Quantcast
Community Discussion: Blog by Oscarno | Oscarno's ProfileDestructoid
Oscarno's Profile - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist





click to hide banner header
About


Hello I am Oscarno and welcome to a rad Video Game Music blog on Destructoid!

I'm way into Video Game Music, and with these blog posts, I hope to provide an investigation into and discussion about Video Game Music and how music affects video games as a creative medium.

I write weekly, usually posting on Thursdays. Most weeks will be OST Case Studies, looking a the music of a particular game and pulling it apart to find why it works so well. Sometimes, however, I'll just post a shorter opinion post or perhaps an article looking into other areas of Video Game Music.

If you wanna talk to me or follow me on Twitter ,you can.(but tbh it's pretty boring)


Also you can check out some of the music I make on my Soundcloud!
Player Profile
Steam ID:Oscarno
Wii U code:Oscarno
Follow me:
Twitter:@Oscarno_
Oscarno's sites
Badges
Following (3)  




1.This is it right here right now!!
I've been posting my articles here in DToid's community section for a while and I only just now realised that I haven't even introduced myself, so I'm doing it now let's go!

2.I am way into music. 
If there is something making a noise I'm going to listen to it, no matter what. Be it a Beethoven symphony, or nails on a blackboard, I want that sound to get into my brain right now. I'll literally listen to any genre of music and enjoy it...yes, even country. There's so much to be learned about culture and emotion and society and everything else through music. I love that it's a crazy nebulous thing that no one will ever truly grasp, and there will always be new things to learn about it and new ways to experience it it's just great. 

(2.5 I am way into video game music.) This all ties into why I love Video game music. Good video game music is there to enhance a players experience within a game, be it through sparse soundscapes, or a constant barrage of death metal it's all there to add to the greater experience of the game and it's fantastic. The interactivity, the genre variance, the ways the music changes in new and interesting ways are just some of the ways VGM beats out most other media soundtrack-wise. It's crazy interesting and it's great to see the interesting new ways people take music with new gameplay concepts or ridiculous premises UGH VGM IS SO GREAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS@!?!?

3.I come from a land down under. 
I live in Australia, where the winters are warm and the summers are just ridiculous honestly. There are pros and cons to living on the worlds largest dustbowl, The weather is great most of the time, but we have to wait forever for some stuff to release here. We get some of the perks of being lumped in with the PAL localisation for games, but most games cost $80 off the shelf. We have some of the greatest endemic fauna and flora ever, but most of it will kill you if you as much as sniff in it's direction (just kidding, everything is peaceful please visit). 

4.My IRL name is Oscar. 
It's hard to believe I know but if you try really hard you might get used to it eventually. (PS I am not a dog, I know like 80% of the worlds dogs are called Oscar but I promise I am not a dog, definitely a human not a dog. My uncle is a dog but that's not here nor there.)

5.I listen to way too many podcasts. 
Currently in my iTunes I have over 600 podcast episodes I need to listen to, and it's brilliant. There's nothing I enjoy more than cramming my head with as much useless knowledge as possible on my commutes. Be it about VGM, science, fantasy stories, business or whatever if people talk passionately about it I'll probably listen to it. 

6.I'm way into making music. 
No this is not the same as No. 2 and no I'm not running out of ideas shut up. But seriously I really enjoy playing as many instruments as I can get my hands on and making sounds and recording them and putting them on the internet. I've made some music for short student films along with some random other stuff( you can find it all here) I started writing music in 2010 and haven't looked back. My dream is to one day be able to live off making music, be it for Video games, in a performance type deal, or whatever, if I get to be making music for my job I'll be stoked. (also be sure to keep an eye on that soundcloud because there might be some exciting stuff coming sooooon!!)

7.My age is a secret. 
Just kidding I'm 19 hahahahaha joke's on you. 

8.My face is a secret. 
Don't go looking for it you won't find anything. Actually even with the most basic search you'll probably find my face, but for now I shall remain a friendly blue Pikmin. I have no reason for doing this i just like blue pikmin??

