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Thread: The Place of Music in Video Games

  1. #21
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    I wrote a few blogs on video games that had awesome soundtracks. Zone of the Enders was awesome, Ikaruga's was incredible (if you weren't too busy dieing to notice).

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caostotale View Post
    Why? Because I dislike Nickelback, because I dislike Green Day, or because, for some reason, I feel like Uematsu's writing for FFVII was better than some toss-off acoustic guitar strumming and pentatonic cliches that sounds like it belongs in an inspirational TV commercial?
    This guy.

    I agree with you.

    To me, Uematsu is the best composer of all-time. I prefer original soundtracks to licensed music in video games simply because there's no other music like it. Try to find something similar to Under Her Control by Uematsu in FFVIII or A Warring God by Yoshino Aoki from Breath of Fire IV. There's nothing like it. When video game music gets too close to most commercial music, I lose interest. Nothing will get me disinterested more quickly than vocals in VG music. I went almost a solid decade with never having vocals in my VG music and it was fantastic.

    Now you have songs like Simple and Clean and Eyes on Me and the aforementioned J Vocals in the final battle of Wild ARMS 4's last battle and it just kills me. Maybe it's because I don't like most vocals in any music genre anyway, but there's nothing that says "HERE COMES THE SUCK" to me more than vocals in video game music.

    There are SOME exceptions (One Winged Angel, Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec), but most VG songs with vocals are just terrible.

  3. #23
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    Going off on what KD said, anyone hear the Guilty Gear Vocal soundtrack? It's pretty bad.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TewDee View Post
    Going off on what KD said, anyone hear the Guilty Gear Vocal soundtrack? It's pretty bad.
    I haven't, but now I really don't want to. The original Guilty Gear soundtracks are so good.


    I do completely disagree with you guys, but I guess it comes down to taste in music.

    You really shouldn't discredit something in a game just because it contains vocals; I actually think that Otherworld is easily the best song in Final Fantasy X, and that the Kingdom Hearts themes fit the games perfectly.

    Then again, there are songs like this, which made me lose all interest/respect I ever had for Blue Dragon.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantomile View Post
    I haven't, but now I really don't want to. The original Guilty Gear soundtracks are so good.


    I do completely disagree with you guys, but I guess it comes down to taste in music.

    You really shouldn't discredit something in a game just because it contains vocals; I actually think that Otherworld is easily the best song in Final Fantasy X, and that the Kingdom Hearts themes fit the games perfectly.

    Then again, there are songs like this, which made me lose all interest/respect I ever had for Blue Dragon.
    As hard as this is to say, Nobuo fucked up royally with Blue Dragon. After the sequence where you save that one yellow guy's village and they all sing and dance around a pot I went "Fuck this game" and sold it for 20 dollars of store credit. Nobuo, what were you thinking?

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by KD_Alpha View Post
    As hard as this is to say, Nobuo fucked up royally with Blue Dragon. After the sequence where you save that one yellow guy's village and they all sing and dance around a pot I went "Fuck this game" and sold it for 20 dollars of store credit. Nobuo, what were you thinking?
    Yeah, pretty much.
    I think that's one bad music-design choice we can all agree on.

  7. #27
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    On VG music, anyone really like the OCRemix albums? I'm listening to the first Doom album right now and it is as awesome as when I first heard it years ago.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by KD_Alpha View Post
    To me, Uematsu is the best composer of all-time. I prefer original soundtracks to licensed music in video games simply because there's no other music like it. Try to find something similar to Under Her Control by Uematsu in FFVIII or A Warring God by Yoshino Aoki from Breath of Fire IV. There's nothing like it.
    Exaggerations much?
    He's good but far from anything like "best ever"; also, while the pieces you mentioned are great, if you dig a bit deeper into music you'll find that they aren't quite as unique as you seem to think they are.

  9. #29
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    Nobuo Uematsu peaked at FFVI, in my opinion.

    Also, just thought I'd throw this in:



    In my opinion, two of the most atmospheric soundtracks ever come from the SNES













    Shadow Of the Colossus has a brilliant soundtrack, but I can't pick any favourites.

  10. #30
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    Nobody's mentioned Pixel Junk Eden.

    BAIYON DESERVES YOUR RECOGNITION.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mueti View Post
    Exaggerations much?
    He's good but far from anything like "best ever"; also, while the pieces you mentioned are great, if you dig a bit deeper into music you'll find that they aren't quite as unique as you seem to think they are.
    Whaaat? Are you serious? Tell me you're kidding, because I've got a plethora of songs that I will post in a deluge of Youtube videos that will back up my claim as Nobuo Uematsu being the best VG music composer of all-time.

    I thought this was irrefutable, but unless you're joking, I guess I'm going to have to listen to what you consider the best of all-time because that's what I need to listen to. Anything better than Nobuo has got to be amazing.

