The Evolution of Music in Pokémon Console Games: How does musical texture and aesthetic of the Pokémon videogame theme evolve from 1996-2017?

Madhuri Suresh



Music for videogame play is a deeply connected notion of the development of both the visual action and the evolution of human interaction. The narrative action and human interaction evident in the Pokemon franchise is supported by the musical design. The pokemon videogame series saw humble beginnings in February 1996 as a pair of videogames for Nintendos Game Boy console. Despite the various differences and developments in the existing generations of the video games, there is a perceptual evolution in the musical design, of particular note is the contrast and development in the theme tune, as well as a consistency in the motivic materials, throughout the expansive series. This research adopts a case-study methodology for testing its theory against a real-world application to music for video game design. This theory is that of consolidated unity and contrast within parallel notions of visual and musical design, as applied to interaction and narrative. The characters within this franchise, the Pokémon, evolve through the interaction with the human player, just as the theme tune evolves in the macro structure of this multi-generation video game franchise. The theory proposed concerning this video game is two-fold: (1) the central concept in the Pokémon video game narrative is: character evolution; (2) the salient consideration for the design of music in this Pokémon game is: evolution or thematic development. Out of all the music in Pokémon, the main theme of the title track of each game is arguably the most iconic and well known. The leady melody created by Junichi Masuda makes an appearance in every generation’s title theme till date. In this paper, I will be discussing about the evolution of theme music in the Pokémon video games focusing mainly on the musical texture and aesthetic.