Japanese Composers Say Western Game Music is "Dry"

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DrunkWithPower:
Someone hasn't played a Madden game

Cogito:
What about the orange box. Portal in patiqular... tell me Still Alive isnt lodged in your brain :)

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

Guys, guys, guys this is not the point. I am not going into the specific games as no one will agree all the time on any of these but they are talking about a general feel from the western fps. They are against the idea of going the hollywood direction in for game music, they are not saying all western game music is bad though.

Edit. Really is it just me that finds the article title needly combative?

Pretty fair point from those composers, barely any music from Western games I consider truly memorable. In fact the first that comes to mind is Rareware's work.

This is why Graeme Norgate is Godlike, thanks to him the Timesplitters and Goldeneye soundtracks are anything but "dry". YouTube examples in the spoilers, top one Goldenye bottom Timesplitters.

Worsle:

DrunkWithPower:
Someone hasn't played a Madden game

Cogito:
What about the orange box. Portal in patiqular... tell me Still Alive isnt lodged in your brain :)

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

Guys, guys, guys this is not the point. I am not going into the specific games as no one will agree all the time on any of these but they are talking about a general feel from the western fps. They are against the idea of going the hollywood direction in for game music, they are not saying all western game music is bad though.

Edit. Really is it just me that finds the article title needly combative?

Heh, no...its akin to staring a question "your momma..." ;)

but i see your point...in general music in Western games is just a way to tell you when combat is happening or to build atmosphere...rarely memorable.

But if i did want music i wouldent buy a game, i would buy music. Mabey that kind of mindset is why?

Err, was they talking about western game music, or north american game music 8D ?

I dont really think that this statement from them really say much though. It depends on what type of game, whose publishing it etc. There are lots of japanese games with not so memorable tunes too, though I agree that, say lost odyssey and games like that tend to have a memorable score.

PedroSteckecilo:
Maybe if Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill 1-5) or Shoji Meguro (Persona) had made this claim I'd be more inclined to listen.

As well, The Halo Soundtrack, The Metal Gear Soundtrack and the Mass Effect Soundtrack do prove them a little bit wrong.

You think that the might be talking more about melodies?

I guess Japan wants a catchy tune, while america want a captivating song that works with the cinematics rather than stand out or above them.

I cant really get what theyre tryign to get at.

1) I think the Halo score is great. Don't massively like the game. But then my friend plays the FF?? sound track in his car and that's great too.

2) For a certain type of gamer a musical 'score' isn't really very important. If you're playing a twitchy deathmatch game and need every visual and audio clue you don't often want a wonderful orchestral piece in the background. As many of the big budget western games have a realistic / gritty emphasis (I'm thinking CoD4/5, Gears, Resistance, etc) music is rarely going to be designed to sit separate as a score, but merely to support and prompt the action.

3) A lot of the technology used in the lower budget Japanese creation is likely to have been invented in big budget situations which then filtered down. Its understandable not to prefer the big budget style but its important to not reject it out of hand.

At least with RPG's I tend to agree. One of the best things about JRPG's are their soundtracks, while western RPG soundtracks are "dryer" for the most part. I agree to lesser degrees with other genres and my favorite video game music is largely Japanese, but I don't deny awesome western soundtracks like the music in Half Life whenever it plays or the Halo soundtrack.

nohorsetown:
Personally, I find almost all modern video game music to be "dry", east or west. For me, the move to CD-audio killed it. Before that, you had bleeps and bloops, and you had to work within the limitations to make something genuinely catchy. Then alluvasudden you can just hire an orchestra to drone on and on, and for the most part that's what's been done since the ps1 generation. Of course, I like poppy, overt melodies, so I'm biased. Just my opinion.

I'm inclined to agree with this. As far as I'm concerned the 16-bit era was best music wise, with enough technical improvement from the NES/Sega Master System for more intricate soundtracks, but not doing the orchestral droning you mentioned. Oh, and Chrono Trigger, that too.

Cogito:

Worsle:

DrunkWithPower:
Someone hasn't played a Madden game

Cogito:
What about the orange box. Portal in patiqular... tell me Still Alive isnt lodged in your brain :)

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

Guys, guys, guys this is not the point. I am not going into the specific games as no one will agree all the time on any of these but they are talking about a general feel from the western fps. They are against the idea of going the hollywood direction in for game music, they are not saying all western game music is bad though.

Edit. Really is it just me that finds the article title needly combative?