    It's not just his FF series, the guy is an amazing composer and keyboard player. His ability to compose music in any style and genre while still being jamming and musically complex is second to none (unless there is a mythical being which can do all that, but better and at a more prolific rate than Nobuo's vast library of countless gems). I actually had a conversation with a friend of mine earlier about how incredible he was and how it was hard to find anyone who measured up (though we did come to a consensus that Koji Kondo and Yuzo Koshiro were worthy adversaries).

    Most people don't know, but Final Fantasy was the 12th soundtrack he worked on. He then went on to do at least 33 other soundtracks, most of them getting mass approval and commercial success. In addition to that he composed, " 'Eyes on Me,' composed and produced by Uematsu. The theme song featured Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong and sold a record 400,000 copies. It then went on to win "Song of the Year (Western Music)" at the 14th Annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1999-- the first time music from a video game won the honor." He went on to write the intro for the anime Ah! My Goddess and has toured Japan and the US with his orchestra, performing various popular songs from his many soundtracks.

    He most recently started up his own company, touring with the Black Mages, his electronica/rock band project, releasing 3 albums along the way.

    So, far from best? Hardly.

  12. #32
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    Calling anything "the best of all time" is stupid.

    I agree with Mueti in that Uematsu is far from my favorite musician, but you're perfectly entitled to your opinion.

    I do, however, think that the music he did for the Final Fantasy series was the most fitting that it could have possibly had at the time.
    While I vastly prefer the soundtrack of Crisis Core: FFVII to any original FF game, that doesn't mean his music isn't just as appropriate where it is used.

    On the other hand, I think Uematsu's music would have been painfully out-of-place in a game like Crisis Core; the current soundtrack is probably my favorite OST to ever come from a video game.

  13. #33
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    Uematsu is like Orson Welles. Amazing in his time, some would say he's never been topped, but he's definitely not what he used to be.

  14. #34
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    How never to use music in video games: Burnout DS.

    No sound but music.

    I puked. Glad I didn't buy it.

    ADDITION:
    For a second I thought I heard Uematsu was better than *any* composer. VG composers probably but other than that I understand the confusion.
    Last edited by TurboKill; 11-29-2009 at 12:34 PM. Reason: Fixing confusion

  15. #35
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    Advent Rising had an amazing soundtrack, even if the game was frustrating as hell.

    I still played the hell out of it though.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantomile View Post
    Calling anything "the best of all time" is stupid.

    I agree with Mueti in that Uematsu is far from my favorite musician, but you're perfectly entitled to your opinion.

    I do, however, think that the music he did for the Final Fantasy series was the most fitting that it could have possibly had at the time.
    While I vastly prefer the soundtrack of Crisis Core: FFVII to any original FF game, that doesn't mean his music isn't just as appropriate where it is used.

    On the other hand, I think Uematsu's music would have been painfully out-of-place in a game like Crisis Core; the current soundtrack is probably my favorite OST to ever come from a video game.
    Quote Originally Posted by Avalon View Post
    Uematsu is like Orson Welles. Amazing in his time, some would say he's never been topped, but he's definitely not what he used to be.
    You guys are crazy. You're totally entitled to your opinions, but not liking Uematsu is like hating a set of nice tits, good food, Tarantino films and oxygen. I just don't see it, I guess.

    How old are you guys? Just curious.

    Also, that part in bold just astounds me. Was Crisis Core's soundtrack really that good? So far, every FF soundtrack after Nobuo split that I've heard (Dirge, XII, X-2) has been extremely lackluster and fails to live up to the complexity of his music.

    It isn't that his music feels very appropriate, its that it actually is good music in the musical sense. The compositions in various genres, the nuances that I almost never hear in anyone else's music and the seemingly endless volume of his library are second to none. I won't get too Youtube happy, but I'll analyze two tracks of Nobuo's so that I can better explain what I'm trying to convey:



    This was a song that was played sporadically through the game, taking from the main game's melody and borrowing a little from the Prelude theme that pervades the FF series. Take note that he's very limited by having to use only MIDI sounds available on the SNES, being limited to only 8 sound channels in a MIDI format. Not only is this music low-quality, but anyone who actually works with instruments knows that MIDI sound didn't get good until just a couple of years ago. Play any Casio, Yamaha or Korg keyboard from the late 90's or earlier and you'll see that most of the MIDI sounds programmed in don't really sound like the instruments they're trying to recreate.

    Having learned about Decimal and Hex Coding in MIDI (I'm a music/audio engineering major), going in to program your own sounds can be quite a difficult task (which Nobuo has went on to admit he was clueless at, though he had created a good 60% of the MIDI sounds that went on to go in the FF series prior to VII) since various things must be taken into consideration. I won't lecture you guys on Sound Envelopes and MIDI triggers, but a lot goes into making just ONE MIDI sound. That Nobuo used his own created MIDI sounds is impressive in itself, but listening to that song, what amazes me is the sounds of the MIDI violin he crafted, which is fantastic for 1991. It's mellifluous, capturing the feeling of what he was trying to portray (Into the Darkness being the title of the song).

