Game Music, Reviews

It’s Coming Right For Us: SimAnimals Original Videogame Score (Review)

January 21, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook It’s Coming Right For Us: SimAnimals Original Videogame Score (Review)on Twitter

Yep, SimAnimals. Looks horrible, doesn’t it? I thought the same thing, but the music actually took me by surprise. Composed by Winifred Phillips, who you may remember from our coverage of SPEED RACER: The Videogame, and produced by Winnie Waldron, I think you’ll find these animals to be quite delicious.

I can’t imagine you’d guess from the cover, but the music here is actually quite mature. Atmospheric in nature, I was often reminded of Joe Hisaishi and even Hiroki Kikuta when listening to this score. I’m serious! I didn’t realize that Phillips was such a diverse artist.

Hit the jump to find out what I mean.

“Sims Animals Theme” (do they mean SimAnimals?) starts us off with layers of pianos, harps, and bell trees that create a magical atmosphere right from the start. The piece creates the sensation of constant movement within its many layers, which, along with the upbeat nature of the piece, reminds me of Hiroki Kikuta’s work. From here, “Trailhead” comes in as an upbeat orchestral track with a beautiful melody voiced by a solo woodwind. Birds and other forest ambiance can be heard throughout an abstract segment in the middle of the piece that layers repetitive piano, brass, and woodwinds over one another, making for an unusual but pleasurable listening experience that makes this my favorite track on the album.

“World in Need” provides another impressive moment that sounds distinctly Japanese in approach. It offers a foreboding progression that is deep and bassy. The sharp woodwind notes and descending melody create a tense environment. However, it’s quickly back to the peaceful sounds of the wilderness with the beaming “Grassy Glen,” regal “Castle Ridge,” and sweet “Friendship.” The playful back-and-forth between instruments in “Friendship” is particularly entertaining, with a generous amount of reverb creating a sensation of wide open spaces.

It’s not all fun and games though. “Hard Times” starts with a tense string segment before guitars chug away aimlessly alongside a chaotic whirl of violin and woodwind notes. The quirky percussion also reinforces the suspenseful mood. “Danger Woods,” on the other hand, is a minimalistic track that relies mainly on dense string and brass chords that are full of dissonance and conflict.

The last track I’ll mention is “Forest Song (End Credits),” which is the most poppy of the bunch. Clean acoustic guitars provide a backing for a catchy and upbeat melody. The activity level here is significantly higher than on the rest of the album, which may be in part due to the use of a drum set which allows the piece to sound more song-like rather than background ambiance. It’s a nice reward for those who are able to complete Sim Animals, which I’m sure must be a difficult game.

So yeah, I’ll say again that I was definitely surprised to find such great music hidden within such a benign game. I really enjoyed the minimalistic approach here, and the contrast with Winifred Phillips’ work on SPEED RACER: The Videogame is most impressive. I guess I could complain about the track lengths, as most fall within the one to two minute mark, but when the music’s good, I suppose you really shouldn’t care. The soundtrack was released this week on iTunes, so I recommend checking out some of the samples, as they’re almost as long as the full-length tracks!

Have you found any of the “Sims” titles to have particularly interesting soundtracks? Would you have expected a great soundtrack to be lurking behind this soundtrack release’s horrible artwork?

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