9.I Like Nintendo. 
I've got nothing against any consoles, if it provides you with the games you want to play then I implore you to absolutely love the shit out of your console. For me, I really enjoy nintendo's games. I'm bummed that I haven't been able to experience Journey or The Last of Us yet but hey, maybe I'll pick up a Playstation TV once they release so I can finally sink into those sweet sweet games. Or I'll just visit a friends place or something i don't know I'll figure it out jeez get off my case. Anyway, Nintendo has a bunch of great stuff I enjoy playing on my own and with family and friends (plus i have a rudimentary PC for everything else). Also the music, don't forget about nintendo music. 

10. Let's be friends!
If you wanna have a chat about anything you can contact me on twitter or send me a message on soundcloud or if you want to play games or something you're more than welcome to add me on Steam or the Nintendo Network I believe all the deets are in the sidebar just to the right!!

Anyway thanks for reading things about me I'm flattered you managed to get all the way to the end congrats! Sorry for taking this long to introduce myself but I'm glad I did hooray!!
Photo










Since it's beginnings in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog has become one of the most recognisable characters in video games. The franchise has certainly  gone through it's ups and downs as it's grown older, but to many it still retains it's charm. The general tone of the games has also shifted throughout the years. Initially, the franchise began as direct competition to Nintendo's Mario franchise, targeting a more edgy, teen audience. Eventually this evolved into a weirdly mature tone and kind of got lost when Sonic made the move to 3D based games. Recently, however, the franchise has taken a turn for the better, with games like Generations, Colours and Lost World getting praise from reviewers and players alike. But I believe that it's more than just the games' designs and gameplay that have changed over the years, the music has shown a strong reflection of the games' tones an has also hinted at their target audience. In this article, we'll be taking a look at the music of the mainline sonic franchise and discussing how it has changed and grown with the franchise as a whole. 



The very first Sonic game was released on the SEGA Genesis / Megadrive in 1991.  It utilised the consoles sound chip in a way few games had done before. It's utilisation of the crisp drum kit sounds and the clear bass by composer Masato Nakamura gave the game a distinct sound that gave it a strong identity in the video game landscape at the time. A year later, Sonic 2 was released with a similar sound as it's predecessor, but relying slightly more on the capabilities of the FM chip within the console producing sounds less synonymous with 8bit music.  1994 saw saw the 3rd instalment of the Sonic franchise released, Sonic 3 & Knuckles (which I'm going to be tackling as one game because honestly after all these years I still can't wrap my head around how they're different games but the same game in 2 carts that lock onto each other????). Nakamura was reportedly assigned to the project but dropped due to financial disagreements.  There are many composers credited to the creation of Sonic 3's soundtrack but undoubtedly the most intriguing name on the list is Michael Jackson, who later denied claims that he had worked on the music for the game, spurring one of the biggest musical mysteries in video game history as there were many tracks which seemed eerily similar to some of Jackson's later work. 

However controversial Sonic 3 and Knuckles' soundtrack may be, there was a Sonic game released a year prior which had a much larger affect on the music of the Sonic franchise as a whole.  Sonic CD was released on the SEGA CD in 1993 and featured a soundtrack with "CD quality Audio" thanks to the system's new hardware. But the fun doesn't stop there, Sonic CD has 2 soundtracks, one for the Japanese /  European version of the game and one for the American version.  Most people argue that the Japanese soundtrack is the better of the two, and i can certainly see why, but the American soundtrack did something that would change the sound of Sonic the Hedgehog forever. 



Sonic Boom marked an important transition in the music of Sonic the Hedgehog. Following the release of Sonic CD, the blue blur's games would no longer try to compete with the cheerful quirkiness of Mario's instrumental tracks, instead there would be an emphasis on energetic vocal tracks to accompany the games. 

The SEGA Saturn didn't see many new releases in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. A Port of Sonic 3D Blast was released in 1996 with a jazz influenced soundtrack from Richard Jaques with the vocal track "You're my Hero" playing over the credits, Sonic X-Treme was set to release the following year but was cancelled, leaving only Sonic Jam (a compilation of the genesis games) and Sonic R, an on-foot racing game featuring all vocal tracks when racing. 

