“I have written, thought and debated about videogame music quite a bit over the past couple of years, and among the conclusions I’ve reached is that game music is rarely more emotionally impactful than when the game in question involves no voice acting or speaking. It’s one of the big reasons why so much of the music from FFVII’s era is still so celebrated, and why so much modern game music feels like Hollywood hackwork by comparison.

My theory is that a strong melody occupies the same mental/conceptual space as spoken words do, and that it is therefore difficult to listen to both at once. You’ll notice that in most games these days (and films, for that matter), the big melodic themes only move to the foreground during action scenes; when it comes time for the characters to do some talking, big single-line motifs are replaced with wider, less intrusive chords and textures.

Therefore the composer for any text-only game has the luxury of space—with no words getting in the way, Uematsu was free to write whatever music he wanted…”

–Kirk Hamilton, on FFVII.


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