Our interview with Yoko Shimomura

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Lovers of the old action-RPG will not fail to rush to the HD Remaster of a certain Legend of Mana, available for a few days on our modern consoles. Among the highlights of this edition, it is impossible to miss the superb rorchestrations of already tasty melodies by Yoko Shimomura, which we no longer present. Height of happiness, the composer answered some of our questions, and agreed to go back 20 years, and measure the distance traveled.

“I will not be where I am today without the music of Legend of Mana”

Gameblog: the release of Legend of Mana in 1999, You had to take over from Kenji Itō and Hiroki Kikuta: how did you manage to adapt your style of composition to the universe of the series?

Yoko Shimomura: I composed by trying to keep a fresh look and keeping an open mind, without thinking too much about it. I felt like trying to intentionally imitate the style of the previous episodes wasn’t going to work, but I was convinced that if I respected the music of Kenji Itō and Hiroki Kikuta, everything would be fine.

The PlayStation CD player at the time offered a much better sound quality, and allowed a greater fidelity of the original score. Has it changed the way you write music? How do you see the added value of the rorchestration work that tends to become mandatory for re-releases of older games?

If we could have played the music straight out, it might indeed have reached CD quality, but apart from a few tracks, all of the original compositions were recorded with the console’s internal synthesizer. However, a few recordings were used at times when it was possible to play it directly, such as in the opening or ending cinematics. Since we could record these songs directly, we could incorporate string sets and vocals, which was difficult to do with the console’s internal synthesizer. Nowadays, including in the remastered version of the game, many songs immediately sound great thanks to the console, and it is no longer necessary to record them with musicians. This means that we can now deal directly with the capabilities of the hardware, regardless of where the recording is coming from. There aren’t really any technical restrictions anymore, and I think we’re no longer able to compose freely today.

The music of the Mana series has been played all over the world for a few years now, as was the case in Paris: how do you feel about these rorchestrations of your work?

I feel like in a dream. I didn’t think that would ever happen at the time. I really feel like it is an honor – I am delighted!

Your compositions for the Mana series stand out from many other representatives of the action-RPG by often opting for a calmer and softer approach, even when it is necessary to illustrate dantesque boss fights. Is this a conscious step on your part?

I don’t think I have that kind of thinking in my mind when I’m composing. However, I always make it a top priority to have my music match the atmosphere of the game, so if you’re kind enough to think this about my work, maybe it’s because the atmosphere of Legend of Mana is changing. particularly suited to it.

For Rise of Mana, you were asked to compose as a guest, which attests to how you’ve touched players and made history in the series, whether or not you cross paths with it again. How would you define your musical heritage in the Mana series?

You are way too nice, because I still have a way to go! I must say that Legend of Mana has given me a lot. It was an important step in my career, it was also like a new starting point, as if it helped me find the answer to something … This job had a huge impact on me. If Legend of Mana did not exist, then I think neither my music nor my name would be so well known today, or even that I would have finally approached to compose some tracks that I was able to propose as independent!

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