In 1998 SEGA released it's Dreamcast entry into the Sonic series, Sonic Adventure. The musical centrepiece for this game was "Open Your Heart" a grungey garage rock song, epitomising the cultural relevancy the Sonic franchise was now striving for. The soundtrack from Jun Senoue utilised a heavy guitar and rock feel throughout, grounding the tone and target audience for the game. Fast forward 3 years and Sonic Adventure 2, SEGA's last 1st party Sonic game is released. Once again the guitar laden rock song, "Live and Learn" stands as the main musical pillar of the game, greeting players as they boot up the game and in the Final battle along with the credits. Senoue returned for SA2 and took much of the same tone as the first Sonic Adventure game, with many vocal tracks throughout the game.

 

After SEGA left the hardware market, there was a decline in the quality of Sonic releases. Games like Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 were just not of the quality players had come to expect. Similarly the music was generally uninspired and largely didn't change. Over almost 10 years, the music in sonic games was the same as Sonic Adventure 2, grungey distorted pop punk tracks headlined a soundtrack that had far too much teen angst in it. But in 2008, a new sonic game burst onto the scene and seemed promising. 

Sonic Unleashed finally diverged form the tired old musical formula sonic had become attached to for so long. Sure, the tacky Bowling for Soup title song form Bowling for Soup form Bowling for Soup was still there, but the attitude was different. The main music of the game wasn't all distorted guitars, the lead composer Tomoya Ohtani took inspiration from real world locations and cultures and infused it with the high octane feel that a Sonic game needed. The Werehog sections of the game weren't very well received, but their jazzy, noir tunes fit them to a T.   In 2010 Sonic Colours was released to surprising critical acclaim. Continuing the pattern of title songs, the synth pop tune, "Reach for the Stars" accompanied the game, but wasn't seen outside the opening sequence. The composing team for Sonic Colours captured the reckless, and adventurous nature of the game along with it's lighthearted tone. With Colours being one of the best received modern Sonic games, things were looking up for the fastest thing alive. 



2013 saw the latest release in the long running series of Sonic the Hedgehog. Released exclusively for WiiU, Sonic:Lost world received mixed reviews for it's new take on gameplay and level design. The music for the game, however was something very special. Finally, after over 10 years of being help captive by a generic title pop tune, Sonic was free. A Fully orchestrated score and well developed themes made the music to Lost World finally feel impactful and not pandering to cultural relevance or marketing effectiveness. Tomoya Ohtani's music finally gave the franchise some respect and it definitely shows. Each environment has fitting music and the themes see development and are reinforced throughout the game. Heck, there's even a track which pays homage to Astor Piazzolla!

The Sonic franchise has certainly been through it's highs and it's lows, but it seems that as of late, the series is finally finding a way to provide exciting and entertaining music without trying to be the cool kid on the block. What are your thoughts? Do you think the music of recent instalments is an improvement on the original genesis tracks? Or do you believe that the sweet sound of the FM synth will always have a special place in gaming? Where would you like to see the music of Sonic go next? What are some other Sonic games you believe shaped the musical landscape of the series? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Of course there are so many sonic games and details that I just didn't have time to cover, so if there are any you'd like to discuss, feel free to bring them up in the comments!
Photo









Developed by Platinum games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance acts as a side story to the Metal Gear series of games. Taking place 4 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Revengance follows Raiden as he fights against the Private Military Company, Desperado Enforcement. Revengance's gameplay is distinctly more action focussed than the main line Solid series, and the music reflects this. The score was composed by Jimmy Christopherson and audio directed by Naoto Tanaka.  The music is more focussed on heavy metal, electronic tracks rather than the soft pulsing tense tracks found in the Solid series. Even though the music is in a completely different style to the Solid series, there are still some musical and gameplay elements which carry through to Revengance, and these help to strengthen the correlation between the two games.  One of the most memorable facets of Revengance, both musically and overall are the boss battles, which provide some of the most pumping tracks in the game. 

