Dark Law: Meaning of Death Soundtrack, Satoshi Nagano / Michihiko Shichi, 1997
By 1997, software supply for the SNES has dwindled to a trickle – but intriguing new games for the ageing console still popped up here and there. One such title was developer Sakata SAS’ Dark Law: Meaning of Death, the sequel to 1991’s Dark Lord. While the premise of its fantasy narrative was fairly pedestrian (ancient evil returns – and kidnaps the damsel in distress!), Dark Law surprised with its unexpected take on RPG gameplay tropes. Focused less on combat and more on exploration and puzzle solving, Dark Law was considerably less linear than most other JRPGs. Instead of following a clearly delineated path, gamers would select from a series of short stories or scenarios that ultimately all turn out to be connected with each other. And true to its ominous name, Dark Law: The Meaning of Death dealt with unusually sombre subject matter (at least for a 16-bit RPG).
To craft the game’s soundtrack, Sakata SAS hired a team of game musicians going by the name of Target Laboratory. Led by veteran composer Yusuke Takahama, Target Laboratory had been active since the mid-1990s. Four of its members worked on Dark Law – Takahama himself as sound producer and Nobuo Horie on sound effects, while Satoshi Nagano and Michihiko Shichi handled composing duties. Both artists – fairly new to the industry – had collaborated on previous Target Laboratory projects such as 1995’s Kat’s Run: Zen-Nippon K Car Senshuken and Tokimeki Card Paradise: Koi no Royal Straight Flush. Nagano’s career seems to have trailed off after a few more Target Laboratory games. Shichi joined developer Omega Force and became sound designer and director of their Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors franchises – before joining tri-Ace and sound directing high-profile titles such as the later Star Ocean games and Resonance of Fate.