Short version: Great soundtrack!
Long version: Recently, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood was released here in the USA for the PS2. Though I myself can’t decide whether it’s a wonderful game or a piece of crap, most people generally seem to enjoy the game greatly despite its faults.
However, before Tears of Blood (known as Crimson stigmata in Korea and Japan,) there was another game – Magna Carta: Phantom of Avalanche. Though the artist is the same, the main character looks similar and even has the same name (Calintz is such a cool name) the stories are for the most part completey separate.
They are both fairly dark and somber games, dealing with loss, pain, and even existence, and the music fits this image. Phantom of Avalanche features very high quality synth, with some live work as well. This makes for immersive listening, since you aren’t questioning the quality of the sound. But how about the quality of the composition, the music itself?
Everything about the music is superb! From action and battle themes to gentle love songs, Phantom of Avalanche does it all, and does it very well. This is some seriously high quality music.
Opening the soundtrack is ‘Phantom of Avalanche,’ a melancholy number. Beginning with piano and strings, about a minute in the song begins to sound like a sadder version of the Baron castle march from Final Fantasy IV. FFIV being a personal favorite, I really enjoyed this, but it should appeal to all listeners. ‘Opening Theme’ begins somberly as well, but breaks out into a fine action theme a fourth of the way through. ‘Prolouge’ and ‘Sorrowful River’ are both excellent and bleak, cloudy piano tunes.
‘Bard’s Song for Someone’ breaks out of the downtrodden feel for a warmer and gentle acoustic guitar ballad. The strings and soft piano add to the feel without the song becoming cheesy and overdone. ‘Seventh Team’ and ‘Smile’ are two upbeat tunes as well, but really don’t sound nearly as good as ‘Bard’s Song’ and are skippable.
‘Check Your Weapons!’ is a strong battle theme. The intro in partcular is well written, and the song carries that motif throughout the whole song. ‘Battle for Victory’ and ‘Fear’ are great too. There is fantastic use of trumpet, low piano and French horns, and the percussion is used sparingly, but effectively. ‘Front the Mission’ is similar in style, but much less exciting.
One of my favorite songs on the OST, ‘In My Dream’, returns to the somber tone from earlier, and is done in a wonderful love theme style. I really can just listen to this tune over and over. Not much more I can say; just enjoy the sample. ‘Lovely Moon’ is a softer take on the main theme, and ‘Theme of Radrine’ is a nice, classically styled harpsicord and strings piece.
There is a bit of light pop in the soundtrack too, like the relaxing ‘Look at the Sun’, the Chrono Cross-esque ‘Eternal Wind’ and the rearranged version of ‘Bard Hopes.’ ‘Mysterious Woods’ would be exellent too, were it not for the brain-piercing lead synth. ‘Hell Bouncer’ is totally out of place, but pretty good: a hard rock tune mixed with bits of Zuntata-like detuned synth and techno bits.
The soundtrack ends with ‘Time Passes By,’ a sweet, mournful vocal. Starting with a delicate string intro, the song moves from piano to full-on orchestra with percussion. The English lyrics are well done, and the song is a perfect closer on par with Xenogears’ emotional Small of Two Pieces. There’s even some distant, echoed bagpipes playing behind gentle spoken dialouge; ‘You’re far, far from me…you will always be the light that guides me…’ That may sound corny, but it’s just done so well and tactfully. A fine song in all regards.
In case that wasn’t enough, a nice club remix of ‘Time Passes By’ ends off the soundtrack on a great note. As this is Softmax, it’s very well made, and is typical of the dance sound they are so good at.
Despite one or two weak numbers, the OST is of the finest quality and deserves your full attention. Too bad it’s impossible to find! At some point the game came bundled with the soundtrack. You can still find the bundle on some Korean shops, but more often you’ll find the limited editions that come with a beautiful artbook and even a card game from Legend of Genesis, but no soundtrack. Your best bet is to buy the game: not only can you enjoy the music in-game, but you can take on one of the most unique, enjoyable and emotional RPGs that nobody knows about. Play-Asia sells both the artbook LE and the regular editions at an unbelieveably great price, in stock (that’s where I bought my copy). Go for it!