Magical games (my description): games that I consider to have an ability to take you outside of yourself, outside of your life and problems, but somehow deep into your emotions and imagination, and to shine a wonderful light over your life. They affect you on a level akin to a great film, sometimes infused with the depth a book offers, though differently, as you interacted with them on a much more personal level. And the games themselves, from the core design to the aesthetic approach, are magnificently cohesive in a way that could almost be described as magical, as all the parts are synergistic like an organism. Examples from the world of films like this would be Lord of the Rings, or the original Star Wars trilogy. It is like the creators made something bigger and more resonant with people then they had originally imagined, and the factors that play into this are mysterious, hence 'magical'.
This is my first blog, so, it may meander a bit. This is a subject i've considered a lot over the years, so I figured it`d be a good subject to deploy my first d-toid blog based musings on games. Right....
Music adds emotion to a game. A lot.
When I first saw screenshots of Secret of Mana way back in the early 90s, I remembered being overwhelmed by its leafy green, earthy, ethereal gorgeousness. However, at the time, screenshots of most JRPGs made me salivate, and it was always the green pastures, little cosy towns and the promise of fantastical adventures in strange, wonderfully cute 2D landscapes that ignited my desire. I thought I wanted every RPG ever. But when I eventually played Secret of Mana, it was the music that entranced me. And, later on, when I did get to finally play other RPGs (Breath of Fire, Illusion of Gaia, Romancing SaGa etc.) they never drew me in as much, and it seemed frustrating, with no realisation why this was the case, as the games themselves ticked off all the RPG convention boxes, and had nice designs etc. However, it was only after a while that I realised why this was. For a while I just thought SOM was the greatest thing ever, without any dissection of why. But, on consideration whilst playing the game, I realised that half the reason I was so willing to sit there and play it for hours and hours, and wholeheartedly wish I was living in 'mana land' (I was 12), was the music. That gorgeous, gorgeous soundtrack by Hiroki Kikuta. It had become more than just a game.
And I think what makes the great RPGs (of that time) so great was (is) their music. To a large extent, anyway. This is why Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 (or 3) are the best RPGs of their time, if not the best RPGs ever. They had an uncanny ability to transport you away, to engage you on a deeper level then most games, to make you believe that this world exists on some level, and, most importantly, to evoke emotion in the player
. And their music played a massive, perhaps somewhat covert, part in this, i believe.
I hope my point isn't too vague. Maybe I will return to this topic, as it goes deep. Maybe this is all obvious to you guys. Maybe this is all just a lament for a time when more feeling and emotion was injected into games, and you felt like you really were enjoying and interacting with something of a unique, shining gem of creativity, from the graphics right through to the soundtrack. Or maybe it just bugs me that developers overlook or take little time with the music side of things these days. Because, like I said, it is this special, essential ingrediant that takes a game from being good to being magical. It is the factor that raises a game from being fun, to something that your 'soul' benefits from playing, and will remain, cherished, in your memory for ever.
There are plenty of good games around, but few that could be classed as 'magical' or unique. So, to any developers reading, pay more attention to your creations soundtrack!!! After you've refined the gameplay, of course.......
That was quite a serious rant.....I shall do something more lighthearted next time, like an article on the merits of marios testicles' width and height ratios compared to Luigis, or something :)