Pokémon DS -Heartgold & Soulsilver- Super Music Collection
Pokémon DS -Heartgold & Soulsilver- Super Music Collection
October 28, 2009
Buy at CDJapan
Following in their footsteps with the Game Boy Advance Pokémon releases, after developing a new generation in the popular series for their DS system, Nintendo went ahead and rereleased the second generation, whose roots lie on the now antiquated Game Boy Color. A full out remake, Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver, featured standard graphical and gameplay improvements, and similar upgrades for its music. Retooled to make use of the DS’ synth by the original composers, mainly Go Ichinose and Junichi Masuda, is the music herein truly an improvement?
“Title” should be a familiar piece to anyone who’s ever played a Pokémon title. Starting the soundtrack off with a bang, this track is fun and bouncy, featuring a delightful melody, both hopeful and adventurous. The arrangement is relatively conservative — focusing on melody with only straightforward elaborations — but the synth improvements and musical changes are still generally welcome. These qualities are reflected in most pieces on this soundtrack, most of them arrangements from the original Gold and Silver titles for the Game Boy Color.
Moving onto area themes, there is a decent variety in approaches to represent the evolution of an adventure. “Route 29” is colorful and hopeful — adjectives fitting to describe the first steps of the adventure. The xylophone in “Route 34” helps it stand out amongst the other “Route” themes, yet it still retains the adventurous mood. “Route 38” is more of a march, while “Route 47” is somewhat symphonic in nature; both are nevertheless fairly modest in their arrangements and synthesis, partly befitting their use in a Pokémon remake. Such themes are nevertheless welcome deviations from the various short tracks and jingles that otherwise fill this release.
There are a wide array of town themes on this release. “Yoshino City”, for example, features a bit of jazz on the piano as a gentle melody is played in the higher register. The melody of “Violet City”, however, is a bit more forlorn, a drama balanced well with its eccentric and playful accompaniment in the bass. “Ecutreak City” possesses an Asian vibe thanks to the main melody being played by the Koto. It’s a welcome change of pace, along with “National Park,” a piece that starts off with a quite delightful virtuoso piano segment. It soon segues mysteriously into a bit of a jazz that doesn’t really seem to fit with the initial flavor of the track.
Most other adaptations are acceptable but relatively unremarkable. “Lavender Town” is another example of a well-developed arrangement; it sounds mysterious at first, but quickly develops into one of the most laid back town theme on the album. “Pallet Town” is even more calm with its staple instrumentation. Although their arrangements are soothing, they are not terribly remarkable besides, in part due to the deficiencies of the original melodies. By contrast, “Celadon City” uses such cliché melodies to portray an excessively cheerful mood that it’s somewhat aggravating.
The DS is used in a more interesting manner for some of the more colourful dungeon themes. “Ice Cave” is as one would expect given the title: lots of light percussion in a high register leading into a melody that’s both mysterious and foreboding. “Viridian Forest” is an upbeat and enjoyable track offering decent in-house manipulation; some interesting staccato piano chords in the beginning make way for a catchy little tune. “Sprout Tower” features an interesting percussive line and a melody vaguely Asiatic in style, though not otherwise interesting. “Victory Road,” being the final location in the game, contains a fitting air of finality about it that intimates the story is reaching its climax.
The battle themes are numerous, and do offer some variation from one another. Most are typical battle themes, featuring a rousing melody on strings and a driving beat, though are effective enough in context. The most notable of these is easily “Battle! Trainer (Johto),” which starts with an addictive melody and develops quite fluidly over its relatively lengthy track time. “Battle! Ho-Oh” is quite interesting as well, featuring ethnic beats and instrumentation, while “Battle! Suicine” uses a bit more electronic synth than is the norm and exploits the capacity of the DS with some interesting percussion and instrument choices. The similar modernised “Battle! Frontier Brain” uses a good deal of electronic synth as well, though the piece sort of drags on during its playtime.
The music from the original Game Boy Color titles is appended onto the third disc. This is the first time this music has been fully released on CD, though the presentation is not always desirable. There are some 99 tracks squashed into a single disc here, which is potentially overwhelming for a stand-alone listen. As for the tracks themselves, there are once again certain highlights among a bunch of short filler pieces. The music sounds quite similar in comparison to the DS version, despite the simpler arrangements and older synth. However, I daresay the Game Boy Color score sounds better, considering its medium, than the DS one.
When I first listened through this soundtrack, the short track lengths and surprisingly subpar audio quality (considering what other composers have managed to wring out of the DS) really hampered my enjoyment. However, the album is more manageable and potentially enjoyable with repeated listens — mostly because I knew what tracks to skip, perhaps. While the music works well as a contextual experience, it can be disjointed, jarring, and overexuberant as a stand-alone experience. There is a fair amount of filler, but when taken on their own, most tracks are quite catchy and well developed. What is impressive about the release is how it compiles the complete scores for both the original and remake versions of Silver and Gold for the first time. The result is a great quantity of Pokémon squashed into three discs. To the listener who knows what he’s getting into, this is exactly the score one might expect given the series’ pedigree. To all curious, this is not an album likely to satiate.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on January 16, 2016.