Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Lost in the Music: Pokemon Retrospective Part 2

I remember back in 1998 when this strange new craze began sweeping the world. This new game breathed new life into Nintendo's hand-held system, allowing it to dominate the portable gaming market for years to come. It also started the trend of raising and sharing creatures. This game was an important brick in my childhood gaming. I am of course talking about the Pokemon series. I will be talking about the core series this week, not the Pokemon Ranger series or the remakes.


Pokemon Gold and Silver was released 2 years after the original games, but in that time, the developers had rebuilt much of the game. Besides designing the sprites for the game, they reworked the original sprites and made them much more detailed, getting them closer to Ken Sugimori's designs. There was a brand new country to explore and of course, the music was revamped. New tracks were introduced and because Gold/Silver/Crystal allowed you to visit Kanto (albeit a smaller, condensed version) they remade the music for the Kanto region as well.

The soundtrack for these games is good, but not quite as iconic as the original. There are still great tracks here like the Rival Battle and Gyarados Lake theme but the rest feel not as polished. Gone are the individual tracks for each route you take and every city you visit. It loses that special feeling of setting out on an adventure. Coming off the Blue/Red/Yellow games, it is a disappointment when comparing the two. With Pokemon Red/Blue, you felt like you were stepping out on this grand adventure that would take you all over Kanto. To meet new people and visit new places. It is what everyone imagines when they are walking through the bush. With Gold/Silver, it felt more like a chore to explore. Yes they had these new places to see and new creatures to catch, but it didn't feel like a new adventure.

I do appreciate the fact that when the hero enters Kanto, it is greeted with the Kanto music. The Gym battles use the original tracks and not the G/S/C music which is a nice touch. Although they did have to change the music somewhat to showcase the 2 year difference the games. The world had changed. It had grown up. The people had changed, the lands have changed, so the music had to change with it. I wouldn't have minded it, but the songs in the new Kanto sounded too busy for my liking. Don't get me wrong, I like complex soundtracks if they are done right, and while there were some good remixes, the Kanto music felt a little off. It didn't seem right to me.

The music from the Gen II games are good, but there is nothing iconic about it. When I first played the game I loved it, but looking back on it, it doesn't have the same nostalgia value as the original games did. It honestly felt like a glorified expansion pack of the first game. It wouldn't be until HeartGold/SoulSilver where the game would feel like a true sequel instead of an expansion pack. Sadly I have not played the remakes of Gold and Silver so I cannot comment on the music, although I have heard from my friends, and Brandon, that the developers did a great job with music and even gives you an option to go back to the original soundtrack.

Come back on Friday where I take a look at the Generation III trilogy including the updated remake of Red and Blue.

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

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