Where Metal Gear Solid takes inspiration from spy movies such as James Bond, Revengance references fast paced action flicks packed with explosions and cheesy one-liners, and the music follows this to a T.  During combat, bombastic percussion and distordet guitars accompany Raiden as he carves through enemies. But the sound isn't strictly orchestral, a large majority of the score is dominated by electronic sounds. Heavy electronic drum kits and thumping baselines accompany the more traditional sounds or the orchestra. There's no doubt that the electronic sounds were a very diliberate choice to reflect the game's strong focus on cyborg technologies. Practically every character in Revengance is either affiliated with cyborgs or a cyborg themselves, with some of them just being pure robots. The synergy between electronic sounds and traditional instruments in the score reflects some of the game's underlying theme's well, as the balance between man and machine is constantly shifting . 



But the game isn't in an eternal combat state. There are times when the action is low and stealth and exploration are at the forefront. It's a these moments, when the Metal Gear DNA rises to the surface. Like the Solid series, Revengance utilises a stealth system with Caution and Alarm states along with the default undetected state. When undetected, the music is low and pulsing, providing tension and energy, but not pushing the player to do act out. When detected, the music picks up, and informs the player that enemies are actively looking for them, and in the final Alarm state, the music really kicks off into a full fledged combat track, to accompany the player as they must eliminate the threat to move through the level. This technique of gradually adding onto the score as the gameplay requires it is called a Layered Score. It's useful as it allows the music to change as rapidly as the gameplay does and appropriately accompany the actions the player is taking. But the layered score isn't just used for the stealth system in Revengance, it's also used in the boss  battles. 



Revengance's boss battles are absolutely out of this world. The game itself is utterly ridiculous, with Raiden slicing entire planes in half and using swords the size of skyscrapers, but the boss battles turn all of this up to 11. The music of the boss battles takes the idea of the layered score and uses it in such a way that fits the fights perfectly. As the sequence begins, the music is already pumping pretty hard, but was the fight continues and the boss goes through different phases, layers are added onto the music which peaks when finally vocals are added. Vocal tracks aren't something we hear in video games often, but Revengance uses them as a reward for the player finally overcoming the main adversaries of the game.  These tracks are non-stop walls of sounds and the vocals are just catchy and memorable enough that the player can sing along to them as the final blow strikes and the battle ends. This amplifies the players involvement and allows them to feel accomplished especially in such a cutscene and story driven game. 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengance's soundtrack is truly something to behold. It's full on nature and breakneck pace makes it very memorable. It's twist in genre from the main Metal Gear series allows this game to have a strong identity on it's own while still holding it's ties to Metal Gear Solid. It's unique use of vocal tracks give the player a true sense of involvement in the game and manages to take it's ridiculous amount of action even further. 

What do you think? Did you enjoy the vocal tracks in the boss battles? or did they distract you from the action? Was the Metal Gear Solid balance too strong? or perhaps not strong enough? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the game.
Photo







Oscarno
12:50 AM on 07.25.2014


In 2012 Arkane studios released their much anticipated 1st person stealth adventure game, Dishonored. Set in Dunwall, a dystopian port city with strong 19th Century London and steampunk influences, the player is thrust into the role of Corvo Attano, a bodyguard of the empress framed for her murder. The game also utilised a system called "Chaos", if the game was played stealthily and with few casualties, the overall chaos would stay at a low level, but if the player decided to kill everyone in sight and not sneak around at all, the chaos would become high. These outcomes meant that future levels would include a different number of enemies and different endings could be reached. The music of the game was composed by Daniel Licht, the composer for the TV series Dexter and the games Silent Hill: Downpour, and Silent Hill: Book of Memories. Licht's work on Disohonored is inspired by the Dickensian setting, with soft drones and ambiances accompanied by harsh tones of classical instruments played in unconventional ways.  It's integration into the world is also rather interesting, as it doesn't directly reference what's on screen, but rather becomes an ambience that can sometimes deceive the player. When combined with the game's striking visual style and world steeped in lore, Dishonored's score really shines. 



