Music to My Ears: Phantasmal Blaze and Blue Destination

Okay, this is the last week we’re going to feature Trails of Cold Steel II for a while, I promise. But there were a couple tracks that I’ve been putting off for potential spoiler reasons, and they might be the two best songs on the entire album. Now that Michaela has already been exposed to them, it’s time to give them the shine they deserve.

Blue Destination is a sparsely-used boss theme that features primarily in the mid-point of the game. It accompanies a cool moment that I don’t want to give away here, but it’s a great story beat that allows characters to shine in ways that they hadn’t before. And it concludes in a fight that provides a pretty rare opportunity in the Trails series: one where you feel your characters are much stronger than your antagonists. One of the things I liked about Trails is that you get put in your place sometimes, as a reminder that teenagers can’t solve all the world’s problems when there are kick-ass adults around. But as a result, you eat some unwinnable boss battles along the way — getting to turn the tables on that feels really satisfying here. Blue Destination fits with that — a sad but uplifting sound with too many cool parts to count.

Phantasmal Blaze is the theme for the final dungeon, a sprawling but somewhat linear undertaking that is the crescendo of everything else the game has built to that point. Alliances are tested, characters make surprise appearances, and it leads up to a satisfying conclusion that I certainly can’t talk about (nor would I want to spoil for those who haven’t played). It also incorporates the Heimdall theme for like the fourth time on II’s OST, which is a cool touch. The minute and a half build to that reveal is the coolest part of the track in my opinion, though the whole thing is good. It also passes my favorite test: does it play through the overworld and in battles alike? Yes? Then you know it’s time for serious business. And thankfully, when a background theme is awesome, it never overstays its welcome in these spots.

So yeah. Two songs this week to enjoy, before we look at some other games and series that are deserving of recognition as well.

Phantasmal Blaze

Blue Destination

Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.

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