by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Okay, this is probably the hardest album(s) I’ve ever had to review, because there’s just such a huge glut of amazing music done in this fascinating way. Music Box Classics is a project where Video Game Music Box has prepared some of the most memorable game music and performed it in a “Music Box” style, so chimes and pleasant, relaxing sounds. It’s a fascinating experience to listen to “Vampire Killer” from Castlevania in soft chimes and bells if I’m being completely honest. This particular collection highlights the following games: Castlevania, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Undertale. I’m going to pick a few songs out of the collection that I enjoyed the most, but come on guys. This is a 96 track collection, and I 100% feel like people need to have it in their lives, especially as gaming fans. Is there such a thing as a USB Music Box?
Can I get one of those to put this music on? Maybe one that looks like Castlevania on the top? That would be pretty badass. So what I think I’ll do in this review, is I’ll talk about some of my memories in childhood that this song invokes and why it may be special to me. This is a very therapeutic album for me. Since I received all seven volumes at once, I thought I might try to spread the love across all of them. They are available now on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify. I absolutely cannot recommend these albums enough. Each one is true to the Music Box style and very calming to listen to.
Honorable Mentions: Silence of Daylight (Castlevania), Gato’s Song (Chrono Trigger), Robo’s Theme (Chrono Trigger), Chocobo Theme (FFVII), Aerith’s Theme (FFVII), One Winged Angel (FFVII), Battle (VS Wild Pokemon), Celadon City (Pokemon), Victory (VS Trainer)(Pokemon), Song of Time (Zelda), Zelda Main Theme (Zelda), The Dark World (Zelda), ASGORE (Underatle), Spear of Justice (Underatle), Shop (Undertale)
“Music Box Classics will be a lifelong project, with each new album dedicated to a single game title or game theme,” notes arranger Video Game Music Box. “Each album will feature pure music box sound with no additional instruments. This is perfect for relaxing or falling asleep. And for those gamer parents who want to introduce their little ones to video game music early on, these will be the perfect albums”.
Bloody Tears (From Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest) (Track 4): I’ve gone on record more than once to say that I enjoyed Castlevania II for what it was. And their version of Bloody Tears was also wonderful. Castlevania II’s problem was that it was incredibly poorly translated. Possibly the worst translation of all time. None of it was useful. But listening to Bloody Tears in a music box is quite soothing. Simon’s Quest did have a quality soundtrack. It’s a shame that level of attention and quality was not given to … the rest of the game. Can you pluck bells? That’s the sound I feel like I’m getting here at the beginning, and then a soft, chiming keyboard. For a game that was so maddening, maybe this could have helped soothe the beast of angry, young Jason. Who can say?
Schala’s Theme (from Chrono Trigger) (Track 25): Schala’s theme already felt like it belonged in a music box. The soft chiming feel of the track and overwhelming peace it brought me to listen to really felt perfect this way. Schala as a character was just such a heart-warming one. The majority of the Zeal Kingdom was mad with power, jealous, petty, arrogant and overall, just mean-spirited, thanks to Queen Zeal. Janus, who would become Magus was not quite evil (and never was, I don’t think. That’s for another day), and was powerful, but an arrogant child. But as long as he had his big sister Schala around, Janus was a pretty good kid. The song itself has that same calming effect, even now. Chrono Trigger is one of my all-time favorites, and Schala’s Theme ranks up there with “At the Fall of the Night (Azala’s last moments), “Far Off Promise”, “Undersea Palace” with my favorite songs. Chrono Trigger invokes a lot of personal memories for me, as it came to me at a very low point in my childhood, but gave me a little hope that my fate wasn’t to be what it currently felt like it was. That I could change it. Quality stuff, that. Everyone needs hope.