Heh, no...its akin to staring a question "your momma..." ;)

but i see your point...in general music in Western games is just a way to tell you when combat is happening or to build atmosphere...rarely memorable.

But if i did want music i wouldent buy a game, i would buy music. Mabey that kind of mindset is why?

Yes but like with movies the music in a game plays a big role in setting the mood. I would not in general listen to game or movie scores on there own (though some people do) but there roles in the game or movie them selves is vital. Take James Bond this music is rather iconic and the movie that was made without the music (thunderball I think)just does not feel right, the sense just lack the certain character and punch the Bond music brings. A good score can set something apart, it can't make a good game bad but it can help turn a good game into a clasic.

Halo. That is all.

If pushed, I'd point out that, while it could be argued that it wasn't done with the game in mind, the selections for the raido stations in every GTA from 3 onwards are always top-notch, too.

he doesn't compose game music but Toshiro Mesuda is the BEST

That would be almost as insulting if I called Japan's game industry "A little too high-brow"

Ocarina. Of. Time.

Objection!

Jeremy Soule. I'd say the music that has anything to do with him (Guild Wars, Company of Heroes, Natural Selection for Half-Life 1 and the Morrowind series) is quite memorable and good! It fits perfectly in.

good sound tracks
-God of War

-Halo

-Portal

Half life2

Team Fortress 2

BioShock

Quake

Fallout 3

jak and Daxter series

and I could go on and on

These guys should go play god of war II.

In fact, I'm gonna go on youtube and listen to some of its music right now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVljywxAjH0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kMlZ111Rj8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxrKPLdX8Cg&feature=related

Amazing how many people (admittedly myself in my earlier post) have either completely ignored the article and have posted simply after reading the title...

It's already been explained so I'm not going to repeat it.

ARM02:
Ocarina. Of. Time.

Is. Japanese.

vs

They have a point.

this would be alot more creditable if Nobuo Uematsu was part of it

I feel as if I should ask how many of you actually read past the tag line. This is a lot like the article the escapist put out earlier about how Obama said games were leadin to obesity in kids. The tag line drew you in, made you think Obama said exactly that, then you go and read the article and not only does the quoted line rebuke the tag line, the article itself basically points out that its nothin but rubbish to pull you in.

The entire article here is dedicated to how Japanese developers are mostly just jealous about how American publishers have massive budgets and can still fart around and have cruddy music, or just use that budget for good music that doesnt fit. Its entirely true too. Yes you have your Halo soundtracks, but you also have your Jericho soundtracks. The bad will always outnumber the good, the stated problem bein that with the budgets of those bads they should have been able to spring for a half decent soundtrack instead of just throwin in what basically amounts to random music that doesnt work.

Edit - On a sidenote...I really wish the Escapist would stop with the misleadin tag lines. It causes all sorts of bad stuff that could easily have been averted if they had just used a tag line more true to the subject matter.

They never played Castle Crashers. Best soundtrack in a game.

But, I guess for the most part, they are right. I can't get enough Tales music, but the only song from a western game besides Castle Crashers I can think of is the awesome Halo battle theme... which I'm not even sure of the title.

Also, total lies about Monster Hunter. It's memorable for the big ass crazy monsters. The only song from it that I can even think of is the theme... I don't think there actually is any music in it besides the theme, actually...

Popularity makes a big difference when it comes to going across oceans.

shintakie10:
I feel as if I should ask how many of you actually read past the tag line. This is a lot like the article the escapist put out earlier about how Obama said games were leadin to obesity in kids. The tag line drew you in, made you think Obama said exactly that, then you go and read the article and not only does the quoted line rebuke the tag line, the article itself basically points out that its nothin but rubbish to pull you in.

Snip

Edit - On a sidenote...I really wish the Escapist would stop with the misleadin tag lines. It causes all sorts of bad stuff that could easily have been averted if they had just used a tag line more true to the subject matter.

Good to know I am not the only one having issues with the title, was beginning to think I had gone mad. The topic title does a horrible job of representing the contents and the responses show that quite clearly. Now a proper title to this article might have been a little dry ironically enough really but sensationalist headlines that don't mesh with the contents are even worse in the long run in my mind.

Worsle:

Good to know I am not the only one having issues with the title, was beginning to think I had gone mad. The topic title does a horrible job of representing the contents and the responses show that quite clearly. Now a proper title to this article might have been a little dry ironically enough really but sensationalist headlines that don't mesh with the contents are even worse in the long run in my mind.

