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  #1  
Old Apr 12, 2014, 12:36 AM
Boyblunder Boyblunder is offline
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Default Modern day VGM

For me personally this genre is in massive decline, I very very rarely buy any vgm anymore and especially those albums released in the last 1 or 2 years. Why is this I ask? Maybe I am getting old and set in my ways, maybe my childhood memories and nostalgic feelings cloud my judgement. I am a heavy gamer, I play games pretty much every day, it is arguably my biggest passion other than football. The soundtracks these days don't have the charm they used to, they are too much like movie soundtracks in my opinion. I pretty much pick them up and discard them, they don't stick with me like Final Fantasies of old, Zelda, Skies of Arcadia, Super Contra, now those are classics to name a few. Even Nintendo release nothing anymore except the same regurgitated promos of crappy Kirby music, wave race etc. Just rambling really, I frequent the site regularly but in all honesty my passion is dwindling. I have a bookshelf with 250 albums, thousands of pounds worth and to be honest I hardly even touch them anymore. Maybe there isn't the money in the genre anymore and the investments are less, hence the poor output to your ear. VGM isn't just about how it sounds, it's about how it makes you think and feel when listening to it. I don't believe the same heart and soul goes into it anymore. Yes there are exceptions and yes I have lumped everything together under one group, but as a mass it is poor these days. No need for this thread, just decided to type.
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  #2  
Old Apr 12, 2014, 08:14 AM
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There does seem to have been a shift in the overall output in recent years, and I'll agree that there doesn't seem to be as many offerings with that hard to define quality of charm/melody/uniqueness/personality.

There used to be 5-6 albums every month that I'd want to buy, but not as many releases catch my eye these days either.
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  #3  
Old Apr 12, 2014, 02:02 PM
GoldfishX GoldfishX is offline
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I kind of reached a point of frustration with modern VGM awhile ago, especially on the Japanese front (I've never had much interest in the western side of things) It hasn't been all bad, but the score and albums I take an interest in are the obvious throwbacks (both retro releases and composers like Souleye and Yasui, who are obviously inspired by classic VGM). I've experienced something of a resurgence of interest in the hobby, mainly because I just want to focus on the older stuff and have pretty much just phased out the idea that any good new releases are coming (if they catch my interest, it's a bonus).

I've said this before, but the general lack of discussion over new releases indicates to me something of a general disinterest.

To me, VGM peaked in the 90's. You had the 16-bit and 32-bit blowups of new composers, arranged albums, OST's, OSV's, whatever. I have a scattering of albums from the past 10 years or so, but not much off the top of my head.
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Old Apr 12, 2014, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyblunder View Post
crappy Kirby music
What is this? I was unaware crappy Kirby music existed.

I'm not a huge consumer of brand new game music as I tend to buy secondhand much more often than new and I'm still trying to work my way through a lot of the old stuff so I can't necessarily speak too much about this. But I know there was always mediocre game music and with time it often fades and the good stuff remains in memory, tending to skew the perception of the past. I also know there have been many modern classics judging by their reception in places like here. Ni no Kuni, Nier, Bravely Default, Gravity Daze, the Monster Hunter series, new Final Fantasy soundtracks seem to continue to be applauded, the Atelier series and its associated things, the Guilty Gear series seems to have a number of fans here, and more. I know I continue to love most of what Hitoshi Sakimoto does, like Valkyria Chronicles and RIZ-ZOAWD. Lord of Vermilion II was an instant classic to me.

So I'm not terribly pessimistic. A lot of the great music of today is still being made by people who were around 20 years ago, but new talents do spring up too. I'm happy to see there's a growing emphasis on melody in Western games, indies in particular (not that they all have good music, but the attitude towards music is more favorable to me). Also, as games get more movie-like, there's also a group who push back against that to try to create experiences only games can give rather than imitating Hollywood. A lot of people who grew up with catchy game music want to make catchy game music or put it in their game. I'm happy about that and someday I'll get enough music from the modern era to be able to make an assessment of how it really is now.
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Old Apr 13, 2014, 04:16 PM
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Before I can comment on anything...How far back are we talking when we are talking 'modern' day vgm?

