High Scores: Hateno Village (Day)

What I find most compelling about “Hateno Village” is how it nods to the Legend of Zelda series’ past without totally bowing to it. Take, for instance, the way the song incorporates the first four notes from the beginning of the “House” music from Ocarina of Time; “Hateno” sprinkles the familiar notes in at around 1:13 like a light seasoning, subtly cuing the longtime Zelda fan to feel at home in the new environment. Essentially, the game creates nostalgia for a place the player’s never been before.

High Scores: Aerith’s Theme

I can’t help but hear “Aerith’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VII the way I hear “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. Both are 1997 babies. Both elegize a young, poor, plucky, orphaned savior. Both build to swollen, gushy climaxes.

High Scores: Terra’s Theme

That “Terra’s Theme” disappears from the game in the World of Ruin (the game’s second half) does not diminish the importance of her character. In fact, by examining how “Terra’s Theme” and its leitmotifs dominate the World of Balance (the game’s first half) but localize in the WoR, we can see how Terra’s story is, in fact, the story of FFVI. To cast Terra as less than the protagonist is to miss the game’s central themes, narratively and musically.

High Scores: Dr. Wily Stage 1

Mega Man 2 is a sonnet. Its fourteen stages are fourteen lines, nicely organized into an initial group of eight (its octave) and a final group of six (its sestet). The first stage of Dr. Wily’s Castle is the game’s volta.

High Scores: Stickerbrush Symphony

“Stickerbrush Symphony” interests me mainly as a narrative device. Beautiful as the song is on its own, it works on my heart as part of a story. Or, more aptly, two stories: the story of DKC2 and the story of childhood.