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Swag_Koishi9898
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Subnautica: Below Zero is getting its full release next month, and I'm very much looking forward to it. I have plans for next month's posts, so I figure I should cover the original Subnautica now.

The game is known for many things, but I consider the sound design to be its greatest accomplishment. As expected of a survival game set in a uniquely styled ocean world, the music is primarily ambient in nature, so as best to reinforce the experience. The two most common moods invoked are wonder, for exploration and the world at large, and fear, for the dangers encountered along the way. I can't say how well these emotions are communicated to those who haven't experienced the game, but I'd like to think it was captured quite well.

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Although rarely heard in-game, the soundtrack also features a number of "dance" tracks. These are often very beat heavy, and somewhat more focused on melody. All songs in the soundtrack, regardless of style or usage, are relatively short.

Spoiler

 

 

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On the heels of the extended Len'en feature, I am initiating the second themed month for Other Game Music: Mario May! Over the next several weeks, I'll be featuring four different Mario soundtracks in an attempt to represent the music of the series. Every new entry goes out of its way to be unique from the last while still maintaining its essential aspects; this is part of why Mario has endured so well. Consequently, nearly every game has a somewhat unique musical identity, making a true summation of its music technically impossible. Nevertheless, I believe there are specific examples that stand out from the rest, and will serve to give a fair impression to anyone who is (somehow) unfamiliar with it.

First up is, predictably, the original Super Mario Bros.! The music from this game is arguably the most iconic VGM of all time, to the point that even people who don't play games at all are usually familiar with it. While relatively simplistic in composition due to the limitations of technology, some of the motifs are surprisingly detailed.

Spoiler

Limiting this to three tracks since the full soundtrack is so short.

 

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Posted (edited)

While not as well known outside of the video game community, the music of Super Mario 64 is almost as iconic as that of the first game among fans of VGM. In many ways, this soundtrack served as the fulfillment of its foundation, incorporating and expanding upon many of the classic themes. A part of me would like to show examples of this like Cave Dungeon and the Title Theme (literally called that in the OST). However, the soundtrack is just small enough that I want to limit the feature to four themes, and three of those have basically been chosen for me.

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Side Note: I can't remember another soundtrack with both a "title theme" and "main theme." Normally I'd substitute the game's title for these naming schemes, but the situation becomes more complicated when they coexist.

Aside from being the most highly regarded themes from this soundtrack, they also do a great job showcasing the range of music present. Main Theme (better known as "Bob-omb Battlefield") captures the fun, zany spirit of the game, which is reinforced by the infamously memed Slider, but contrasted by the soft ambience of Dire, Dire Docks.

To cap off the feature, I'll use one of my personal favorites: Koopa's Road.

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The defining characteristic of this song is the chord progression; while very by-the-books, the very reason for the standard is its effectiveness in creating an ominous but resolute atmosphere (*cough*purefuries*cough*). This is yet another side of the soundtrack from the other themes.

Edited by Ken Hisuag
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Moving from the classic era to the modern era, I'd argue the standard set for all 3D Mario games thereafter was the soundtrack to Super Mario Galaxy. This is possibly the most iconic soundtrack from more recent Mario games at this time, and if not, then certainly the most revered. Instead of the quirky music that Mario was otherwise known for, this game featured high production value orchestral scores, presenting themes in epic fullness. In time, I suspect this will be looked back upon as a turning point in Mario music (if it isn't already).

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Posted (edited)

The past three weeks have represented what I personally believe to be the three most important soundtracks in the Super Mario franchise. Initially, I planned to feature Super Mario Maker this week. As I said before, the diversity in Mario's music across the series makes it impossible to narrow down to a few examples, because no two are quite alike. I figured SMM would be a good way to illustrate this. However, I felt increasingly obligated through the month to somehow fit Super Mario World in somewhere, as it's at least as iconic as SMB1 and 64, both as a game and for its music.

