Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Music to Hum- Spyro the Dragon series

    As a child I had heard about Banjo Kazooie and Mario 64. I knew of the N64 yet I never played it until I went to a friends house. He wouldn't let me try Banjo because he did not want me to accidentally delete his game save. After he cried about it for awhile, his mother suggested we go swimming. 

    I got my 3D platform kicks from a little series called Spyro the Dragon.  I loved the series when it was a simple trilogy handled by Insomniac who went on to make the Ratchet and Clank series. As to whether Spyro was better than Banjo, well, that's simply a matter of preference. Both series have excellent music and game play.

   What made the Spyro trilogy music so great to me? The driving rhythm, consistent in every game. 

   Take a listen to the intro:

   An epic adventure is about to unfold, clearly. 

   Yes, it is a cheap shot to simply claim the game has good music due to an interesting intro. That is the introductory musics job, to hook the player. That aside, the rest of the music is just as good. Considering we are dealing with the Playstation 1 we have limitations. Taking a look at the games as of recent really brings an interesting realization.

   Nostalgia really drove home an idea that all of the levels had an interesting atmosphere but upon a recent play through I found that the simple graphics don't really offer much to the landscape. Trees are simple and walls are made of brick, big deal. What really makes levels like the bog or dark hallow scary or portray atmosphere is the music. 

   Here is Dark Hollow, a level with a driving rhythm that almost makes you want to hurry along before something scary occurs. It's moving, literally: 

  Now who crafted such interesting percussion pieces? None other than Stewart Copeland from The Police. I bet some Police loyalist could pick out tiny quirks in the way Mr. Copeland plays. It is truly his only video game sound track project. 

  For the recording process he beat each level and kept notes on the vibes he was getting during play through. He aimed to hide different melodies in each levels song to provide subtle and unique touches as to not bore the player if it were not their first play through. 

 Thankfully the Playstation 1 offered full CD quality audio without any loss of bandwidth. Even after the first three Spyro games Stewart went on to work on Spyro Enter the Dragonfly, the Universal Interactive game set as the 4th in the series. After the game was released, Stewart went back to composing music for other mediums. 

  He truly provided some interesting music that made my childhood and I imagine countless others. 

1 comment:

  1. There was once a man amongst the elders. He told me, "If you can't succeed, then you can't fly." I took this mans word. For now I live and breathe the fire of the ugly. The fire of the hatred. The fire I breathe is not only a fire, but a symbol of hope. I now realize, I am the one to succeed. With this breathe, I have power. I can succeed. I can fly. - Jerry Spenkewski