For those of you who are fans of Phantasy Star Universe, you know it has some pretty epic symphonic musical potential. After all, the game is a space opera in the proud tradition of Star Wars and Star Ocean.
For those of you who are fans of the game Mushiking, well, you probably live in Japan. It’s a collectable card game which can be played in arcade machines, all based on battling beetles. Yes, we all love you Japan.
Why did I start this review with these two rather different evaluations? Well, because Masamicz Amano, whom I had never heard of before this album, has arranged the music for, and conducted the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra in playing, both games in this album, Masamicz Amano Meets Sega. Apparently this is not the first foray Amano has made into Sega music, having mixed and conducted other Phantasy Star Universe albums in the past. But the past is the past, so let’s take a look at this album on its own merits.
The album can be split into its Phantasy Star Universe (PSU) and Mushiking (MK) compositions. Each game’s music is set up into symphonies, each broken up into movements. Tracks 2-6 tackle MK 2, while tracks 7-9 are arrangements of Phantasy Star Universe. The rest of the tracks are split between various PSU and MK music orchestrations.
Since I am not all that familiar with PSU’s source material, and absolutely clueless on MK’s, I have no good medium of comparison. I will say that the album stands on its own merits as a decent orchestral album. The MK stuff progresses from track 2, the Preface, which vacillates between ominous and heroic, through to the almost Sugiyama-like Movement 3 ~ADA Plot~, with its forays into dissonant harmonies, and finally ends up with the peaceful Movement 5 Mori’s Team of Peace, which brings resolution to the symphony. The narrative is expressed well in the symphony, with distinct transitions and themes, and the compositions themselves are quite nice.
As for the PSU material, from what I recall of the game’s soundtrack, it captures the ambiance of the locales in the game quite nicely, with the lilting Movement 2 Neudiaz and the wandering Movement 3 Moatoob, with its slight Mediterranean overtones.
The rest of the tracks on the album are mostly from the games themselves, and are still rather good compositions, all of which maintain an epic orchestral feel and even explore some jazz stylings.
If you can find this album and are a fan of PSU, MK, or orchestral music, it’s a decent buy, especially if you can find it for a good price on eBay. Otherwise, you can probably overlook this album in favor of something more distinctive or just more well-known.