Remakes of Video Game Soundtracks: We Don’t Just Play, We Pay Attention
Once a video game comes out, people love it. And then it slightly disappears until, that’s right…a remake! Here’s the catch: not all remakes are good, or even match the same level as the original because they just stink. (Well, Orpheus, what happens in a remake of a game?) I’ll gladly tell you!
Remakes are improved versions of the game that they originated from. For instance, The Last of Us was an outstanding game! But it was for the PS3 and Xbox 360. When the PS4 and Xbox One came out, Naughty Dog was like, “You know what? Since The Last of Us was such a great success, we’re going to remake it so it is compatible with the PS4 and Xbox One, with graphic improvements, booming explosions, and more beautiful scenery!” That’s not what they said but you get the idea. The amazing graphics are truly a plus with remakes but you have to listen closer. One of the top perfect qualities to a remake has to include the soundtrack! (The soundtrack!?) Yes! The soundtrack! That is part of the experience of remade games! It adds a lot more tasty flavors to the equation!
Below are three examples from my Favorite Games list to use as examples.
Pokemon – Blue’s Champion Theme (Red/Blue/Yellow Version)
The first example is from a game many older generations would be familiar with. Sorry, I’m not calling you guys old but, hey, it’s the truth. This song is the theme of the Pokemon champion from Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Of course, considering when the game came out, the song is 8-bit, which is still admired even today. Even though this game came out when I was barely conscious, I love it! The song has more energy behind it compared to its remake. At least they stayed with the tone and notes of the song. The original Blue’s theme brings back happy or painful memories, depending on whether or not you had beaten Blue.
Pokémon X/Y – Vs World Championship Finals Music HD (Official)
When you listen to the remake of Blue’s theme, there is drastic improvement; from 8-bit beeping to trumpets, drums, guitars, and so many other different sounds smacking the sh*t out of your eardrums. The remake song, I’ll admit, does not have that energetic tone where you can do your little goofy dance to. The remake has a more serious tone fiercely reminding, “YO! You’re fighting in the championships!!” Fun Fact: this song was only played during the Pokemon X/Y World Championship Finals, nowhere else in the game can you hear this song.
PW:AA – “Objection! 2001”
Next we have another 8-bit song, again, from Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, which is an amazing mystery/suspense game. This song is played in the game when you, as Phoenix Wright, had found crucial evidence that works in your favor during the case because someone had lied in their testimony or you had finally connected the puzzle to solving the case! In other words, it is Phoenix’s theme song.
Dual Destinies OST: 1-07 Phoenix Wright ~ Objection! 2013
With the remake of the song in Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, the 8-bit song was replaced with more orchestra music! Those beautiful and elegant instruments all playing in one harmonic heartbeat. The 8-bit version has a tone of fulfillment, like “you will win your case (maybe)!” The second version has the same tone, plus, with the variety of instruments, there are some extra emotions that the player experiences. For instance, the first version is more of relief because, holy sh*t, the cases were so complicated for no reason. If you have played the game, then you’ll know what I mean, if not then just accept it or go and play the games. The second version is a joyful moment and you will feel special because there is an entire orchestra playing for you! To add on, the second version reveals more information about Phoenix Wright’s character. He is a strong-willed and considerate character who would not give up in any crisis when defending his clients.
Dance to the Death (Heartless Boss Theme 1) – Kingdom Hearts II OST
Lastly, we have the recent remakes of Kingdom Hearts. Many people are confused about why the heck would Square Enix make remakes of Kingdom Hearts. Well, would you rather spend so much money on having to buy separate platform consoles to play the games or just have two games with all the other stories in them with improved HD quality and soundtrack? Plus, Square Enix needed to get gamers’ minds refreshed in the best way possible when Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out because it is taking FOREVER in its development. But we don’t want to rush a game’s development. That’s the worst thing possible. For example, just look at Sonic the Hedgehog from 2006. The song below is one of boss battle songs, with an orchestra playing perfectly. This song comes up with your fight against the Possessor and Shadow Stalker in Beast’s Castle and again with the Prison Keeper in Halloween Town. The tone of the song literally spells out “Boss Battle. You must defeat it.” It has a sinister tone with the piano and violins louder than the drums and cellos.
Dance to the Death ~ Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX Remastered OST
In the remake of this song, right at the beginning you can hear the difference between the songs. The base of the drums and cellos are stronger and deeper. The xylophone, I think it’s a xylophone, is played on a separate tone from the first version and you can definitely hear the contrast. The overall tone is more powerful with those deep drums and strong cellos. On the other hand, you have the pianos and violins, including those chime bells, at a much higher tone than the original version. Adding on, the “flavors” that the higher toned instruments are expressing give off a sort of jumpy feeling compared to the original. Nonetheless, they are both fantastic!
(Orpheus, that’s great and all but what’s the point?) The soundtrack! The soundtrack is a key element that game developers should consider when remaking a game. The soundtrack can develop a huge variety of emotions that will affect the player. In addition, the soundtrack can provide more information about character, similar in Ace Attorney, or send a message to the player that you are fighting a very powerful opponent and this is a big deal, similar in Pokemon. In addition, players will see that game developers really are putting in effort and thought into their games because we, as players, notice the smallest things like the change in the xylophone or the tone difference between the original and its remake.
The three top elements to consider when remaking a game: the quality graphics, the game-play and the soundtrack. I would not include plot, characters or cast because this is a remake. In a remake, you cannot move away from the original story or else it wouldn’t be a remake but instead a sequel, or prequel. So watch out game developers! We don’t just play the game, we pay attention.
What are the top three elements that you think game developers should think about when making remakes? Is there anything I’m missing? Which do you prefer, the original soundtracks or the remakes? Let me know whether you agree or disagree in the comments. OrpheusG logging off!
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