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An important aspect of SMW's soundtrack is the usage of the Overworld Theme's motif as a leitmotif throughout the rest of the soundtrack. Nearly every area theme is built around this leitmotif, adapting it to whatever mood is being represented. This fact makes the soundtrack an interesting study of motif adaptation, for those who might be interested.

Rather than give up on the example of the series' complex range, I realized I could illustrate the same point (arguably better) with SMW's slightly less well-known but still fondly remembered sequel, Yoshi's Island. Ostensibly a continuation of the World subseries, SMW2 was practically incomparable to its predecessor, creating a completely different mechanic to build the game around (as is common for the overall series). This is as true for the music as the rest of the game; the leitmotif gimmick was abandoned for a more imaginative soundtrack which experimented more with the sound production capabilities of the console. Most people have heard the Athletic Theme and Flower Garden, and the former at least has already been posted to this thread (and possibly both). However, these are by no means the full extent of the game's music.

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While these two soundtracks are certainly somewhat alike (and far more alike then the spaced-out examples from earlier in the month), there is still a distinct stylistic difference between them, which is characteristic of the series as a whole. I presume that Koji Kondo is the kind of man who likes to experiment with his music, to try and find new ways of accomplishing his goal each time he is set to the task. Granted that this is less relevant for more recent Mario games that he had less a hand it, but as he was directly responsible for four of these examples and directly associated with the remaining fifth, it should be safe to say he was responsible for the diverse musical legacy of the Super Mario series.

Edited by Ken Hisuag
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In parallel to the motif-themed feature on Share Music You Like, I figured now would be a good time to feature the Angry Birds theme.

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True loop, unfortunately. I could probably find a video with a proper fade out, but it's easier to use the source.

Since its debut, the theme has been remixed numerous times across the series, especially for the spin-off game Seasons. While initially overseen by the composer, Ari Pulkkinen, music production would later be primarily handled by Salla Hakkola and Ilmari Hakkola (I can't find any confirmation over whether or not the two are related).

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By far my favorite version of the theme is from the licensed spin-off Angry Birds Rio. I can't find any conclusive information as to who handled the arrangement, and it is not available through any official sources (for obvious reasons).

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Finally, I don't foresee myself doing a unique feature for Bad Piggies, which has far less music available. The main theme of that game is worth noting, however, so I'll take the opportunity to include it.

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Despite myself, I've been enjoying the music of Everhood lately. The head composer leans toward a post-modern style, often sacrificing structure for experience. Normally I'm against this style for lacking any sense of order, but in this case the game provides the context for the music, thereby returning some meaning to its construction. Additionally, other composers involved in the project favored more conventional composition styles, allowing the soundtrack to be a varied mixing of musical presentations.

Spoiler

Consider these last two songs as a single presentation.

 

 

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Last year I made a passing reference to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as the spiritual (or even practical) successor to the Castlevania series. The game was headed by Symphony of the Night creator Koji Igarashi, but I was more interested with Michiru Yamane of Bloodlines leading the soundtrack team. The music retains elements of gothic rock, but for the most part focuses on orchestral and symphonic styles. I already posted my favorite track in the previous post, but the soundtrack is deserving of a more proper feature.

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A larger soundtrack may not require more tracks to properly represent depending on the variety of styles it consists of; a game relatively consistent in its music can be featured with just a few select examples. A shorter game with extremely varied style is equally simple, since its diversity can be easily expressed with limited illustration. But when a large game features multiple styles, or when featured styles are equally represented throughout the soundtrack, then it becomes more difficult to concisely feature the soundtrack. I say this because this week's feature is of a very large soundtrack which incorporates and balances at least three distinct styles with minimal blending between them--The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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First is a cutscene track from early on in the game. I picked it because I wanted to start with a cutscene track, and this particular one contained a familiar leitmotif of the series while also expanding upon an earlier melody that players would be fairly familiar with by this point, specifically the "Sheika motif." That it is technically three different tracks stuck together is a little annoying, but it also allows for the showcasing of those distinct styles mentioned earlier.

