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Old Dec 18, 2019, 04:48 PM
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Jormungand Jormungand is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 1,009

Originally Posted by Blob View Post
Kinda surprised to see so much love for Wakai. I always thought he was one of the weaker composers at Nintendo. Star Fox 64 is good, but a lot of it blends together in my mind,
To answer your post in general, let's use SF64 as an example. Wakai did the majority of the score, and did not reference any of Kondo's themes in his work. I, like anyone else, appreciate the protean genius of Kondo as displayed in tracks 1-7 of this soundtrack. And then tracks 8-18 happen, and suddenly there's this striking shift in style and composition that is unforgettable. SF64 is always a stunning listen during this particular set, because from the technical beginning of the "game" (track 8), there's a constant string of brilliantly orchestrated compositions that do not let up in energy or finesse, not even for a second. I would even go so far as to call it one of the most consistently excellent, unbroken sequences of music in any game soundtrack ever. There is no downtime. There's a constant stream of inventive ideas and melody, all packaged into tightly-woven orchestral set-pieces from track 8 to 18.

Yes, I love Kondo and I think it's a travesty how no one ever talks about SMW and the brilliant Zelda-esque drama of the fortress theme or the Forest Map BGM from or its absolutely impeccably-composed boss theme (one of the best all-time boss themes, like top ten, including JRPGs).

Yes, Soyo Oka's genius passed by in the blink of an eye following the birth and death of the NES/SNES cycle, and no one really knows how good an RPG soundtrack from her would have been. Super Mario Kart will never reiterate SMK's perfection, and you don't know VGM until you've imagined a fully-arranged Yuuyuuki score.

But Wakai--he composes like no one else. I still can't adequately describe it. My only complaint is no Wakai's fault; that Nintendo has no placed him in a supervisory role not unlike Kondo's, and that he composes far less than he used to. And he's the finest orchestral mind Nintendo has ever had, including the guy they usually give orchestration jobs to (Yokota), who is far less adept at the real work of orchestration.

I was mixed on Skyward Sword at first, but there's a lot to like. I find Ballad of the Goddess and most of the overworld themes boring, but I like a lot of the cutscene, event, and boss themes (e.g. Fi's theme, Ghirahim's theme, Groose's Theme, Stalfos Battle), and some dungeon themes are pretty good as well, though I prefer the more ambient approach of the previous 3D games. I can also respect Skyward Sword for trying to push the Zelda series music in new directions, rather than relying on callbacks to Ocarina of Time.
You're naming a number of tracks not composed by Wakai here. But you are pointing out the different style of direction, which Wakai helmed. Wakai is responsible for designing the SS score like a JRPG, which I think was genius. LTTP continues to be my favorite score, but SS shares way more of its DNA than OoT--less atmospheric, more direct. BGM as a focus, rather than a backdrop. A brave gamble on Wakai's part, and it paid off.
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