Few years? A decade?
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  #6  
Old Apr 13, 2014, 04:40 PM
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I agree with what many of you are saying. The quality of VGM (and maybe all things artistic) has dimmed a bit, seeing as anybody with a laptop and a DAW can become an artist nowadays. but I also think we always overvalue things we grew up on. VGM pre-2004 was better in terms of quality IMO, but how much does nostalgia play a role here?
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Old Apr 13, 2014, 05:36 PM
GoldfishX GoldfishX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dissident93 View Post
I agree with what many of you are saying. The quality of VGM (and maybe all things artistic) has dimmed a bit, seeing as anybody with a laptop and a DAW can become an artist nowadays. but I also think we always overvalue things we grew up on. VGM pre-2004 was better in terms of quality IMO, but how much does nostalgia play a role here?
Nostalgia's important, but the fact that so few games nowadays have soundtracks where I am dying to hear the music from them nowadays is equally important. There aren't a lot of games where, if I had been limited to what I had in the NES/SNES days, I'd be making cassette tape recordings out of.

As far defining "older" VGM, I would say pre and post PS2 era is when I noticed the gap. The 8 and 16 bit eras are important, obviously, but the 32 bit era was dripping in quality releases. I feel like the following eras never held up the momentum that was established.
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  #8  
Old Apr 13, 2014, 08:14 PM
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Amusingly, I've re-written this post more times than I care to admit...so here goes:

I don't think Modern game music is in a decline. I don't think it's fair to even compare it to past decades either. Perhaps exposure to the right soundtrack might change some of your minds who agree the modern game music isn't as robust as the past. Perhaps discussion with the right people may open a few doors to a soundtrack you may have thought weak, but might possibly have a deeper meaning within in-game context.

There's actually a facebook group that I joined fall/winter of last year (2013-14) called Hidden Sound Test - Obscure Video Game Music, and the point of the group is to post videogame music you feel is obscure and catchy. We post music from all console generations, and I'll tell ya hwat, Bobby, many, many of these music posts are very catchy. That's the great things about online communities, that it has members that always have something to bring to the table that the rest of the group may overlook.
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  #9  
Old Apr 13, 2014, 08:26 PM
ᄐv๑–X² ᄐv๑–X² is offline
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I think there's just too many options and genres of music. What Tommy Tallarico pushed in the '90s eventually bit him in the ass.
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  #10  
Old Apr 13, 2014, 08:50 PM
GoldfishX GoldfishX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhythmroo View Post
There's actually a facebook group that I joined fall/winter of last year (2013-14) called Hidden Sound Test - Obscure Video Game Music, and the point of the group is to post videogame music you feel is obscure and catchy. We post music from all console generations, and I'll tell ya hwat, Bobby, many, many of these music posts are very catchy. That's the great things about online communities, that it has members that always have something to bring to the table that the rest of the group may overlook.
This is fine and a good idea -the Song of the Week at Gamingforce runs on a similar idea- but when I first discovered the hobby in 1998, these discussions were very normal and frequent. That is how I found out about VGM outside of what I had played up until that point (which was quite limited). Falcom, Tokimeki Memorial and SNK were all discovered this way, through just reading people's posts. There simply isn't much online discussion about a lot of newer soundtracks, so it's kind of hard to get a read on what's actually creating a buzz in the VGM world.

At this point, in-game context has really lost its meaning. I mean, you can tear down an RPG soundtrack into the sum of its parts (Opening, closing, battle themes, town themes, character themes, etc), a shmup soundtrack you can break down by stage themes, etc. That goes for older VGM as well. I don't view it as a bad thing, I just happen to enjoy viewing them from that perspective. Occasionally something will come along where the context isn't 100% transparent (I have trouble making out the context of a lot of Hamauzu's soundtracks, for example), but I can't say if that's a good thing or a bad thing...At that point, it just depends on whether or not I like the music.