Next I want to get directly into some of the battle music. This piece is for a specific class of enemy, mechanical in nature. The instrumentation for these class of enemies is very distinct from the rest of the game, and was clearly selected to correlate with their aesthetic.

To immediately contrast that piece, this is another battle theme, but used for a very different sort of enemy. The instrumentation here is completely different from the previous piece, emulating an almost tribal folk style blended with (of all things) elements of big band. The game wants you to take this battle seriously, but also has to acknowledge the slightly comical edge to the grotesque caricature of the enemy's design. The result is unique in its own right, but especially so when compared to the previous piece.

Moving on from special event themes, I'm overdue to present an area theme. The primary "roaming" themes are intentionally minimalist to compliment and be complimented by the ambient sounds of your surroundings. However, the populated hubs of the world feature fully structured pieces reminiscent of the cultures they accompany, both in their composition and instrumentation. While this is likely most evident in the Goron City theme, I believe Zora's Domain will better represent the idea.

The next two tracks are a continuation of this principle, showcasing the different moods the soundtrack encompasses while also more fully showcasing the quality of composition present. This one is closely related to the goofy tone of the aforementioned Goron City, but is slightly more sinister then the hub area themes tend to be. It is also a good middle ground between those complex compositions and the more general and simplistic area themes.

I could not claim to have properly represented this soundtrack without including one of the major dungeon themes, though to discuss any of them too in depth would certainly veer into major spoiler territory. Suffice to point out the three parts of this theme, each successively building on each other, with numerous minute details that add a wonderful depth to the piece. If one does not fear spoilers, you may glance into the comment section to find sufficient briefing on some of those details.

Finally, I've come to the end of spoiler-free examples. There are still two tracks I want to include, but they are irrevocably tied to spoilers, so I will put them into their own spoiler box.

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Tarrey Town is a beautiful blending of several styles relevant to the game's hub areas, and as such a very fitting representation of what the soundtrack has to offer.

In conclusion, I wanted to end with a more upbeat track, and have thus included my personal favorite theme in the soundtrack. It actually blends elements found in the earlier featured battle themes, and manages to fit the nature of the confrontation by being noticeably less sinister while still being serious.

 

And that does it! By far the largest feature I've done so far, but for a well deserving soundtrack.

 

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In terms of music, I did find a game on Steam called Streets of Rogue whose soundtrack I really enjoyed. It fits the theme of the game and allows for a relaxing playthrough.

The link below is one of my favorite tracks from the ost.

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Last week was the 30th anniversary of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Part of me wishes someone else had covered it here, because despite my great appreciation for the Mania, CD, and selections of other soundtracks across the series, I don't consider myself to be well informed on the majority of the franchise. This primarily stems from my aversion to philosophically flippant lyrics in English vocal songs, which comprise a major part of the franchise's music. Sonic Adventure 2, specifically, is often recommended to me as being among the best of the series, and I have never been able to get through the first track (excepting Escape from the City).

That being said, I was determined that the occasion should be noted in some capacity or other on this thread, and so determined to listen through the Sonic Colors soundtrack. I've heard this is on of the better games of recent times (recent being a relative term), and it is thankfully comprised of mostly instrumental tracks. I found it to be a very good soundtrack, and found it somewhat difficult to choose which tracks to feature. Every stage theme is remixed to three act variations with the same motif and basic structure (not counting the final level), which are usually of equal quality to each other. However, I believe my selection is an adequate representation of what the full soundtrack has to offer.

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This is the first stage theme, acting as an introduction to the style of music to be expected. I detect a surf rock influence at the beginning which does not persist through the entire piece.

Next, a boss. theme example. The boss battle and cutscene tracks didn't impress me as much, but that isn't to say they were disappointing.

I'm including this track more as a contrasting comparison. It communicates a serene tone without actually adopting that style. It might seem odd to make a Deemo comparison given the obvious counterpoints, but hopefully that communicates my perceptions here.

By far my best discovery from this excursion was the three act theme of Aquarium Park, or perhaps more accurately the motifs they're built around. Choosing between Act 1 and Act 3 was rather difficult, but ultimately I think Act 3 is more musically dynamic version.

