Pokémon 3DS -X & Y- Super Music Collection
Pokémon 3DS -X & Y- Super Music Collection
The Pokémon Company
November 13, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
Pokémon X & Y certainly shook things up on the musical front. Whereas previous Pokémon soundtracks often featured a retro sound, this soundtrack boasts a surprisingly huge sound for a pocket RPG. After several years assisting on the series’ soundtracks, Shota Kageyama took the lead role on this one. He teamed up with returning series’ composers Junichi Masuda, Minako Adachi, and Hitomi Sato to offer one of the best soundtracks of the series. Spanning four discs of music, the Pokémon X & Y Super Music Collection is bombastic, grand, and filled with Pokémon wonder. Available in physical and digital form, this music collection includes almost all of the sounds you will hear while playing the game.
“Title Screen” took me by surprise, as I had never heard the ‘Pokémon Title Theme’ fully orchestrated. The string introduction builds tension while the sound of a real snare drum and timpani gives the familiar melody energy. The style is very different from even Pokémon Black 2 and White 2’s 8-bit electro-orchestral sound. But as a fan, I had no problem adjusting to the timbre and in fact welcomed the update in recording style for Pokémon X & Y. The instruments are mixed well and orchestrated in a way that reminds me of the 8-bit sound of yesterday’s Pokémon but with a more intense and modern sound. Much of the soundtrack follows this approach, with more realistic samples replacing the retro sounds of old. There are still synth sounds like in the “Wild Pokémon Battle”, but they sound more fresh and wide than in previous Pokémon titles.
The more I listened to the music of X and Y the more I started to feel immersed in the Kalos Region simply because of the familiar melodies and instrumentation. “Opening Movie” is the same arrangement and riff it always has been since Pokémon Red and Blue, just played by an orchestra rather than synthesizer. “Victory! (Wild Pokémon)” is yet another rendition of the same tune it has been since the series began, but this time the string and horn sections breathe new life into the music. Most of the updated ‘Victory’ music is similar to previous Victory jams. The melodies are timeless, triumphant and only part of the reward for defeating your opponent. Kageyama did an excellent job adapting Junichi Masuda’s classic scores, offering something fresh yet nostalgic.
There is an endless mix of genres when you encounter trainers in the world. The music does a great job of personifying the kind of character, and sometimes Pokémon, you are about to face. The synth sounds and electronic percussion in “Trainers’ Eyes Meet (Youngster)” are reminiscent of the electronic synth sounds heard in earlier titles; electronic instruments mixed with audio recordings makes the music sound thick and slightly updated but very familiar during turn-based battles. There is a particular kind of music for the different trainers scattered in the Kalos Region. “Trainers Eyes Meet (Butler)” is a sophisticated and very European-sounding piece of music for a small chamber ensemble with strings and woodwinds. Bells in the background symbolize the butler you are about to ‘duel’ with. Likewise, “Professor Sycamore’s Theme” is very embellished and has a slightly romantic vibe. The accordion and Spanish style guitar give “Professor Sycamore’s Theme” a European flavor that gives me a feeling that I am in a fantasized version of a European town.
Indeed, the town music of X and Y carries the tradition of grand and inviting music that intends to fill players hearts with wonder and joy, always with a feeling of discovery.The game’s setting has an obvious European influence, whether the Eiffel Tower-inspired structure in Lumiose City or the Stonehenge-type rocks in Geosenge Town. This influence often comes across in the music. “Parfume Palace” sounds like a traditional piece of Baroque music from the early 1700s. The music is bouncy and can be danced to, much like Haydn or Mozart’s music. “Camphrier Town” gives a folksy vibe, featuring a soft accordion melody is thickened up with a doubled flute part. The ¾ waltz time is steady but at the same time gives the music motion. Although this music sounds much like the traditional French music I have studied in school, it still sounds like the Pokémon music I grew up playing. That said, whereas “Lumiose City” features standard orchestration, it has tones of American marches partly because of the swung eighth notes and upbeat feel. Again more akin to American rather than European music, the music is more jazzy in “Geosenge Town”. However, as with “Lumiose City”, “Geosenge Town” did sound like countless other Pokémon towns, which provided for a warm and familiar atmosphere.
Throughout the release, there is some really great music that helps to bring the gameplay and level design to life.”Glittering Cave” for example shines and sparkles when cymbals are struck and scraped. The swells create a sense of tension and mystery all at the same time. The flute trills create suspense while the strings and woodwinds create an eerie atmosphere. While listening to this track I feel like I am being stalked closely by shadows of enemies, possibly Team Flare. When you do happen to come across a Team Flare member, be prepared for some classic Pokémon music that is modern and up to date. “Battle! (Trainer Battle)” is remixed for an electro-orchestral rock band type of ensemble. The synth and guitar truly re-create the classic video game sound that the music of previous generations had. The drums are mixed well and accented patterns can be heard on the hi-hat and snare. Timpani have always been present in Pokémon soundtracks, but nothing beats an audio recording of a true to life sounding timpani. The timpani part helps to add energy and bottom end to “Battle! (Trainer Battle)”. The soundtrack becomes bombastic when timpani are used along with snare and bass drum, which certainly adds to the European symphonic tradition.
