Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 25 ~Gaur Plain~ (Xenoblade Chronicles)

Origin: Xenoblade Chronicles
Plays In: Gaur Plain in the Daytime
Status: Original Composition
Composer(s): ACE+

Everyone's definite Xenoblade moment is soon after the quest begins, when you emerge from Tephra Cave and find yourself in marvel at the majesty of the Bionis' Leg. Cliffs and monsters of all sorts tower many, many stories over Shulk and his companions. The ominous gaze of the Mechonis bores down at the party as its outstretched swords pierces the heavens. There's smoke in the distance, but you do investigate it or leave it alone?

Whichever you choose, adventure awaits. And that is the essence of Gaur Plain.

Xenoblade was perhaps the freshest Nintendo property since Pikmin landed on our tiny GameCubes in 2001, and the soundtrack greatly contributed to that. While Yoko Shimomura graced us with a dozen or so tracks, much of the music was done by Nintendo newbies ACE+ and Manami Kiyota. The former, a group of three Japanese musicians, was responsible for our track of the day, and what a glorious piece of aural heaven it is. So good is it, in fact, that you wouldn't be wrong to suspect it's what immediately grabs players' attention to the area.
And what an area it is, indeed. I've been replaying Xenoblade in anticipation of the upcoming X and I just so happened to clear the first round of sidequests on the plain. A common criticism of the game is that the sidequests are too homogenized and generally uninteresting, and while the former's definitely true, I struggle with the latter. Yes, the context behind them is hardly ever interesting, but what you do most certainly is. They force you to poke around every nook and cranny of the massive, gorgeous environments the game provides you, and they're all so damn fascinating and bursting with imagination.

In the case of Gaur Plain, there's far too much to do. Hordes of triceratops and ponies roam the plain, but watch out, there's giant mutant tortoises and orangutans hanging around. Head into the caves, and maybe you'll find a hideout home to a colony of dodos. That mysterious off in the corner looks interesting, but a certain eight-legged surprise awaits you if you reach the end. Being so close to ocean level presents a lovely, if not dangerous, view into the abyss below. You can even spot Colony 9, where the game begins, off in the distance if you look hard enough.

And all the while, what is undoubtedly the best field theme in the entire game plays. It's accompanied by a night version too, and it's lovely and relaxing and all that, but it can't hope to surpass the sheer adventure it's daytime counterpart provides. Violins, drums, and piano work together to stir an adventurous spirit within the player, granting Xenoblade's true introduction an awe-inspiring depth.

Even when I'm replaying the game, the song tells me I've only just begun Xenoblade. This summer will be a great one, indeed.

Final Thoughts: They say the composers for Xenoblade didn't come back for X...after witnessing that weird rock battle theme with vocals, I wonder if I should worry.

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