    The nuances of the staccato harp/mandolin picking borrow from different melodies of the game, keeping it in line with the mood of the game. The time signature of the song is similar to that of a waltz, which shows a little of his flexibility and familiarity with different genres.

    Here's a version of the same song, performed with different instruments and arranged a bit differently so that you can hear the time signature (3/4) more prevalently.



    Here's a different track, arranged by Nobuo for a small samba group, changing the feel of a very popular track in the FF series:



    Compared to the original, various instruments and changes are made to the song, allowing Nobuo more freedom to integrate some of his own flavor into the song since he has escaped the confines of the SNES' Sony SPC700. This time, he shows off his mambo/swing chops with touches of Latin and Jazz thrown in for good measure. The song has various melodies all going on and interchanging continuously throughout the whole song. The rhythm section keeps up nicely, with djembe, clava and maraca keeping up with the various changes and turn arounds in the music. Most rhythm sections adhere to a strict beat or set of fills throughout a song as to keep the continuity going, almost to the point of monotony. Nobuo's composition gives them the freedom to fill in through the main sections of the song and even play along with the various melodies and progressions as a point of emphasis.

    I guess, looking back on how I'm explaining this, it could still only appeal to me. Musical qualities like those Nobuo displays are extremely rare in any musician, so when I can hear them and dissect the music without calling it formulaic (as so much music tends to be), I tend to gravitate and enjoy that music. Being a musician/producer, it's hard for me to appreciate everyday, run of the mill songs because, musically, they're boring. They may be great to listen to with awesome production values and a great mood, but being a musician, I'm not at all engaged by what the musicians are doing.

    Nobuo's progressions may sound similar after listening to various tracks of his (and they do), but that's more because he has 30+ albums worth of music, each in various genres, time signatures and with different instrumentation. His melodies and counter-melodies, as well as his knack for knowing just the right sound to use are astounding and can keep my mind working as I can analyze his music even after the 50th listen.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantomile View Post
    I haven't, but now I really don't want to. The
    I do completely disagree with you guys, but I guess it comes down to taste in music.

    You really shouldn't discredit something in a game just because it contains vocals; I actually think that Otherworld is easily the best song in Final Fantasy X, and that the Kingdom Hearts themes fit the games perfectly.
    Yikes. 'Otherworld' is the one song on that soundtrack that I could personally go without, but opinions (mine and yours) are just opinions. My reason for disliking that song is more rooted in my general distaste for most things in modern metal, and especially most things in modern prog-metal (), which is the first thing that came to mind when I heard that. It would have been less a problem if they kept the tune confined to the opening cut scene with the blitzball game. Bringing it back for one of the biggest final battles just felt out of place and corny, like the aforementioned Wild ARMS 4 bed-shitting. The battle music for fighting Seymour's last form (classic Uematsu ramped up), Yunalesca (pure mind-fucking tension turned into music), and Yu Yevon (swashbuckling epicness that ties the whole soundtrack together) did a lot more for me and made the use of 'Otherworld' seem inconsistent and forced.

    I liked the use of vocals more in the final battles of FFVI (or at least, the vocal midi patch) and FFVII, since they were just used to add extra sheen to the overall power of the boss themes. I similarly have no problem with the songs in VIII, IX, and 'Suteki da Ne' from X, which all stayed confined to cut scenes and credit rolls.

    For me, the strength his soundtracks carry is rooted in the fantastical nature of the music he creates. Uematsu, as well as Hiroki Kikuta and Yasunori Mitsuda, loved to compose with wildly-imaginative instrumental palettes, mixing all sorts of rock instruments and orchestral instruments. As well, he (and those others) drew from a wide assortment of different musical genres and weren't afraid to blend everything to suit their creative needs. In that sense, the music gives off an diverse and otherworldly vibe that matches the visual stimulus provided by the game's art design (which is usually given tons and tons of priority in RPG games). When the music bridges back into reality and makes me think of some sort of modern musical cliche or genre ('Otherworld' --> Dream Theater, 'Price of Freedom' --> Goo Goo Dolls), it deflates the entire experience to some extent and makes me feel like I'm shopping at Target.

  18. #38
    [Level 6: Robot] Caostotale's Avatar
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    The recent Square-Enix game soundtracks I've heard flatly suck ass. Just sampling a few nuggets...


    Here's a lifeless and unimaginative page out of the Yngwve Malmsteen school of composition, in which you're only allowed to use the harmonic minor scale and the loudest distorted guitars available.


    Paint-by-numbers epicness. This soundtrack is the musical equivalent to treading water.

    They were doing far better before they became the biggest RPG publisher on the planet:




  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by KD_Alpha View Post
    You guys are crazy. You're totally entitled to your opinions, but not liking Uematsu is like hating a set of nice tits
    Those tits may be nice but they will eventually sag. In this case, they have already started to.

  20. #40
    [Level 6: Robot] Caostotale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avalon View Post
    Those tits may be nice but they will eventually sag. In this case, they have already started to.
    Yeah, but we can always admire how nice those tits were in the 1990s-2000s, instead of deluding ourselves into thinking that today's implants are better.

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