Matt goes to see PLAY! A Video Game Symphony

Monday, July 13, 2009 at 10:47 PM
The days of the bleeps and bloops of the video game ancients of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Tetris and Space Invaders have long since passed. Technology has now reached the creativity of composers, and while it is a rarity that you will get compositions that equal their patriots in the film industry, there are always a few glimpses of true art with video game music. I had the privledge on Saturday to go with a certain blogger named Chris Knight to "PLAY! A Videogame symphony", a 2 hour long compiliation of various video game music suites written specifically to be played by a live orchestra. As a lover of not only symphonic music, but also video games, I went there with great enthusiasm. But first, I'll link you to Chris Knight's post, just so that you can get an idea of how a much more casual music lover's tastes are. Oh, and just to give the man some much needed publicity. Back to the symphony! I met Chris at the Palladium Cinemas at 5:00, and soon we were off to one heck of a road trip. I was under the impression that we would be heading straight to where the symphony was taking place, but Chris had more than a few trips up his sleeve. We took a pit stop at "Hyper Mind", a hobby store that Chris is more than attached with. As someone who was quite new to the RPG hobby, I was quite excited to be in a gaming store for the first time ever. Of course, just my luck they had no RPGs that I was currently acquiring. It was still a very fun expierence for me to have. Of course, when I told Chris my semi-dissapointment, he turned to me and said in a loud voice that made me glad we were alone in the car "You want RPGs? I'll give you RPGs! We're going to Sci-Fi Genre!" A good twenty minutes later, we turned into a small six car max parking lot, and before us stood Sci-Fi Genre, a store that I was more than acquainted with. I had almost bought a set of Q Workshop's Cthulhu Dice for my friend Peter's birthday back in April from them. It didn't take me long for me to find their shelves full of RPG books, and just a tad longer me for to find their old RPG shelf. I had almost bought their copy of "Fading Suns", but not after I realized it was the First Edition, and not the Second Edition that I was on the hunt for. Anyways, Chris bought his figurines for Warhammer 40,000 (Chaos Space Marines! Death to the False Emperor!), and we were off. We arrived there at about, oh I'd say 7:00-ish. We found some nice seats on the lawn in front of the playing platform, and at 8:30 the music was on! They began with SUPER MARIO BROS. Well, it was quite expected to be honest. After all, where else would you start any sort of dedication to video games than with something regearding that big, fat, Italian plumber? It was a mixture of suites of the main theme, the undergound, that underwater theme, and Bowser's castle theme. BATTLEFIELD 1942 came next. Now to be honest, I never quite remembered that game's music havins such a Jazz-like feeling to it. Of course, we have to be honest here, I don't remember that much about the game, so I'll allow that to pass. We were then subjected to an electric guitar edition of the SILENT HILL games. Personally, I thought this was the weakest part of the whole occasion. Silent Hill does NOT work very well with rock instruments. It was designed to give a sense of corruption and supernatural horror and the way it was used here did not evoke that atmosphere at all. Listen to this, and then I am sure you will be in agreements with me. One of my most favorite parts of the symphony came next - CASTLEVANIA! I was in estatics the whole way through. Sure, they didn't have any of the themes from Lament of Innocence play, but come on! This was Castlevania! How could you not be excited just by the fact that they had some Castlevania music playing? I was satisfied for the entire performance right then and there. KINGDOM HEARTS came next. It was a nice arrangement of the music - and thank God, no pop songs in sight - but the overly ecstatic applause made me frown. Only because of Kingdom Heart's association with Final Fantasy makes it such a huge hit. Otherwise, it is just a purely average game. The music is charming, sure! But it is not worth all of the love it is getting. Oh, wait, I'm going into rant mode again. Let's move on. They finished the first part with a wide variety of music from THE LEGEND OF ZELDA games. Of course, with 12+ games, there is no way in hell you could accurately give a musical suite with such a vast variety of musical cues in just 7 minutes. But whoever did the arrangement gave it their damned best attempt, and what music was heard was quite good. After the break we listened to some jolly music from SIM CITY 4. It was the light hearted fun you could expect from a game where you can build your own cities and destroy it any way you could desire. As much as I hate the Elder Scrolls games (or heck, anything from that hack studio known as Bethesda Softworks), the musical cues for the fourth entry in the series, OBLIVION, was quite good. It gave a good sense of the fantasy setting, of the mysteries of the ruins, to the despair that was given by the hordes of Oblivion that was invading the land. I quite enjoyed the choral cues. Some music from CHRONO CROSS and CHRONO TRIGGER was played. Surprisingly, I remember nothing from this portion of the performance. This is when the biggest shock occured - it rained. And not just a drizzle, no sir. It rained cats and dogs and some mice for good measure. Chris and I ran for them hills and got some nice cover and stayed to listen to the music from the HALO trilogy. Now, you guys probably know that I think the HALO games are good mindless fun, but to be honest, are pretty average. The music on the other hand... woo boy, now there is some music. Great fun to be had, especially by that HALO geek Chris Knight. Then one game came up I was never expecting - WARHAMMER ONLINE. As a one time player, it was great to have that music play. And of course, then came one game that everyone knew would come up - WORLD OF WARCRAFT. A great set of music to be sure. Thinking that it was done, Chris and I made our way to the parking lot when, all of a sudden, we heard something. Like mad men, we raced back to the stadium, and I heard the final boss music from FINAL FANTASY VII, "One Winged Angel". I thought the choirs were too soft and slow myself. And then, they were done. For real. And it was a great experience. Should it ever come North Carolina's way again, I will certainly be dragging everyone I can by their ears to this. Good fun to be head by all.