My favorite franchises from childhood are beginning to embrace change; some of them for the better. I enjoy Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, and The Legend of Zelda as open world games, although I believe this style of gameplay constantly is in need of a shakeup. I have no idea what the future has in store for these franchises, but if there's one thing I will miss is the melodic music that has continued to haunt me into adulthood.
I’m not speaking against change. For example, I enjoy turn-based combat, but I don’t think it would have worked at all in Final Fantasy XV. Likewise, I enjoyed that the story sat in the backseat, and by that I mean the cutscenes weren’t as drawn-out as usual. As for the soundtrack, I think remixing classic tunes for the in-game radio is a clever idea, but the rest of the game is so quiet that I can’t remember any of the tunes from the original soundtrack. I remember loud and crashing npises whenever it’s time to fight a mountain-sized turtle, but that’s all I’ve got.
I get it. The beautiful songs still exist in these games, but they’ve been delegated to the background to help make the worlds feel more immersive. Nintendo claims the Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would come with better sound quality, but that’s to amplify the rustic appeal of Hyrule. In defense of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s soundtrack, it uses licensed music as well as a Scorsese film, but I can’t help but remember only these songs. Meanwhile, I have the opening theme of Metal Gear Solid stuck in my head as I’m typing this sentence.
This is a minor gripe and I know I’m coming across as a grumpy old man. but I really am worried that these series (and possibly more) will forget the power of their own compositions. I myself got into Final Fantasy IV (back then known as II) specifically for Nobuo Uematsu’s songs. I didn’t know how to save the game at that age, so I would replay up until Kain and Cecil separate in Mist so I could listen to all of the music along the way. It wasn’t years later that I had a chance to listen to the rest of it, and not that much longer until I had access to the internet so that I could look up the names of these musicians. To this day, I listen to the soundtracks of my favorite games whether I’m working or passing time on the computer, but sadly I can’t say the same for some of the recent releases, except for NieR: Automata.
I think I’m tapping into an old argument about video game soundtracks being not as memorable. The truth is, the quality of video game soundtracks have improved. The retro consoles had limited sound capabilities, so they compensated with melodic tunes. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss them.