Sunday, 5 August 2012

Lost in the Music: Illusion of Gaia

I remember a much more simple era of gaming. Where the developers dared to be different.. To seek out new styles and push limitations. To boldly venture into an uncharted future. Many developers from that era. Nintendo dared to be different with their Mario franchise with Yoshi's Island. Rare decided to redesign the Donkey Kong series, Square teamed up with then rival Enix to make Chrono Trigger. Amidst of all this was a small company by the name of Quintet who was comfortable in it's place making obscure and underrated games. One of those games was Illusion of Gaia, or to my European readers, Illusion of Time.

Normally this is a music blog and I rarely, if ever, talk about video games. However, this time I feel I need to make an exception here. Illusion of Gaia, in my opinion, one of the most underrated games ever to be released onto the Super Nintendo. While not a rare jewel, there is very few fan works surrounding this game.

The story of Illusion of Gaia is about a young man by the name of Will. He is the only known survivor of a archeological expedition to the famed Tower of Babel. After he returned home, he had discovered that through the accident at the tower had awakened the psychic powers, or in this case Dark Power, that laid within him. It is a story of adventure, love, loss and hope and easily one of the most complex stories to come out of the SNES era.

Science fiction author Mariko Ōhara, whose one shot manga named Hybrid Child won an award for, was the main story-writer behind the game. Now I have not read Hybrid Child, but from whatever research I have come up with, the manga's main themes are about love, sacrifice and drama, and Illusion of Gaia has plenty of that. I will not say what occurs, so if or when you play this game, you can be surprised.

For such a dark and depressing game, Illusion of Gaia has a somewhat bright and colourful colour pallet. Each area has a proper colour scheme to fit the mood, but even in the darkest dungeons, the game is still somewhat colourful, making this seem far creepier then it should be. I love the character designs in this game. They are less Manga and more Western in their design. There are still a few anime traits like bright colour hair however, but in this world it seems natural.

Finally we have the music. I routinely rate this soundtrack in the number 3 spot on any of my top ten lists. It has stood the test of time and has only improved with age. Beneath the Earthen Womb is a song that makes you think back to your childhood. Not just the good times, but also the bad. It gives a sense of melancholy as well as hope for the future. The music from the game is perfectly suited to the story that it is almost scary. While the Chrono Trigger soundtrack and Final Fantasy VI soundtrack are both excellent pieces, sometimes the music doesn't fit the mood. You never feel that Illusion of Gaia. It seems that each song is specifically crafted for the scenario it plays in.

Illusion of Gaia is a fantastic game and truly one of the underrated gems from the Super Nintendo. With a beautiful soundtrack, breathtaking visuals and one of the best stores from that era, it truly is a hidden gem amongst the Zelda's, Mario's and Donkey Kong's.

This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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