Arjun has attended both the Symphony of the Goddesses and Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions tours, and shares his thoughts on the experiences.
To most people, video games are a way to relax, unwind, be entertained, get competitive, or all of the above. To others, video games are that and then some - a tool to escape into worlds beyond imagination, allowing players to immerse themselves within each game's cast of characters and overall lore. The music/soundtrack a video game offers also often plays a huge part in this experience, and to me, it's one of the most influential factors that can make an already-great game superb.
I love the Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon franchises. In fact, dare I say they're my favourite video game franchises of all time (I know, a unique selection, right?), with Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat just creeping behind. Aside from each franchise's array of memorable characters and revolutionary gameplay, it was the music that really made the three stay with me, and it's a great contributor as to why they remain my favourites. So when I heard about The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses (SotG) and Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions (SE) orchestral performances, you can just imagine how excited I was. Having now seen both performances, I will offer my take on each experience (mostly spoiler-free) which may help those of you who are on the fence about attending one or both of them.
Let's start off with Zelda's SotG. I've been twice now, both in 2015 and 2016, and I'll start off by saying that although both experiences were pretty much identical in terms of content, I enjoyed it just as much - if not more - the second time round; I'd go again if I could.
SotG is an amazing experience – you're taken through medleys of the legendary music contained within the Zelda universe, accompanied with respective gameplay footage that really adds emotion and compliments each piece. The footage selected has been excellently chopped up together, capturing all of the highs and lows of Link's adventures that's spanned over the last 30 years of the glorious franchise. The way the music is structured is non-linear, as instead of solely relying on the typical chronological game-by-game format, there are compositions that encompass elements from most, if not all games of the series, such as a piece dedicated to the franchise's boss battles. Moreover, there's also a choir who perform the dramatic vocals needed in some of the pieces, which is a great touch.
It truly is a masterpiece that successfully captures and delivers the essence and emotion that the music of The Legend of Zelda is well-renowned for, and without spoiling anything, there are some nice "Easter eggs" and surprises sprinkled throughout the event too. A cool added touch is that the conductor of the orchestra holds a Wind Waker instead of a usual baton (which I actually got as a gift over Christmas - and it's pretty awesome). I've even attended SotG with people who aren't fans of the Zelda series or video games in general, and yet they even felt their spirits uplifted upon exiting the event and came with me the second time round. Overall, Zelda's SotG is a solid 9-9.5/10 from me, with the event just shy of that perfect 10 due to the absence of my favourite song - *spoiler alert* - "Song of Storms". Nevertheless, I highly recommend it!
And now we come to Pokémon's SE. I only went to this in the December just gone by, and I had some high expectations. Granted, I may have doomed myself from the start as I watched one incredible orchestral performance of Pokémon Gold. If you look at that video (below), you'll notice how much spirit has been poured into the composition. The musicians play out every intricate detail respective to the gameplay footage being run, from interrupting their medley when a wild Pokémon appears to even the sounds of Pokémon attacks during battle sequences. There is also great character in the player who played the game, for instance they go out of their way to "accidentally" ask the Pokémon Centre's nurse to heal their Pokémon for a second time (all us button mashers have done it at some point!).
So, as mentioned, I may have shot myself in the foot by watching that, but what about the tour I attended? Well, as you may have expected, the symphony traversed through six generations of Pokémon games (Red, Blue & Yellow through to X & Y). Of course we've recently gotten our hands on Gen VII's Sun & Moon, but there's no way they could've prepared the songs of these games so soon after their release. The songs were performed well, the chronological ordering was a logical choice, the accompanied gameplay footage was decent and, quite honestly, that's about as all I can say. Don't get me wrong, my ears loved how the music was performed, and although the selection of songs chosen from each generation is debatable (a lot of my favourites were missing), each piece did take me back to the eras of the many generations of Pokémon, prompting plenty of nostalgic thoughts and emotions.
