Tag: shin megami tensei

My Top Fifteen Favorite Video Game Tracks

If you’re friends with me for any long period of time, one of the things you end up having to deal with is how much I like video game music.

I source this love to being a pretty sheltered kid – I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio, but I was given pretty much free reign in regards to soundtracks. Disney movies, of course, were a big favorite for me (I still sing a certain song from Mulan to myself every time I encounter Attila in Civ 5), as well as various Broadway shows (while I never made the jump to being a true theatre kid, I went through a Phantom of the Opera phase like so many others) and instrumental movie soundtracks. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not musically inclined at all, really – I played both oboe and cello briefly but the combination of ADD and my instructor’s palpable frustration with my short-term memory being garbage caused me to throw in the towel pretty quickly. But the few times I could manage to figure out a song on my own when fiddling around with a piano or keyboard? Always, always movie-related. I’m pretty sure my mom got tired of my showing off my attempt at the Indiana Jones theme on her piano to any unsuspecting visitors!

So despite my lack of technical talent, I still saw the world in terms of how it should be scored. My best friend and I spent huge amounts of our time in middle school trading soundtracks (she introduced me to Star Wars first by way of its score, and when she got me to play some Sonic game with her the only thing I was interested in was using my tape recorded to capture some stage’s bgm that I found particularly attractive) and making lists of how we’d soundtrack particular situations, people, etc. We were lucky enough to be in an “advanced” English program together that actually allowed us to make radio plays and short movies with our classmates, and I’m pretty sure we annoyed the hell out of our classmates when we demanded to put in the extra work of background music for some scenes. I still remember the look on one kid’s face when I told him I thought we should edit in a particular Jackson Browne song as the audio for a scene about some video we were making for class. I think both due to the fact that I was a 12-year-old suggesting a Jackson Browne song (hey, my dad was OBSESSED with him and that love turned out to be genetic) and the fact that I was voluntarily suggesting more work. Heh.

Anyhow, all this is to say, that it was probably completely unsurprising that when I started playing video games in college, one of the aspects that could hook me on a game was its soundtrack. Years later, my friends still have to deal with my nerding out over the music in a new game and spamming their messenger with various youtube links to whatever tracks have caught my fancy.

After doing this the other day with regard to some music in Blade & Soul (ohgod I love the faction pvp music so much), it occurred to me that I could totally inflict that habit on unsuspecting readers here, too.

And thus, this post is born. I’m thinking I’ll do a few posts for variety – favorite character themes, favorite battle themes, favorite ambient background themes, etc. But this one, the first one, will simply by my overall top fifteen video game tracks of all time, with one caveat: only one pick per game. Otherwise this list would be way, way too weighted towards the Tales Of and Shin Megami Tensei series.

So let’s get right into it!

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So, I Just Finished Devil Survivor 2…

Note: This is an old post ported over from a gaming blog that I used to write alongside my longtime friend Mento. Images did not survive the import process, and unfortunately I have no idea or record of what they were, so these posts are presented in all their jacked-up, ugly glory. 

It took me awhile to get through it (mostly due to IRL stuff distracting me from all games for awhile), but today I finally finished my first playthrough of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2. That last battle was no joke – I had to do the whole cycle of failing horribly, grinding out a few more levels and new demons, then trying again, rinse repeat. I finally succeeded with my party being around level 72/73, with lots of MP regen passives, auto & demon racial skills to help everyone make it through all three rounds of the last boss fight =P

I won’t be a jerk and post any specific spoilers, but if you’ve played the previous Devil Survivor (which I really recommend – it’s probably my most-played SMT game), this iteration follows the same basic pattern: after a sudden and huge disaster in Tokyo, the protagonist and his friends are given a new and mysterious ability to summon and both fight alongside and against demons (via a strange website called Nicaea that allows you to see people’s deaths before they happen), as well as the eventual ability to oversee a rebirth of the world as you know it (via an even stranger plot involving the Big Dipper). You’re given multiple paths for that last part, so if you enjoy the game at all, you’ll probably find yourself replaying a few times to see all of the various endings.

