Thursday, May 2, 2013

TOP Tracks #30 - "Engage the Enemy"

Engage the Enemy by Yoko Shimomura on Grooveshark

The soundtrack to Xenoblade Chronicles is sheer gold. I swear Shimomura and Yasunori were saving some of their best concepts to plug into this game - and I've been fans of both of them for well over a decade. I don't want to undersell Kiyota Manami and ACE+ who also collaborated on this soundtrack, but to what capacity each composer worked on this individual track, I'm simply not sure. I honestly couldn't express enough how the music of this game will sweep you away the very minute you pop this disc into your (presumably under-appreciated) Wii. I did quite a big write up on the game at the beginning of the year; it encouraged quite a few friends and colleagues to really give it a fair shake. As far as I recall, none of them were disappointed with the experience. I even got my brother to buy a copy, and he sadly doesn't have the time for these types of games anymore. When he did set aside time to let it, it sucked him right in and had its way with him - as he will no doubt attest.

This particular piece really characterizes everything right about the music in Xenoblade Chronicles. It gently pulls you in with an emotional, melancholy melody and builds up to a rather intense and haunting climax. That's really not a bad description of the game itself, either. The story starts off feeling small, but will soon sweep you away to some unthinkable moments. I spend a good three months of continuous play in this game, which is attention I give to very few games these days. It speaks to just how deeply you can be entranced by this game. I went as far as naming it the TOP Game of 2012 and I stand by that decision. It's on a very, very short list of games I've played in the last ten years that are truly worth finding, playing and holding on to for future generations.


These days, I don't play games for their story. It's sad, I know. There's simply no time these days to plunge yourself into a world and become immersed enough to truly appreciate everything that the developers put into it. I really had no choice with Xenoblade Chronicles, however. I was sucked in immediately. The first moment I stepped onto the beautiful Gaur Plain, I realized this was not a title I'd be able to walk away from easily. I could rattle off many reasons why this game is/was/will always be amazing, but one I'd like to focus on is "emotion." This game had it in spades. It would tug at your heartstrings, drag you to the edge of sorrow, then fill you with vengeful rage. The story is written masterfully, but I think the final nail in this emotional coffin is provided by the music. Yasunori Mitsuda is one of my idols, and he has never been better than in Xenoblade Chronicles.

"Engage the Enemy" stirs up a fire in my belly. It generally plays in the game when something extremely dramatic is happening, either heart-wrenching or infuriating. I like the changes in the tempo and mood as the track progresses, as the developers did a good job of lining certain segments up with what's happening on the screen. I'm happy that this song made the cut for the TOP Tracks; I originally didn't think it was going to. I'm sad that it doesn't have a higher ranking! But it was in my top 2 favorite songs of 2012 and I have a feeling I'll be listening to it till I'm an old man.

- Deez

Derivative Tracks

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