Unfortunately, having thought over the December performance, I feel that Pokémon's SE lacks a certain flare that Zelda's SotG brings to the table. It's not always a good idea to compare, but comparing this composition to SotG and the aforementioned YouTube video is really striking. The event does what it has to do, and aside from a single surprise, it doesn't do much else to push the barrier to really capture the inner Poké-nerd, at least in me anyway. It's not a good sign when you leave an event thinking you should've been Creative Director, and in all honesty that's how I felt upon leaving.
The take-home point for me was: "There were so many missed opportunities". Each piece of music played isn't entirely in-sync with the events onscreen, at least not with great detail. For example, I believe I can recall Pallet Town continuing to play despite the player stepping into the grass. Additionally, the transition between each piece is pretty much a stop-start approach, whereas - without spoiling anything - SotG nails that aspect perfectly. Maybe I was expecting to see what I saw in that Pokémon Gold composition and prefer a play-through performance, though SotG doesn't do that and it still rocks. Having said all of this, I still don't regret going - despite it being slightly disappointing, it was still an enjoyable experience on the whole. Plus, there's a neat "Who's that Pokémon" on-screen guessing game to help the time pass by as you wait for the show to start and resume from the interval, whereas in Zelda's SotG you only had Zelda video game and SotG merchandise adverts to keep you occupied. Overall, a 6/10 from me for Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions, but that's just me!
All in all, I did enjoy both my experiences at The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses and Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions, but the former certainly outshone the latter. If you're someone who's planning to go to see Pokémon's SE, don't let my opinions put you off - you'll probably still love it. It's just my two cents; having seen Zelda's SotG beforehand coupled with that awesome YouTube video, I probably set my standards pretty darn high.
And that just about does it! Have you been to any or both of these musical experiences or have an interest in going? If so, let us know your thoughts below!
If I remember correctly, the Zelda Symphony only came to Sydney, Australia. Pity, I wouldn't willingly to to that hell hole. So sadly I miss out
Pikachu should lead the orchestra.
If Pikachu saw a mistake from the musician, just give them a Shock Theraphy "CHUUU!!!"
I think I won a pair of tickets to see the Zelda one in London a while back, but they only let me know I'd won a day or two before the concert, by which time I already had other plans and couldn't change them at such short notice.
I went to see the Zelda one in London and it is a good show which evoked lots of memories of past gameplay. But it wasn't a 9.5/10 for me and I probably wouldn't go again. It just didn't entertain me as much as I had hoped.
In the end I felt the music was always a background effect to enhance the moment in the game. They did show some snippets of game in the background but it just seemed to be missing something. For me anyways.
I actually listened to a feature about this on Radio 4 (yes, I'm a little pretentious) & it featured a selection of the music. It all sounded fantastic & there is a lot more to game music than many people realise. Especially dynamic music that has to change to the players gameplay.
I've seen both in London - Pokemon around Christmas 2015, and Zelda in Spring 2016. While I'd say both are excellent, I'm gonna have to disagree with this article and say I preferred Pokemon (probably because of some intrinsic bias! I am 'Buizel', after all).
@jswhitfield8 Really? I thought it was well balanced with each gen getting about the same amount of time. The only exception was the extra X&Y bit in the encore, but that's excusable for being the encore and for them being the most recent games at the time.
Although, I would argue that the song choice for some games was weaker than others. I feel gens 1, 4, 5 and 6 had excellent pieces whereas gens 3 and (most surprisingly) 2 weren't represented well with their choice of songs.
I've seen both the Zelda and Pokémon ones, as well as Final Fantasy Distant Worlds a few years back.
I saw the Pokémon one in December just gone, and while it was very enjoyable I feel it and the Final Fantasy concert both share a common problem: not enough battle themes! The battle music is some of the most iconic music of any RPG so it surprised me that both concerts were so lacking.
Another thing that surprised me about the Pokémon concert was how empty it was. I went on the Tuesday and there really weren't that many people there. In contrast both the Zelda and FF concerts were full of screaming fans.
I loved Symphony of the Goddess and Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions_ when I saw them last year. Simply magical.
I would especially love a Super Mario Symphonics though. Music from the classic games, Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart 8, and Color Splash, at a bare minimum would be amazing.
Been to the Symphony of the goddess three times and saw the Symphonic Evolutions once. Absolutely wonderful experiences each time.
