The Shin Megami Tensei series is known for its unorthodox soundtracks: part techno, part intimidating organs and deep synth sounds, and part whimsy. The Shin Megami Tensei Sound Collection combines Masaki Kurokama’s and Kenichi Tsuchiya’s compositions from the Playstation ports of the first two entries in the series and the Shin Mega Ten if… spin-off, as well as selections from Shin Mega Ten NINE. Nostalgic in its retro sound, the collection is valuable even to first-time listeners as a unique, varied, and captivating soundtrack to an enigmatic series.
Disc one covers the first Shin Mega Ten game (re-released for PlayStation) as well as a few tracks from the “if…” spin-off, both of which are worthy additions to any music library. Many of Shin Mega Ten’s tracks are fast-paced techno tunes that will prepare the listener for battle almost immediately upon beginning. Other than the adrenaline pumping battle songs, tracks like “Home” and “Pascal” offer slightly more whimsical tones to round out the serious aspect of much of the soundtrack. Of course, haunting dirges are included as well, such as “Neutral” and the organ classic “Pagan Castle.” The varied styles and overall originality and quality of the first game’s soundtrack combine for a great listening experience.
The selections from Shin Mega Ten if… are half remixes of tracks from the parent game. The remixes are all of quick-tempo tracks, and seem only to add more chaotic layers to already complex selections. The originals are superior, and the unique tracks from “if…” aren’t quite as enjoyable as those from Shin Mega Ten, but still warrant a listen.
The second disc covers Shin Mega Ten II (again, PS remake) and a few songs from the Xbox exclusive, NINE. The second entry in the series retains the mix of intensity, light-heartedness, and mystery that the first established. Some tracks are simply altered versions of their predecessors. While some may cringe at the recast melodies, for a fan, it’s more of the music they love, and the differences are substantial enough to give the soundtrack value of its own. Many tracks are entirely new, however, such as the creepy “Memory Recover” and the gentle “2D:Siren.” Of those returning, “Pagan Castle,” with another gothic organ masterpiece, is among the best, along with a couple battle tracks. On the lighter side, “Casino” is catchy and provides an effective contrast to the dread of the rest of the soundtrack. Overall, the second Shin Mega Ten II soundtrack is very well done, if slightly inferior to the first.
The selections from NINE are of a slightly different style and of greater sound quality, although not quite as well composed. Common melodies return in tracks such as “Boss Battle System,” but the electric guitars aren’t quite as atmospheric as the synth sounds of yesteryear. Still, the songs are above average, and I want to revisit the series all the more because of it.
For those who appreciate the synth works of older video games, as well as the off-kilter stylings of the Shin Megami Tensei series, this collection could be considered almost perfect. Most of the tracks are worth a listen, especially on disc one, and the overall feeling is one that can be challenging to define. My only complaint is that, typical for older games, the tracks are far too short, many lasting less than a minute. Nevertheless, any Mega Ten fan should check out the SMT Sound Collection, where all their favorite tracks from the first two entries in the series are included, with a few bonus songs to round out this most delightful package.