Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 10 ~Surfing Theme~ (Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver)

Composer: Junichi Masuda
Plays In: Anywhere you can surf.
Status: Arrangement
Arranger(s): Go Ichinose, Junichi Masuda, Shota Kageyama.

Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver are without a doubt among the best of Nintendo's remakes, if not at the very top. I imagine it struck a chord with so many people in that everything regarding the soundtrack is laced with the very fabric of nostalgia, as the soothing lullaby of the opening New Bark Town signals to the player they're about to relive an unforgettable childhood journey. Not every song in the game borrows this tone, yet not a single one of them comes across as an afterthought in their revision, whether it be the earwormy Goldenrod Town or how the originally dangerous Viridian Forest is transformed into a pleasant afternoon stroll (superbly complimenting the area's restructuring into the original forest from Red/Blue).  Even the unlockable GB Player tool evidences the importance of the game's music, as it reverts the entire score to Game Boy Color chiptunes when activated.

And yet for a such stellar job revitalizing the soundtrack, I have no difficulty in selecting my personal favorite: the Surfing Theme. It's a perfect example for contrasting the original game's soundtrack: Gold/Silver has its surfing theme take on a faster--if not still slow--tempo while maintaining a gentle air of serenity to suit the ocean theme. It's a definite highlight of the original soundtrack, as its adorability meshes in quite well with the colorful 8-bit aesthetic. The remake, however, takes it up a notch: the entire song is composed as a sort of grand waltz, complete with stellar use of harps and percussion.

The beginning build-up alone is nothing sort of breathtaking, and I remember gasping when I first heard it. Whenever I listen to it, I can instantly conjure up the image of preparing to dive off a springboard, ready to engage myself in swimming through a sea of memories. The majesty of the rest of the song provides a convenient segue for this fantasy, as I'm swept further and further away into the depths of this mystifying sea.

To me, I have no doubt this was intended to be the musical star of the soundtrack. Water music such as Aquatic Ambience and Dire, Dire Docks tend to have deep resonation with gamers thanks to their calm nature, and what better way to induce the player into yesteryear with a similar track? I think I've touched upon this subject before, but even though people tend to criticize Nintendo's reliance on nostalgia (through sequels and remakes and the like), it's instances like this where I always welcome it. To me, it's proof that Nintendo cares about their history as much as their players, and always desires to honor their memories through sequels (Donkey Kong Country Returns/Zelda: A Link Between Worlds) and orchestrated concerts.

...okay, maybe the idea of a magical company appeasing to their customers at my age is nothing sort of blind fanboyism, but hey. We're talking about the same company that okay'd the Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert just in time for the series' 25th anniversary; I'd like to imagine they have some heart.

With the announcement of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire set to continue this tradition, I'm ready to engage into yet another trip into my realm of Pokémon memories. Yet one must ask: will the same amount of production value and care involving the score be retained here? After all, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire don't exactly possess the deep fan resonation Gold and Silver do, and the rather rushed nature of Pokémon X and Y may be cause for concern (granted, I'm still playing it!). But fan reception has never stopped me before, as Pokémon Ruby still remains my favorite, trumpets and all.

Just imagining what the diving music could be week's E3 can't come soon enough!

Final Thoughts: Gee, I sure can't wait to raise yet another Spoink to level 65!

1 comment:

  1. I raised a Pichu to level 40 in Fire Red!

    Also, the surf theme is one of my favorites...but then again, Pokemon has a lot of memorable music for me.