With this week marking the 25th anniversary of the Pokémon series coming out on the Gameboy in 1996, and me being along for the ride ever since the UK release of the games, I decided to take a look back and see if I could wrest a favourite ten tacks from the OST. Something I found quite difficult, as I have to be honest, so much of the OST for these games is amazing across nearly all the generations and spin offs.
10. Slumbering Weald (Pokémon Sword and Shield)
I really wasn’t expecting this masterpiece ten minutes into starting the game the first time around! I think my favourite bit is when the timing pays off at the start, and you encounter ‘???’ in game just as the howling starts on the track at 0:55. But other than that, it’s got such an otherworldly vibe to it, which fits the area it plays in so well. Magic.
9. Buena’s Password (Pokémon Crystal)
Best radio show ever in the games! Come on, who didn’t save up their points in order to buy a load of Rare Candies? And yes... I will admit now, I religiously would wait until the radio show was on in game, every single week bang on 6pm on a Wednesday listen to this for ten minutes, and then go and collect my points for redeeming for my Rare Candy supply. Must have kept it up for the best part of two years...
8. Team Skull Admin Battle Theme (Pokémon Sun and Moon)
Oh boy, that’s a moody violin playing in this one. Plays off wonderfully against the vocals in this track as well. One of the better admin team themes in the series, I feel.
7. Route 113 (Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald)
Definitely my favourite piece of route music in any of the games. I’m still not sure what it is about this in particular I like so much, but I’m going to continue chalking it up to generally liking volcanoes and the many hours I spent running through grass collecting volcanic ash to trade for items back in the days of Ruby.
6. Black City (Pokémon Black)
Being fair to Black and White, an awful lot of their OST was amazing, considering we’ve got greats like Driftveil City, the Cold Storage, Chargestone Cave etc all vying for a spot on this list as well, but in the end, had to give it to Black City. I’m from London, and to me, this nails the feeling of being in a big city, with something darker hiding underneath it, where greed and vice have taken hold. Always puts me in mind of the City of London for some reason...
5. Battle! Macro Cosmos Boss! (Pokémon Sword and Shield)
Well, yes. One of the best climax battle themes I’ve heard in a Pokémon game, even knocking my beloved Ultra Necrozma theme out of this list. Also bonus points to the clever bit of trickery in the vocals in this one. Do you hear ‘Go Rose, save everyone!’ or ‘Rosa seta credo’? Which side of the debate in the game did you fall on? And also, this is the one which taught me that yes, we really do need more Latin chanting in Pokémon games.
4. Gym Leader Battle Theme (Pokémon Sword and Shield)
Oh my. What have we been missing out all of these years with the gym battle music? This really captures the feel of being in a stadium, with the cheers from the crowd in the background. Have to say, as a Brit, this really evoked the feel of being at a football match, or something similar. And I love the way the whistle kicks in along to the cheering at around the mid point in this one. And then there’s the way the melody just suddenly drops away at the 2:37 when one of your Pokémon faint, and you start feeling the stress of the battle...
3. Lavender Town (Pokémon Red and Green)
Ahhh the nostalgia associated with this one. It never gets old, and perfectly encapsulates the eerie atmosphere of Lavender Town. Not only that, but the rumours associated with this part of the original OST as well. I prefer the original version rather than the version which made it to release for Red and Blue. I don’t know, I think this version is far more atmospheric.
2. Kalos Power Plant (Pokémon X and Y)
This has got to me one of my favourite power plant related tracks in any game, I think. I still can’t put my finger on it eight years later, but something in the intro of this game really reminds me of something else. But yes.
(edit, turns out it’s very similar to part of the OST for the National Geographic documentary series Seconds From Disaster which also happens to be a favourite of mine)
1. Mt. Pyre’s Peak (Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald)
Mt Pyre, probably my favourite area in any of the Pokémon games. But oh this just captures the sort of mystical feel of the area so well. Not only that, but the way it ties in with part of the music for Team Magma and Aqua, considering their role in this area... It’s a beautiful piece of music, and a great evolution on say the Lavender Tower theme.
And there we go. I have to say, I’m surprised by Sword and Shield’s dominance in this list, considering I tend towards preferring the OSTs from the older games. But here’s to the last 25 years of awesome OSTs, and here’s to the next 25 years (I hope!). Cheers!
Written by Karen