Games currently playing: Brave Frontier, Tales of Link, Kingdom Hearts: Unchained, Chrono Trigger
As an adult, one of my favorite aspects of the Pokémon games is the diversity of characters, in terms of ages, interests, and personalities. Although the games are generally aimed towards children living in suburban and city areas, the in-game demographic certainly shows that all kinds of people can be and are Pokémon trainers. And while most characters are not portrayed much deeper than their one defining characteristic/trainer name, there’s enough variety along your journey to keep things interesting.
That said, one of the most peculiar and amusing character types for me was, as you could probably guess from the title of this article, the “creepy” trainer! Although this general type of character appears more so in the later games, the presence of the “creepy” or otherwise socially awkward/nonconforming people showed me as a kid that Pokémon wasn’t meant only for the “cool” kids—even if you were different, “weird”, or had interests that didn’t mesh together with those of other people, you could still be part of the amazing world of Pokémon!
In the Pokémon games, whenever a trainer notices you, he or she always has a special musical theme that plays while making their introductory pre-battle utterance. And as Holly mentioned in our interview, sometimes when minor characters don’t have all that much character development, the music is really what tells us what kind of people they are.
In the spirit of Halloween, let us begin our journey of the next Across the Generations installment, “Creeper Trainer Notices You!”
Pokémon Red / Blue / Yellow
The first track of this review is not necessarily for the “creepy” trainer, but is included more so because I always found this track to be super ominous! With the staccato notes and dissonances, I believe this music plays for almost every male trainer you encounter in the first gen. Not much character development or exposition here, so let’s move on to Gen II.
Pokémon Gold / Silver / Crystal
The music that plays for the Pokémanic, this track is exceptionally creepy, in the silliest way, with its comically spooky vibrato high notes and plethora of whimsical dissonances, especially in the “chuck” part of the bass line (think “boom-chuck-chuck, boom-chuck-chuck”). The main melody is also full of chromatic movement, and again that comical vibrato just gets me every time X’D
While this version is borderline hilarious, I could imagine an arrangement with different orchestration and some other changes that would make it quite scary. Hmm, future project for me? Maybe… 😛
Pokémon Ruby / Sapphire / Emerald
Now this one gets a special mention, because the Hex Maniac’s theme was indeed the track that inspired this entire article. As open-minded as I painted the picture of myself to be in the intro of this article, I have to admit that the Hex Maniac girls from Gen III freaked me out quite a bit. Not nightmare material or anything that made me fear for my own sanity or safety, but they were enough to make me feel slightly uncomfortable. I am glad though that these people had Pokémon to keep them company! XP
As much as these characters creeped me out, I did like their themes!! I love the wobbly horn-like instrument that leads this track, along with the pizzicato strings, and general quick crescendos that are scattered throughout the entire piece, giving a general “heavy breathing” sort of feel. The Danny Elfman-esque instant modulations are also quite pleasing to my ears, since they remind me so much of him.
“I love all things horrible… It’s like a disease… Stay with me… Won’t you stay with me?”
NNNNOOOOOO THAAAANK YOU ._________________.
Pokémon Diamond / Pearl / Platinum
Another Pokémaniac’s theme, although in this gen I’m pretty sure these fellows are called “Collectors”. This theme has a nice leading instrument, and though I would miss the wobbly tone that was in the leading voice of the previous two gen’s creepy trainer music, one of the lower-pitched instruments takes care of it. I also love the inclusion of the quiet downward glissandi in the higher-pitched instruments during the first half of the theme as well as the pronounced one at the very end, again providing a lovely whimsical touch. The squishy bass line also has a lot of character on its own, and it works together beautifully with the other instruments.
Pokémon Black & White
The Scientist’s track is the shortest of them all, with little to no variation… While I am a big fan of the triple meter, and the crescendos and quick cut-offs of ghostly voices, the sheer lack of length of this track makes me sad! I would’ve loved for there to be an entire second section for this one. The quirky instrumentation and intriguing harmonies makes for a great piece, but at just at 12 seconds… It’s WAY too short!!!! >___<
Pokémon X & Y
With the inclusion of electronic effects at the beginning and the end, this track is definitely the most peculiar and quirky! Although it is also fairly short, there’s a lot of interesting variation, apparent mostly because of how sparsely orchestrated it is. Each instrument is clearly audible, and adds its own unique flavor to the whole package. I absolutely love the synthesized washboard sound effect before each downbeat, as well as the little triangle sounds.
Also, this track is surprisingly (or maybe not?) in 5/4. With a downbeat that isn’t obvious, unless you’re a music nerd such as myself, the quintuple meter undoubtedly gives this piece its offbeat nature that to me, makes it the best of its kind. The melody isn’t the most memorable, but in this case I do believe that the overall feeling it gives—and a strong one at that—is more important.
Leave your thoughts in the comments about which creepy trainer theme is your favorite! Also leave your comments if you disagree with my decree with any of these trainers even being creepy at all! And for all of you who celebrate, Happy Halloween! ^___^