Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Project Spotlight: Pokémon Reorchestrated's Kanto Symphony by Braxton Burks

I was 10 years old once, so I have played the Pokémon video game series.  And collected the cards and saw the movies and had a few toys.  Yes, I was a nerd.  Pokemon was a generational rite of childhood, just like the Boy Scouts back when people actually went outside and needed to learn survival skills like knot tying and the buddy system.  Pokémon, too, taught valuable life lessons: Squirtle was weak against Pikachu because water conducts electricity.  A whole slew of children will be saved from electrocution, and for that Nintendo says, "You're welcome, world."

Anyway, the Pokémon games were (primarily) for the Game Boy, and as such came with all of the technical limitations of the portable device, not the least among them being the sound.  You pitted your little creatures against the backdrop of tinny 8-bit chimes and beeps (Note: it's been a while since I've used a Game Boy [although I do still have an original lying around somewhere...] so I don't recall if it's an 8-bit system.  I'm just riffing on a theme here.).  Remixes of these classic themes have become popular, such as the awesome Metroid theme techno remix I have on my iPod.

But Braxton Burks has taken it all one step further.  He recomposing the Pokémon songs into full blown orchestral versions.  He already has a lot of work done with the Pokémon Reorchestrated (PREO) and he's taking it back to the beginning with the music from Pokémon Red & Blue, the original games to hit Stateside.

From the samples provided in the video - and the free downloads available on his site - it's obvious he's doing a great job.  Also, the video is funny so go nerd out to it.  I think it's a safe assumption that the general consensus, whether right or wrong, is that playing instruments "for real" is harder than doing so on the computer.  More people want to see a live band than something put together in GarageBand.  But Burks has done all this work using orchestral samples (with a few live bits to fill in the gaps), and that's pretty impressive to me considering he's using them to interpret songs that already exist in a different form.

All of the music is being given away for free.  According to his site the original Pokémon music is licensed under Creative Commons.  I had no idea about that, and it's pretty cool considering how huge the series is.  The Kickstarter project is to upgrade his equipment, and the rewards are pretty cool, ranging from exclusive tracks to physical copies to some Pokémon memorabilia for you true fanatics.

I encourage everyone to take a look at this project.  Whether it's for a stroll down nostalgia lane or because Burks' passion is infectious, Pokémon Reorchestrated is something worth supporting.

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