sound chip was far inferior to that of the acclaimed SNES), but it is good music! From the hoards of generic RPG soundtracks (back then as today), Phantasy Star's music stood out. At passing glance one could think that it was typical RPG music, but with deeper listening some things are revealed. For one, since the games had much more of a science fiction setting than most in its genre, the music has a different and fresher feel. Techno-ish sounds were quite common, for example. The "black sheep" would be PS3, which tried to introduce more orchestral elements. Now, there's nothing wrong with orchestral sounds, but if you've heard how the Mega Drive sound chip handles them?c well, I think my point gets across. Some tracks from PS3 are too ear-grating for comfort, but despite this the music is overall very good. Another reason for this music standing out from the rest is the fact that there are very few stinkers. And that is sure lucky, because the first disc has one big catch: the three soundtracks are three tracks. Yes, that means that track 1 is Phantasy Star 1 - ALL the tacks of PS1 in one track! And the same thing with the two others. For someone like me, who loves this music both on merits of its quality and its nostalgic feeling, that is no problem (only a minor nuisance). But for people that are not so big a fans of the music as I am, this might very well prove to be a problem.
But that is nothing big, because the second disc will surely win over those reluctant to listen to the first. I'll get straight to the point; CD2 of Phantasy Star Sound Collection 1 is a real tour de force of game music arrangements. This is clear as soon as you start listening - "Dungeon Medley" starts with a beautiful intro and continues on to a superb medley rendition of the three dungeon themes found in PS1. Knowing how good the original compositions were, I had some expectations as to what I'd hear. But still it totally blew me away - pure, powerful, and totally awe-inspiring synth rock. I might start raving about how great this music is, but it'd sure be hard to overstate the mastery behind these arrangements! The rest of the disc continues on the same track most of the time. It's either powerful electric synth stuff (like "Field Medley" or "Fight!") or just plain rocking metal (like the awesome "Searren Type 386"). Some piano is also thrown in, mainly in the calmer, more beautiful tracks (like the incredible "Start Anew" and the sad "Dream"). Together all this forms a total picture so powerful and mighty that even a person like me (who is disappointed by about 95 percent of the arrange albums out there, and usually prefers the original game synth) must give up resistance to the music.
I could go on and on and on about how awesome this music (especially the arrangements) is, but I've got the main points down. Unfortunately, this CD is extremely hard to find nowadays. If you want an original copy be ready to search for a long time and end up paying at least $200 (if you're lucky, that is) for it. While I normally wouldn't advocate paying such a price for any CD whatsoever, the music is still great. If you have the money to spend or can find it in other ways, DO NOT hesitate! This is indeed one of the most awesome arrange albums to have ever found it's way out of a Japanese studio, and that is saying a lot!