Phantom Kingdom Arrange Album


Review by · June 13, 2006

Nippon Ichi made an interesting decision with Phantom Kingdom (known as Makai Kingdom in the US), their fourth in a line of unique strategy RPGs. Rather than having Tenpei Sato return to compose the soundtrack (as he had done with Disgaea, La Pucelle, and Phantom Brave), they instead chose to bring together a whole mess of composers to create one phenomenal soundtrack.

Featuring twelve of the best songs from the original soundtrack, the Phantom Kingdom Arrange Album has all its composers (sans Takagi and Kaneko) return to arrange two or three tracks, making this album another joint effort with plenty of diversity. The phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” may not apply in this case, as Phantom Kingdom is a dish all its own, with a richness and diversity of flavors: avoid this one only if you prefer the bland taste of a hamburger to the spicy taste of an Indian curry.

Featuring a diversity of ethnic musical styles (Middle-East and East Asian stringed instruments, Latin guitar solos, European-style orchestras and operas), many merged with the use of techno beats and tripped-out synth, this arranged album is one of the better arranged albums I’ve heard for a single game in years. A short way to summarize would be to call this album a close second to Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange. This, in my book, is a gigantic compliment.

Rather than tell you the tracks I enjoyed, I will begin by naming the three tracks I found to be subpar in comparison to the rest of the album. They are “Demons Party” (which is too short and has changed little from the original version), “I am a boss!” (which is too cookie-cutter boss music for its own good), and “Another Ending” (which is lackluster in many respects).

The rest is outstanding. My favorite two tracks are Terashima’s, a veteran composer that has worked with Falcom in the past and done many anime scores. Mike Wilson bashed Terashima’s ability to compose in his review of the Phantom Kingdom OST, but I believe this to be a matter of personal taste. Terashima is known to write music that incorporates opera-esque vocals, repetitive string sections (that grow and diminish as necessary in the song), clever use of both soft and booming percussion, that sort of thing. Many VGM composers lack these abilities, so his entrance on the VGM scene is very much welcome. He composed and arranged the last two tracks, and they are both sampled: listen to them.

Other songs feature pulsing techno rhythms or different styles of jazz as their foundation, and then branch out from that point to make something wholly original (such as the scat-singing, which I believe has been sampled from a much older recording, found on JOKER). From a musical standpoint, these arrangements are high enough quality to be worth producing en masse. It is my sincere hope people choose to purchase this album: it is worthy of the praise I have given it. Though it sports a hefty price tag at many online shops, I think that it is still worth it. If you enjoyed the game, you will enjoy this album all the more.

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.