Video Game Music of the Week - 9 (2011 Special)

This week, I’ve decided to do something different with VGM of the Week and instead of focusing on one game, I’ve decided to talk about some of the stand out Video Game Music tracks of 2011. The VG Island prides itself on having vast knowledge of Video Game Music and the impact that a video games soundtrack has on the medium. 2011 was a fantastic year for gaming in general and there were many games that had a soundtrack that stood out amoung the others. This is a short list of some (not all) video games that were released in the year of 2011 which had exceptional music that complimented each games story and overall experience and helped define 2011 as a great year for Video Game Music.


VGM2011


Game:
Pokemon Black/White

PokemonBWVGM2011

Platform:
Nintendo DS

Tracks:
Battle! Strong Wild Pokemon, N’s Castle

Composer(s):
Junichi Masuda
Go Ichinose
Shota Kageyama
Hitomi Sato
Morikazu Aoki
Minako Adachi
Satoshi Nohara


Let's start with a game that was released early on in the year for the DS. The game was originally released in Japan during the end of 2010, but didn’t see an English release until the beginning of 2011. The music in the Pokemon series has always maintained its own sense of character. Each game builds upon the musical elements of the previous game and never strays too far from its musical formula.

Battle! Strong Wild Pokemon



This track is a variation of the battle music in Pokemon Black and White. It’s played when the player encounters a wild Pokemon that appears in ‘Shaking Grass.’ These Pokemon are stronger than those who are found normally, and the music is more frantic to inform the player of this.

N’s Castle



Not many tracks in Pokemon’s history have been as emotional and simple as ’N’s Castle.’ The track is played towards the end of the game and is one of the themes of the main antagonist, ’N.’ The track helps to define a side of ’N’ that is innocent and misunderstood, giving the player a sense of connection with the antagonist and his past.


Game:
Sonic Generations


SonicGenerationsVGM2011

Platform(s):
Playstation 3/Xbox 360

Tracks:
Green Hill Zone - Modern, City Escape - Classic

Composer(s):

Jun Senoue

Perhaps the most neglected game on this list by other people in the video game industry, Sonic Generations achievements should never be forgotten. Sonic Generations will be known as the true turning point in the Sonic franchise that helped bring Sonic back to the top of the video game charts, or at least i believe it will be.

Green Hill Zone - Modern



Everything in Sonic Generations is a throwback to every era in Sonic’s history, and the soundtrack is no exception. Take the first level for example, ‘Green Hill Zone’, which is the first level in the original sonic game. During the ‘Modern’ version of the stage, they take the original ‘Green Hill Zone’ music and amp it up to the max, making the track stand out and enforce the notion that this game is not only about Sonic’s present, but its past as well.

City Escape - Classic



Whether or not you loved or hated the background song to ‘City Escape’ from Sonic Adventure 2, its impossible to deny it its place as the most catchiest vocal track in Sonic’s history. Sonic Generations took this track and remixed it, affectively making the song fit the ‘Classic’ level of ‘City Escape’ perfectly. Most video game music shines through on it own merits, without the addition of vocals, but I believe that ‘City Escape - Classic’ deserves to be mentioned when discussing Sonic Generations’ Soundtrack.


Game:
Xenoblade Chronicles
XenobladeVGM2011

Platform:
Wii

Tracks:
Main Theme, Time To Fight!

Composer(s):
Yuko Shimomura
ACE+
Manami Kiyota
Yasunori Mitsuda


We Australians were lucky enough to experience this game before the year was out due to Nintendo of Europe’s choice to localise the game. North American fans will soon experience the joy of this Nintendo Wii masterpiece and the music that’s featured within it.

Main Theme



A simply beautiful track that perfectly defines Xenoblade Chronicles as a video game gem. The track is a perfect summary of Xenoblade Chronicles and has just as much emotion, power and character as the game itself.

Time To Fight!



Many stand out tracks in the RPG genre come from the ‘Battle Themes’ of various games. Xenoblade Chronicles’ battle theme is a fantastic addition to these. It has brilliant pacing and doesn’t ever seem to bore you as you progress hours into a game that has many battles, and therefore, many replays of the same battle music.


Game:
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

SkyrimVGM2011


Platform:
Playstation 3/Xbox 360/PC

Tracks:
Far Horizons, Journey’s End

Composer(s):

Jeremy Soule

The VG Islands number one game of 2011 finds its way on this list and for good reason. The music in Skyrim is grand. Very grand. For a game with great gameplay, fantastic graphics, superb storytelling and a world that literally breathes, only a soundtrack such as this could fit so damn perfectly.

The music during your adventure through the land of Skyrim perfectly compliments whatever it is that you may be doing at any given time, be it fighting bandits, slaying dragons or taking an arrow to the knee.

Far Horizons



If you’ve played Skyrim, and I’m sure you have, you’ve definitely heard this song. It perfectly captures the essence of Skyrim’s true level of adventure, setting the tone for what lies ahead when you start your journey as the Dragonborn. It’s a slow and simple piece, but it’s powerful to say the least.

Journey’s End



For every quest that is completed and for every battle that is won there is a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment for the player. This song captures that essence brilliantly and invokes a sense of success in such a calm, yet strong way.


Game:
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

SkywardSwordVGM2011

Platform:
Wii

Tracks:
Romance Theme, Fi’s Farewell

Composer(s):
Koji Kondo
Hajime Wakai
Shiho Fujii
Mahito Yokota
Takeshi Hama

When talking about video games in the past few years, the Nintendo Wii has not seen as much praise from hardcore video game enthusiasts as it truly deserves. For all the crappy third party Wii titles that have utilised the motion controls and accessibility of the Wii, there has been some really great jewels of video gaming achievements for the year 2011. This is the second Wii title on this list and both games are very deserving of being placed within it.

Romance Theme



There’s something very beautiful about the relationship between Link and Zelda in the history of The Legend of Zelda series and Romance Theme defines everything that makes it amazing and innocent. The track is reminiscent of young love and reminds me of many classic Disney films of an age ago. Speaking of Disney, I also find many similarities between them and Nintendo, but thats a story for another day.

Fi’s Farewell



‘Fi’s Farewell’ is a variation of ‘Fi’s Theme’, which also has many different arrangements that are played throughout the game. I find this particular version of the song one of the best. Fi is an interesting and mysterious character in Skyward Sword, and the melody of ‘Fi’s Farewell’ and ‘Fi’s Theme’ has very much the same characterisation. It’s a simple, yet powerful track and is one of the greatest and, not to mention, most important tracks in Skyward Sword.

Written by - Michael Villalon for ‘The VG Island.’

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