One of the core elements of music is timbre (pronounced: tam-ber, weird I know). This refers to the quality of a musical sound, independent of it's pitch or intensity. Essentially, it's like describing the flavour of a sound. For example, one might describe a heavily distorted guitar as Harsh, coarse, gritty or piercing, or an oboe as woody, reedy or croaky. In Dishonored, Licht does two things to give his pieces a great variety of timbre; firstly, he uses conventional instruments in unconventional ways to great effect, secondly he uses some more unconventional instruments in order to create some effective sounds. 

Throughout the score, there are a few sounds which stand out to me which take full use of timbre. There are many electronic tones which creep into the mix at points, and these always provide that extra colour that couldn't be provided from acoustic instruments, their alien nature and vagueness add a great sense of mystery to the music. One of the key instruments of the score is the Violin. It's used in various different ways throughout the score but one of it's most effective uses is in the Main Theme, as it plays harmonics and sliding the notes up and down, mimicking the cries of the whales the city of Dunwall uses as their energy source. The hammered dulcimer is really in the spotlight of this score though, being used very liberally throughout. It's tinny, ringing quality cuts through the mix and really ties everything together. It's sound is somewhat reminiscent of it's descendant, the harpsichord, and this parallel helps solidify the similarities and differences of the real world London, which saw great growth during the time of the harpsichord and the alternate universe city of Dunwall. Most of the sound adds to this, in fact, as the real world stringed instruments accompanied by modified and electronic instruments gives a sense of distant familiarity which really helps to build the world the player is exploring. 



The way the music is implemented is quite unconventional but yields some surprising effects when playing. Most of the time, all the player will hear are diegetic sounds, sounds which are coming form the environment they are in. This is fantastic for a stealth game, as the player has to constantly be aware of their surroundings and since a TV or monitor don't give full 370° vision, sound is the best way to inform the player of what is going on off camera. But where most games will use this to reinforce what the player is doing within the world, Dishonored does just the opposite.  When the player is exploring a particular section of the world or hiding underneath a dining room table, music may fade in. The effect the music has depends on the player's mental state at the time, if they are freely exploring then it may give them a sense of drive and purpose as they edge closer to their goal, if they are trying to stay hidden in a claustrophobic space, it may give them the sense that something is happening and they might get caught. This unorthodox implementation of the music really shows that Licht and the entire sound team put a lot of thought into how sound and music works with Dishonored and created an auditory experience that immerses the player into the experience the game is providing. 

The music is especially designed for this as well. Sure there's music for when combat breaks out and that is percussion heavy and it builds the sense of tension and adrenaline within the game, but the other than that the music is ambient, sparse and mysterious, which compliments the setting, characters and overall atmosphere than prevails over much of the game. 

Overall, Dishonored's music and sound show that the team put great thought into how it would affect the players experience. The unpredictability of the music and it's mystique allow it to continue surprising the player and keeping them on edge and always aware of what is happening in the game. Also, the designers knew when to keep music out of the picture, which makes it so much more effective when it creeps up on the player. The use of unusual timbres gives the score plenty of character and makes the world so much more believable. 

What do you think? Should music have played a more prominent role in the game? Did the unpredictability keep you on edge, or make you feel unimportant? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

If you want to hear more on Dishonored's music, check out this episode of Top Score!
Photo










So I wasn't able to write a Case Study last week, and I really didn't want to go 2 weeks without posting anything, so here is a quick little thing I thought up 20 seconds ago, Oscarno's most anticipated noises from games (as of July 18th 2014)! So I'm going to pick some soon to be released games and talk about why I'm so excited to get those sweet sound waves right up into my temporal lobe! So let's get stuck into it!