I'll finish off with the act three variant of Asteroid Coaster. Lots of comments noted the stylistic similarities between these themes and those of the Adventure titles, and as such the first two acts are likely better for comparison. Act 3, however, has a climactic style that is ideal for rounding up this feature.

 

I still intend to return to Sonic Mania in the future, and I also want to cover the double soundtrack of CD eventually. For now, though, this should serve as a introduction to what the 3D Sonic games have to offer musically.

Addendum: While I'm not about to go through the entire Sonic Colors: Ultimate soundtrack for comparison, I did happen to get the new Aquarium Park Act 1 remix in my recommended. So I suppose I'll add that too (because Aquarium Park is my favorite theme of the soundtrack).

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Edited by Ken Hisuag
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Posted (edited)

I couldn't decide on a feature this week, so I decided to go with something different. There is surprisingly little opportunity on this thread to reference the community surrounding VGM and the casually elaborate appreciation that characterizes it. This remix project of the Mii Channel theme provides an opportunity to glance into that world, if only skimming the tip of the iceberg.

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Edited by Ken Hisuag
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I'm back from my hiatus! Time for something that is long overdue. Yup, It's time for that Monster Hunter Rise OST showcase. I'm going to be going over this in a few different parts highlighting some of the different kinds of tracks used in the game, but to start with I'm going back to my first experience of the game with the demo, using some of the songs that were in it to give a taste of the soundtrack as a whole.

Part 1/4: Introduction

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And where better to start than with this game's rendition of Proof of a Hero?

Next up, moving onto one of the game's battle themes. This one is a theme for the Shrine Ruins area.

And finally, one of two short songs that's used for the game's title screen.

These are essentially some of the songs that made up my first experience of the soundtrack. And throughout my time with the demo, something about the soundtrack stuck out to me: there was a lot of use of vocals in them; while background chanting and/or choirs have been present in some past MH songs, this demo used them much more widely than usual, and featured the vocals much more prominently, too.

And indeed, as I would later discover from a developer interview, this was no coincidence, because this soundtrack actually uses vocals in some capacity for (almost) every song in the game! - well, there are some exceptions, but I'll get to that later. This vocal theming overall creates a strong identity for the soundtrack - not to mention the actual implementation of them into the songs is really good!

I'll continue updating this on a semi-regular basis. With that introduction giving I think a good overview of what to expect, next time I'll be going into more specific sections of the soundtrack.

Also, sidenote: I am SO HAPPY that people are finally uploading MH soundtracks with the SONG NAME! For the longest time, people always just uploaded as "X theme" even though the songs have always all had titles. I'm not sure why this was the case, but my best guess is that it could be something to do with translations for the song titles not being immediately available, as the MH series has had a history of Japan only releases. That being said, the titles have been known in the past, you just had to do a bit of looking. Anyways, I'm glad the proper song names are finally getting some recognition now! 

 

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12 hours ago, buskerdog said:

It's time for that Monster Hunter Rise OST showcase.

Much hype!

12 hours ago, buskerdog said:

the titles have been known in the past, you just had to do a bit of looking.

. . . Noted.

I've got the thread record updated, but I have not been able to locate the original version of the "Arena Theme" from Monster Hunter Generations (Ultimate?). For the sake of others in my position of not being familiar with the music theme process of this series, I'd like to clarify that themes carry over from game to game, and may be posted to Youtube under entries in which they appeared but were not featured in the official soundtrack thereof. Case in point, the White Fatalis theme (Ancestral Dragon) from Monster Hunter Freedom is actually from Monster Hunter 2.

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9 hours ago, Ken Hisuag said:

Much hype!

. . . Noted.

I've got the thread record updated, but I have not been able to locate the original version of the "Arena Theme" from Monster Hunter Generations (Ultimate?). For the sake of others in my position of not being familiar with the music theme process of this series, I'd like to clarify that themes carry over from game to game, and may be posted to Youtube under entries in which they appeared but were not featured in the official soundtrack thereof. Case in point, the White Fatalis theme (Ancestral Dragon) from Monster Hunter Freedom is actually from Monster Hunter 2.

