Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Favorite Video Game Music, #47: Winters White

#47: Winters White

EarthBound doesn't have many entries on this Top 50, yet I'm fonder if its music than almost any other game. How's that happen? Well... EarthBound's music, like its graphics, its story and its gameplay, have that certain quality that is very difficult to enunciate and that most EarthBound fans resort to calling "EarthBoundy." That is to say that the music almost always contributes to the engrossing atmosphere; EarthBound really sucks you in like no other game does, if it strikes the right chord with you. That's why it's had such a fanatical following for so many years; it's the Monty Python of video games, the not-quite-popular game that has stayed on the radar because its fans are inordinately dedicated.

But EarthBound's music does not, for the most part, translate well to listening to outside of the game. You download it to your mp3 player and listen to it while you're working out, and all but a few tracks kind of fall flat. Divorced from the gameplay and story, they just don't stand up too well. The Square games, on the other hand, all feature many tracks that do sound terrific even when not associated with the game itself. So it is fair to say they have better music than EarthBound does.

Anyway, let's talk about this particular piece, which is the only atmosphere piece from EarthBound that made this Top 50. There are a couple worthy candidates I might have chosen: the musical themes of Fourside, Scaraba, Magicant and the Lost Underworld come to mind. But I like the Winters theme the best. For one thing, it sounds like Christmas (sleigh bells, don't you know) and who doesn't like Christmas? That by itself guarantees that as soon as you hear this song, you're going to think about hot chocolate and bright lights and similarly cheery thoughts. And it also invokes one of my favorite images: the snowy roads and fields on a cloudy winter night, the kind where the snow glows even if there's little moonlight. The music, like a winter night, is enjoyable, peaceful, hopeful, and oddly inviting.

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