Last year, I got my [original] copy of Pokémon SoulSilver DS (yeah this is a very late post haha). I’ve been very keen noting the major additions and changes introduced to this “remake” version versus the early ones. The overhaul which really caught my attention however was the new music from Lavender Town.
Back in 1998-99, Lavender Town was easily the town I like to go the least whenever I play my Pokémon Yellow Special Pikachu Edition GB. It has a VERY CREEPY music which seems to suggest that Death is following every step you take. It spooked me out so much that every time I went to sleep at night, I would put on my blanket even on hot summer evenings, for fear that Death or one of his friends may fancy waking me up in the middle of the night by tickling my feet. True story.
Here’s how the music of Lavender Town sounds in Pokémon Blue/Red/Yellow Special Pikachu Edition GB.
The Lavender Town music is so eerie that in 1997, just a year after Pokémon Blue/Red GB were released in Japan, there were reports kids committing suicide after hearing the said theme. These news were not really validated (and there were some claims that they were pure fallacies) though. They said however, that after the kids heard the music of Lavender Town, they seemed to go into a “spooked-out trance after hearing the three sharp pitches.” Seems that when their parents told them to relax their eyes and took their Game Boy from them, they went depressed and committed suicide. Fallacy or not, truth still remains that the previous 8-bit Lavender Town music is so spooky that it can sometimes scare the living hell out of children. Nearest example in Asia would be me. And unfortunately, the
ghost forme of that deceased Marowak does not help. Scariness redrawn in black and white pixels it is.
Apparently, Game Freak realized this two years after and come the time of Pokémon Silver/Gold/Crystal GBC, they decided to change the music a bit. However, it was still at 8-bit at that time, so while it became somehow soothing, the introductory part still possessed its spooky feel.
It also seems that Death’s status in society was lowered, as the former towering Pokémon Tower was renovated into a Radio Tower, showing Lavender’s embrace to what was then called “technology.” The souls of those dead Pocket Monsters (or more like their bodies) were just stashed into a small “Soul House.” Anyway, Mr. Fuji seemed still fine with that arrangement.
The suicide issue seemed to have died down with the turn of the millennium so that come 2004, when Game Freak and Junichi Masuda decided to have a remake of versions Blue and Red (Pokémon LeafGreen/FireRed GBA), the original music of Lavender Town was used. This time it was in a polyphonic level of spookiness.
No more issues this time. Yet come 2010, instead of maintaining this music, the chosen theme for Lavender Town for the remake of Silver and Gold (Pokémon SoulSilver/HeartGold DS), was the “soothing version.” This time, the music throughout the game was orchestraic. In effect, the music of Lavender Town became soothing all through out (though comes back to the original GBC version when set to 8-bit, but who cares). Even the introductory part gave a relaxing mood.
(Youtube file too long. This is the only best thing I can get. Actual music length is 1:48.)
Now who said this music was the former center of attention regarding the suicide of a number of Japanese kids?
Moral: As my Mom would always tell me every time I freaked out of bosses and corrupted save file data when I was just a kid, a game is just a game. It’s not the real world in your hands. Better be afraid of a flying cockroach than the Pokémon League Champion’s insanely strong Pokémon.