Nice stuff. Although, it appears you've pasted in everything twice lol, you may want to fix that.

By the way, I did some researching for you and found that the MHGen Arena theme is called "Draped in Valor". And regarding the difference between MHGen and MHGU, the latter is basically considered an expansion to the base game. You could make the distinction to point out which songs came from the base game and which one game from Generations Ultimate, but I don't think anyone will really mind it, seeing as you bundled in the Monster Hunter World: Iceborne themes under Monster Hunter World anyway. You've also used some of the Japanese names for the monsters in some titles, but again I don't think it matters much.

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I was fairly certain when I covered Breath of the Wild that it would be my largest feature, since anything larger than that would likely be split across multiple entries.

This week, I determined to feature Bravely Default. I like this soundtrack, and it features one of my favorite themes in all of VGM. However, there are difficulties involved. It is a very uniquely styled soundtrack, which always makes for a more difficult feature. Additionally problematic is my perpetual tendency to compare Bravely Default's music to that of Octopath Traveler, which shares just enough musical similarity and stronger personal appeal to permanently put the former at an unfair disadvantage towards me. But more than any other factor, the most troubling hindrance to the conciseness of this post's selections is the aforementioned favored theme; while certainly enjoyable on its own, context is required for full appreciation of the piece.

So to give proper representation to both the game and the specific track, I am going to treat them as separate entities. This post will be about the game's soundtrack as a whole, and a later post will address the theme in question.

Spoiler

This is a battle theme. I understand that you're not always meant to hear these in game if you're playing properly, but nonetheless it serves as a good introduction for its featuring the game's main theme leitmotif.

I presume this is an area theme. Contrasting the previous piece, it has a lively and cheerful tone in the standard style of JRPG music. It also features the game's leitmotif as the previous track did.

With those as a foundation for expectations, we get some of the more quirky styles. This theme adapts an unique application of swing to a marching accompaniment, building up from an almost comical but slightly foreboding tone into something far more intense, only to fall back to its roots at the last moment.

Somewhat in resemblance, this theme starts with something akin to jazz in the standard "sneaking around" tone, then unexpectedly transitions into the more intense chord progression of a heroic mission.

On a very different part of the spectrum, we have an very unsettling antagonist theme, masterfully constructed to embody the unease of an evil presence (again, in the standard style of JRPGs). The instrumentation in this piece is spectacularly selected and incorporated into each other.

To wrap up and assure that this soundtrack is capable of more conventional but still impressive orchestration, I leave this more reflective piece (though even it manages to end on a somewhat climactic note).

 

I had planned to say quite a bit more on this soundtrack, but a combination of my own indecision, checking for Monster Hunter track names, and the general business of life, I am pushing my time as it is. Perhaps I'll amend this post later for relevancy's sake.

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Monster Hunter Rise soundtrack showcase

Part 2/4: Monster Hunting

Spoiler

Alright, for this entry it's time to get into some more battle themes, building upon the previously featured Sanctuary Abandoned by the Gods. The first song I want to show in this post is another generic area battle theme. Although I previously mentioned about the use of vocals in this soundtrack, this theme relegates that to more of a background role, maintaining more of an instrumental focus compared to the other area themes in the game. Nonetheless, this theme is a favourite of mine.

Next I'm going to focus on some unique monster themes. And I simply can't not include the theme of the game's flagship monster, Magnamalo, because it's absolutely phenomenal.

Finally to cap off this section is a rearrangement of a returning monster's theme.

It's Zinogre's theme.

Of course it is.

 

 

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Monster Hunter Rise soundtrack showcase

Part 3/4: The Chase

Spoiler

In my first post, I mentioned that there were some exceptions regarding all songs. Chase themes are what make up a large portion of these exceptions, being completely devoid of the vocals used so prominently in their battle counterparts. This gives them an entirely different feeling that helps to fit the feeling of pursuing a monster; and yet even then there is so much variety between different chase themes.

