Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 9 ~Sector Y~ (Star Fox)

Origin: Star Fox
Composer: Hajime Hirasawa
Plays In: Sector Y
Status: Original Composition

I haven't talked about the Star Fox series too much on this blog, have I? Not to my memory, no. I suppose it'd only make sense to initiate its Leave Luck to Heaven introduction via the first game.
The debate of Star Fox vs Star Fox 64 will surely last until the end of time, but the former is unanimously favored in one area: its soundtrack. Hajime Hirasawa's SNES score is wonderfully suited for a space-shooting 3D thriller, entertaining mixes of the rock and orchestral variety. The latter in particular is a highlighted standout, what with it contrasting the endless grandeur of space with a cast of anthropomorphic space fighters. Despite this, I've always relished in the powerful emotions it instills into me as the player, such as the heart-pounding tension of narrowly dodging the crossfire of an galactic armada and the hard-won victory following a difficult boss battle, soaring off into the distance with my trusted wingmates.

Sector Y is particularly notable for refusing to align with the battle-ready/victory fanfares of its orchestral brethren, instead opting for a soothing space waltz. An odd choice for an action-heavy game, but it succeeds with flying colors. For starters, it's a beautiful complement to the stage's vague ocean theme, with lead Fox McCloud shooting up space-bound amoebas, eels, whales and the like. It recalls similar themes used for other games' underwater levels (Hello, Super Mario Bros.!), and with the level's black expanse of space stretching out for what seems like forever, it may as well just be another underwater level.

But gosh, it's just such a gorgeous song regardless! What astounds me most about the song is how it masterfully touches upon areas not explored anywhere else in the rail-shooting realm of Star Fox. It's as soft as a lullaby, yet grand as an orchestral hall. This does not delve into the philosophical (why is the leader of Star Fox shooting down whales?), but the dreamy hypnosis it induces on the player is so palpable, so distinct that it can't be merely shrugged off. Take me, for instance: the high-score driven gameplay gradually but surely slips away as I'm whisked away into a fantastical wormhole, its brilliant colors morphing together into gentle vibrational shapes not unlike that of the Windows Media Player visualizer.

Sector Y is optimal for that moment of Zen we so desperately seek from the daily turmoil of our working lives, and I suppose that's why I often turn to it for an escape. Donkey Kong Country's Aquatic Ambience is also a stellar choice, but there's denying that it can instill some serious gloominess; in the case of Sector Y, the song is more on the netural side, so I can count on it for not letting me slide down the slippery slope of depression (nor being uplifted by the false promises of more uplifting songs; it merely refocuses me). The compounding stress of schoolwork and working on my personal projects such as this lovely blog are no match for this zoned-out waltz, and for that I'm grateful to it.

It's a shame Mr. Hirasawa never worked on any future Nintendo projects following Star Fox, as I would've loved to see his fantastic sense of genre into more classic video games. However, I suppose that is why this particular soundtrack is so unique and treasured, for there truly is nothing quite like it.

Final Thoughts: Man, I should write about Star Fox one of these days. It'd be fun to rip apart Star Fox Adventures.

Hmm...three Biweekly Music Wednesdays in a row. I think I hear Kirby calling me.

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