Pokémon X And Y Developers On The Importance of Balancing Sound And Music

By Sato . November 20, 2013 . 5:32pm

The Pokémon Company recently released the Pokémon X & Pokémon Y Super Music Collection, which features three hours of music for $9.99 on iTunes. To mark the occasion, director (and composer) Junichi Masuda and sound director Shota Kageyama talked about the importance of the games; sound and music, in an interview with Famitsu magazine.

 

According to Kageyama, “beauty” was an important keyword  that played the role in the majority of music that was composed for Pokémon X and Y. While approaching aspects of the music such as tone and melodies, he thought of various ways of bringing out the feeling of “people are beautiful,” as he composed the music.

 

Kageyama also notes that although Pokémon X and Y is inspired by France and has French-sounding music, one thing they were careful not to do is to just throw in French music. Since Pokémon takes place in a fantasy world, so they were careful to not make things sound too French.

 

For example, Masuda mentions that if you’re at a fancy cafe eating a macaroon while an accordion is playing, that would give off a completely French vibe; however, instead of going with an accordion, using the sounds of a Japanese harp would bring out a mysterious atmosphere. The idea of using an accordion in places that don’t have a French look to it is what he considers to be the mindset behind the Pokémon series, as a counterbalance.

 

Famitsu then asks sound director Kageyama what kind of songs he worked on for the game. As it turns out, Kageyama was inspired largely by Masuda’s past work on the music for Pokémon. While Masuda now directs the Pokémon games, he has a history of composing music for the series, too.

 

“I actually made various compositions throughout the game, but whenever I was working on something and wondered ‘what’s a Pokémon-sounding tune?’ I put importance in the essence of Masuda’s past work, and thought about it,” shares Kageyama. “Especially for things such as the battle music, where I made some with a conscious approach of Masuda’s music.”

 

While on the subject of battle music, Famitsu explains how they were surprised with the gym leader boss fight music, which is quite different than what we’re used to hearing from past titles.

 

“Masuda was actually in charge of that, but even I was surprised by that,” shares Kageyama. “I almost thought out loud without thinking, ‘We’re really going with this?!’ [laughs].”

 

“This time, it’s a new world, and we wanted a new atmosphere for it, with an approach we’ve yet to see, so we went with a techno-style song that doesn’t really sound like battle music,” Masuda adds.

 

Now that we have an idea about some of the work that went into the music of Pokémon X and Y, Famitsu asks if there were any new challenges for the sound effects in the game.

 

“If we were to completely change the sound effects, I believe that it would lose the essence of Pokémon, so while keeping the original atmosphere as a base, and using the latest sound sources, we were able to remake it with high-quality sound,” says Kageyama.

 

“This time, the ‘pop’ sound from forgetting moves has changed, although Kageyama was against it,” shares Masuda with a laugh.

 

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“It’s not exactly that I was just against it, but to me, that’s one of those ‘holy grails’ that should never be changed,” Kageyama responds with a laugh. “Masuda asked me to ‘make it into a sound effect that has more pop to it!’ so we ended up changing it. Since we were in the midst of looking through and fixing things, I believe that it worked out for the best in the end.”

 

“I’m sure many of you fans have noticed, but the sound effects of the Hyper Beam and Psychic attacks have changed into a new sound, after we added its original sound source.”

 

Finally, a message from the two developers for fans:

 

Masuda: “Now that the hardware is on Nintendo 3DS, the sound is even more beautiful, dynamic and realistic than ever. I believe that the sound’s level of expression has increased by several levels, so I hope you continue enjoying the evolved music of the game.”

 

Kageyama: “Those of you with headphones, please try them on while playing the game. It’d bring me great pleasure if you could try checking out different areas and listen to the music and sound effects it has to offer.”


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  • Nanaki

    The pop sound effect will be missed…
    Great soundtrack overall. The gym battle theme was indeed unique.

  • ワン スャレ

    I actually purposely holding back the finishing blow during gym leader fights.
    The bgm is that good.

  • AuraGuyChris

    Eh, the Kalos Gym Battle theme felt worse to me than BW (and its awesome remixed cousin). I just don’t like how it feels like an extended rock concert intro that really doesn’t build up the tension.