The chase themes are short, due to them rarely being played for long in the actual game, but nonetheless have some of the most personality of all the music in the game.

The first one I'll show is Chameleos's chase theme, as an example of an energetic chase theme.

For the next two tracks, I'm using the chase versions of songs that appeared in my previous post. The chase version of Cold Blues and Flaming Reds is unique for being extremely ambient compared to all other chase themes; in very harsh contrast to both the previous chase theme here and the battle version of the theme. Yet despite this, I love it for the intense atmosphere of focus it creates.

Finally I need to include the chase version of Barbarous Beast, just for the sheer climactic power it has.

 

 

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Half as a followup to last week, half as its own feature, today we're momentarily returning to Bravely Default to address what is arguably its most significant contribution to VGM.

I mentioned last week in passing that I inadvertently compare this soundtrack to that of Octopath Traveler. While technically both games feature the same styles of music, the way they each incorporate them is very different; Octopath's soundtrack is crafted to its world building, while Default's music tends to be more experimental than serious (given time, I might make a better argument for this position, but for now this is sufficient to define my perceptions surrounding the two). I clarify this to contextualize one of the more noteworthy parallels between the two, that being their shared gimmick of instrument-specific character themes. In Octopath, these themes served a primarily story-focused purpose, often playing at important moments in each character's journey to denote moments of change or progression. For Default, the character themes represent a foundational game mechanic concerning combat.

There are four character themes in Bravely Default. I don't think I need to clarify the "focus" instruments; if it isn't apparent immediately, it will be later.

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All of these are great compositions in their own right, especially considering the constraints under which they were arranged; each had to be exactly the same length, and they manage to complete a standard motif cycle within a relatively short time. However, they are ultimately not the focus of this feature.

This is the theme of the game's final boss. The soundtrack arrangement has strung together independently looping phases into a cohesive musical journey. This accomplishes one of the most compelling culminations I've yet come across in VGM, pulling together the musical identity of the entire game into a single piece that simultaneously distinguishes itself as unique. This is accomplished by building the piece around its own motif, and including only the most undeniably important leitmotifs for its climax (rather than going for the effective but often unremarkable general medley or main theme remix approaches). The result is one of my favorite standalone pieces in video game music, and deserving of a slightly more spectacular presentation.

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There's probably (definitely) more to say about this piece, such as the significance of in-game buildup, but I think what I've presented should be sufficient (this feature is already a week too long, anyway). Till next week!

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Monster Hunter Rise soundtrack showcase

Part 4/4: Wait, it's not Japanese?

Spoiler

The final part of this showcase is going to focus on the absolute highlight of this soundtrack: full on vocal songs, with LYRICS. Although before I dive right in, a quick disclaimer: these are NOT in Japanese. Although it sounds similar, the songs are actually in Monster Hunter's fictional language. Japanese versions of all these songs do exist as bonus tracks, and I very much recommend listening to those versions too, but as they are not used within the actual game, I will not feature them here.

All the songs are canonically sung by in game characters, by the way! (But in most cases the singer and the character's VA are not the same.)

The first song I will feature is used within the main area of the game's village - and seeing as this is where you'll end up in between every quest, it fits its job perfectly of creating a homely feeling even though the song is actually a prayer for the protection of the village against calamity

And this next one is used for another section of the village. Relaxing youth choir song is not something I knew I wanted so much, until I actually had it...

However, these vocal tracks aren't just restrained to the village - you'll even be treated with vocal songs during fights in the game. This last one I want to share isn't the final boss theme, but it does play during an important battle in the storyline, and is one of my favourite tracks from the OST.

 

To sum up my closing thoughts on the soundtrack, the vocal parts really bring out a new element to the music, and it makes the OST to Rise not just feel like "The soundtrack of the next monster hunter game" but something with a wholly unique identity; and an evolution to the musical style of Monster Hunter.

