EarthBound Beginnings | Melody

Amazing VGM: The Eight Melodies (EarthBound Beginnings)

Oh what’s this? Annie has remembered that her Amazing VGM series exists after not posting one since May? Yeah, this series has been put on the back burner for quite some time. Really this blog, in general, was more of a side thing since I have been so heavily focused on political activism as of late, and thus when I found time to write gaming content, it was for my standard reviews. Of course I still need to finish a few of those and I don’t know how soon I’ll get back to doing these, but I have thought back to my Amazing VGM piece on NieR Automata’s “Weight of the World. ”

I just re-read that piece and I forgot how touching it was. Generally my Amazing VGM pieces are short and and quick, but I basically used this piece to speak to both the current state of the world and my own personal life. The same went for my piece on “Reunited ” from Undertale, and I wrote that one before I even had this blog. Considering how emotional this year has been for me, it is only right that I continue this tradition, and to make it even more poetic, I will re-write the last pre Guardian Acorn VGM piece that I needed to revise, Earthbound Beginning’s “The Eight Melodies.” For the purposes of this piece, I will be sticking to official arrangements.

Despite being only about 30 seconds long, this song has a pretty strong emotional power to it. This song is actually a key element of the game’s plot. Throughout the game, you are collecting 8 pieces of this melody. They are ultimately used as the key to defeating the final boss of the game, but I won’t spoil how. However, there is more to the song than that, as it also has a major presence in this game’s breathtaking ending theme, simply known as “The End.”

This song may be one of the most beautiful compositions to ever be created on the NES. Despite being for an 8-bit game, there is something cinematic about this theme in that every note evokes strong emotion, the base melody is the same as the previously established “Eight Melodies” track combined with the climax of the haunting title theme, “Mother Earth.”

The EarthBound trilogy is known for leaving a strong impression on those who play it, and I’m willing to bet these powerful and emotional melodies played a role. Captivating players from the beginning to end, letting them know that this is so much more than just a game. It is enough to bring tears to one’s eye, and how fitting that the game’s tagline was “no crying until the end.”

Up next is “Eight Melodies” by the St. Paul’s Cathedinal Choir, included as part of the 1989 MOTHER arrangement album released alongside the original game. I think this one speaks for itself. It is brilliantly arranged and is pure bliss to the ears. As opposed to the more cinematic nature of the in game ending credits version, this arrangement is more akin to what you’d hear from a classical composer. While this one is titled “Eight Melodies,” it is actually a closer arrangement to “The End” than the “Eight Melodies” track, but I suppose that bit of pettiness is up there with “Frankenstein was the Scientist, not the monster.” I would also be remiss to mention that this was used in the Japanese commercial for EarthBound Beginnings, is certainly a better advert than “this game stinks.”

Up next we have the variations in the EarthBound Beginnings GBA port, included as part of the Mother 1+2 compilation. The GBA port is known for having some not so good arrangements of the original tracks in regards to sound quality. While this version of the base “Eight Melodies” track is nowhere near as captivating as the original Famicom arrangement, I’ll give credit that it does sound closer to an ocarina (which is what it is played on in game) while the original had a closer resemblance to a violin song.

The arrangement of “The End,” (or “Epilogue” as it is titled in this version of the game), still sounds more fitting for the GBC than the GBA and even sounds like it could work for the original Game Boy until the track reaches its high point. Despite this, the track is still as powerful as ever, and the lack of harmony provides more of an emotional sting to it. I would not say it is better than the original by any means, but it’s still a solid arrangement. The version on the MOTHER 1+2 Arrangement album though, that is another story entirely.

Yeah, I miss-credited this one as a fan remix in the past. This rendition really is amazing, and it perfectly captures the essence of the original track while also improving on it. Of specific note is that the first verse is much more captivating in this version compared to the original, and there is a greater sense of harmony. It gets me emotional every time, right from those first few notes.

I have actually discussed this track in a piece on the fan game, Cognitive Dissonance, which really used this remix to great effect. It perhaps captures the spirit of the MOTHER trilogy more than any other song I’ve heard. As awe inspiring and tear jerking as “Smiles and Tears” and “16 Melodies” are, they both tend to make me think of their own respective games more than the trilogy as a whole (even though “16 Melodies” is made up of songs from all three games). It’s quite simply a masterpiece. But we’re not done yet.

We are now moving on to variations of “The Eight Melodies” in games that are not EarthBound Beginnings. The version you are listening to now is from regular EarthBound, which is actually the second game in the series for those who have not played any and likely are getting confused, and is titled “A Flash of Memory.” I have decided to link both the SNES and GBA variants here for convenience sake.

This is a fairly truncated version that plays after collecting a piece of the sound stone melody in EarthBound. While one is still collecting 8 pieces of a song in EarthBound, it is worth noting that the song being formed is not the same in both games. Yet in some delicious irony, a truncated remix of the first game’s “Eight Melodies” plays after one collects one of EarthBound’s own eight melodies.

It would be remiss of me to point out how effective this track is in making each of the Your Sanctuary locations feel special. The track is naturally serene and comforting, fitting very well with the magical Nirvana like feel of the Your Sanctuary locations. They are among some of the most peaceful and serene areas in gaming, and is a major part of why EarthBound is so well at maintaining an immersive atmosphere.

Anyway, I think that should do it for this edition of Amazing VGM. I am still planning to make more of these at some point so hopefully there isn’t as long of a gap between this and the next installment of this series. And as for the MOTHER series, maybe we’ll see MOTHER 3 get localized soon? Yeah, I’m pushing it.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

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