Super Smash Bros. for WiiU / 3DS




I'm not going to lie, I'm going to be getting both versions of this game and I'm a little ashamed of it. But I can't help myself! There's so much great music that is crammed into the Smash Bros games that I have to experience as soon as possible! Also, with the different versions having exclusive stages, there are going to be some tracks that just aren't going to be in both games. The remixes and re-imaginings of so many nintendo tunes is always something to look forward to. I'm a little anxious though, as in most of the gameplay we've seen so far, there hasn't been a whole lot of original music, just recycled tracks from Brawl...I really hope the soundtrack isn't all recycled because that would just be really disappointing, I mean, just listen to that new theme it's magnificent! But hey, I'm optimistic Sakurai is up to his mischievous ways so we can all be blown away by all the new music we're going to be hearing come the end of this year. 

Hyrule Warriors




Is this the final name? Because it was a working title when they announced the game, but now they have full title graphics and everything? Either way I don't mind I think the name is pretty neat, BUT WE'RE NOT HERE TO TALK ABOUT NAMES, WE'RE HERE TO TALK ABOUT RAD MUSIC!!! It was only when I watched the above trailer that it finally clicked in my head that we are going to get some gnarly renditions of Zelda themes, and not just a few picked here and there. If this game is going through as much Zelda chronology as I'm hoping we are going to get a whole lot of music inspired by a whole lot of Zelda games. Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, Link to the Past, Wind Waker...Minish Cap??? Eh probably not the last one, but a guy can dream. I'm really excited to hear some of the most recognised music in gaming played on some distorted guitars and backed by an orchestra. It's going to be righteous. 

The Grim Fandango



I never got to play Grim Fandango, and I've never really looked into the soundtrack, but when I heard this game was being remastered I nearly flipped out. I am so excited to get myself all up in this game. As one of the first games to have a full CD soundtrack release (at least in the west) there's no doubt this is going to be one hell of a ride. I'm curious as to whether the soundtrack is going to be remastered along with the game, or if they'll just use the original recordings. Personally I'm hoping they'll re-record everything, because hey, if you're remastering a game, you may as well remaster it's music right?

90s Arcade Racer




This game seems to have flown under most people's radar, but not mine! I'm pretty sure it's federal law that every movie cinema in Australia has at least 2 Daytona USA cabinets. I've grown up with the sound form those machines ringing in my ears and I can't wait to see what this game might have to offer musically. Taking inspiration Daytona USA and various other cabinets, my bet is it's going to be fast, loud and outa sight. Without a doubt I'll be picking up this title and rockin out for hours on end. 

Splatoon



Splatoon was a surprise to pretty much everyone when it was shown at this year's E3 and I have to say I was charmed form the beginning. Arena shooter? cool. On the WiiU? cool! With Squid people? HOT DANG! There seems to be some serious Jet Set Radio influence coming through here and that excites me to no end, the developers even said they imagine the music is part of the game's world and is what the characters would listen to! I am so excited to hear the tubular tunes coming form this game. Oh my gosh it's going to be Squid Punk. Yeah. Squid Punk. 

So those are 5 games which I am super excited about, and looking back it seems most of them are either Re-imaginings or Nintendo games...huh. Obviously there are so many more games that I'm excited about: Hyper Light Drifter, Rainworld, Monster Hunter 4G, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (omg i'm kidding settle down) and like a billion others, but what I'm most excited about are the surprises. Those games I go into not expecting anything and being absolutely blown out of the water, into space and onto a distant planet made out of Cheetos. Also, Im excited to hear YOUR most anticipated game noises!!! So tell me, tell all of us!!
Photo









The Animal Crossing  series is a charming, beloved franchise which began with the Japan only N64 release of the original game in 2001. It was then released internationally on the Gamecube the following year. In 2013, following the releases of Wild World (DS, 2005) and City Folk (Wii, 2008),  Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released internationally on the Nintendo 3DS.  Widely regarded as the best release in the franchise, it was a great success and an enjoyable game for long time Animal Crossing devotees and newcomers alike. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time with Animal Crossing will tell you that it is cute, charming, funny, and strangely addictive. This is thanks to the lovely stylised visuals, the thoughtful and witty writing and of course, the music. Kazumi Totaka was a composer for the first two games in the series, and sound director for the subsequent games. The music plays an integral part in the games' overall construction, as there is music playing almost 100% of the time. It's the way the music is treated to work in this very delicate circumstance that makes it truly unique. 