If I had to sum up this soundtrack in one word, it would be "lively". Because I feel that's exactly the effect the vocals in this soundtrack have, and for me it brings life the natural environments of the game, while also dually reflecting the people who make their home in this world, integrating nature strongly into their culture and now giving their all as they prepare for a coming calamity.

But that's just my two cents. Perhaps it would have been an idea to focus a part of this on the themes used for said calamitous event, The Rampage, but I didn't consider it notable enough to integrate into my original plan for this showcase, and I've gone on long enough at this point anyway; you can always listen to the soundtrack yourself. And one last thing... if that previous paragraph made it sound like Monster Hunter has a complex storyline, let it be known that this couldn't be further from the truth, lol.

 

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Given the references in the previous two-ish features, I had to take advantage of the association and return to my all-time favorite soundtrack, this time with a bit more in-depth explanation.

Octopath Traveler's music can be sorted into specific categories according to the function they perform in-game. This is surprisingly useful in identifying the styles that characterize the soundtrack as a whole.

Spoiler

The firstly perceived major category is, of course, the character themes. Each theme is structured around a specific instrument, and meant to represent the personality and motives behind the character. In concept, this isn't a new idea, but these eight tracks are an unusually successful application thereof. It's difficult to choose one as an example, but rather than go for my personal favorite (Tressa, the Merchant), I've decided to use Ophilia, the Cleric. This theme is slow without being sad, a calm and hopeful melody that proceeds peacefully along its parts, but maintaining a clear progression rather than stagnating. As such, it is a beautiful parallel to the character it represents: a charitable young woman who overcomes her insecurities with a deceptively powerful selflessness. Though I personally believe the game does quite poorly it terms of character development (that is, the progression of a character's arc across the story), its initial character presentations are wonderfully compelling and perfectly matched by the accompanying musics.

The second and possibly most important category is the area themes. In case it wasn't obvious, the game's thematic gimmick is "eight," and the world is made up of eight different areas with varying climates, and each houses one character. Some have argued that the game is not meant to be about the characters, but rather about the world itself. I'm inclined to agree with this perception, both because of the lacking development of said characters, and because of the way the world is emphasized in events and characterized through its music. Where the character themes are diverse in their individual styles and moods, the main area themes all share a sense of awe, unifying the otherwise contrasting presentation. All are worth listening to, but The Sunlands stands out to me for its stylistic synergy with the other themes encountered around it. The plucked strings are reminiscent of Arabic folk, denoting the desert it represents, while the melody embodies that majestic mood.

Less notable but no less noteworthy is the "situation" category. I put this one in quotes because it is somewhat difficult to properly define these themes. They play during moments of conversation, usually cutscenes, but are not tied to specific events as much as their accompanying emotions. As reinforced by the naming scheme, these tracks function as emotional cue cards, playing over a scene according to the emotions that scene consists of. My personal favorite is Enveloped in Kindness, a soothingly sweet melody on acoustic guitar intermittently backed by a string ensemble.

Cities and settlements sit in their own category of sub-areas. Rather than representing the land, they instead help define the people and culture of the location. Harking back to the world emphasis, the many tracks of this category feature a variety of differing styles that do just as well at characterization as the main character themes. To keep this feature to a reasonable number, I'll forgo using Sunshad, City of Pleasures as an example; but if the previous Octopath feature is still functional, both Flamesgrace, Guiding Light and Settlement in the Red Bluffs should serve equally well.

Finally, there are the battle themes. Neither the highlight of nor a disappointment to the soundtrack, these high energy pieces fit surprisingly smoothly in amongst the other categories despite being the obvious oddball. In addition to the primary compositions, each character has a unique musical intro that leads into the boss battle themes. This serves to customize the boss music to each route during its instigation scenes, while also tying in the character's personality to the event. Since I didn't use Tress's theme earlier, I chose her intro For Treasure into Decisive Battle II.

 

That should do it for now. With how much I love this soundtrack, it's extremely likely I'll come back to it yet again. At least I took the time to do a proper feature for this post.

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