Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today, we take a trip up north to gaming’s colder climates and the music that makes them so enchanting.
Specifically, I want to invite you up to the humble wintery retreat of Final Fantasy VII’s Icicle Inn. A small New England-like village infested with large dollops of cold, soft snow, it provides some nice downtime after the epic JRPG’s most climactic moment, and the area’s theme, “Buried in the Snow,” nails the moment. It’s slow, it’s beautiful, and it shimmers with just a hint of sadness. Some game tunes stop you in your tracks, Icicle Inn’s made me want to take a long nap and never leave it behind.
Take a listen:
Square Enix / Cloud183 (YouTube)
The northeast is about to actually get buried in snow, so today felt appropriate. School snow days might be an anachronism in the age of pandemic remote learning, but there’s still something nice about occasionally getting blanketed with some powder to bring the daily grind of life to a halt, or at least transform it into something less mundane. Long-ass JRPGs like Final Fantasy VII need to propel you across the map, and its character drama and mystical conspiracies do a good job of that, but it’s nice every once in a while when you come across a place or a moment that invites you to stay a while and take in the view. Icicle Inn, which eventually sends you snowboarding down a mountain just so “Buried in the Snow” can pick up again in the glacier below, is one of them.
It’s hardly alone though, especially when it comes to JRPGs’ snowier locales. I recently praised Star Ocean: The Second Story’s end credits track, And the song for that game’s icy university town of Giveaway, “White the Heart,” is also fantastic. Secret of Mana’s “Snowfield Theme” is another. EarthBound’s “Winters White” is a classic as well. And look, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time might not be a JRPG, but its “Ice Cavern” is just too wonderful a frosty melody to not mention here. Just chimes, a few notes, and the ambient blowing of the wind. It’s one of the game’s shortest dungeons, but I could let the tune nip at my ears all day—the perfect background music to a real blizzard.
Hopefully the weather in your neck of the woods doesn’t get too bad this week, and if it’s snowing where you are the heat stays on and the electricity doesn’t go out. And in the meantime you can share whatever other idle, preferably non-Cyberpunk-y thoughts have passed through your head this morning in the comments below. I’ll be here downing a nice fat mug of cocoa.