I chose to remake the world as a true meritocracy, not really because my ideals actually matched Yamato’s (each path has a sort of “leader” that you ally yourself with – Yamato Hotsuin was the one who recruits the player for the meritocracy path), but mostly because my beloved Fumi Kanno joined his faction at the end. She’s basically the magical atomic bomb of your roster, so I’d been using her ever since she first joined and didn’t want to lose her! Plus, her character is amazing. If Fumi was a dude and a real person, I’d totally have a giant crush on her-him. Super intelligent, a snarky sense of humour and no patience for idiots – my kind of person! She’s very reminiscent of the first game’s Naoya, only without his plot twists. And I did love me some Naoya, so I guess there’s really no surprise that I wanted to keep Fumi around at all costs.

My fears were pointless, though, since apparently if you did enough of a character’s sub-events, it’s possible to recruit them to your cause anyway (which was good, otherwise I would’ve been all QQ about losing the physical juggernaut of my squad, Jungo Torii). So learn from my mistakes and just pick the ending you want to see the most, since as long as you’ve paid enough attention to your teammates (and, of course, don’t allow them to die if you get a ‘death clip’ of them during the game), you won’t be permanently separated from anyone.

That’s something that I should mention, I suppose. Taking a page from the Persona games, each possible teammate has something called “Fate” – you can raise their Fate level by hanging out with them, doing sub-events and getting to know them. Each Fate rank – and there are five – gives you a new benefit, whether it’s increasing the character’s resistance to a certain element in battle, or unlocking the ability to fuse a special demon partner. So it’s definitely worthwhile to pursue, both for learning more about the characters you like and for unlocking all those demons and other boosts!

As for the rest of the gameplay, it’s largely the same as its precursor. You have four teams of two demons and one human each, and you can freely allocate unlocked skills (which you learn by “cracking” them in battle – so basically, the human team members cannot learn a skill until you’ve faced an enemy with said skill) to the human members. You’re given a pretty large roster of human team members to choose from, so you can create your ideal team leaders pretty easily with the variety of stat growths and skills to choose from. The demon partners are, as is usually the case in SMT games, created via fusion. You can buy bare-bones versions of demons from the “demonic auction house” accessible from the menu, but fused demons will always be far more powerful if you have even the smallest understanding of the process. Mixing and matching your fused demons and customized team members to support each other’s strengths and weaknesses will allow each team unit to be able to survive – no pun intended – whatever the enemy throws their way.

Like I said, if you’ve played the first Devil Survivor, you will already be intimately familiar with the battle system in this game as well. That being said, there are some minor differences when it comes to combat: auto skills no longer cost MP (thank the Lord), demon racial skills can evolve into more awesome, beefed up versions of themselves, the addition of agility-based physical skills – just small things like that, for the most part.

I did launch a New Game+ already – because I already want to replay the game, I enjoyed it that much – and did notice that there are some significant differences in that respect. Basically, the NG+ system has gotten an awesome upgrade. It’s similar now to the Tales Of Series and its GRADE system: based on things you did during your playthrough, you earn Titles (similar to Achievements or Trophies, basically). Each Title gives you a number of points that can be spent to unlock bonuses for your next playthrough. You can purchase both expected things like carrying over your macca or a specific end-game demon without having to pay to resummon it, but there are also more interesting things to spend your points on: unlocking NG+ only boss battles and demon fusions, for example. So yes, even more reason to replay!

So yeah, it’s pretty safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 and am looking forward to getting started on my new game plus goodness. I’m also planning to make some more posts about the game, not reviews, just random thoughts I had on some of the characters/mechanics, so I guess look forward to that?

We don’t really have any sort of rating system implemented here, so I’ll just say that I give this game a big, fat, “YES, GO BUY IT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU”.