Music To My Ears posts chronicle a sampling of the great music of a particular series, franchise, etc. Posts tend to be skewed towards videogames, but can cover anything with a great soundtrack behind it (TV shows, anime, movies, etc.). If you have a music track from the series discussed that you like, comment and it may be added to this post!
The first Music to My Ears post in seven years goes to a game that has been around for even longer than that. Phantasy Star Online 2 came out in Japan in 2012, had a false start in the west in 2013, seemingly disappearing into the nether, then shocked everyone when a western release (PC and Xbox One) in early 2020 actually happened. The western release is set to reach content parity with the original Japanese version in early 2021, and is releasing content rapidly in order to do so.
As far as my history with it, I played the original Japanese version back in 2013-2014 thanks to a long-running fan-made language patch and live-streamed various parts of the game regularly for a time. I’ve taken up the Western version of the game when it came out on PC in 2020, but without the streaming.
Currently, this post only covers to where the English version is in terms of story and content (that is, midway through EP5). This may very well be updated between now and early 2021.
Naverius – Forest Area Scenery
This is the first area you’ll traverse in in the game, and the music is simply the best. It’s calm, has some synthy notes as well as piano, and gives you the idea that you just stepped foot into a whole new adventure. Plus it’s just fun to listen to while working or relaxing. When you enter combat, this song gets more of an edge for its combat counterpart.
Another song you’ll hear early on. Xion is the mysterious individual that prompts you to embark on your story quests for the first two episodes. There’s another version much later in the game.
Another early piece, you’ll hear this in what is probably your first miniboss – Rockbear. You’ll also hear this for various other bosses after that. Obviously, this is more action-oriented than the preceding pieces. Bosses in PSO2 can be quite challenging at certain levels, but very fun as they afford you a chance to try out your techniques.
vs. Falz Hunar
It ain’t a Phantasy Star game without Dark Falz. Many Phantasy Star games have Dark Falz as their main villain, although they’ll have their own spin for each game. Dark Falz in PSO2 is an extreme manifestation of darkness, and you’ll first fight Dark Falz halfway through episode 1. Hence, this theme is more intense than pretty much anything else you’ll hear in the game. There’s a remake of it later on in episode 5.
Speaking of intense, this mission clear music makes you feel quite heroic. After all the times I’ve heard this, I’m not tired of it one bit.
You’ll hear this one for a certain boss near the end of episode 2 (can’t say who – spoilers!). This theme is a pleasant surprise considering the buildup to this battle is kind of lacking, so you might not care as much story-wise as the music wants you to, but the music itself still makes for a pleasant fight.
Shironia – Daybreak Region Battle
In episode 3, you’ll travel to a planet reminiscent of feudal Japan. With aliens, but listening to this music, you get the point. Having played Phantasy Star Portable (and Universe), I especially enjoyed the inclusion of the melody from Mizuraki C.D. from that game.
Challenge Mode Waiting Area
Challenge Mode (a collection of quests that have you and your party racing to the end of several stages to beat the clock) has a collection of good music, but I’ll just share with you the waiting music. It does a nice job of getting you amped up as you wait for other people to join. The entire challenge mode suite can be found here.
Mining Base: Despair
I really could have put any mining base music here. There are a few Mining Base Urgent Quests. For these quests, you and 11 other people fight off waves of enemies as they attack a collection of towers. As you move around you’ll collect crystals which give you points, and those points can be used to aid you in ways like slightly restoring tower health or summoning turrets you can use. The Mining Base quests are some of my favorite in PSO2. The above video features the music evolving for the entire playthrough of one of these quests, as you’ll hear slightly different music in each wave.
Training quests are entirely optional, but with music like this, why not give them a try? You have a nice synth track and simple beat going on here.
Earth Stage Tracks
I am really not a fan of episode 4 for a variety of reasons (seriously, if you skip the episode 4 story I don’t think you’d have much of a problem), but the music is NOT one of those reasons. Episode 4 introduces Tokyo and Las Vegas stages, and each of those have distinct, vocalized, daytime and nighttime themes, and all of them are pretty darn good.
After the Earth antics of episode 4, PSO2 does another about-face for episode 5 and features a medieval-themed planet. I have in general a much more favorable impression of episode 5’s story (that seems to have much more pull on the general unfolding story of PSO2 than episode 4 did), and the majority of the music of episode 5 is medieval-inspired, like this track.
As mentioned before, the global release of PSO2 is still in a state of rapid catchup to the Japanese version. Rest assured, there will be plenty of new music to go over in the months to come. But for now… you can enjoy the game for yourself. I certainly have!