Kingdom Hearts stole my heart with its battle system, story, characters and graphics, but what really stimulated me to the core was its overwhelming music; never have I been so moved to shed a tear to a tune. Yoko Shimura , composer and writer for first three Kingdom Hearts games says, “When I create, music, my approach is to put things together to see how is feel, and then go with what works. That’s my style.” The Japanese version of Kingdom Hearts’ theme song, “Hikari”, is not the theme song to the English version but the pre-intro movie to the game. This didn’t change the fact that it was still an admirably compelling piece that did so much more than just open the game, but unwrap a legacy.
Starting with a delicate but beautiful serenade as the lyrics begins with “thinking of you, wherever you are” and ends with “there are many worlds, but they share the same sky- one sky, one destiny” brought a reflective awareness of classic Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella. As the orchestra exploded in cymbals, violins, and drums it instilled a meaning that you were about to go on a mission to do something enjoyable, exhilarating, and liberating.. The violins embodied the harsh trials that awaited the player as the melody marched along until its climax to a high unison octane that exploded in cymbals until it unexpectedly stopped and transitioned into “Dearly beloved.” As the cellos and violins croon to the sound of ocean waves, the piano begins its solo softly as if hypnotizing you to forget to press the start button and become lost in the moment. In no way did you play a game that kindled the beginning of a mysterious adventure so incredible simply using music.
“Simple and Clean” written and performed by Hikaru Utada, was a techno pop tune played with the opening credits of the English version that threw you into the world of the characters foreshadowing the events that would emerge in the entire game. The music symbolized the character's persona so much so that it seemed to complement their clothing styles and mental state of mind. Just the beginning of the tune, as you hear the heartbeat to the percussions until it bursts in a fast pace melody was so exhilarating to hear that it stamped a profound experience in gaming for me.
In the new additions to the series, Dream Drop Distance, Square Enix has not tapered on the depth they portray in their music within their games. With songs attributed to another Square Enix game, The World Ends with You, it is a relief to know that the urge to produce exhilarating music hasn’t been altered but added. With the new additions we get more bop to our beats. Most of the songs are originally composed by Takeharu Ishimoto who remixed them for Dream Drop Distance. The interesting aspect of these songs is the introduction of unique lyrics and more mature attitude to the music which at first seems to defy the laws that made Kingdom Hearts spectacular, but ingeniously the vocals almost uplift the music to newer heights. The punk and magical tune of “Calling-Kingdom Remix”, gives an almost eerie mysterious connotation to the KH series that is highly correlated to the characters journey from naive young children into stronger, experienced, and tarnished young adults. Had I been told the next installment would include such new direction into the music, I would laugh and outright demand it to be removed, but after hearing the songs it seems almost too artistic perfect.
“Twister- Kingdom Mix” is another track from The World Ends with You remixed for Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance. The melody is such a hip hop country amass trip that I started bopping to the female rapper and was quite stunned to the psychedelic “Beatles” like interlude that was followed by an imaginative guitar solo with more female rapping. It reminded me of something I’d hear from Cowboy Bebop and with that I was sold! By the end of the song, I was almost converted but it wasn’t until I heard “Someday- Kingdom Remix” where I was given a heartwarming euphoric serene feeling and let go to become a fan. The song reminded me of my favorite indie band Asobi Sekusu mixed with the same serene meaningful music connotations “Dearly Beloved” and “Simple and Clean” offered. With that, I accepted the innovative musical transformation of Kingdom Hearts and remained a devoted fan of its music.
If you’re a fan of Kingdom Hearts, are you content with the new musical additions? What’s your take on the old ones versus the new? Let us know.
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance is set to release July 31st, 2012.