Question time with Dale North and Atlusprime

It’s a new year and season 3 of S.Link FM is about to begin. We’re coming out guns blazing this season with the next episode. For episode 49 we’re honored to be joined by Dale North and John Hardin! Dale is a long time games industry veteran, composer, and big SMT/Persona fan. And well, if you listen to this podcast you surely already know John as the PR manager at Atlus USA.

This episode will probably be a mishmash of topics, so  ask us about whatever you feel like. We will be recording on the 24th, so you’ve got plenty of time to get questions in!

16 thoughts on “Question time with Dale North and Atlusprime

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about character themes in games.

    In Persona 4 especially, each character has their own dungeon and as such a theme that goes with it, but I wouldnt necessarily class these as ‘character’ themes more than location themes.

    And in Persona 4 Arena/Ultimax, each character does indeed get their own theme, but I wouldnt see them fitting anywhere other than in fights

    Having played the PS1 era FF games recently, having character themes to fit scenes works really well in those games (Aerith’s theme, Freya’s theme etc). So do you think that composing a character theme and using it for that specific character’s S.Link could have worked in P3/P4 and do you think they may do something similar for P5 or just stick with the normal world music for those scenes?

  2. This is my first time so go easy on me: So, what is your favorite Persona songs? like for me in Persona 3 it’s “Changing seasons” “Shadow” and “Battle for everyone’s souls” in P3P it’s “Time” and Persona 4 Golden it’s “Heartbreak” “New Day’s” “Your Affection” and Snowflakes” Also, what do you like about the music in Persona?

  3. I’ve come to love it now, but at first i was a little surprised at how much “Engrish” the lyrics were in Persona 3/ 4 songs, to the point where I didn’t know the lyrics were in English for a couple songs until I looked them up (Soul Phrase). Was there a particular reason for this?

    Second, Burn my Dread during the final battle in P3. Out of all songs for an end boss, a freaking rap song starts playing. Yet it works extremely well, and I can’t think of a better song to use for the final battle. What do you think was the reason behind this, and not using a more depressing song to fit the atmosphere right before you end everything? What makes Burn my Dread work so well during the bleak atmosphere?

    • If i may add one more thing for John, how bearable is your position at Atlus’ PR? Do you answer tons of questions everyday, are threats towards you common (since the PR gets all the trash flung at them), and how enjoyable is your position while also being an Atlus fan yourself?

  4. Hey Dale!

    First of all, I wanted to thank you, because it was your review of P3P that finally convinced me to give the Persona series a try back in 2009. I’ve been in love with the series and Japanese culture ever since. Heck, I now have a degree in Asian history and went on a trip to Japan last year, so it’s safe to say that this love has really impacted my life! So thanks for your part in that!

    My question is about fan remixes of game songs. Do you think there’s been a notable increase of interest in fan remixes in recent years? Or is it still more of a niche thing?

    (I sadly don’t have a question for John, but keep on being awesome!)

  5. How soon after the Japanese release can we expect to see Persona 4 Dancing All Night come out in English? And how hyped are you for it?!

  6. First of all, John I’m disappointed. There was no video of you singing Maze Of Life. What a missed opportunity.

    Now, if the main topic of this episode is the music of the series, I assume that by the time you read this question, you probably talked about this, but I’m going to ask just in case you forgot 😛

    The last two Persona games have Atsushi Kitajoh as the main composer. Ultimax is pretty much a Kitajoh fest, while PQ also has a few songs made by Toshiki Konishi. What’s your opinion on these guys and their work in the Arena series and PQ? I’d like to know everyone’s opinion, but especially Dale’s, since he is a composer.