One thing about newer VGM that I have an issue with is some of the choices of sound programming. With NES, SNES, PC-98, Game Boy, Genesis, etc, you kind of know what type of sound you are going to get, it's more what the composer is going to do with it. Since the 32-bit era (and even during it), I find a lot of music loses its appeal simply because of the sound. Klonoa 2, for example, is one of my favorite games of all times, but the synth they use drives me crazy trying to listen to it. Uematsu apparently has both a full acoustic set and a rock band at his disposal and he does less with those than he ever did with the SNES soundchip. Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs Capcom 3 have soundtracks that harken back to the Capcom music of the 90's, but they struggle too hard to sound "modern" that I can't listen to them seriously. Even Falcom, every time I sample one of their albums, the choice of synth and (especially) the guitar tone have me turning the music off before the track is over. It feels like the options are more available, but it's easier to dismiss the music just based on how it actually sounds (which, truthfully, isn't such a bad thing). Realistically, someone not really weened on oldschool synth will probably do the same with your average NES/SNES music, regardless of how legendary it is. Give me Music from Ys (the PC-88 soundtrack) over Ys Chronicles anyday though.

Last edited by GoldfishX; Apr 13, 2014 at 09:06 PM.
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  #11  
Old Apr 13, 2014, 09:19 PM
Spirit_Chaser Spirit_Chaser is offline
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I've been playing games since the Game Boy came out. I grew up with all sorts of consoles and have also noticed a decline in video game music. The more newer consoles I'd get, the less soundtracks I found that I enjoyed listening to.

I've noticed that in the world of video game composing, a lot of composers have faced new issues such as having to stick a sound they don't want to do, and many have left companies because they didn't like the new restrictions unlike the freedom they used to have in previous compositions.

At first, I thought it was hopeless and gave up on video game music a few years ago. Then I figured I should just listen to what is out there now and just see if I find something. I think it was with Bravely Default: Flying Fairy that I began to take an interest in modern video game music. Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and others have given me hope. It's just not what it used to be though. It could be like what's happening to movies where now that they have all this advanced technology they get a bit slow with the quality of the composition since they focus on using all these big, fancy sounds. I think if anybody says they don't like video game music nowadays, it's mandatory they listen to as many new ones as they can because there still are some great ones.
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  #12  
Old Apr 14, 2014, 07:56 AM
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Game music and games itself have evolved, some might say that's a bad thing, and some might not. And some odd bloody hippies might enjoy both. Pff them.
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  #13  
Old Apr 15, 2014, 08:27 AM
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I consider VGM a medium, not a style so I don't see how it has changed. If you know what style you want to hear there is a huge array of current and past games still to discover.

What definitely has changed is the way how VGM is represented through the (very very limiting) window that is official soundtrack releases. Those to me appear to be continually less daring and more mainstream selection wise, making it harder to make any unexpected discoveries that way. Though I've always tried to emphasize that reducing the works of composers in the game industry to what's released on some "official" CDs is a disservice to them. (Releases of Western mainstream and indie games may be an increasing exception, though I honestly have no overview there to tell either way.)

Maybe there needs to be fostered some review and discussion culture around game rips so that obscure works that fell off the radar may get more notice.

Last edited by Datschge; Apr 15, 2014 at 08:31 AM.
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  #14  
Old Apr 15, 2014, 08:54 AM
GoldfishX GoldfishX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Datschge View Post
Maybe there needs to be fostered some review and discussion culture around game rips so that obscure works that fell off the radar may get more notice.
I can agree with that. Maybe an idea to kick around would be kind of a standardization of game rips (similar to how there is a standard to ripping CD's). More often than not, there end up being multiple rips of a game of varying quality and also, limited places to acquire them.

