MS: Pokémon Red/Blue/Green
Having been following the communal gaming phenomenon Twitch Plays Pokemon I couldn’t help but be reminded that Pokémon has some damn fine music. The early games’ scores were particularly fantastic, setting a high bar that their highly iterative sequels could never hope to top.
Tonally, Junichi Masuda’s soundtrack for the original Pokémon Red/Blue/Green is highly reflective of a Pokémon trainer’s journey, running the emotional gamut through optimism, aspiration, suspense and triumph. These short, catchy melodies often evoke a sense of warmth and nostalgia that I haven’t often heard in games outside of the Mother/Earthbound series. In retrospect, this isn’t surprising given the obvious influence of that series and the staff crossover from Mother/Earthbound developer Creatures Inc.
Much like said forbearer, Pokémon also has a dark side, featuring a number of memorably creepy and suspenseful tracks. A great example of this is the unsettling mechanical piece that plays while you explore the abandoned laboratory learning the about the grisly creation of the mysterious Mewtwo. Another is the plodding macabre number which acts as the theme to Lavender Town, the home of the Pokémon graveyard.
Pokémon Red/Blue/Green‘s score is a perfect example of great music transcending the limitations of the platform – in this case the original Game Boy. Heavily based around classical music, it often translates out beautifully when performed with real instrumentation – see this example from Super Smash Bros Melee for proof of that. Heck, even the mostly rubbish Pokémon animé and movies couldn’t screw them up.
Despite this, there are sadly very few official orchestrated tracks or albums dedicated to the series’ music, barring several releases tied to the previously mentioned animated adaptations.
However, in the process of conducting due diligence for this article I discovered the awesome Pokémon Reorchestrated, specifically its Red/Blue/Green album named Kanto Symphony. Wonderfully rearranging Masuda’s original compositions in a sweeping symphonic style, it’s all available to listen to on YouTube and to purchase on the iTunes store.