As you may or may not know, the Animal Crossing games run in real time. If a real world hour passes, an in game hour passes. If the sun is setting outside, it's probably setting in the game, whether you have it turned on or not. Now, a real time clock is nifty and all, but it's how the music works in conjunction with this clock that really makes it something special. At the top of every hour, after the town hall bell chimes, a tune will start to play. This tune is different for each hour of the day and plays continuously until the next hour arrives. On paper, this might sound like it'd get horribly tedious and repetitive, but these pieces are created with short phrases, which bounce around various different instruments which keeps the pieces from becoming stale too fast. In this way they are much more akin to a small ditty rolling around the back you your head instead of listening to a song on loop for an hour. 



But the hourly soundtrack also creates some interesting and unexpected things when playing the game. Given the game's nature, they player may return every day, or every few days to check on their town. Generally, people will check at similar times every few days or as their schedule allows. When players do this, they will be playing with the same piece accompanying them. This subconsciously establishes a routine in the player's mind and provides a sense of familiarity whenever they enter their town. This also means that if the player enters their town at a different time, the music will be different, and this will create the feeling that something different may be occurring in the town, or that the town has a different feel to the player's regular visit time. 

Another interesting side effect of the hourly rotating soundtrack is the sense of time and progression the player gets through the music. If the player plays through the turn of the hour, or for over an hour, the music will change which gives the player a subtle and instinctive indication of time passing. No clock faces have to pop up on screen, no alarms have to go off, a simple change in the music gives the player a sense of time passing. This works especially well when the player completes their final task for the day on the hour, and the music changes to bid them farewell. This is all part of the charm that makes Animal Crossing such a dear game to so many people. 



Of course, the hourly music doesn't play in all locations. All of the key buildings in a village, such a shops, the museum and the town hall all have their own music. Once again, as these locations all have their own dedicated tunes, they all feel more and more familiar the more you visit them. In addition to this, places like Nook's store and the flower shop have pieces which change as they do. As these shops grow and acquire more merchandise, their music grows and changes to reflect their new atmosphere and attitude. 

The Animal Crossing games also have a small amount of music customisation, as the player can set the town tune in the town hall. This small passage will act as the town clocks bell, as the entrance bells to most buildings and will also play when the player talks to one of their villagers. Each villager, however, will have their own spin on the town tune and it will play in a unique way for each villager. Some will be lilting and lyrical, where others might be abrasive and dissonant. This small detail adds a whole layer of character onto each of the villagers and instantly let's you know what they're all about and what kind of character they are. But there's one character in particular which has some very interesting ties with music. 



K.K. Slider is a musical dog which gives performances in each of the Animal Crossing games. In earlier games he played on Saturday nights in the cafe below the museum, but in New Leaf he is the headline DJ at Club LOL. K.K. plays many different songs which are eventually available as records for the player and other villagers to own and play in their own homes. K.K. has some interesting real world connections though, as it is said that K.K. Slider is an analogue for the series' Sound Director, Kazumi Totaka. The special conditions for seeing a K.K. concert in earlier games made his presence almost mythical, and when you finally caught one it really did feel like a special occasion. K.K. reinforces the parallel between the Animal Crossing world and our own, giving the game more character and charm and bringing the music of the game to the player's attention. 

There's no doubt that the Animal Crossing series has done some special and interesting things with music along with game design. It's hourly rotation of music creates an atmosphere I've never experienced in any other video game and it manages to give the player so much information through sound alone. 

What do you think? Do you have a favourite Animal Crossing tune? How do you think K.K.'s presence affects the game? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Also, there's so much music in the Animal Crossing games, I just wasn't able to get it all, so if there's a musical aspect of AC you want to talk about, feel free to chat about it in the comments.
Photo