Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Biweekly Music Wednesday!: No. 31: Winds Across the Plains (Fire Emblem)

Origin: Fire Emblem (Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword)
Plays In: Overworld Map for Lyn's Story
Status: Original Composition
Composed by: Yuka Tsujiyoko

Now here I find myself in a peculiar predicament. This song, which hails from the seventh Fire Emblem title (don't let the confusing localized title fool you), is probably the most nostalgia-laden song in the whole series. Anyone who's read this blog knows this is right up my alley: after all, discovering EarthBound and Kirby Super Star years after they'd released was a huge part of my childhood, and the way their respective nostalgia bled into my own is nothing less than mindblowing to me today.

Yet here we have a game that came during my time; one that passed me by. For whatever reason, Fire Emblem was never on my radar despite its landmark release in America--after all, it was the first Fire Emblem game coming stateside! Though I passed it up, however, it still found a sizable audience in America, one I interacted with frequently on the long-gone Nsider Forums. Every member frequently sung the game's praises, none the least that of an acquaintance who casually claimed she beat the game over forty times.

It was no wonder they fell in love with it; after all, this particular installment was designed with new foreign players in mind. It was the first Fire Emblem title to include the player as an actual character via in-game tactician, who slowly learned the ropes under the character Lyn's careful guidance. As with any good SRPG, it slowly sinks its addictive hooks into you. In fact, it may very well be the series masterpiece.

Fast-forward to 2008. I spot a used copy at GameStop and, having recently been awakened to Fire Emblem's glory thanks to Path of Radiance, I pick it up. Soon after Lyn's introduction, this song plays. Unlike the sweet nostalgia of EarthBound, however, I'm hit with a sense of melancholy, for Nsider had only closed a half-year ago, in the fall of 2007. While I was still in touch with several friends from there, all excited that I finally picked the game up, I could only look back and wonder about those I lost forever. All the pre-teen boys who worshipped Lyn, people who used the avatar of the healer Serra (whose awkward position made it look like she was about to poke you), those who kept making fun of Jaffar's name...

Most of all, I wondered how my friend was doing, the one who beat it over forty times. Had she beaten it even more? Was it still her favorite game? Did this song make her sigh with wistfulness, just like Kirby Super Star and Smash Bros. Melee made me do so long ago?

Except, it wasn't quite like either of those cases. It wasn't a game that came out before my time, yet I passed it up when it arrived into my own. I was no longer a boy filled with dreams, but a hardened teenager worried about what my future held. As was too often the case, I was now reminded of a time I would never get back.

Had I played it just a few years earlier, I was certain it'd give birth to the warm nostalgia it was supposed to exude...but it would perhaps be far more painful.

Funny how game music can evoke feelings they never meant to summon. Anyone could tell this particular track, Winds Across the Plains, has all the makings of a journey's beginning. It plays during what's basically an extended tutorial, but it's the rare kind that's lovingly remembered upon by gamers. While it's undoubtedly in part to how they're introduced as an actual character, this wistful song undeniably plays a role.

How many others feel the same about wistful game music? Does Dire, Dire Docks make people sad? Aquatic Ambiance? Smiles and Tears? How many were intended to make players cry? Were they intended to make me feel nostalgic about an age long past...?

Today, I'm a much more healthy human being, so Winds Across the Plains no longer holds such away over me. I can listen to its DLC cameo in Fire Emblem: Awakening just fine. I smile when I hear it in the above video, where the song was orchestrated for last year's  Fire Emblem 25th Anniversary Concert in Japan. I wonder if it'll ever be arranged for Smash Bros.

I still wonder about my friend; namely, how many times she's heard this by now. I hope she's doing alright.

Final Thoughts: Man, I want to hear that concert. I know they just released a DVD, but I want a CD to import, dang it!

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