Its journalism 101 really. The truth is hardly ever enough to draw someone in. Your article can be the most dry drivel ever, but if you have a tag line with enough pop, a hint of sensationalism, and a bit of controversy you'll have people readin it all day long. I just wish the escapist wouldnt sink to such low standards as that.

Four letters: SF IV!!!

I think Japanese and American composers aren't necessary better then one another but there are extremely different.

The best way to compare both styles I think is to look at Sonic CD. For those of you who don't know the story. When Sega of America heard the Sonic CD soundtrack, they didn't think they it would fit to an American audience (except for the past themes). So they made a different soundtrack for the American version which is also pretty cool.

Listen to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVnosEIIF0w

Your ear can easily see how both soundtracks are GOOD but extremely different and have strengths and weakness.

The Japanese soundtrack is extremely catchy, energetic and cool while the American soundtrack tries to create atmosphere of a "Metallic Madness" rather then creating a catchy toon. One could argue that each soundtrack is better then the other. Either way it shows what each soundtrack is aiming for.

The Japanese soundtrack is aiming for a good song while the American soundtrack is trying to stick to the theme it's given.

shintakie10:
The bad will always outnumber the good

Obviously that will count for the Japanese as well. But I see your point: even though the West in general has much bigger budgets, there is still a lot of crap, but I doubt you'll ever root that out no matter how big budgets get. Creativity, afterall, cannot be bought. I mean, just look (or listen) to World of Goo. That game is made by a handfull of people, I doubt that budget will be of MGS/CoD-like levels, and yet the music is ab-so-lute-ly fantastic (just listen to this). Creative gems will be found everywhere, crap will be found everywhere.

That said, they should really play the following games:
Fable 2
World of Warcraft(hate the game all you want, but that soundtrack...beautifull)
Team Fortress 2
Halo (3 in this case, that song is so my favorite, no song got me ready to kick some serious ass as that one)
Half Life 2
Age of Conan (the game was craptastic at launch, but hell...that soundtrack)
Braid
Bioshock
Oblivion
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (I just hád to include this, can't help it, best minigame EVER)
World of Goo (already mentioned, but different song, godly)
Gears of War 1/2 (this song starts kinda slow, but is epic)
God of War
Portal (duh?)
Fallout 3 (not originally composed for the game, but heck, this song says enough about the awesomeness)

That's just a small list, obviously, but says enough in my book. Japan, you're just jealous.

That was a great list. Rayman 3 ftw.

Assassinator:

Snip

That's just a small list, obviously, but says enough in my book. Japan, you're just jealous.

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.

Hey, atleast we try new stuff and not the same old retro songs and remix it.

Assassinator:

Team Fortress 2
Half Life 2
Portal (duh?)

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).

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.
As for the latter: a matter of taste I think, I think the techno (and some of the more relaxed songs) fitted really well with the dystopic world of the Half Life series. That song, Apprehension and Evasion, really got me pumped. It's also important to not just see videogame music as a completely seperate entity, but you have to picture it inside the game. In HL's case, I felt like it fitted extremely well with the actual game, helped me feel much more immersed. That, to me, is a sign of a great videogame soundtrack.

I think, I have to agree with the guys of the round table. I´m not sure what it is (maybe the soul of the Japanese music strikes a chord with my Finnish mentality, or something), but I find Japanese game music more memorable and emotional than western game music. When thinking about video game composers, I think about Uematsu, Yamaoka, Sakuraba, Mitsuda et al. Not a single western composer comes to mind. Maybe I´m just missing out on something.

Video game music primarily exist in a game´s context; It´s enjoyed together with the game. Music enhances, or creates, the mood of the game, and in a way carries the story. It requires a certain kind of strength for a video game music to rise from the background, and stand alone. In my opinion, many songs from different JRPGs manage to pull this off, whereas Hollywood style game music makes hardly any impression at all. As they say, money doesn´t equal quality.

Gunner_Guardian:

The Japanese soundtrack is aiming for a good song while the American soundtrack is trying to stick to the theme it's given.

The difference between Japanese and western game music is basically here. By nature Japanese VG soundtrack can work alone, out of context, while western soundtrack doesn´t even try to be anything else than a part of the whole. Nothing wrong with, of course.

TheGreenManalishi:

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

MGS is a Japanese game made with an American budget. The best of both worlds.

And a producer who wished he was American ...

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