What I loved most was the enthusiasm of the musicians. I was on the front row for one of the Zelda shows (it was on my birthday and I like to treat myself) and so many of them were geeking out during intermission. They were either excited to be playing music they grew up with or in the case of one of the violinists she was excited to tell her grandson about the whole thing. She said she won the "coolest grandma of the year award" for that performance. I have a personal connection with Zelda and I remember the first year I went I emailed the conductor in thanks for the amazing job...she responded immediately. I adore that kind of personal touch, and it is a trademark of Nintendo as a company I think.
I've been fortunate to attend almost every yearly Zelda concert series and I still consider the 25th anniversary concert the best of them all. Seeing Eiji Aonuma and Koji Kondo live in stage was an unforgettable experience.
I was fortunate enough to attend Symphony of the Goddesses this past November. It was my first time going to a video game concert, and I was blown away! The pieces were all amazing and synced perfectly to the screen. Just watching the orchestra and choir, I found it amazing how so many talented people could put together such an amazing performance! The audience was a good one, unlike some complaints that I've seen online where the audience was a bit rude/unruly. This was also my first time seeing cosplay, and my favorite one was a Midna costume that clearly had a lot of work put into it.
My only very minor complaint would be that many of the older handheld games were ignored (Link's Awakening, the Oracle games, Minish Cap), but with so many games in the franchise and the fact that none of those games are particularly recent, it wasn't a big deal. I would definitely go again if I had the chance!
I also hope to get to Symphonic Evolutions at some point, being a huge Pokémon fan as well.
I have been to SotG a total of 4 times. Each time better than the last. Such an excellent performance. On par with Distant Worlds in my book.
@shaneoh I was in Sydney during the time for some stupid reason when it was on and didn't even know about it! I was kicking myself when I found out!
It's my dream to go see SoTG, one day. I'm jelly of the people who have seen it multiple times
@SM4SHshorts Song of Storms is my favourite too! An orchestral version would be epic!
I have been to both as well. In fact I saw Pokémon zevolutions last Saturday! I'm afraid my experience was much better, and quite frankly wholly different than yours. I saw them each at the same concert hall, and it was the same orchestra.
Both were just as big, grand and large as one another. In fact, I easily preferred the Pokémon shoe, though that could just be because I saw it a couple of days ago vs. 18 or so months ago for Zelda.
However, I can certainly saw that the shows were completely different from the way that you describe it, and I did not see any missing opportunities.
I was lucky enough to see Zelda: SotG in San Diego in July 2015, and I remember having my breath taken away; the whole aspect of them syncing the live music to scenes from the games was ingenious and very well-done. I also thought that the arrangements were nearly perfect, and although I had already heard about half of them since they were included on the Skyward Sword 25th anniversary CD, it only made me appreciate the whole concert more.
I also saw a live Final Fantasy Symphony concert this past August (not Distant Worlds, unfortunately), and I felt that while it was definitely good, it didn't have that same spark as the Zelda concert, and so kinda fell flat. They didn't have any footage of the games whose music was being played, which I thought really added a lot of context to the Zelda concert for fans and non-fans alike. The arrangements were also a bit questionable, with many themes being mixed up to the point that they were barely recognizable. A few of the pieces they played were really good (like the movement from VI and a few piano pieces from X), but a lot of it was just okay.
So far, nothing has beaten SotG.
@Tyranexx I saw that Midna costume too! I was tempted to go as Dark Link which I've cosplayed before, but it would've been uncomfortable sitting their with a sword and shield!
@SM4SHshorts: I couldn't imagine trying to sit in theatre seats for that long in some cosplay materials (especially itchy paint). I found the rolled-up SotG poster that I bought unwieldy enough as it was! I was obsessed about it not getting crushed or torn lol.
@Tyranexx Agreed! That poster was huge, and I bought it despite knowing at the time I had no space for it.
There was the ceiling, however, which it now gracefully lies...
@SM4SHshorts: I still need to bring mine into work and hang it on my divider wall; I'll need to rearrange my current posters first, though....I may end up taking one down, but we'll see!
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