Hideaki Kobayashi has been doing the Phantasy Star series since PSO first hit the market a decade ago. Now, we have our first expansion to Phantasy Star Universe, a spiritual successor to Online. “Ambition of the Illuminus” has a score that, as far as we know, was solely composed by Kobayashi-san (though technically, the liner notes only list “SEGA” as the composer, we know that Kobayashi had a major hand in composing this soundtrack).
So how has Kobayashi fared? Well, I will say this: the production of this album is fantastic. Everything sounds top-notch. There’s nothing weak about these songs. Even the softer songs are strong, with a firm melodic foundation to keep your attention. However, once the album is over, it passes from memory like a gust of wind. I could not, for the life of me, keep any of these songs in my head (except for “Save This World,” which we knew from the original PSU album). From the jazzy “Casino Volyale” to the funky, piano-centric “Habirao F.D.,” and even the epic boss music “Fight the Vicious Fate,” all of these tracks sound great, but they are not at all memorable. Is this a strike against Kobayashi’s ability to write music? I don’t think so. But it may affect your decision to purchase this album.
I was not impressed with the new, male vocalized “Save This World REMIX.” Two versions of the remix appear on the album: a short version, and a full bonus track. Neither did it for me. I much prefer the opening mix with the female vocalist.
This album, being a direct release from Sega through the Wave Master label, is fairly expensive to import. But if you’re a die-hard fan of what Kobayashi’s been doing from PSO to the present-day soundtrack for Ambition of the Illuminus (and “Phantasy Star Portable”), you may as well add it to the collection. It’s only one disc of music, but a lot of it is similar to other albums in the post-PSIV series. Less industrial than, say, the soundtrack for PSO Ep.3 “CARD Revolution,” but still strong on the ambient/techno front.