Persona 3's Awesome Music Breaks The Mould (And Our Faces)

When I think of epic JRPG battle music, I usually think of driving guitars, pulsing drums and soaring melodies. I do not, generally, think of weird funky hip-hop and a lady singing "Baby, baby, baby, baby" over and over again.

And yet that's exactly what Persona 3's battle music is, and damned if it isn't fantastic. In fact, this game's entire soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in recent memory.

Over the last month or so, I've finally been addressing my Persona blind-spot, sinking a ton of free time into the PSP version of the game (played on my Vita, naturally). I am in full-on, hearts-on-fire love with this game. I will have more to say about it once I finish (and yes, I do plan to finish, 100-hour length be damned). But for now: Music.

Persona 3 is basically "Surviving High School meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets a hardcore JRPG." Anyone who knows me at all knows this is... well, it is a game that is very much "for me." I've even written about how I want more games set in high school, and the fact that I wrote that without playing Persona first is, yes, a huge oversight on my part.

But I'm rectifying that now. As much as I like the story, characters, and gameplay of Persona 3, I think like the music even more. Let's listen to some tracks, shall we?

"Mass Destruction"

"Mass Destruction" is Persona 3's primary battle theme. It, like the rest of the soundtrack, was written by Shōji Meguro, with rapping by Lotus Juice and vocals by Yumi Kawamura.

For anyone who has played Persona 3, I'd imagine hearing this track (which is actually called "Mass Destruction") provides a memory-blast like a SEES pistol-shot to the head. Anyone who hasn't played Persona 3 will probably hear this and think "What the eff is this crap? Who is this jive-ass rapper? What is with the weird horn parts? What is going on?"

There may be no better example of a song that is entirely dependent on its corresponding game. It may sound like a goofy jam to the untrained ear, but as YouTube Commenter Rondart puts it:

No other VGM has generated a more "love it or hate it" comments. People disliked it for it trying too hard to be hip-hoppy, while some people hear nothing but pure, concentrated AWESOME.

Imagine this: I'm battling Grim Reaper wielding two Colt Buntlines while I shoot myself in the head to bring this huge arse winged dragon to kill Death himself with two girls and an android girl wearing maid suits, all the while listening to some very uplifting hip-hop.

How is that not awesome? OH YEAH!

I agree so hard, YouTube Commenter Rondart! You know what you're talking about.

(God help me, I just quoted and then agreed with a YouTube commenter.)

When the chorus comes around, and the singer belts out that "Ooh yeah"... by that time, I'm usually so far in the groove that I can't help but rock out. Usually, Mitsuru is busting out a pistol to lay waste to some creatures, my mind is moving quickly to plan out my next few moves... it pushes the energy of the scene in a way that is exciting and distinctive.

"Persona"

When cruising around Tartarus, rather than the default music, I always ask Fuuka to play this one, titled "Persona": It's so grooving. This tune is especially great for when I tell my team to split up, when we're moving through levels we've already beaten looking for missing people. Love it.

"Iwatodai Dorm"

This is another weird one that is probably a bit divisive. I've only played the first fifth or so of the game, and this track, which plays in the dorm, is already one of the game's most instantly evocative tunes. The angular horn melody, that weird violin countermelody... I've never heard anything quite like this in a video game. I'm listening to it as I type this, when all I want to do is go chat up Yukari before heading into my room to study. While a wolf howls.

"Master of Shadow"

This music plays whenever players face off against one of the shadows outside of Tartarus, and man... as excellent as "Mass Destruction" is, this one actually gets me more pumped up. Those battles often come down to the wire, and require focus and planning -- and nothing makes me focus quite like that synth line.

There are so many other great tracks in this game, and plenty of others that I doubtless haven't heard yet. I'm very happy to be finally digging into the world of Shin Megami Tensei, and the music of Shōji Meguro.

OK! Think it's time to go play more Persona 3.

Top image found on Tumblr with no credit -- there is too much Persona 3 fan art out there to track down whoever did it, but if you did, drop me a line and I'll credit you.

Comments

    Memories of You is one of my all-time favourite ending songs. So upbeat yet so sad at the same time...I get a little choked up everytime I listen to it.

    I couldn't have thought of a better JRPG soundtrack either... until I played Nier, dat soundtrack is in my 25 most played playlist >_>
    I should really nab the P3 soundtrack too though, good stuff.

      THIS. The game may have been flawed, but damnit that soundtrack is amazing.

    "This music plays whenever players face off against one of the shadows outside of Tartarus"

    You could have just said "It's the boss music".

    SMT: Nocturne/Lucifers Call had the far superior soundtrack. Hell, so did Digital Devil Saga.

      Surely that is subjective though.

      Not to mention no one tried to say this was the best soundtrack,

      All great soundtracks. I own the OSTs for all but my pick is P3. The P3 arrange album has some great stuff too. I need to pick up the PSP tracks at some point to round out the collection of P3 goodness.

    lots of music lately kirk...loving it!

    Love the Persona games.. and you said 100 hours, but IIRC, there's a "true ending" to PES3 that adds another 50 hours to that! Plus there's great replay potential since you can max out different characters to see different Personas in action.

    IT'S TIME FOR AN ALL OUT ATTACK!

      LEMME AT 'EM!

        Way to go Yuka-tan!

      COME BACK HERE YOU SON-OF-A!

    FATAL STRIKE!

    If you liked the P3 soundtrack, wait until you start P4.
    You'll be off your tits with ear joy.

    Ok, Kirk. Please have my ear babies.
    I haven't played persona 3 (nor any other other numbered persona) but dammned if I don't want to go out and buy something that can play it. RIGHT NOW!

    That's a slew of ear candy I'm going to rot my brain with for some time to come. :D

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now