Shin Megami Tensei II Sound Relation


Review by · July 31, 2006

This soundtrack review’s going to be a bit different from how I normally tackle reviews, as I’m going to cover the second disc before the first, specifically because the first disc is the arranged version.

So, to begin with, the Shin Megami Tensei series has long been a pillar of mature-themed, occult RPGs in Japan. The series only made it over to the US starting with the Persona series on PlayStation, meaning that we missed the start of the wildly successful trend on the Super Famicom. And while most people who are familiar with the iterations of the series that we got in the US will associate the games with composer Shoji Meguro, he was not always the composer. Back in the day, Tsukasa Masuko did the music, and while his style is noticeably different, the feel remains similar.

Okay, so Super Famicom music, bunch of square waves thinking they’re better than everyone else, right? To some extent that’s true, but Shin Megami Tensei II has a really excellent soundtrack. The opening title theme “Title” is dark and ominous, while “Gym” is bouncy and silly.

The dungeon themes tend to vary; “3D: Vatcha Rubatra” is an up-tempo techno track, while “3D: Valhalla” rocks out with synth guitar. “3D: Center” is a more upscale techno track, and “3D: Demon Boundary” jams an angelic chorus with synth acoustic and electric guitars, conveying a feeling that the player is on his way towards some conflict.

Speaking of conflict, the battle themes such as “Aggression” and “Mid-boss Aggressive” made me realize where Meguro got the ideas for some of the battle themes in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, as they are stylistically similar with electric guitar and a constant baseline pulling the pieces forward. “Large Boss Aggressive” differs slightly, in that it’s a plodding, ominous track, but it’s still decent.

Other tracks of note on the OST side are a handful that fans of the third game in the series will recognize as the prototypes for some of Meguro’s tracks, including “Neutral,” “Memory Recovery,” “Terminal Point,” and “Game Over”.

While many of these tracks are short, they have solid melodies, and could be arranged quite well, which brings us to disc 2…

Disc 2 is the arranged part of the soundtrack, and it is amazing. There are only a handful of tracks, but they are beautiful. “Neutral” is an excellent orchestral arrangement of the same-named track on the OST, while “Passage to the Underworld” is a nice mellow rendition of “3D: Underground World”. And “Dark Temple” is simply amazing, as it is fully orchestrated, ominous, and expansive. A wonderful horn section and beautiful strings make this track the highlight of the entire album.

But wait, there’s more! “LAW” is an epic revision of the track on the OST, completely orchestrated, once again, with an almost Ys-like sound. And “Battle” starts off with a blaring horn section, only to go into fast-paced organ & strings overdrive. The juxtaposition of synth and full orchestra is fascinating, honestly, and done wonderfully. The same goes for “Chaos” which is more laid back, but still contains the odd pairing.

Finally, we get to our last two pieces, “Market Place” which stats out as a minimalist piece, but eventually gains an oom-pah, and “Devil’s World”, which begins with a twinkly opening including rain and eventually segues into a fuller sound with the electric bass providing support to the woodwinds. Truly an excellent ending to an excellent soundtrack.

So, to whom would I recommend this album? Anyone who enjoys orchestral arrangements, for sure, as the arranged part is so incredibly good, it could stand on its own. The OST part is decent, for sure, though only SMT fans will really go in search of the soundtrack for that part. But overall, this soundtrack is a must-have, and I wish you luck in finding it.

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Damian Thomas

Damian Thomas

Some of us change avatars often at RPGFan, but not Damian, aka Sensei Phoenix. He began his RPGFan career as The Flaming Featherduster (oh, also, a key reviewer), and ended as the same featherduster years later.