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Majin Tensei II Spiral Nemesis Excellence Sound Collection :: Review by Chris

Majin Tensei II Spiral Nemesis Excellence Sound Collection Album Title: Majin Tensei II Spiral Nemesis Excellence Sound Collection
Record Label: Pony Canyon
Catalog No.: PCCG-00337
Release Date: May 19, 1995
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Majin Tensei II: Spiral Nemesis was the second in Atlus' line of tactical RPG spinoffs to the Megami Tensei series. Once again, Hidehito Aoki returned to portray the futuristic cities and battles of the game with his unique form of ambient music. He was joined by event music composer Misaki Okibe and, for the album release, arranger Yoshiyuki Ito. Together the team maintained the sound of the previous title while introducing new elements such as a focus on synthesized piano. The Majin Tensei II Spiral Nemesis Excellence Sound Collection compiles the original tracks and six arranged pieces into an album release. With even more pieces on offer than before, did Aoki and Okibe still maintain the quality of the predecessor?


The more developed tracks tend to be highlights of the Spiral Nemesis album. "A.D. 1995 Story" is a very inspired variation on Hidehito Aoki's's upbeat approach, thanks to the charismatic piano and trumpet leads, while "Smash Up" is a slow-building piece with plenty of colour during its four minute playtime. The action themes tend to get one's blood pumping, such as "Assault" with its brisk rhythms and ever-changing forces, or "Chaser" and "Eurythmic Battle" with their extravagant orch hits. "Evolution" is also a welcome return to the funk focus of the previous soundtrack, but hybridised with piano use and electronic beats. However, there are also lots of short and repetitive themes on the soundtrack such as "Scoop Up Sand" and "Spank". Some tracks are also entirely dedicated to sound effects, such as "Uncountable Digitalist", that probably work in the game but should have been discluded from the album. Yet others seem to integrate sound effects more for the sake of novelty than atmosphere, such as "Deja Vu" with its traffic, running, and phone sound effects against repeating synth chords or "Friday" with its nonsensical warped voice effects. Magic can still be found, but the consistency has clearly dissipated.

Misaki Okibe's contribution of event themes is also a mixed bag. Despite its brevity, "The Place" provides a chilling opener to the soundtrack with dense bass pads and industrial overtones. A more individualistic contribution is "Heaven" with its chillout synth pads and surreal falling bells; it's amazing such a beautifully mixed theme was created with such primitive technology. Her piano use also often brings something fresh to the soundtrack, such as in the otherwise Aoki-influenced ambient themes "Going Our Way" and "If We Believe..." Her other pieces tend to be novel yet underdeveloped, such as the tropical bossa-nova "In the Shop", the piano-led waltz "My Pretty Sister", or the Chinese-influenced contemplation "Karen". She finally gets the chance to use the piano more intricately in the ending theme "Sayonara", though it lacks the unique identity of other pieces on the score, before closing the album off with the electric piano solo "Special Thanks for... You". Other highlights in the original version include several extravagant Majin Tensei arrangements, namely "Devil Dance", "Flame Up Fragment", and "Bicarbonate of Face"; they preserve the endearing features of the original while using the distinct instrumentation of Spiral Nemesis.

The album release is opened by six arranged tracks from returnee Yoshiyuki Ito. "Deja Vu" is greatly enhanced in this version, focusing more on improvised piano lines and chillout electronic beats than sound effects, although it doesn't hold a candle on the arrangements in the preceding album. "A.D. 1995 Story" uses similar instrumentation to represent a futuristic journey, although the whole construction feels a little thin and generic. After a trippy and jumbled interpretation of "Heaven", Ito finally brings some action to the mix with the battle theme "Sourpuss"; it adheres quite closely to the original, but the enhanced synth and more extravagant keyboard passages make a big difference in terms of impact and enjoyment. After several minutes of piano synthscapes, "Remembered Poetry" demonstrates some ambition with its use of a soothing female vocalist, though the vocals are too late and fleeting to really salvage such a plain entry. "Theme of Endless" ends things on a relative high, since Ito effectively blends the rock, electronic, funk, and piano elements of the soundtrack into a moderately entertaining mix.


The Majin Tensei II Spiral Nemesis Excellence Sound Collection is a pleasant but disappointing listen. There is some new instrumentation, about as many major highlights as the previous release, and more arrangements than before. However, the increased number of tracks is normally detrimental, since many of the compositions are undeveloped, repetitive, or simply uninspired. What's more, the creative feel of the previous release is no longer as obvious due to the rehashes of styles from the soundtrack, less meaningful use of sound effects, and a reduced funk focus. The arranged section is certainly listenable and emotional, though lacks the creativity and variety needed for it to stand up against its predecessor. The Majin Tensei II: Spiral Nemesis soundtrack is still a decent accompaniment to the game and a fine achievement for the Super Nintendo, but doesn't stand up well as an album release.

Overall Score: 6/10