Welcome to the second entry in The G.A.M.E.S. Blog’s musical column, The High Notes. Last week, we explored a few awesome anime openings, so this time, let’s take a look at some video game music.
Video game music is fun to listen to at any time, and I often end up putting some on while I’m writing. It doesn’t always make me more productive, but it does help me chill out when writer’s block strikes. Some of my favorite pieces to listen to are jazzy arrangements of great game themes. The melodies are clearly recognizable, and the smooth jazz generally puts me in a creative mood. This week, I’m going to share a few of the best jazz arrangements of video game music I’ve heard lately.
Objection! (Not to This Song, Though.)
The first item on our playlist is from an album called Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul (alternatively, Turnabout Jazz Soul). If you’ve ever played a game in the Ace Attorney series, then you might know that this album contains jazz versions of several background songs from the games. The entire album is wonderful, but for now, I’ll spotlight the second song, titled, “Phoenix Wright ~ Objection!”
The jazz version doesn’t quite take me back to the courtroom in the same way as listening to the original version, but that hasn’t stopped me from falling in love with the piece. It’s catchy twist on the “Objection!” theme, and I can’t stop listening to it or the other songs on the album. This version was arranged by Noriyuki Iwadare, who also composed the soundtracks for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations as well as Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. You might also recognize him for his work on the soundtracks to Growlanser, Grandia, and tons of other titles.
This next track is based on “Threshold,” one of many gorgeous pieces from the soundtrack to thatgamecompany’s Journey. It’s a fan tribute rather than an official arrangement, but it’s clear that a lot of care went into the piece, which is part of what makes it excellent.
This arrangement from YouTube user Japesland succeeds in capturing much of the spirit of the original “Threshold” while incorporating elements from other songs in the game. I can’t wait until he has a chance to make a studio recording! Both the original song and this arrangement are so relaxing and easy on the ears that I could listen to them on repeat for hours. Journey’s soundtrack was composed by the brilliant Austin Wintory, whose other video game works include the music for both flOw and Stoic’s recent Kickstarter-funded Viking epic, The Banner Saga. Not only was Journey itself wildly successful, but its soundtrack also debuted as the second-highest charting video game album in history at the time.
Some Smooth Jazz for Puzzle Solving
I don’t know about you, but even the best songs, when overly repetitive, can drive me crazy when I’m trying really hard to think. All Professor Layton games have a theme that plays when it’s time to tackle a new brain teaser, and though those themes became progressively better as the series went on, the first one was pretty annoying. That said, this jazz version of the puzzle song from Professor Layton and the Curious Village has a charm that makes me want to replay it at least once every time I hear it.
This arrangement from OC ReMix user PROTO·DOME is cleverly titled, “Luke, a True Gentleman, Prefers a Touch of Light Jazz.” The original song, “Puzzles,” was composed by Tomohito Nishiura, who also composed the soundtracks for the other games in the Professor Layton series as well as Dark Cloud. Even though the puzzle music from Curious Village wasn’t inherently bad, I really wish this version could have been in the game instead. PROTO·DOME’s remix has much more personality, and hearing it in game would have had me turning up the volume instead of reaching for the mute button when it was puzzle time.
That concludes this edition of The High Notes! Tune in next week for another spotlight on some awesome video game or anime music. Do you have any suggestions for topics we should cover here in the future? Share your thoughts with us in the comments, on Twitter, and on Facebook!