Persona 2 -Innocent Sin- Original Soundtrack (PSP Edition)
Persona 2 -Innocent Sin- Original Soundtrack (PSP Edition)
April 27, 2011
Buy at CDJapan
In 2011, Atlus decided to remake Persona 2: Innocent Sin for the PSP following the solid reception of its predecessor. The developers nevertheless felt concerned by the savage reception to Persona‘s PSP soundtrack in Japan, which transformed a once deep electro-acoustic experience into a modern pop-flavoured one. As a result, Atlus’ sound team were asked to largely take an orthodox approach when adapting the music for Persona 2: Innocent Sin — they offered new samples, thicker harmonies, and elaborate developments, but few unrecognisable transformations. What’s more, the more nostalgic listeners had the option of selecting the PlayStation soundtrack, rather than the remixed soundtrack, play during gameplay. The game was given a lavish six disc soundtrack release, featuring a reprint of the two disc soundtrack for the PlayStation version and four discs dedicated to the PSP version.
In the PlayStation version, “Opening” is a multi-tiered composition that instantly establishes the moody feel of the game. Most of the work is peculiarly dominated by the piano transcription of Schubert’s Schwanengesang Der Doppelganger, which creates so much atmosphere with its solemn romantic chords. After a short rendition, the composition takes an unexpected transformation into a pumping orchestral-rock anthem reminiscent of those of Persona. The PSP version completely replaces this muddled track with two new pieces. “unbreakable tie” is a contemporary pop song created by series composer and game director Shoji Meguro. The track seems to incorporate just about all the stylistic features from Persona’s latest songs at some point: hard rock riffs and electronic riffs, motivating choruses featuring an angelic vocalist, fast-paced rap sections full of ridiculous bravado, and even a balladic piano-based outro. While it’s all over the place, it’s certain to be a hit with the series’ modern listeners. In contrast, the title theme is an instrumental composition by Ryota Kozuka filled with brooding piano lines and dark ambient overtones. It’s much closer to the established style of the Megami Tensei series.
Much of the rest of the soundtrack reflects the relatively youthful feel of the game. Courtesy of hitomi, “Main Theme A” and “Main Theme B” are melodically continuous themes that seem ideal for representing simple and uplifting high school days. The PSP versions stick closely to their originals, but incorporate enhanced samples and thicker harmonies to inspire the desired emotions. In that sense, they provide the ideal mix of old and new that so many updated soundtracks get wrong. “Seven Sisters High School A” is a softer theme featuring soothing piano melodies and acoustic guitar arpeggios, setting the precedent for similar themes in the anime adaptation. Ryota Kozuka’s interpretation puts the emphasis in all the right places and the way the piano lines are overlaid at 0:23 is especially beautiful. To reflect the change in context, the B version is considerably darker and the warped synth parts are particularly fascinating in the updated score. The remake score also includes a few brand new compositions, such as “Karukosaka High School” and “Saint Hermelin High”, that combine the youthful flavour of the rest of the score with modern jazz and techno stylings. The climax of the former is especially impressive.
The stylistic influences for the PlayStation soundtrack generally seem different from Persona‘s. For example, even interestingly titled setting themes like “Time Castle” sound like generic RPG town themes; the core of the theme features light-hearted flute melodies against plodding accompaniment, though there are at times some jazzy and abstract piano improvisation later in the piece. The PSP version goes some way to redeeming this, with Atsushi Kitajoh making the track more stylish with its bold saxophone parts and lounge-inspired backing. Ambient contributions such as “Tension”, “Big Trouble”, and “Premonition” lack the individual character of those of Persona; though these tracks are tolerable in cinematic sequences, they are very sparse and repetitive assemblies of motifs on a stand-alone level. The big difference in the PSP version are that the samples are enhanced, though the arrangers otherwise felt limited in their options and failed to create anything as remarkable as the original title theme. There are also an abundance of catchy and gimmicky jingles such as “Comical Line”, “Jolly Roger”, “Riding a Vehicle”, and “Peace Diner” that are potentially overwhelming in bulk on both versions.
