Japanese Composers Say Western Game Music is "Dry"

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I can sort of agree with them, western game music is very good atmospherically, but often it doesn't stand out in the way of japanese game music.

It seems odd that people are citing Mass Effect, Half-Life and The Elder Scrolls as examples of western music that disproves this. They fall smack bang in what the article describes: the do a damn fine job setting the scene, but once I've turned off the game I struggle to recall the tune.

It might just be the trend that Japanese developers have for leitmotifs. Take Final Fantasy, nearly every character has their own tune. Metal Gear Solid takes the best of both worlds, with its distinct tunes for each situation, interspersed with dramatic background music.

minarri:
These guys clearly have never played Elder Scrolls games.

Exactly what I was thinking.

Lord Krunk:
Funny, I actually agree with their last comment.

If anyone can find more memorable and famous game music than that of Final Fantasy and Pokemon, I'll eat my hat.

EDIT: Well, Halo gets close.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3dB0qEcG20

aBlackKnight:

Lord Krunk:
Funny, I actually agree with their last comment.

If anyone can find more memorable and famous game music than that of Final Fantasy and Pokemon, I'll eat my hat.

EDIT: Well, Halo gets close.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3dB0qEcG20

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73n7HTcmb5g

Of course you remember this, infact this was done none other than David Wise a British composer (though it may not count but it is to point something out)

Oi! Don't insult WPRGS! We don't need music 'cause we can swing swords you turn-based loving %&*$!$^(%^!!11.

Rant over.

It is hard for me to remember any themes from western games, the only one that comes to mind is the Fable theme. If you want good japanese music in a game, play any game by Namco with the name Tales in the title.

There are plenty of good North American Game Composers... but so many Western Games rely on quiet, ambient music which I will agree... is dry. How many games have a score that really pops out at you? As far as I can tell, most people on this thread are just referencing their favorite games, assuming that they automatically have a good soundtrack because of the "MY FAVORITE GAME IS PERFECT HOW DARE YOU INSULT IT IN ANY WAY YOU BASTARD" effect, with a little Xenophobia thrown in there thanks to Yahtzee and his anti-japanese sentiments.

The Western Games I can think of with scores that really "pop" are...

- The Halo Series
- Mass Effect
- Uncharted: Drakes Fortune (Greg Edmondson of Firefly fame composed that one)

Games like Oblivion, Morrowind and Fallout 3 have boring, bland and DRY scores that sit in the back ground, rarely making themselves heard. Because SO MANY people here say those games have GOOD soundtacks I'm pretty sure that a good 80% of you don't give a DAMN about the music and just want to indulge your mild cultural hatred toward Japanese Developed Games.

Are the people who make the music for Rares games asians? If not, they are morons. Just listen to DKC, Conker, Banjo-Kazooie or Perfect Dark. <3

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

Zing!

PedroSteckecilo:
There are plenty of good North American Game Composers... but so many Western Games rely on quiet, ambient music which I will agree... is dry. How many games have a score that really pops out at you? As far as I can tell, most people on this thread are just referencing their favorite games, assuming that they automatically have a good soundtrack because of the "MY FAVORITE GAME IS PERFECT HOW DARE YOU INSULT IT IN ANY WAY YOU BASTARD" effect, with a little Xenophobia thrown in there thanks to Yahtzee and his anti-japanese sentiments.

The Western Games I can think of with scores that really "pop" are...

- The Halo Series
- Mass Effect
- Uncharted: Drakes Fortune (Greg Edmondson of Firefly fame composed that one)

Games like Oblivion, Morrowind and Fallout 3 have boring, bland and DRY scores that sit in the back ground, rarely making themselves heard. Because SO MANY people here say those games have GOOD soundtacks I'm pretty sure that a good 80% of you don't give a DAMN about the music and just want to indulge your mild cultural hatred toward Japanese Developed Games.

I'm glad someone else was thinking this. It seems like a lot of people were jumping all over any chance to attack Japanese games.

I also think the title of this article was just a wee bit sensationalist. I was expecting something different from the "I wish we had their budgets!" that most of the article was.

Personally, everything sounds dry compared to 'The Hymn of the Fayth' and most final fantasy music in general

Yeah sure. GTA has crap music and so does Half-Life.
C'mon what's this about?

Dragonblade146:

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

Bingo.

