So with “Pokemon Omega Ruby,” and, “Pokemon Alpha Sapphire,” being announced, (finally), I decided to reflect on the soundtracks of the original releases for the GBA. Before I go on with the analysis, I must say that I believe that the original titles’ soundtracks may be the most important collection of music to the handheld series, and for good reason.
In an earlier article, I discussed the soundtrack of, “Pokemon Colosseum,” and talked about how that was the most dynamic soundtrack for any Pokemon game I’ve ever heard. That may be true, in my opinion, but the soundtrack for “Ruby” and “Sapphire” is definitely the most dynamic for any of the handhelds upon its release and there are a few things that make this soundtrack a bit more unique. First, before the release of these two games, the handheld Pokemon games were comprised of 8-bit sounds and medleys. While we have heard some of the most original and iconic tunes from this style, the use of it was starting to grow worn when we rolled into the 2000’s. Once 2001 came around, the release of the Game Boy Advance opened up the door for a more unique sound, one that could contain much more than a computer generated blend of 8-bit notes and beats. Many games were starting to experience a new array of sound, so imagine how excited the dedicated Pokemon fan base was to hear of a brand new Pokemon game with a beautiful new design and a glorious soundtrack, and they were not disappointed. Based on my research, the soundtrack to “Pokemon Ruby” and “Sapphire” has been the most positively received soundtrack of any handheld Pokemon game. Why is this? Well, I’ll tell you based off the most common responses that I’ve seen.
First off, a lot of fans were blown away by how much detail was placed into this soundtrack. At the time, this soundtrack was revolutionary for a handheld Pokemon game, with a huge array of new synth effects, trumpets, and percussion. Having never heard any of these features in a handheld Pokemon game definitely left an impression on all of those who first heard these tunes in the game. In addition, the medleys that are in this game are extremely uplifting, with most of the tracks found in the game using an upbeat rhythm to compliment their surroundings. It is as if the composers, Go Ichinose, Morikazu Aoki, and of course Junichi Masuda intended on using this style of music in an effort to really show off the game’s sounds to full potential, as every tune in the game utilizes the different sounds in a certain way. For instance, every battle with any trainer will always be fast paced, with a medley of horns and synth effects to go with it. Every cave you explore has a much darker, or more ambiguous tone. Every town you come across will always have a cheery jingle, and all of these different locations really allow the music of all these spots to really show their diversity. What stood out to me the most, however, were the routes. Every route has a very positive tone to go with it, with every sound on all of them being comprised of high-toned horns and consistent percussion. Each one seems to have a way of telling the player to keep going, no matter what they are facing and the deeper in the game you progress, the more powerful and uplifting each track becomes.
An interesting fact about this soundtrack is how it was divided. The three core composers of this game all created songs for different parts of the game. Masuda composed all of the battle themes, Ichinose wrote most of the locational music, as well as the spotted themes, and Aoki did a smaller amount of background music, and sound effects. Each composer succeeded in making a memorable soundtrack, and even managed to have the 2-disk set of the game’s soundtrack reach number 297 on the Oricon charts in 2003. Quite a feat for a video game soundtrack.
With all this being said, “Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire“‘s music will always be one of the most highly regarded for any Pokemon game. The mixture of sounds and all of their different uses really revolutionized the way the main franchise games sound today, and I hope you all understand the sheer excitement I have for the remakes coming later this year. I HIGHLY recommend checking out the soundtrack, or playing the games if you haven’t already. You can buy “Ruby” here and “Sapphire” here.
As always, I’ll be back next week with an interesting article. See you soon.