01 - Opening Movie
02 - Naomi Battle
03 - Urabe Battle
04 - Event Battle 2
05 - Normal Battle
06 - Hotel Gomaden
Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers was a Megami Tensei RPG first released on the Sega Saturn then remade for the Playstation. The Playstation version was submitted for approval for a North American release but was denied by Sony. This is too bad, because Soul Hackers was an excellent and highly original cyberpunk RPG. A 3DS update of the game was released in Japan recently, and I hope it makes the leap across the pond.
The game is decidedly an "old school" Megami Tensei game, and its music reflects that. This is intended as a compliment, because old school Megami Tensei music is really good. One of my absolute favorite video game soundtracks is that of the original 1996 Playstation version of Persona. Its "stream of consciousness" sound is more darkly twisted than the more melodic pieces in the Persona 2 games or the more sample-laden pieces in Persona 3 or 4. Soul Hackers' music also falls in that more "stream of consciousness" vein, with a greater emphasis on atmospheric instrumentation rather than vocal clips and samples. I'm happy to say that this brief, but excellent, arrange album maintains the integrity of the chosen compositions while also invigorating them. The beefed up instrumentation feels like these pieces spent years at the gym and put on 20 pounds of pure, solid, rippling muscle.
The six tracks on this album consist of four battle themes and two non-battle themes. The battle themes are the Naomi battle theme (she's one of the antagonists with the Phantom Society), the Urabe battle theme (from the Urabe "vision quest" chapter in the game), the second "event battle" theme, and the regular battle theme. All of these are fantastic in their own ways, but my favorite was easily the Naomi battle theme, because hit a lot of my musical hot buttons. The punk-thrashy main riff made me want to leap into a circle moshpit, the searing solo made me want to throw up the devil horns, and the proggy keyboards made me want to close my eyes and let the music wash over me. I know that sounds like an odd combination of musical flavors, but it works exceedingly well.
Although the 3DS update of Soul Hackers has an all-new opening movie with brand new music, it also features the original opening movie and music as well. The opening song on this soundtrack is a fuller arrangement of the original opening theme with delightfully crunchy guitars. I like that the voice clips are used more sparingly than in the original song and are slightly distorted, almost like how some modern rock bands utilize turntables through Marshall stacks to give the samples some edge.
The longest track is the Hotel Gomaden arrangement, and while it's not a guitar driven heavy rock piece like the others, it's still an engaging piano-driven piece of music that sounds appropriately demonic. This is appropriate, since the Gomaden is where players mess around with demon fusion. If Persona's Velvet Room music was a girl, Soul Hackers' Hotel Gomaden music would be her more sinister sister.
This brief, but excellent, soundtrack left me excited and wanting more. Every piece of music was fantastic and held my attention through a handful of replays. I loved every last note, but wished there were more than six tracks. Still, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers Arrange gave my ears 17 of the most satisfying minutes they've had this year, and this only makes me clamor for the game even more.
Reviewed by: Neal Chandran