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Megami Tensei Online Imagine Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Megami Tensei Online Imagine Original Soundtrack Album Title: Megami Tensei Online Imagine Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Atlus
Catalog No.: CVIM-0001
Release Date: March 30, 2007
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Given Megami Tensei is a giant and popular franchise in Japan, it seemed fitting that publisher Atlus and developer Cave made an MMORPG dedicated to the title, Megami Tensei Online: Imagine. For its soundtrack, Atlus wanted to blend references to the older titles in the series with the fresh rock and electronic approaches of more recent releases. A range of tracks were created to portray the Tokyo settings of the game, the action-packed battle screens, and various cinematic sequences. Relative unknown Kenichi Yoshikawa led the way, though series' veterans Shoji Meguro and Tsukasa Masuko make appearances of sorts. The original score for the title was enclosed within the game package itself. Let's see how it fares...


The "Title" theme shows that the series' rock influence is as strong as ever. One could easily be fooled into thinking it was composed by Shoji Meguro with its gritty rhythm guitar lines and electronic overtones. It's in fact still Kenichi Yoshikawa's work, but is full of attitude nonetheless. Nevertheless, Shoji Meguro does manage a single contribution in the form of the opening theme. It's a fantastic blend of rock, piano, and blues elements that surprising undergoes many twists and turns during its 1:38 playtime. "Normal Battle" is one of the heaviest rock tracks in the series and almost entirely bass-driven. It risks becoming repetitious in the game, but still seems to suit transient encounters well. Featured towards the end of the soundtrack, Yoshikawa demonstrates he knows how to make a big impact with his industrial rock beats in "Small Boss Battle" and extravagant rock solos on "Medium Boss Battle". They're both up there with the best of Megaten's battle themes. Perhaps Meguro has finally met his match...

Tsukasa Masuko's classic themes for the series appropriately make a return in this instalment. The majority of his reprises are from Shin Megami Tensei II, by far the worst score in the series, but fear not as they have been competently remixed. Yoshikawa manages to transform once superficial themes into several relaxing pieces, such as the ethereal piano and chorus contemplations "Character Select" and "No. 3 Home" or the beautifully synthesized electronic remixes "Tutorial" and "Arajaku Babel". They're in line with more modern approach to RPGs yet still have their individual qualities. The pipe organ solo "Heretic Mansion" has even more impact than before thanks to its improved synthesis and increased ornamentation. The remix of featured in "Suginami Dungeon" similarly has an epic scope with the catchy bass riff from "Underground World" being enhanced by all sorts of electronic, rock, and Gothic elements. The music from Shin Megami Tensei also makes an appearance with "Ichigaya Dungeon", a gorgeous trance remix of "Palace of the Four Heavenly Kings".

The bulk of the soundtrack is evidently dedicated to field and dungeon themes for the various wards of Tokyo. These tend to be very atmospheric tracks that reflect the modern nature and various colours of the city. One particularly interesting feature is the duality between the field and dungeon themes for the same town. For example, the Shibuya themes both feature gorgeous electronic ambience and rich transient synthpads to reflect one's bewilderment in the area. The field theme creates a sense of activity with its various percussive features whereas the dungeon theme is almost entirely introspective with its slow-building surreal soundscapes. The credits theme is perhaps the most emotional entry on the disc. Blending ethnic woodwind, piano work, and electronic beats, many would describe it as 'new age' music. However, it's not particularly derivative and the buildups are very sensitively handled. The album ends with two bonus remixes — a dramatic orchestral rendition of the title theme and a quirky percussive interpretation of "Head Temple".


Though a short score, the Megami Tensei Online Imagine Original Soundtrack is a worthwhile one. Yoshikawa showed that he was able to bring tired retro tracks to life with his vibrant arrangements and display lots of attitude with his more modern rock tracks. The soundtrack also manages to distinguish itself from its predecessors with its focus on soft electronica for the various field and dungeon themes. There are some amazing soundscapes within as well as lots of engaging melodies and rhythms too. This album is worthwhile for fans of the series' recent music, though it'll probably be necessary to import a second-hand copy. Let's hope to see more from Yoshikawa in the future.

Overall Score: 8/10