Sim Animals: Original Videogame Score Review

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Sim Animals: Original Videogame Score Artist: Winifred Phillips

The soundtrack for the game Sim Animals, by Winifred Phillips and produced by Winnie Waldron, has been released as an independent download through many popular music sites. Fans can download individual tracks or purchase all 19 tracks for as little as $9.

Kyle Ackerman

Music composed specifically for videogames continues to be a difficult beast to examine. With rare exceptions, great music for independent listening – the kind you'd lounge on the couch and listen to while staring contemplatively at the ceiling, or crank while cruising in the car with the windows down – doesn't work in videogames. If the music is too engaging, it can detract and distract from play. Moreover, some music is stronger as part of a game because it responds to dynamic play triggers, emphasizing the experience of play.

In reviewing a game, the music is part of the game experience and is an integral part of the game review (even if it sometimes merits but a sentence). When the music is released independently of the game experience, as with this review of Sim Animals: Original Videogame Score, it needs to be examined as a unique listening experience. Videogame music is difficult to review because the strength of game music (how well it integrates into the overall experience) is often a weakness when forced to stand alone.

The Sim Animals score, as part of a game about adorable woodland life, is brilliant game music. As a separate soundtrack, it leaves no question that it is the product of a brilliant musician. But as wonderful as it is when playing the game, it's still not something that's going into my play list. Tracks range from the sinister (Hard Times) to the saccharinely cheerful (Misty Bog), and are satisfyingly orchestral, with an incredible range of instrumental sounds. Even so, each track is environmental, a brief tone-portrait that captures a mood or emotion. That makes them excellent accompaniment, but not my choice for stand-alone listening.

So the question isn't whether Sim Animals has a brilliant soundtrack. It does. The question is whether it's a worthwhile stand-alone purchase for $9 to $10. It might be a good purchase if the soundtrack evokes pleasant memories of plucking bears from trouble with the Wii remote or DS stylus. It's not worth it if you are looking for something that will be the sole focus of your listening pleasure.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on January 27, 2009 10:32 PM.

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