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Soundtrack Review: Phantasy Star III (Genesis)

 

05-14-17 01:40 PM
janus is Offline
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwxKHST_I68

Phantasy Star III is considered by many as the black sheep of the series (until IV) because its place in the series is, to quote a famous French saying, “pulled off by the hair” (i.e. it fits if you ignore all which doesn’t make sense). In itself the game was good, spanning across three generations and having four distinctive endings. However, the music in itself wasn’t so distinctive.

Indeed, it used the worse capabilities of the Genesis sound chip and mashed them together. As a result, the soundtrack is heavily synthesized, the nail-on-the-blackboard kind like Sword of Vermilion.

One of the most obvious such sound torture are the battle themes – the sounds depend on whether you or the enemy is attacking, which I thought was original. The Start track loops literally after 5 seconds, and its synth is so heavy you want to break your speakers. Losing has a longer loop, and it does sound as if the enemy was about to crush you, but it’s so heavily synthesized that I never cared for it. Sushoran (or, more appropriately, Hostile Layan Town) does sound hostile to you, petty Okarian, but it loops much too quickly and the arrangements get EXTREMELY annoying – hell it could have been composed by a three-year-old considering how little diversity there is. On its side the Fortune Teller theme sounds exaggeratedly dramatic (and loud). I know he doesn’t have much good news, but it sounds like he’s about to cast you in another dimension where you will be doomed.

And even when the synthetization is appropriate, the rest of the arrangements are not that interesting. Lashute (the final city) sounds appropriately dark, with the inhabitants wanting you dead and a world in ruins. But the background arrangements sound annoyingly repetitive, and the main ones sound rather uninspiring, spoiling the track. Dark Forces (the final boss) also sounds appropriately dark, and the synthetization adds to that ambiance. But the main arrangements sound as repetitive as Lashute, and whatever gives the track its tempo sound extremely annoying in the end. Satellite (when the second generation discovers it’s living on a spaceship) is also heavily synthesized and it would be perfect to show the high-tech ship. And for some reason, I feel like very bright lights blind me in a horror movie when listening to that track. But it loops after 17 seconds and features another annoying sound: bells.

Because along with heavy synthetization, the PS III soundtrack features lots and lots of bells. It is warranted in the Opening Theme; it gives the track a magical feel as you read about the legend of Okario and Laya. But when you hear the bells in Laya’s world (a slower version of the opening, really), you will want to pull your ears off. I admit it has a little magical touch, perfect for this hidden world, but its tempo is so slow that it seems to go on forever. And Laya’s Temple completely sounds like Christmas music with its constant bell sounds that loop after 17 seconds.

Furthermore, the kidnapping theme (during the intro “movie”) has its tempo much too slow to translate the drama happening before your eyes. The last seconds of the loop sound a little better and translate Rhys’ desire to find his bride at all cost.

Fortunately, the soundtrack wasn’t a complete miss. The Dungeon theme and its variation (which you hear in caves transiting between worlds) are still some of my favorite of their kind in the 16-bit era. They are heavily synthesized, but at least the main arrangements don’t sound too repetitive and the drums in the background give it the perfect beat. The variation sounds even more mysterious, and I like that.

The overworld theme, despite its heavy synthetization, is still one of the most original ones ever composed. When Rhys walks alone, you can feel some epicness to it, but you will feel… empty. This vast world is too big for you to be alone in it. That’s why, with every new member you recruit, new arrangements come along. When your team of five is complete, the theme sounds quite epic, showing that you are now ready to face the dangerous task ahead.

The Town theme was also done well. It’s slow and feels very welcoming – more than any Phantasy Star game in fact. Wedding, despite its heavy bells, actually sounds like a real nuptial march, which is quite a feat for the Genesis sound chip. Finally, Wren Transforms is probably my favorite track of the game. It sounds very epic; it’s especially fitting when Wren flies. It sounds upbeat and joyful, the way most “transportation” themes should sound. And it does so despite the heavy synthetization.

In short, I’m not sure I can recommend Phantasy Star III to your sound library. Its very heavy synthetization and bells will make you skip most of the tracks because your ears can’t take it anymore. You would be better off taking a few individual tracks instead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwxKHST_I68

Phantasy Star III is considered by many as the black sheep of the series (until IV) because its place in the series is, to quote a famous French saying, “pulled off by the hair” (i.e. it fits if you ignore all which doesn’t make sense). In itself the game was good, spanning across three generations and having four distinctive endings. However, the music in itself wasn’t so distinctive.