I didn't like Halo but the music was epic. Also that "Oh no you didn't" song in Mercenaries 2. (Come to think of it Battle field Bad company had really good music too)

1ronJ4m:
Yeah sure. GTA has crap music and so does Half-Life.
C'mon what's this about?

GTA has licensed music, which doesn't count, this guy is refering to Original Scores and name me a memorable track from a Half-Life game that isn't "Stay Alive"? Can you name me the composer for Half Life? I can name you several memorable tracks and composers from Japanese Games.

PedroSteckecilo:

1ronJ4m:
Yeah sure. GTA has crap music and so does Half-Life.
C'mon what's this about?

GTA has licensed music, which doesn't count, this guy is refering to Original Scores and name me a memorable track from a Half-Life game that isn't "Stay Alive"? Can you name me the composer for Half Life? I can name you several memorable tracks and composers from Japanese Games.

Uhh... you're right about GTA, sorry.
For Half-Life tho: Triage at Dawn from Viktor Antonov. Pretty sweet. Yea I know it isn't in the game fully though. Also I think Halo CE had really good music.

You know, I can agree on a lot of points there. I love the full orchestral pieces you get in a lot of Western games, but I've never been able to get the same feeling that I get from, say, the Princess Mononoke soundtrack or the Chrono Cross soundtrack.

On the other hand, a lot of music in JRPGs is abrasive to the point where you wish you could forget it. Ugh... the S.S. Zelbess theme comes to mind here.

Fightgarr:
You know, I can agree on a lot of points there. I love the full orchestral pieces you get in a lot of Western games, but I've never been able to get the same feeling that I get from, say, the Princess Mononoke soundtrack or the Chrono Cross soundtrack.

On the other hand, a lot of music in JRPGs is abrasive to the point where you wish you could forget it. Ugh... the S.S. Zelbess theme comes to mind here.

Be fair, Joe Hisashi is a god among film composers and Yasonori Mitsuda is one of the best videogame composers ever (he also scored Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Xenosaga, Shadow Hearts and many more)

Goldeneye103X2:
It's actually ironic, madworld has a great western soundtrack, and the game's made in japan.

Next thing i know they'll be running over people in their ambulances.

that's happened before.
Irony is hilarious.

I don't care what Japanese game developers think.
It's starting to become what I hate about regular media these days.

Combined:
Monkey Island. I dare you to tell me that wasn't memorable at all.

So memorable I had to youtube it just to remember... bleh been too long since I've played. Sounds like inspiration for some Age of Wonders tracks.

sheic99:

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

He's two standard deviations away from the mean.

But that would make him .3% of the gaming music composers, surely he's not that common.

Come to think of it, I would probably know some music by Japanese devs (which I don't) if they made games worth playing.
My friend who plays FF games knows a lot of that music but the games are so long that they could drum almost anything into you.
Square is Japanese right?

I guess I have the ability to forget unforgettable melodies because I used to have Monster Hunter and I can't remeber any of the music.

I thought that the original Fallout's soundtrack was memorable, but for a different reason (ie, being a sixties TV jingle, slowly warping into post-apocalyptic horror music that continues for the WHOLE GAME, nicely tripling the the atmosphere).

The soundtracks of Halo and Metal Gear Solid beg to differ.

However, I do see their point.

PedroSteckecilo:
...thanks to Yahtzee and his anti-japanese sentiments.

I think you need to watch his videos MUCH more closely. He hates JRPGs, but he dislike RPGs in general. On the other hand, he loves horror and REALLY creams himself over Japanese horror. He probably prefers Japanese producers to American ones.

Really, make sure your ideas are at least correct before putting them down.

I disagree.

Look, nobody is going to remember the soundtrack of a game if they don't care about it. I've played many Japanese games and there are few songs from them I distinctly remember. Yet I remember many songs from Western games like Half-Life.

Is that because Half-Life has a better soundtrack? No, it's because I enjoyed Half-Life more and thus the music stuck with me. You're usually only going to remember a videogame's music if you actually care about the game you're playing.

Well I suck at explaining this, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's really just opinion.

