Shin Megami Tensei NINE is probably Atlus' single greatest failure in the SMT franchise history (unless you count Virtual Boy's "Jack Bros."). NINE was originally planned to be an MMORPG. With years of development and no progress to show for it, Atlus released NINE in Japan only on the Xbox, a console with notoriously poor Japanese sales performance. NINE was released as a single-player experience with promises of an online component. Those promises never came to fruition.
The soundtrack for NINE was released as a promotional/bonus item with the game itself. Many of the tracks on the album are arranged pieces from SMT I and II, though there are enough original tracks on here to consider this album a separate piece of SMT history. And, if nothing else, the arrangements from SMT I and II are exclusive to this album, and they're very interesting. Mr. Kurokawa was the lead composer/arranger for NINE, and his work on this album is surprisingly strong.
The style of the music? A healthy blend of pop, rock, and funk. Wa-wa guitar distortions are a must for the vast majority of the tracks on this CD. Synthesized vocals are used somewhat sparingly, but they leave a lasting impression on this listener. And there is the occasional electronica track, hinting to the future era of Shoji Meguro mayhem.
After the Staff Roll there are a few minutes of silence, followed by a guitar-heavy arranged battle theme as a bonus track. I've found that this is a far more rare occurrence among Japanese game soundtracks than your average North American pop CD.
Cheers and congratulations to anyone who can still find this album. Because the game sold so poorly, there weren't many copies of the soundtrack out there with the game. But serious importers and SMT music collectors shouldn't miss out on this album. It has surprisingly good takes of the SMT I and II tracks, and the unique compositions are also worthwhile.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann