Dengeki PlayStation magazine Vol. 685 (released on February 28, 2020) includes a 10-page feature on Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers. Part of this is a behind-the-scenes developer interview with the sound team responsible for the music in the game from Atlus and Koei Tecmo Games’ Omega Force:
- Daisuke Kanada (Atlus producer / director): A creator who has been involved with many major Atlus titles. Recently, he was also the producer of Persona Q2.
- Atsushi Kitajoh (Atlus composer): A member of the Atlus Sound Team who has worked on many Persona songs, from mainline titles to spin-offs like Persona 5 Scramble.
- Gota Masuoka (Koei Tecmo Games sound director / composer): A developer for Koei Tecmo Games who has worked as a sound director on Persona 5 Scramble and as a composer on Dynasty Warriors 9. In this game, he also worked on aspects such as sound effects.
- MASA (Koei Tecmo Games sound supervisor): He has been in charge of sound drection since the start of the Dynasty Warriors series. A creator who has produced many “Musou” series songs.
This magazine also featured an interview with the team responsible for the art direction in Persona 5 Scramble, which can be read in a previous article.
This follows the developer interview in Dengeki PlayStation Vol. 684 in January with the games’ directors, which gave insight on certain creative decisions behind Persona 5 Scramble.
Each Person’s Involvement
- Kanada: As the producer, he gave general directions and, for sound, his initial direction was to make songs that leave an impression on people.
- Kitajoh: He translated what Kanada said into sound terms and passed that on to Masuoka, the sound director, along with parts of the new songs. It would be an exaggeration to call it a supervision role, but he did act as a window into the sound at Atlus.
- Masuoka: He was in the position of sound director, so he worked on the whole thing. He not only worked on the music, but produced the sound effects and voices in the game. He also did hands-on work, such as composing music and making sound effects.
- MASA: Since he has been in charge of many so-called “Musou” series tites, he gave consultation to Masuoka when he was thinking about the kind of music that would befit an action game involving Koei Tecmo. He also arranged Shoji Meguro (Persona series composer) music.
Avoiding Being too Reminiscent of “Persona”
- Kitajoh: The Sound Team’s music is often referred to as being “like Persona,” and while he thinks Meguro’s music—Meguro has been in charge of the series—is very important, he gave the direction to not be very conscious of “Persona” when it came to the music.
- Masuoka: At first, Masuoka made a demo song, and it fell into the trap of sounding too much like “Persona.” The music of “P5” will inevitably be an influence, but if it’s too influential, there will be no fun in collaborating and it won’t sound new. So there was a lot of trouble when it came to that.
- MASA: At first, Masuoka wrote a demo song, which was very difficult. If the song takes too much from P5’s musical quality, it will lose the Koei Tecmo Games style, so there were a lot of questions regarding that balance. Making the first song was very difficult, as a result. MASA had the chance to meet Meguro during the early stages of development, and after asking how they should go about it, he responded with “Please do it as you please.” After that, things started working very well, with a better understanding of each other and continued communication with Atlus.
- Masuoka: The first song that Masuoka worked on which made him worry was the song that plays during the battle at the scramble crossing, at the start of the game. The first song was made with vocals, and from there the song played during a boss battle was made. The first two songs made were difficult to produce.
- MASA: In their action games such as the “Musou” series, there are few songs with vocals during battles, and it basically comes down to instrumentals without lyrics. For them, who had little experience with vocals, they were worried about whether dialogue from the characters would conflict with the vocals from the songs.
- Kitajoh: This time, the hardest part was the volume balance during the battle scenes.
Arranging the Songs, Last Surprise Remix Process
- MASA: MASA arranged 2 songs from Meguro, and both songs are popular and are very important among P5 songs. When he decided to arrange them, he said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” (laughs) He was prepared to get beaten up by Meguro. He resolved himself to not doing anything half-baked to avoid giving a reason to get hit.
- Masuoka: “Last Surprise” is something he wanted to do with some hard rock to it, and he thought it would be best to ask MASA.
- Kitajoh: Kitajoh thought that would be great and, as soon as he heard it, they decided that they should re-record the song.
- Kanada: At first, the original singing voice was applied to it, but it was a really cool arrangement and they thought that Lyn’s way of singing would change with the song’s momentum having changed so much. So they asked Lyn to sing the song again.
- Kitajoh: During recording, he played the part from the intro and, at that time, Lyn casually hummed to it and asked him to put that in.
- MASA: The song starts with that humming, and it gave him goosebumps.
- Kitajoh: He believes that it was because Lyn heard that arrangement that she could come up with that intro part.
- Masuoka: Masuoka thinks re-recording it really was the right decision.
- Kitajoh: He believes that it is a song that is neither of P5 or of the “Warriors” series in nature, but uniquely P5S.
- Kanada: With the release of the demo version, players who listened to it were pleased to hear it as the tension increases; it matched the game very well. Kanada was honestly surprised at how the Meguro compositions were transformed.
Use of Guitar in the Songs, Opening Theme
- Masuoka: The game’s sound effects are showy, so if the songs don’t have power, they’ll lose to them. Guitar sounds great when it comes to flashy action, so they were not consciously implemented. Before he knew it, guitar was included in the opening song, which gave it all a sense of unity.
- Kitajoh: Kitajoh composed the opening song and MASA played the guitar. Kitajoh had the image of implementing guitar and doing something together with MASA, and he thinks it was a special opening.
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- Kitajoh: When presented with a new song, she would say, “It’s a killer tune this time!” Every song she sang was a killer tune.
- Masuoka: She would say it was difficult to sing.
- Kitajoh: In particular, Masuoka’s songs were difficult (laughs). It’s because there were a lot of climactic points to them.
- Masuoka: Being worried that Lyn might get angry at him, he still made it that way, with songs which keep rising in melody.
- Kanada: A making-of video was made during the recording and, at that time, Lyn said: “The Koei Tecmo Games songs have the “Persona” character, but all the songs are challenging and interesting.”
- Kitajoh: It was also Lyn’s first time taking the challenge of singing songs for Koei Tecmo Games, so he could hardly imagine what it would look like.
- Masuoka: He thinks the singing was able to go beyond their expectations.
Creating Sound Effects
- Masuoka: First of all, sound effects used in P5 could be used as reference material. Sounds in the original P5 were used such as system related sounds or the moment a persona is evoked. On the other hand, Koei Tecmo could make use of what they’ve been doing for a long time with the action parts, such as the sound of cutting an enemy, so they did as they liked for that.
- Masuoka [Responding to the interviewer saying that they like the mail order and cooking sounds]: The mail order sound that goes “pi-con” is the sound used when Sophie boots up, which was left as-is. Sophie has two types of sounds when she starts up, one of which is borrowed and used from the first melody of Sophie’s theme song by Kitajoh.
- Kitajoh: “I didn’t know that!”
- Masuoka: For the sound effects, they traveled to various regions this time and worked hard to create sound effects for each location. For Shibuya, they used the sound effects from P5, but for the other regions such as Sendai and Sapporo, they had to do research on what those places are like, and that was pretty tough. There are many different sounds which overlap with each other, but they all change from one region to another. Additionally, they included loud voices with dialogue and dialect likely to be spoken by people in that area, along with local commercials played on the street monitors.
Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers was released for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch on February 20, 2020 in Japan. It will be released on June 18, 2020 in Asia and South Korea.