Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Ugly Bob Jul 19, 2011 (edited Jul 19, 2011)

After finally finishing this game after abandoning it way back in 95 for unclear reasons, I am somewhat ambivalent about its highly acclaimed score.

While it is true that it represents many musical styles, I don't think it does this in a very good way, like Jet Set Radio Future. For every Battle against Machines you have a Battle against Belch type track. I have wondered if this is simply how Hirokazu Tanaka has always written music and this is how the SNES sound chip sees it. A style that was excellent for games like Metroid and Kid Icarus (definite standouts in NES games) just doesn't work for Earthbound.

I am planning a debate on the merits of the game for MAGFest 2012 and have come to believe that its music is key to my argument. A RPG's score is often an integral part of its excellence, and to me, it just isn't there with Earthbound.

How do you feel about the score? Any weaknesses for you or advice you offer on this matter?

XLord007 Jul 19, 2011

It's been a long time since I played it, but I remember liking both the music and the game quite a bit.

Qui-Gon Joe Jul 20, 2011

It's been a long time since I've played it as well, but my recollection of the music is that while I quite liked a number of tracks (Onett is a perennial favorite...), I found the overall score pretty forgettable.

Brandon Jul 20, 2011

I have no recollection of Earthbound's music. But speaking of Earthbound, has anyone else played G.O.D., the other (and better, IMO) SFC RPG about a kid fighting off an alien invasion?

Zealboy Jul 20, 2011

Works perfectly in game, but is not enjoyable in the least outside of the game.

xplojin. Jul 20, 2011 (edited Jul 20, 2011)

quite nostalgic for both the game and its music, Nintendo needs to release it on virtual console - they refuse to do so. nintendo no like rpg.

twoson's theme especially has a fond, nostalgic sound to it. restroom theme good for restrooms.

Jodo Kast Jul 20, 2011

I've always found it a little strange and I consider the first game (Mother) to have better music.

Of the 3 Mother albums I've heard, I'd rank them like this:

#1 Mother 1 + 2 (actually an arrange album and excellent) [TOCT-25125] http://vgmdb.net/album/798

#2 Mother (2nd print; never heard the 1st print) [MHCL-341] http://vgmdb.net/album/4478

#2.5 I'll throw in an intermediary. The arranged versions from Super Smash Bros. Melee, as well as the orchestral renditions from the OGC albums are very good.

#3 Mother 2 (weirdo album, I have trouble listening to this) [SRCL-3024] http://vgmdb.net/album/800

Dais Jul 20, 2011

It's the latter-day Zelda concept of music composition applied to a large JRPG - compose a whole bunch of stuff to put everywhere and rely on the game's strongest themes to carry the player's enjoyment. Most of the rest is just specialized filler - the effect these "bad" tunes are meant to have on the player is actually closer to visual provocation and context elements like colors, patterns, implied lighting, etcetra.

As someone who was never particularly fond of the score, I have to insist that if you're focusing on criticizing the songs other than the ones that the fans talk about, you're kind of missing the point.

XLord007 Jul 20, 2011

xplojin. wrote:

quite nostalgic for both the game and its music, Nintendo needs to release it on virtual console - they refuse to do so. nintendo no like rpg.

This might be an urban legend or whatever the internet equivalent of an urban legend is, but rumor has it that Nintendo won't bring it to VC because it's afraid of being sued for infringing on the Blues Brothers' copyrights.

Ugly Bob Jul 21, 2011 (edited Jul 21, 2011)

Dais wrote:

It's the latter-day Zelda concept of music composition applied to a large JRPG - compose a whole bunch of stuff to put everywhere and rely on the game's strongest themes to carry the player's enjoyment. Most of the rest is just specialized filler - the effect these "bad" tunes are meant to have on the player is actually closer to visual provocation and context elements like colors, patterns, implied lighting, etcetra.

As someone who was never particularly fond of the score, I have to insist that if you're focusing on criticizing the songs other than the ones that the fans talk about, you're kind of missing the point.

Perhaps it is too much to expect every track to be excellent, but it is usually the case for SNES RPG's that the standout ones help to neutralize the mediocre to bad ones. While Onett and Twoson are pretty darn good, they can't forgive the others.

I don't think it is a point of insistence, more of a devil's advocate argument. Like if something is truly great, shouldn't a majority of it being regarded highly, even by non-fans? Like Legend of Dragoon, not really a fan of the game, but the music's very good.

Jon Turner Jul 21, 2011 (edited Jul 26, 2011)

I personally love this score, a lot.  Yes, it can be downright bizarre and strange in many places, but on the whole it is a very creative, well-executed score that impeccably suits the similarly wacky nature of the game to a T and beyond.  as for whether it is enjoyable on its own, that's a matter of perspective.

Personally, I loved the Runaway Five tracks, most of the battle themes, every town theme, the "Demon's Wall" fight cue (which starts out 8-bit then goes into a groovy rock-and-roll fest), and the songs that play both at the epilogue (the rest of the cues during the final battle itself are downright strange and almost cacophonic --although effective in its function--, especially the final moment when Giygas "dies", via TV static) and the final closing credits.

The latter, in particular, is arguably one of the score's best highlights:  it reprises all the town themes and arranges them into a "concert" suite style, albeit in a pop-rock style.  The "Smiles and Tears" song is a glorious extension of the "Eight Melodies" song; its slow, jazzy style provides for a nice send off.  (The utterance of "I Miss You" just before the song's final stanza always struck me as eccentric, but no more so than the game itself.)

So all in all, this score is a "Your Mileage May Vary" thing, and can be rightfully called an "oddity", which it acknowledgingly is, but I personally liked it a lot.  Pity it's never been released in its entirety, as there are a lot of cool songs on there that really deserve better exposure.  The original "Image Album" release of MOTHER 2 didn't really do the music much justice.

I agree that it stinks that NoA didn't release this on VC, but the fact that it was only a "rights" issue is at least a bit more "understandable" than the rather ambiguous "repsonse" they left for the much requested Wii RPGs -- Xenoblade and The Last Story, resepectively.  That said, Operation Rainfall is working very hard to change the situation for both of these two, and as a personal member of the movement, I couldn't be any more proud of what we're doing to fight for them.

Moses Jul 22, 2011

A good portion of Earthbound's music is really bad. And by "bad" I don't just mean "boring" or "forgettable". Most dungeon and battle themes consist of annoying repetitive electronic beats, weird sound effects and ambiance and are pretty much unlistanable.

A few decent tracks can be found here and there. The Runaway Five tracks are somewhat disappointing as I'd expect more from a "band", but aren't bad by any means. The hotel music is really enjoyable, but way too short. The town themes are actually pretty good.

The saving grace of this score are the ending themes, which are truly great. "Smiles and Tears" and "Because I Love" are beautiful.

Ugly Bob Jul 25, 2011

Thanks for all the feedback. I sometimes worry that my criticisms aren't legitimate, not being a musician, so I appreciate the opinion of those who have more experience in the field.

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