PedroSteckecilo:
Be fair, Joe Hisashi is a god among film composers and Yasonori Mitsuda is one of the best videogame composers ever (he also scored Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Xenosaga, Shadow Hearts and many more)

Okay I will be fair. Take for example that I think Steve Vai is one of my most respected guitarists/composers in the western world. I thought that the Halo 2 soundtrack was good, not great though. But I guess comparing my two favorite soundtracks to the entirety of Western gaming is quite unfair so I guess I revoke my comment. Come to think of it, I guess I've had similar evocations of atmosphere from western games as well. Starcraft comes to mind here.

Psychosocial:
Are the people who make the music for Rares games asians? If not, they are morons. Just listen to DKC, Conker, Banjo-Kazooie or Perfect Dark. <3

That was my point, they're British, as part of the western world (coming to cultural standards)

I haven't played Morrowind nor Oblivion in over a year, yet their soundtracks are still stuck in my head and play at least several times a day.

To me the article sounded like what I seem to see all too often from Japanese companies... bragging. It seemed like they were saying that they do better than us with less money, which I just don't think is true. Then again I do not like pop music at all, and that seems to be Japan's biggest music genre be it in games or radio.

Edit: Oh, and Fable 1. The Oakvale music haunts me constantly. Damn freaky children singing in my head...

Assassinator:

shintakie10:

thats the point though, they even state that in the article. The point is, they're jealous of american developers for havin massive budgets, but at the same time those massive budgets get squandered on useless drivel instead of usin some of it to actually make a memorable soundtrack.

No one is denyin that there are wonderful soundtracks in western fps games. What is bein stated is that with the amount of money that gets thrown at a lot of western games there should be more of them.

I noted that, and included that in the top of my post (read: "Creativity, afterall, cannot be bought"). That little list was just something I felt like doing, plus I included some low budget games like Braid and World of Goo.

A Pious Cultist:

You fail. TF2 has NO music except for the main menu.
Portal and HL2 have extremely generic techno music in my opinion (I can't remember a single tune from them apart from the ending themes).

And since when can main menu music not be included? Or credit songs or whatever? I don't see why not, and that's a TF2 song no matter what, so I included it.

It's just that including games with only one discernable audio track in a list of examples of games with exceptional soundtracks is kinda silly and leads people to believe that you really don't have a lot of good examples on hand.

American McGee's Alice
Beyond Good and Evil
Grim Fandango
Heroes of Might and Magic 4
Mass Effect
Max Payne 2
Starcraft
Warcraft 2

Are just the western games I can think of at the top of my head with great soundtracks. If I were to compile a list of Japanese games of similar standing I doubt it would amount to a higher count.

Byers:

It's just that including games with only one discernable audio track in a list of examples of games with exceptional soundtracks is kinda silly and leads people to believe that you really don't have a lot of good examples on hand.

One? O no dear sir! TF2 has quite a few awesome songs, like Playing with Danger and Faster than a Speeding Bullet, or the scout tune for short. I adore TF2's music, even though it's not ingame.

PedroSteckecilo:

Games like Oblivion, Morrowind and Fallout 3 have boring, bland and DRY scores that sit in the back ground, rarely making themselves heard. Because SO MANY people here say those games have GOOD soundtacks I'm pretty sure that a good 80% of you don't give a DAMN about the music and just want to indulge your mild cultural hatred toward Japanese Developed Games.

What theme have you been listening to?

Morrowind's music is fantastic. Go play morrowind (with the graphics extender and tamriel rebuilt), then walk over the crest of a hill on a sunny day with the theme playing. Fantastic.

Plus, if you don't like the music, you can do something as radical as have fun playing the game (Exploration in morrowind <3. My favourite gaming experience ever. Characters in HL2? Expanding from a "scout hut in the middle of nowhere to Co2 spewing urban vomit puddle" in simcity 2-4?, Atmosphere and story in bioshock? all second to morrowind's wonderful world.)

Also, no JRPG music has found it's way onto my MP3 player. Still alive (Portal) and Still alive (Mirror's edge) both made it.

Though I will admit I don't play many Japanese games, it's because of my usual argument: fans telling me to play them. And somehow my friends mostly ended up being anime nerds, which means I often have the soundtrack of any number of Japanese games/anime/etc. ringing in my ears.

Also, your argument amazes me- "If you don't like Japanese games you're racist." I have never faced such incredible, complex and intelligent arguments.

arcstone:

ARM02:
Ocarina. Of. Time.

Is. Japanese.

Yes. That was kind of the point.

I think I agree with this.

I can't really think of ANY western game soundtrack that I have bought...

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