    If you’re interested in my opinion as a musician without getting too technical in the terminology, here it is. You don’t need to read it in the podcast, but it’s here in case anyone wants it 😛

    I like Kitajoh’s songs. However, I still think there’s a lot he could do to improve. I don’t know what happened during the development of Arena/Ultimax, but some of the songs there are not only uninspired, but also they’re rip offs of his own past work. Kanji’s theme is based on a song he composed for Catherine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QEZ-zQXOAo). Teddie’s theme is a different version of the Midnight Miracle Trivia song he composed for P4G (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hioWcowibd0). Yukiko’s theme borrows half of a song he made for another Atlus game called Tokyo Mono Hara Shi Karasunomorigakuen Kitan Gakusou (http://youtu.be/NNqZzQcR3PA?t=34s) (TRY TO PRONOUNCE THAT). This doesn’t happen in PQ, so maybe it had something to do with Arena’s budget or something. He’s also pretty good at composing short and catchy melodies, but that’s part of the reason why I think his songs are not THAT good. Sure, the melodies are catchy, but they all feel… disconnected from each other. Like they have no relation to one another. Also, he suuuuure loves to use synthezisers to duplicate melodies. That ends up hurting the final product, because having two really different sounds (like a violin and a synth) playing the same melody is kind of distracting, they don’t go well together and the focus gets lost between both instruments.

    Konishi composed my favorite PQ songs. Most of the dungeon themes are composed by him. He also composed the FOE theme, and some other songs. I reeeeally like his style. While Kitajoh’s songs are good, they feel like a bunch of catchy melodies put together. Konishi’s songs, on the other hand, feel like they have a structural plan, with tonal modulations and other resources that don’t break the flow of the song. The song that plays during the Group Date Cafe dungeon, when you’re being asked those questions to get your partner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9EqevPn4y8), is probably my favorite song in the game and the best example of why I like Konishi’s style. The song for the final dungeon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqCxONuUK3s) is a good example too.

  7. What do you guys think about the soundtracks that evolve as the story unfolds?

    About a month ago, I replayed the third persona title and was reminded once again of just how much of a f***ing genius Shoji Meguro is. From being rewarded for unlocking a new tier of tartarus with a new, slightly altered, slightly enhanced layer to the dungeon music, to samples of melodies from previous songs subtly woven into the game’s final track, a surprisingly beautiful and thought-provoking moment. I think a big reason why Persona 3 and 4 are so memorable is because their more intense moments are accompanied by equally as moving songs. It’s discouraging to see just how few games focus on really “selling” their story with a soundtrack to accentuate what’s being put on the screen. Even over the entire persona series, it feels less like the songs are trying to give the listener exactly what they want, but rather delivering to them something they didn’t even know they wanted yet, only to be left wanting more.

    So my question is, what do you guys think about soundtracks that serve to compliment the game itself, instead of just vaguely painting over it?

  8. So John, can you tell us when Persona 4: Golfing All Day will arrive? 😛

    Jokes aside, I have 5 questions:
    What are your (question to everyone in the podcast, not just John) favourite songs in Persona?
    How do you think the music theme for P5 will be like?
    Do you think that they will have scenes in P5 that have very basic musical components, like the fog scenes in P4?
    How about scenes with a distinct lack of music to highlight important moments appearing in P5? For example in those shows where the music cuts out suddenly when the main character realizes he’s going to get shot by his trusted subordinate, who is really the vengeful son of a guy the mc kills in the first episode of the series? (A less convulluted example would be: guy gets shot and falls over with a single final thump, with no music or other sounds whatsoever, end of scene.)

  9. John, is it possible to see Utlimax get a re-release on the PS4, much like Blazeblue and Guilty Gear? If there are no preexisting plans in place, what can fans do to encourage this to happen.

    Thanks everyone.

  10. Since I noticed Citizens of Earth features voice actors who are frequently in other Atlus games, it got me curious: is there any real change to how Atlus approaches advertising a Japanese-developed game versus one developed in the west or elsewhere?

  11. What do you think of the Persona concerts? Are there any tracks that you especially like when performed live? Excluding unreleased tracks, what would you like to hear performed at Super Live?

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