Food for thought.
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Old Apr 15, 2014, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post
Maybe an idea to kick around would be kind of a standardization of game rips (similar to how there is a standard to ripping CD's).
This is getting off topic, but there is a standard: The lossless native files from the game itself (depending on the system and format these usually need to be emulated or require some exotic codec for playback, but any conversion from these formats are a waste of space and technically must not be called "rips" to begin with).
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  #16  
Old Apr 16, 2014, 06:06 AM
Boyblunder Boyblunder is offline
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I actually just ordered the Final Fantasy X HD Remaster OST on Blu Ray, first soundtrack I've ordered for a long time. Doesn't technically count tho as it is based on something that is 12 years old :P
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Old Apr 16, 2014, 10:50 AM
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Maybe everyone got tired of writing fifty billion tracks for overly-bloated 3D games on cd with Playstation. It's got to be obnoxious for Motoi Sakuraba and others to write music for these 40+ hour games on the 32-bit era and beyond. Unfortunately with games becoming like Hollywood movies the playtime hasn't decreased down to 2-3 hours of playtime.

The overall culture in videogames has worsened. For the big players the climate is too corporate right now in videogames (source: Mikami interview [note: will edit in later]). Everything is met with extreme caution; nothing is just greenlit right away. The "indie" game makers don't have any restriction of being limited to a sound format to compete and exhaust the potential like the amazing PC-98. Nor do they have the pressure to establish themselves at the forefront of their movement since they're smalltime and the games they release were done better in the past when competition was greater. Who exactly is Daisuke Ishiwatari competing with when he releases his soundtrack for Hard Corps: Uprising? All the big-time players have moved on from that genre of games. Hideki Naganuma's working on Hover is not having him compete with anyone either but himself. Hover isn't going to be better game or have the impact of a decently funded (i.e. not just 3 people) Jet Set Radio. The music won't be as awe-inspiring.

Then we have to factor in all the top dog Japanese companies that went to shit after the PS2 generation (Konami and Sega, for example). The decline of Japanese influence on videogames is definitely something that needs to be discussed: http://vgmdb.net/forums/showthread.php?t=13540
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Last edited by Vert1; Apr 16, 2014 at 11:09 AM.
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Old Apr 21, 2014, 09:24 AM
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The new albums that interest me the most are the ones with original old music or arrangements of older music. I take less risks when I buy game music now and I'd rather sink $200 into verified quality albums from Yahoo Japan than buy 5 or 6 new albums from Amazon JP.

Every now and then an established, veteran composer will release an album. Void Gear by Yasuhisa Watanabe is an argument against the decline of the genre and such a release is what keeps my eyes pinned to the release calendar here, for the chance of sighting another potential gem.
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Old Apr 26, 2014, 04:23 AM
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I guess we're all in the same boat. However, I wouldn't say that the current OSTs are somewhat boring or generic in terms of style. There're still masterpieces out there which are just fun to hear (Gyakuten Saiban-series, Xenoblade, The World Ends with You, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Mario 3D World, Kingdom Hearts, etc.).

I think we're facing the same problem like with current movie soundtracks. They are just too boring and sounding always the same. Compare the Burton Batman 1989 Theme with the current one of the Dark Knight Trilogy. Which one do you remember more? You could expand the topic also to 80's, 90's children cartoon themes.
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Old May 3, 2014, 01:42 PM
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I'd go so far as to say that there aren't as many games that seem that interesting either. I understand technology is always improving, but I kind of wish the SNES, Dreamcast, Saturn etc lasted a little longer in the States. There are some recent albums that I really love. Fire Emblem Awakening, Biohazard Revelations...
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Old May 12, 2014, 12:35 PM
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That's the main reason why I'm focusing my collection (almost exclusively) upon doujin releases these days, or arranges of old stuff.
The trend these last years for me is not finding new awesome tunes, but finding new awesome circles/individuals to arrange tunes I like...
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  #22  
Old May 29, 2014, 04:01 PM
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I don't see it that way! I keep buying VGM! It's my ongoing lifestyle! It may be a collector's Item soon. Check out otaku.com as some of the OST's have high prices now. It depends what you're looking for.
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