A fine soundtrack originally, spoiled by an awful remake.
Reader review by Sam Innes
Before one finds out about the content of this soundtrack, he/she must know a little something about the history of this game. Tales of Phantasia was first released as an RPG for the Super Famicom, never for the American SNES, and later for the Playstation, though it still never made it over here. The Playstation remake was very similar to the SFC version, having only new sprites, map data, and synth sounds, along with anime-style FMVs along the way. This soundtrack is derived from the Playstation version, which has completely different synth sounds for each instrument, even though the arrangements are almost unchanged. This is quite a bit different from the SFC version, and one needs to take that into account before buying this.
I'll admit that from the beginning, this soundtrack wasn't quite as powerful as, say, the Final Fantasy series' soundtracks, but the game did have its good songs. "Premonition" was actually a fine title opener, and "The Stream of Time", while not being very complex, is still quite relaxing and beautiful. "Harmonious Moment", "Mystic Forest", and "Serene Weather" are all fine humble themes for when the game is beginning. Further on into the game, "Vigorous Town" is comparable to any good town theme out there, and "Lake on Ymir", the song of the Elven forest, is one of the most beautiful things I've heard on any soundtrack. And as for battling, while the regular and boss battle themes are nothing too special, "Fighting Of The Spirit" is one of my all-time favorite final boss themes. There are at least a dozen others well worth mentioning, but I can't list them all. All told, it's an enjoyable soundtrack.
But that was the SFC version (the one I played). For Playstation, even though the arrangements were all the same, the sound board was completely changed. All of the sounds were modified, often switched with totally different instruments. The quality of the sound has been improved, but nothing really fits like it used to. This soundtrack went from being very respectable to sounding, well, like a joke. Everything sounds like a special effect, so none of the songs flow well. It's all very overdone, and it sounds like it was used for a children's TV show or a cheesy commercial, not a mature video game (so mature that that's why this was never released here). They've killed most of my favorites, and many that were once average are now god-awful. They've pretty much ruined it; only a couple are even semi-enjoyable now.
So that's the deal with this soundtrack: Another score ruined with the remake. Call me negative if you want, I just hated it. And if that's not bad enough, about two-thirds of the tracks are looped twice, and the rest only run through once. If you played the SFC version first, do yourself a favor, and burn a CD off the sound test. This CD set's not all that great, unless maybe you heard the remake version first. Even then, I dunno... and by the way, the bonus tracks aren't that great, so don't buy this even if you're a hardcore fan.