This time on Game Music w/ the James, I bring an assortment of tracks that I can’t stop listening to. Most of these games deserve individual attention that might come over time, but for now they’re in an assortment of tracks that I can’t get out of my head for one reason or another.
What better place to start than… Mega Man 10?
I’ve run a game music presentation arguing with moderate success that Mega Man 10 has a superior soundtrack to 9 and deserves a little more attention than it seems to get. Not only is there a lot of good music, but it seems to have more variety as well. Take this track for instance, it has that little bit of heart put into it that gives it luster.
Our old friend, the high square wave with its flute-like timbre naturally gets the soprano treatment and almost feels like a vocal-soloist, especially in the last passage of the loop where it’s just gushing in its high notes and stealing the show. The accompaniment in lower register is brilliant, and while it never overpowers the soprano or tries to steal the spotlight, it provides a great counter-melody of its own. The same passage where the soprano is going all out has the accompaniment taking a more rapid, guitar like presence. The precussion/bass are cool, but what really shines is the interaction between the two top voices.
Typically I dislike remixed video game music. It loses a lot of the original flavor in the conversion and sometimes the new music sounds dull and lifeless. Then again, I’ve never really been an orchestral music kinda guy either until understanding it better. Regardless, this track, formerly in the SNES version of the game is given an amazing orchestration and is also part of one of my unforgettable gaming experiences.
The first time you hear this track on the battlefield is in the middle of a thunderstorm. When played connected to my TV, the thunderstorm with its loud booming and flashing made the battle more dramatic than it needed to be, but I loved every second of it.
The brass is what really sticks out, setting the flavor of the overall piece as well as dishing out the main melody, with phenomenal support from the strings. The woodwinds play a bigger role in the parts that bridge the main theme such as in the mysterious flute section, but what really gets me pumped is whenever the brass comes in, main melody and between.
My game of the year last year, Nier was great in story, presentation and especially the music. I remember the first time I heard this song, I was still measuring whether I loved or hated Nier. I had no expectations for it and only bought it because Kmart had a really good sale going on for the game. It was the middle of March and I just caught the flu. Somewhere in my fluctuating consciousness, I came across the area where this song played and I drifted off in sickness, thinking I was dying or something. I came back to Earth shortly after, but whenever I hear this it feels like my soul is slowly drifting away and… blah, this ain’t the place to get poetic.
The layered presentation of this piece is amazing. Beginning with light then heavy percussion, then adding in either a cello or a double bass and an electronic instrument before bringing in the Ooooo’s in the vocals and finally the main vocal melody where the entire ensemble stays in until the end. The soundtrack version kinda cheats by taking out the percussion for the final iteration of the main verse and giving it a proper ending, but it doesn’t happen like that in game.
Enjoy, and See you next Video Game Music w/ The James!