Although I have not sampled much of Shoji Meguro’s work, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2 – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon instills a sense of curiosity in me. Meguro’s love of rock and horns may seem like an odd combination for a single disc soundtrack, but when put into practice, his work carries a distinct and pleasant sound. Whether you’re listening to a slow tune that gently taps at your heart, or an intense battle theme, Meguro keeps your imagination, and body, active.
Over the past couple years, quality instrumentation has dominated the RPG scene. Being able to create orchestrated pieces is important, and there have even been games that revolve completely around classical instruments. While Meguro clearly succeeds in this feat, he also makes it clear that rock has its place in gaming. But what about combining the two? “New Battles” starts off appropriately, in terms of battling–a powerful electric guitar greets the listener, and while indicative of what a battle scene should feel like, this lacks flavor. Just when your mind starts to wander, a perfect piano placement wakes you up, and tells you, “Hey, the piano has its place in battle music, too.” A track primarily dominated by classic battle music cliches quickly won my favor with a pinch of piano.
This isn’t necessary for some good battle music, though. I dare you to resist bobbing your head to “Decisive Battle.” While this track doesn’t introduce any original sound, it still manages to demonstrate that there’s no substitute for a good beat. However, not all of the battle music fits this formula. As is typical of many RPGs, certain tracks feel like remixes of earlier pieces. For instance, parts of “Battle –Raidou– 2008” feel like “New Battles,” though the connection is a little vague.
The tracks carrying the “Tsukigata” name also carry a similar sound to one another. These themes are passive, which is okay–an entire soundtrack cannot be active listening. Depending on the situations in-game, these comfortable tunes are easy on the ears. The most noteworthy of these similarly titled tracks is “The Summoner of Tsukigata” which initially sounds like something out of Streets of Rage. Then, bam, the horn hits you, and all of a sudden you’re tapping your foot to the beat. If not for the trumpet, this piece would stand side-by-side its Tsukigata counterparts.
I’d like to comment on two more tracks that struck me, in particular: “Everyday Detective Agency” and “Whole Sadness.” Amongst impressive pieces and short filler tracks, these two standout. The former has astounding imagery. A slow-spinning ceiling fan in a dimmed room lit by street lights sneaking in through slitted blinds immediately comes to mind. This jazzy, noir tune suits its track title well. “Whole Sadness,” on the other hand, sounds upbeat, but feels sad. Unfortunately, I cannot pin down exactly what makes this tune sad, despite it being set in major, initially and at the end. This contradiction in sounds stimulates the mind.
Shoji Meguro did a fantastic job on this brief soundtrack. Although some filler exists, you’ll be getting tons of quality, too, and I recommend it. Unlike most composers in the gaming world, he forces his audience to take active participation in his work, rather than allowing them to just sit back and enjoy his expertise. If you’re a gamer looking for a new sound, and have not heard Meguro’s work, you may want to pick this up. Note, however, that this soundtrack came as a promotional item with preorders of the Japanese version of the game, so it’s quite the collector’s item to find. Good luck!