Reading that interview kind of irritated me. A lot. Music should “drive the player forward and not want to look back”? Then explain Super Metroid. The music in that contradicts what he said entirely. The music is atmospheric, and in Metroid you’re constantly going back to places you’ve already been. And the lower Norfair theme is so awesome that I always looked forward to getting that far into the game. Knowing that there was awesome music later in the game gave me incentive to go forward. If the music you got playing right now sucks, then it just sucks. And what about games like Mega Man X? That game had awesome music from start to finish. Or what about Donkey Kong Country or Super Turrican? And what about Zelda? Or Monster Hunter for that matter? What “function” did they follow? I’d really love to see these people interview the sound guys from Retro. Or even the guy(s) who did the music for Donkey Kong Country. Donkey Kong Country literally saved the SNES from disinterest and the Genesis, but I guess they’re so arrogant they don’t wanna explore what made the game that saved the SNES so popular and special to a lot of people. And you know what’s funny? DKC wasn’t a phoned in game. It had the 3D and such, but it was still a platformer. A straightforward platformer. You could find hidden coins and crap but it wasn’t really shoved down your throat (not until DKC2 if you wanted the “real” ending). Now look at Super Mario World 2. It was still sprite-based, but the game wasn’t a platformer as much as collectathon game. It had all these gameplay gimmicks, but nobody gave a damn about the gimmicks. They just wanted a straightforward platformer, and that’s the job DKC did better.
I think these people are suffering from what a friend of mine refers to as “Educated Idiot Syndrome.” It’s people that go to college and such but seem to be totally lacking in real world experience and common sense. And that’s what this comes across to me as. These guys have become so isolated in their little social bubble that they have lost all common sense. This isn’t neurosurgery. These clowns are not Karl Pribram or freaking Mozart for that matter. This is freaking music. Just make kick ass music. Kick ass music is kick ass forever. Nobody listens to a song that “follows a function” years from now. I sure as hell haven’t heard any song like that. It should be pretty telling that I can’t off the top of my head think of any of the music from Super Mario World, but I can hum out every freaking song from Sonic the Hedgehog without having to think about it. Or Mega Man X. Or Turrican (any of them). Hell, I can remember the main theme from Bubsy the Bobcat better than Super Mario World’s music! Or NSMB for that matter. Even the Super Mario Land games had more effort put into them (was this because of Gunpei Yokoi?).
These guys are no Chris Huelsbeck or Jeremy Soul. They still make good music today. Much of Nintendo’s output now as far as the games that need quality music has been garbage. Back when Nintendo was riding high, even people that didn’t understand how Nintendo managed to get back on top would at least begrudgingly give them respect. Now more than ever I see people look at anything they say and do and call it into question. People are not taking what these idiots say as sacrosanct. They spend their time talking about why they make their subpar music subpar instead of making good music for ALL of their games. They talk up 3D while they should be talking up internet. They keep asking what they can do to get people to play 3D Mario instead of asking why people love 2D Mario more.
Not to end this on an entirely bitter note, I recently downloaded Tyrian from GOG (I’ve had an account with them since earlier this year) after you mentioned it and I have to say I was surprised at how good it was. For some reason I assumed it would just be another adventure game like the others. It’s also refreshing that it doesn’t feel like the typical shmup where die easily and it’s a pain in the ass. If anybody that reads this is interested in playing a game somewhat similar to that on the SNES there’s a couple I can think of. STG Strike Gunner (you purchase weapons after missions and it’s not hard to beat) and UN Squadron which let’s you buy new planes, weapons, and you don’t die in one hit (it’s still hard as hell, however).
I come from a family of scientists and engineers. One thing that happens with scientists is that they come up with a theory. And then the theory tends to become an ideology. They become so emotionally invested in it that it is impossible to reset them to an objective outlook. Let me give an example: how food affects the Human body. The American population is having all these heart problems rise incredibly suddenly. People say, “That is because they are stupid and eating these high fatty foods.” But the data shows they are eating LOW fat foods yet the problems keep increasing. What gives? It’s becoming more and more realized that low fat makes the blood like sandpaper that destroys your internal organs… such as the heart. Much of the dietary advice going out there is wrong and the data supports it. But entire industries have arisen around the ideology.
Recently, probes have pierced the clouds of Titan (Saturn’s moon) to discover what was hidden beneath it. The discovery was oil. How did oil get on Saturn’s moon? There were no dinosaurs visiting Saturn. Of course, the concept of fossil fuels is a distinctly Western one that cannot be replicated in any lab and doesn’t even make sense geologically. Russians never believed in the concept of ‘fossil fuels’. Regardless, do you think the political ideologies and the oil industries want the idea of oil to be anything but ‘scarce’? Even though any child knows we unleash enormous amounts of energy by splitting an atom? The idea of energy being scarce is the greatest modern mythology. We might as well believe in centaurs if we’re going to be so ridiculous.
Nintendo’s behavior gives us no choice but to psychoanalyze them. The only conclusion I can make is that they simply don’t care.
So why should we care?