“Team Flare Appears!” is all kinds of synthed out and has a crunchy beat underneath the layered synth sounds. The music holds true to the electronic drums as well. The drum sounds blend well with the many layers of synths and arpeggiators and distorted bass riffs. The melody in “Team Flare Appears!” is reimagined in “Battle! (Team Flare)” to fit a techno-punk type drum beat and driving guitar chords. Composer Minako Adachi does not hold back on this track and gives an energetic edge to the Team Flare battle music. The music is quick but still has some weight to it, perfect for beating up on Team Flare members. “Battle (Lysandre)” is a similar mix to “Battle! (Team Flare)”, with more synth layers and richer orchestration, if you can imagine. Somehow the music never becomes boomy or distorted. The instrumentation is balanced, and this time around, the Adachi snuck voice in the mix to balance out the grand instrumental sound. After a grueling battle, “Victory! (Team Flare)” is a great break from the tense sounds of the battle music. The music is short lived and gets repetitive as a stand-alone track, but is a fun track for fans and music collectors out there.
Often, the orchestrated approach brings a new level of emotion to the game. “Firing the Ultimate Weapon (Pokémon X)” and “Firing the Ultimate Weapon (Pokémon Y)” bring the energy up and down with dynamics and instrumentation. The orchestra sound is typical of a lot of classic Nintendo titles and gives the cinematic in the game life and impact. “AZ” is a fantastic piano ballad that was simply not possible with 8-bit sound. “AZ” sounds like a continuation of “Firing the Ultimate Weapon” but in a more serene tone. The music does not resolve and leaves the listener suspended with a sad feeling.
When you are sure the Team Flare threat is out of the way, your journey can continue like it has in all the previous Pokémon titles, to the Pokémon Leauge. My favorite Pokémon music has always been the music surrounding the Pokémon League and Final Four. “Battle! (Champion)” is just what a Pokémon music fan like me needs. The track is fast and upbeat but with a hint of friendly rivalry. The music reminds me of Kirby Super Star for the SNES at times, especially because of the edgy attitude and quick percussion rhythms. The music is orchestrated and a blast to listen to as a standalone experience. Beating the Champion is no easy feat, but when you do it is quite a relief. “Victory! (Champion)” and “Congratulations on Entering the Hall of Fame” makes the listener feel powerful and proud. The bright brass section and full sounding strings are the perfect sound for a victorious tune for celebration and triumph.
Of course, the music doesn’t stop after the victory music and end credit music plays. There are many more goodies and secrets left to discover on the Pokémon X & Y Super Music Collection. There are many Pokémon still left to catch and new areas to discover after defeating the Final Four and Champion. The music keeps the game alive and offers more exciting music to keep gamers coming back and listening. The laundry list of ‘PR Video BGM’ is included on this music collection. These 10 to 20 second selections of music are fantastic snippets of nearly any genre you can think of. It will certainly make your head spin listening to the endless genres and cultural influences. This music is fun to listen to, but is almost cumbersome amongst the myriad of other tracks.
If you are like me and have not completed your Pokédex, skip “Pokédex Evaluation… It’s Complete!” if you don’t want to give away the music. Not that anyone is working to complete his or her Pokédex just to hear the music, but it is epic nonetheless when you do get around to it. In fact all of the ‘Pokédex Evaluation’ pieces of music are epic and meant to fill the listener up with a fighting spirit. “Pokédex Evaluation… It’s Amazing!” is grand and performed at a quick tempo and a few measures longer than “Pokédex Evaluation… It’s Great!”. “Pokédex Evaluation… It’s Complete!” is longer and more impactful, as well as louder than the previous two evaluation jingles. These original orchestrated pieces bring the initial task of completing your Pokédex to a close. This may not be every player’s goal however, so I am thankful that The Pokémon Company and Game Freak decided to include these pieces.
Overall, the ‘real-life’ orchestra sound does not destroy my 8-bit childhood Pokémon dreams at all, as there are plenty of synth sounds layered in a good portion of the tracks. Music from the original Red and Green versions of the game as well as the X and Y anime series are included as an added bonus. The Pokémon Origins versions are arranged with an expert touch and are certainly brought into the modern age. The layered electronic sounds and techno inspired drum beats help beef up the music from its 8-bit origins. “Cycling (Pokémon Origins)” might be my favorite re-imagination as I can picture an orchestra performing this for a live audience. The music is grand and the percussion gives the accents in the melody depth and a slight groove. The music is powerful and nostalgic and brings a new energy to the classic “Cycling” music of the original Pokémon games. It is incredible that the 8-bit sounds of Pokémon Red & Blue still hold up in today’s market, being re-released nearly 20 years later. The remixed versions are a welcome addition to a library of catchy, infectious Pokémon music.
I believe that the Pokémon X and Pokémon Y Super Music Collection is a work that can be studied by some, cherished by others and enjoyed by many. The hardcore fans of the series will not want to miss this as the fully orchestrated sound gives a depth and new spark to the familiar music. Those who have qualms over the move from an 8-bit sound should at least give the soundtrack a chance as there are classic sounds and melodies that have been improved on rather than changed from previous installments. To me at least, this upgrade offered a more immersive Pokémon experience without distorting the key elements that made the series stand out. I enjoyed this collection from top to bottom and will certainly go back and pick out my favorite tracks for a casual listening experience. Whether the next installment is realistic and grandiose as X and Y or if it turns to its 8-bit roots, the music will be something many fans will look forward to with anticipation.
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Posted on November 13, 2014 by Marc Chait. Last modified on January 19, 2016.