If you wanted to find another soundtrack like Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, you’d have to do some serious looking; it’s one of a kind. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Deluxe Pack Incense Disc is the rarest incarnation of the game and almost impossible to find now. The game came with a five-track exclusive soundtrack, a metal incense burner, and five sticks of incense. You’re probably thinking, ‘why the hell would they package incense with a soundtrack?’ In the actual game, the main character collects special incense that can be used to raise his magic, agility, vitality, luck, and strength, so it’s no coincidence that each track is named after the aforementioned attribute names. I think it was a pretty neat concept to package the soundtrack with incense, even if the music didn’t turn out to be as awesome as the incense.
The theme of this soundtrack only seems to make sense if you burn incense while listening to it. So, I did just that. I gathered my matches, popped in the soundtrack, burned some incense, danced around my computer, and then I painted my body like the main character from SMT….well okay, I didn’t do any dancing or body painting, but you get the picture.
Here’s my track by track review of the album:
Magic ~ Mansion of Heresy – For those who have played the game, this is the track that plays in the Cathedral of Shadows when your main character is cursed. Nonetheless, this is a bad opening track that seems more like filler material than anything else. I’m also going to note that this track isn’t even remixed; it’s taken almost exactly from the OST. This doesn’t please me, but I can only imagine the time constraints the composers were under when making the game, so it’s somewhat understandable. Flaws aside, it is very haunting, and I love the oldschool organs. It really does make me think that I’m in some dark, shadowy cathedral. However, I don’t see myself listening to this song ever again.
Agility ~ Ikebukuro’s Disco – This is a previously unreleased track and a nice surprise; it’s the track that plays when you meet Chiaki in the underground disco in Shibuya. While not very melodic, it did put me in a trance when I heard it, making the song seem longer than it really was. The instruments on this track are your standard jungle fare, with emphasis on drums. There really isn’t a melody, but it’s decent background music if electronica is your thing. For all you SMT: Nocturne OST aficionados, if you listen closely, this song is actually a remixed version of “Ikebukuro.” You really have to listen closely, but the chord work is pretty similar. This is probably the only song that made much sense in context with the incense.
Vitality ~ Recovery Spring – Easily the best song on the disc. Toshiko Tasaki did a phenomenal job. I’m going to make it a point to follow his career if it isn’t over already, because he is impressing me more and more every day. This song is a faster, arranged version of the “Healing Spring” theme from the OST, and it is done very well. While it gets a little repetitive, this is the best the disc has to offer. This song tastes like candy when you burn incense with it. Seriously.
Luck ~ Kabukicho – I was bitterly disappointed with this track. “Kabuki-cho” was my favorite track on the SMT: Nocturne OST, and it gets mediocre treatment here. It has all the makings of a great song, but it fails miserably. First off, there’s an actual melody here, which is fantastic, but it comes in way too late. Second, those grating pipe sounds hurt my ears! They literally come in every 4 seconds, as if their goal is to drive you off the wall. They make the song sound repetitive and more boring than it really is. I do like the hip-hoppish percussion loops though; it’s just too bad they were wasted on a mediocre song. However, this song works quite well with incense. In fact, it’s one hell of a trip!
Strength ~ Title Loop 2 – This song sobered me right up. Considering the state I was in, that’s not a compliment. Honestly, I am sick of this song. It is taken directly from the OST, and I feel that they slapped it on just for the hell of it. This song doesn’t even fit the theme of this disc! A poor choice on Shoji Meguro’s part, and a piss poor ending to an otherwise average album.
The track selection on this album was terrible. There are far better SMT: Nocturne tracks to arrange, and even better tracks to listen to when you’re high on incense. My question to the composers is, where the hell is the Shinjuku Hospital theme that plays after the Conception? It was already a poor decision not to include it on the OST, but this is even worse. If you’re one of those people who absolutely has to have every Megaten album, then I recommend it, but if you’re looking for something truly great, you’re going to be disappointed. Out of 10, this album gets a 7.5. One really good track saves it from a hellish score.