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.
“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.”