Indeed, it used the worse capabilities of the Genesis sound chip and mashed them together. As a result, the soundtrack is heavily synthesized, the nail-on-the-blackboard kind like Sword of Vermilion.

One of the most obvious such sound torture are the battle themes – the sounds depend on whether you or the enemy is attacking, which I thought was original. The Start track loops literally after 5 seconds, and its synth is so heavy you want to break your speakers. Losing has a longer loop, and it does sound as if the enemy was about to crush you, but it’s so heavily synthesized that I never cared for it. Sushoran (or, more appropriately, Hostile Layan Town) does sound hostile to you, petty Okarian, but it loops much too quickly and the arrangements get EXTREMELY annoying – hell it could have been composed by a three-year-old considering how little diversity there is. On its side the Fortune Teller theme sounds exaggeratedly dramatic (and loud). I know he doesn’t have much good news, but it sounds like he’s about to cast you in another dimension where you will be doomed.

And even when the synthetization is appropriate, the rest of the arrangements are not that interesting. Lashute (the final city) sounds appropriately dark, with the inhabitants wanting you dead and a world in ruins. But the background arrangements sound annoyingly repetitive, and the main ones sound rather uninspiring, spoiling the track. Dark Forces (the final boss) also sounds appropriately dark, and the synthetization adds to that ambiance. But the main arrangements sound as repetitive as Lashute, and whatever gives the track its tempo sound extremely annoying in the end. Satellite (when the second generation discovers it’s living on a spaceship) is also heavily synthesized and it would be perfect to show the high-tech ship. And for some reason, I feel like very bright lights blind me in a horror movie when listening to that track. But it loops after 17 seconds and features another annoying sound: bells.

Because along with heavy synthetization, the PS III soundtrack features lots and lots of bells. It is warranted in the Opening Theme; it gives the track a magical feel as you read about the legend of Okario and Laya. But when you hear the bells in Laya’s world (a slower version of the opening, really), you will want to pull your ears off. I admit it has a little magical touch, perfect for this hidden world, but its tempo is so slow that it seems to go on forever. And Laya’s Temple completely sounds like Christmas music with its constant bell sounds that loop after 17 seconds.

Furthermore, the kidnapping theme (during the intro “movie”) has its tempo much too slow to translate the drama happening before your eyes. The last seconds of the loop sound a little better and translate Rhys’ desire to find his bride at all cost.

Fortunately, the soundtrack wasn’t a complete miss. The Dungeon theme and its variation (which you hear in caves transiting between worlds) are still some of my favorite of their kind in the 16-bit era. They are heavily synthesized, but at least the main arrangements don’t sound too repetitive and the drums in the background give it the perfect beat. The variation sounds even more mysterious, and I like that.

The overworld theme, despite its heavy synthetization, is still one of the most original ones ever composed. When Rhys walks alone, you can feel some epicness to it, but you will feel… empty. This vast world is too big for you to be alone in it. That’s why, with every new member you recruit, new arrangements come along. When your team of five is complete, the theme sounds quite epic, showing that you are now ready to face the dangerous task ahead.

The Town theme was also done well. It’s slow and feels very welcoming – more than any Phantasy Star game in fact. Wedding, despite its heavy bells, actually sounds like a real nuptial march, which is quite a feat for the Genesis sound chip. Finally, Wren Transforms is probably my favorite track of the game. It sounds very epic; it’s especially fitting when Wren flies. It sounds upbeat and joyful, the way most “transportation” themes should sound. And it does so despite the heavy synthetization.

In short, I’m not sure I can recommend Phantasy Star III to your sound library. Its very heavy synthetization and bells will make you skip most of the tracks because your ears can’t take it anymore. You would be better off taking a few individual tracks instead.

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05-14-17 02:43 PM
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The soundtrack can also be found here
https://www.vizzed.com/videogames/music.php?game=4664
The soundtrack can also be found here
https://www.vizzed.com/videogames/music.php?game=4664
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05-14-17 03:48 PM
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I would have put it if it were linked directly to the game, which it isn't: https://www.vizzed.com/play/phantasy-star-iii-generations-of-doom-gen-sega-genesis-16028-game. It would facilitate the linkage
I would have put it if it were linked directly to the game, which it isn't: https://www.vizzed.com/play/phantasy-star-iii-generations-of-doom-gen-sega-genesis-16028-game. It would facilitate the linkage
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