Dark Law: Meaning of Death Soundtrack, Satoshi Nagano / Michihiko Shichi, 1997
By 1997, the SNES software supply 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 became connected. 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.