    I feel like I was supposed to take everything so slow when it plays (and the same goes to Korrina’s somewhat dumbed down Gym Battle theme).

    Whatevs. The Trainer Battle Theme sounds miles better than all battle themes in the game.

    • PlatinumMad

      I really like the X/Y Gym theme, yeah it’s different, but that doesn’t means bad.
      I sometimes use it in online battles, when I start to fell tired of the Elite 4 and Legendary themes

    • thomby

      Actually, I didn’t like the trainer battle theme all that much. I really wanted to like it, but it felt like in some parts the melody were just all over the place. It doesn’t get stuck in my head either. In fact, the gym leader theme gets stuck in my head from time to time. :)

    • http://thespellcraftcolumn.wordpress.com Rudolph Consuegra

      It could have been used for the other trainers in the gym that way the gym leaders would get a more satisfying theme.

  • Kuromadou

    am i the only person here who really likes GenVI gym leader battle theme ? .__.

    • Suicunesol

      Of course not. I personally think it’s the best battle theme in the game. It was so hype when I first heard it. (Aside from the legendary battle music.)

      It’s just too bad that because the game was so darn easy, the power of the music just didn’t match up to the intensity of the battle.

      • Kuromadou

        ikr ! 3 pokemon isn’t enough DX

      • Chris Evan Jonance Ingeniero

        >_< too bad i played pokemon X while volume is off… im playing in a bus and having volume up with traffic sound is moot to listen to

    • Akemi Homura

      I like it too, but I must admit that I prefer most other battle themes in the series.

      When I think of my favourites, I think of things like Vs. N, Blue, Cynthia, Red and Ghetsis.

      As far as Gym Battles go, I like it about as much as I like recent gens.

      • O_O Master Clueless

        why ppl keep calling it Red’s theme is beyond me, its the same music use too, fight lance and you fight lance first so wouldnt be lances theme?

        • Akemi Homura

          Red’s battle is the more iconic battle. I’m well aware it’s actually the Johto Champion theme, but I’ll always hold more fond memories battling Red than Lance.

          • O_O Master Clueless

            Fair Enough

    • Pinkemon

      Its nice that they did something new with it, though personally I didn’t have as much as a feeling of excitement that I did get with earlier themes. (Especially gen 5 which upped the ante even more with the “Gym leader’s final pokemon!” bit.) I don’t neccessarily dislike it, though.

  • http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/mgbenz mgbenz

    I love the new forget sound. It sounds exactly like being hit in the head with a Piko Hammer.

    *PLONK*

  • Di_Elle

    It seems like X/Y has some of the most polarizing music since R/S/E. I was thoroughly unimpressed with the tracks for both the gym and trainer battles, but this is the first time a Pokemon game has led me to actively seek out the soundtrack for download; the overworld music is beautiful and I’d often find myself standing around in certain spots just to listen to it.

  • Ban The Jackass

    The music in X and Y is amaaaazing. The battle tunes used to have a certain rhythm back then. Now, it sounds much, much better.

  • Yan Zhao

    The wild pokemon encounter theme was really bad. Its so repetitive and annoying to listen to, especially its what you hear the majority of the game as you hunt for the best pokemon and natures and what not.

    Trainer battle was ok. Gym battle was pretty different from usual, but I liked it. Rival battle theme is probably the best rival theme they did so far.

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      Downvote SO MUCH

    • echokanon

      Still prefer HGSS rival theme more, second for me would be RSE’s.

      • Yan Zhao

        Well yeah, Gen2 had the best soundtrack period, there’s no contest there.

        • echokanon

          that said, I liked many of the town themes in X/Y

  • Audie Bakerson

    “holy grail”? Was that a product of the translation? Never seen the phrase used like that, and I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be “sacred cow”.

    Not that it matters, they already killed that one when they changed the message for forgetting moves in English to “ta-da” and kept it that way (seriously, why did they do this? How does “ta-da” fit better than “poof”?).

  • KOTheWorld

    I miss the Gen 1 and Gen 2 audio. Especially the rival themes, which have become kiddier with each succeeding generation.

  • Kilim

    the rival battle theme, along with all the variations, sounds so great

  • http://guillotineghosties.tumblr.com Ghosties

    The only theme that really stood out to me was Lysandre’s, which is my favorite in the game. I always use it when I’m battling PvP~

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