Despite the youthful direction, there will be some familiar styles and themes for fans of earlier Megaten games. “Gold” is especially welcome since, like Persona‘s futuristic themes, it hybridises electronic and other stylistic threads to create a breathtaking sound. “Underground Shelter” seems to homage Hidehito Aoki with its blend of faint instrumentation and sound effects, whereas “Sumaru City” is a very relaxing and catchy with its blend of organic and electronic elements. The PSP versions are certainly the definitive versions of such tracks, given it’s exactly this type of groovy electro-acoustic soundscaping that Atlus’ current sound team specialise in. They don’t transform the originals in any way, but simply flesh out the pieces with new parts and samples. Other favourites such as the impressionistic “Iwado Mountain”, bubbly “London House”, and daydreamy “Aoba Park sound even better than ever. Relieved of a two disc presentation, finally receive the loops they deserve on the four disc PSP soundtrack. Unfortunately, “Abandoned Factory” is omitted from the remake soundtrack and is exclusive to the promotional album, but the cool techno loops in the exclusive “Quest Make” partly make up for it.
Some of the jazzy themes are pretty well done too. For example, “Casino – Mu Continent” delights with its blaring trumpets, “Rosa Candida – Rengedai Store” sounds particularly laidback with its new samples, and the hyper-catchy “Kuzunoha Detective Office” from the Devil Summoner series makes a welcome couple of appearances. “Velvet Room” makes a return from Persona, but it is a considerable regression in the original version; it focuses on just piano and voice, lacks the development of the original, and has a slightly cheesy pop flavour. The PSP version, on the other hand, rehashes the familiar but excellent arrangement from Persona 3. At least the rendition in “Shrine of Taurus” is more interesting. Satomi Tadashi’s light-hearted pharmacy theme also returns in numerous incarnations, whether in anime-inspired, piano-based, chiptune, bossa-nova, or hip-hop styles. They’re a select taste, but add some quirk to the soundtrack regardless. Among other more quirky additions, “Ramen Shiraishi” is one of several themes with a cartoony samurai feel and the Giga Macho themes introduce some hip-hop to the soundtrack. Kozuka put particular effort into ensuring the latter arrangements worked on the PSP.
Some of the biggest highlights of the soundtrack are the various character themes. “Hero’s Theme” is certainly exciting with its overdriven guitar improvisations and rocking rhythms in the remake, though suffers from harmonic sterility and balance issues in the original release. Others are stereotyped but more effective. Both versions of “Kurosu’s Theme”, for example, win listeners’ hearts with their wistful melodies and acoustic guitar backing before adding more depth with some choral chants. Among other highlights, returnee Philemon is portrayed with a suitably mysterious theme with a fine melody, while “Ginko’s Theme” blends traditional Japanese instruments with pop beats to wonderful effect. There are also sad variations on most of the character themes that will be simplistic to some, emotional to others. Most effectively, Eikichi is portrayed in both present day extroverted and retrospective introverted arrangements. The antagonist, the Joker, is given one of the few two-dimensional representations on the album. A range of fluid forces such as harps give a sense of sneekiness and deception, while the synth chorus is even more haunting than before on the PSP.
There are naturally a range of action themes to round off the soundtrack. The main battle theme is quite heavy-handed with a blend of orch hit melodies, electronic overtones, and guitar riffs, but at least has a few hooks. The PSP version is certainly an improvement with its wailing guitar parts and more pronounced development, though Toshiki Konishi probably should have gone even further. The arranger enhances the once clamorous “Boss Theme”, changing a one minute disappointment into a four minute standout filled with modern electronic beats and extended guitar solos. There are also a couple of new action tracks added for the Climax Theater mode, a rock-flavoured battle theme and a electrifying boss theme, both of which are stunning texturally and rhythmically. “Final Boss Theme” aspires to be an epic orchestra and chorus theme, though only the PSP version has the balanced orchestration and stunning samples needed to nail it. The soundtrack is rounded off decently with another Schubert reprise on “Death Scene” and two vocal themes by hitomi, the upbeat children’s song “Joker” and surprisingly impressive ballad “Next to You”. The PSP version also features an emotional orchestration of the main theme by Shoji Meguro.
Atlus took the right approach when handling the soundtrack for Persona 2: Innocent Sin. They gave listeners the opportunity to choose which soundtrack they wanted — the original PlayStation version or the remixed PSP version — in both the game and the album release. The PlayStation soundtrack is a solid conventional RPG score, but lacks the creativity or consistency of its predecessor. The PSP version somewhat redeems this with more contemporary touches and enhanced samples, while ensuring the melodies are intact and the emotions still flow. Occasionally some themes aren’t remixed enough, but this is better than divisive transformations. Though its interesting to hear the origins of Persona 2: Innocent Sin‘s music, the highlight of the set is the four disc presentation of the musically and technically superior PSP score. Bring on a similar treatment for Persona 2: Eternal Punishment!
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on January 19, 2016.