GBA Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire Music Super Complete

 

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Review by · November 7, 2006

Very few things have crossed cultural and merchandising lines quite as well as Pokémon. Whether this was due to great advertising on Nintendo’s part, the fact that it got such a huge initial flush of brand-related items, or just the fact that the game has an infectious charm is up for grabs. But whatever it did correctly, the name has hooked itself to facets beyond simple gamer culture. I, too, got caught up in the wave of Pokémon frenzy and play the games to this day.

That said, this has given me a level of familiarity with the music from said series. And what music is contained within is a bit of a mixed bag.

The latest (at the time of this writing) “true” entry to the Pokémon series of games is the Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald versions. The first outing for the series on the Gameboy Advance, the music attempted to grow up slightly from the original games. While it did succeed at that, the compositions are marred by questionable and often just plain poor choices for the samples used to create those compositions. The music, especially the songs for battle scenes, are still very strong. But just listening to track 3, the game’s main theme song that has been recycled time and time again, should give you an idea of what I mean. Maybe it’s just a personal thing, but I think the chip sounds used are abysmal. The GBA is capable of so much better, so that someone consciously chose the music to sound this way is baffling.

Not all songs suffer as much from this nearly crippling poor choice. “Battle! Aqua Magma Team” hearkens back some to the Team Rocket battle theme from the previous games, and does so without as much of the blood-curdling horn instrument used in some of the traveling/incidental music. “Rune City” and “Small Shrine Mezame” show a little of how the music has matured from the simpler, dare I say “cuter” music from the previous games. Rune City personally reminds me a little of the first Mega Man Legends.

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Ruby and Sapphire is also the first time I’ve actually enjoyed music beyond the battle themes. The previous games never had much to offer to me in the form of route music, but I enjoy “Route 113” on a fairly regular basis. Maybe it’s just the flat notes used, I’ve always been a fan of those. Not that this takes anything away from the combat themes available, these new Pokémon games really managed to kick a few of them into high gear. “Decisive Battle! Daigo” is probably the best song on the entire album and it does an entirely satisfactory job of being catchy.

Other than the poor chip sound choices, I believe the only other complaint I can register against the album is that it’s really best when heard in the game, not separately. I’m a fan of the music, personally, but after a few minutes I begin to tire of listening to the songs. They’re not bad, per se, as much as they are just meant for another purpose. Still, overall the album is solid enough. I wouldn’t recommend buying it, as the songs begin to become grating, but it’s worthy of a listen if you find it for a cheap price.

As a final note, at the end of the album there are two vocal songs and an arrange version of “Decisive Battle! Daigo.” The vocal songs are among the worst songs ever put to paper, the vocalists themselves completely awful and totally unsuited for the songs they’re singing. The arranged Daigo fares almost as badly, being weird to the point of distraction. It’s listenable, but only if you drive yourself to derive some form of pleasure from the money you spent to listen to it.

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