An Artistic Score With Emotional Impact
Some may remember the original Lost in Blue title that was released shortly after the launch of the Nintendo DS. It’s amazing that Konami already has the third title in the survival adventure franchise ready to go, as it definitely has a lot of catching up to do after the poor reception of Lost in Blue 2. Lost in Blue 3 adds new dynamics with the inclusion of four characters this time around, allowing for a more diverse approach to the music.
Composer Stephen Geering handles score with past credits including the original Lost in Blue (but not Lost in Blue 2), Dance Dance Revolution, and a slew of independent films and television credits such as Ninja Turtles and Dungeons and Dragons. Sounds like my kind of material! The score for Lost in Blue 3 is on one hand what one would expect from a stranded-on-a-deserted-island adventure with soothing tropical themes and tense cues to accompany exploration of the sometimes dangerous island. However, each character’s distinct personality allows for some musical variation, which Geer thankfully uses to explore other styles of music including electronica and pop rock.
I typically find it necessary to cover the first piece on any album, is it gives the listener a taste of what to expect in most instances. “Title Screen” doesn’t really do this in my opinion. While fast-paced rhythmic percussive elements and dueling flutes generate an image of a tropical forest, I can’t help but want something more from the piece. It is 1:08 in length, which isn’t enough time to develop a memorable theme, which is quite a shame given some of the memorable music found later on the album. Don’t judge this book by its cover!
“Beach” immediately follows with some very convincing bongos and a serene piano that harmonizes beautifully with a flute and harp. It’s strange to think about the fact that while this locale may be beautiful, it is at the same time frightening given the character’s circumstances. “Poison Gas Area” offers a terrifying moment with tense strings and seemingly random metallic percussive hits that accentuate the feeling of desperation.
One of my favorite pieces from Lost in Blue 3 is “Cape Area.” Acoustic guitars and flutes voice a soothing and extremely catchy melody while the entire mix gets a healthy dose of reverb to give the piece an airy, careless feeling. It is the longest piece on the album, and with good cause; this should be the game’s main theme.
“Lake” offers another serene experience with interplay between a harp and a flute. Strings act as a cushion, maintaining a steady pitch throughout the piece and lending an angelic character to the piece. Coming back to the previously mentioned title theme, “Menu” takes the melody and tones down the tempo and energy level by dropping one of the flutes and keeping a steady, head-bopping percussion line much to the benefit of the piece.
On to the characters, “Character A Theme” is a fun pop rock tune with a catchy chord progress voiced by acoustic guitars and a bright organ handling the lead. A traditional drum set gives it a rock flair, painting the image of a rambunctious but lighthearted Character A. “Character B Theme” gets back into the tropical vibe with a laidback synthesized lead and a tambourine. Another one of my favorites is “Talk to B” with a gorgeous acoustic guitar backing and a dreamy belltone arpeggio in the background. The 3/4 time signature gives it a different flow from the rest of the music on the album, and it truly stands out as one of the most enjoyable pieces on the album.
“Character C Theme” and “Character D Theme” account for the electronica portion of the score. “Character C Theme” comes off as more whimsical with a retro sounding synth lead and funky percussive elements. “Character D Theme” is somewhat darker in mood with a descending melody and harsher sounds. Each character really has a distinct vibe that is created by the music. “Talk to C” is a cool bit with a chiptune feel and a groovy swing, giving listeners something completely different.
Throughout the course of the game, the player controls the interactions between the characters, and “Bad Relations” is the cue for when the characters aren’t on such good terms. Downtrodden guitars and strings sound out of tune, giving the impression of a chaotic, unfocused relationship. Actually, at moments, the piece sounds like it’d be more appropriate as a funeral march, making me wonder how the characters would be able to stand each other for the 1:52 that the piece encompasses.
I wanted to mention “Bath in a Drum” for the sole reason that it cleverly makes use of steel drums. Get it? Marimba and steel drums voice an upbeat melody that makes bathing sound like a very good time.
“Ending (In Solitude)” is another catchy piece that sounds appropriately bittersweet with a hopeful yet disheartened melody that actually reminds me of some of Thomas Newman’s work. “Ending (Escape the Island)” is obviously the “best” ending, cheerful to the max. It sports a melody that dances about and includes electric guitars in celebration.
Given that the title is on the DS, the sound quality is quite impressive with few exceptions. I’ll admit that the flutes are pretty hit or miss, acting as the best accompaniment or the worst annoyance at various times. However, Geering has done an excellent job painting a picture with the score for Lost in Blue 3 that covers moments of beauty, of joy, and of desperation, all of which are part of the gaming experience. I would recommend checking out some of the pieces I’ve specifically mentioned, especially “Cape Area” and “Talk to B” to test the waters before plunging into this one.