Cosmo Canyon (from Final Fantasy VII) (Track 43): Why would I pick “Cosmo Canyon” when “One Winged Angel”, you might ask? Everyone would probably pick that I think, and it’s a terrific song. But I’m already not a gigantic fan of Final Fantasy VII. I enjoy the story for what it is, and the huge leaps in gameplay/mechanics that it offers from Final Fantasy VI. But it’s not my favorite. The song that stands out to me the most on the entire soundtrack for Final Fantasy VII is “Cosmo Canyon” though. Partly thanks to Mega Ran (I should review Black Materia next. . .) Though I seldom use Red XIII in my party, his song is soulful and deep. Convinced his father was a coward who left the rest of his tribe to die, he learns later in the game that his own father fought til the very end and was trapped in stone. The Playstation 1 could not possibly capture the heartrending sound that should have come from Nanaki at that very moment. That meant a lot to me in so many different ways, because I too learned that while my father may not have been the greatest man, he was not the monster he was made out to be. People can make mistakes, and grow. Most can, anyway.
Route 1 (from Pokemon) (Track 49): Pokemon really blew up over here between Middle and High School for me, but while I did have access to my sister’s Gameboy, I didn’t realize how much I’d ultimately enjoy Pokemon. I didn’t ask for it for Hanukkah because it wasn’t my Gameboy, so I didn’t really get to play it all that often. So I didn’t have that wonderful youth of exploring, trading, and catching them all until into adulthood with Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. The Route 1 song is a hopeful, cheerful song, giving you the inspiration to march away from home and perhaps take the road less traveled by the rest of your friends and family. Which is what I wound up doing right after High School. A lot of mistakes were made on that journey, but it ultimately led me back here, and it was worth it in the end.
Overworld (from Super Mario Bros. 2)(Track 65): So, out of all of the Mario Bros. music on this collection, the only song that really stood out to me was this and “Underwater” from Super Mario Bros. 1. I didn’t play Super Mario 64, Galaxy, or any of those when they first came out. I played a little 64 because one of my best friends, George had an N64, but that’s it. I rented Super Mario Bros. 2 a few times but didn’t own it until much later. I did, however, have 1 and 3. Super Mario Bros. 2’s overworld theme really sounded like a Beatles song to me, and that’s probably why I loved it so much. It sounded almost like an alternate version of “Can’t Buy Me Love”, I used to think. It was so cheerful and exciting, very different from the first game’s main theme. Mario 2 had one of my favorite Mario OST’s to this day. It was a weekend of fun and challenge, and once I learned the Warp Zones, I was really able to fly through most of the game in no time.
Hyrule Castle (from The Legend of Zelda 3: A Link to the Past)(Track 77): This one is another series that while I love it, I missed out on the “big” games in the series. I didn’t play OoT, Wind Waker, or Majora’s Mask. Hyrule Castle is the epitome of Zelda music to me, that and the Zelda 1 Overworld song. This one was a tie between the “Zelda Main Theme” and this one, but I was playing Zelda 3+Super Metroid Randomizer last night, so this song wins. I mostly played this at a friend’s house, like many games in my childhood, but Zelda 3 was such a beautiful game in my youth. Having a bigger, more visually appealing version of Hyrule was so wonderful. How do I know Video Game Music Box is talented? He took a sinister, dangerous song like Hyrule Castle and captured it perfectly in this format. That was a song that radiated danger, as a young Link sought out his Uncle (who died) and Princess Zelda, with Agahnim’s goons/soldiers all around. It’s a big one for me. If Link has the courage to do what must be done, so should you.
Megalovania (from UNDERTALE)(Track 95): So, I still have not beaten Undertale. It’s on my to-do list, which means it might be years before that finally happens. To me though, this was the most iconic song on the album, and though it misses a little something not being as fast a pace as the original song was, I really like it, and it still has that same emotional punch. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of memories tied to Undertale, but perhaps I will someday. It’s a very clever idea for an RPG, and though I loathe its roots in an EarthBound fan game and how that led to certain people trying to tie EarthBound to Undertale, I still very much enjoy the concept of the game.