Game That Tune


True Colors

Coloris thanks you for playing, with a song.

By Derrick Sanskrit • May 30, 2013

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

Curious things are bound to happen when pop musicians lend their talents to video games. Michael Jackson worked in some capacity on Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Trent Reznor provided the theme to Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and all sorts of Boston-local bands popped up in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games by virtue of having band members on the development staff. When Nintendo set out to produce a collection of small, quirky, intentionally “artsy” Game Boy Advance titles under the “bit Generations” umbrella, they enlisted the popular experimental musician Cornelius (real name: Keigo Oyamada) as a sound designer. He crafted original sound effects for every click, whistle, and buzz of the color-swapping puzzle game Coloris.

Completing the challenging 25th puzzle in Coloris unlocks this music video. Suddenly, it’s as though your Game Boy comes to life. The sounds and graphics stay locked into the constraints of the game that precede the video, but there’s a sense of theatrics that belies its primitive roots. The sound effects that were pleasant and quaint in-game suddenly combine to create a serene environment of wonder and limitless possibility. The game, which was already elegant in its restraint, is elevated to new height of beauty. Coloris thanks you for playing with it. You had a good time, and the game had a good time too. A song, a dance, a wink, and it’s gone.

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18 Responses to “True Colors”

  1. O Superman says:

    I love Cornelius but I hadn’t heard of this before. What a perfect fit!

    • boardgameguy says:

      I’m in the same boat. Loved him since FANTASMA but didn’t realize he had been involved in video game stuff

  2. mizerock says:

    And that is why we keep playing games, in hopes that this kind of ending awaits us. Something a little more than a text message (“A Winner Is You”).

    Within hours of a game’s release (if not sooner), we can all see the ending on YouTube. But it reads to me as if this ending wouldn’t even be that interesting if you hadn’t bothered to spend the hours getting there.

  3. caspiancomic says:

     So I mostly just stuck my head in to make sure the animated article headers were remaining fashionable, but now I’ve listened to this song like a half dozen times and don’t think I have the willpower to stop.

    • Open Spotify. Listen to Fantasma. Then Sensuous. Then go to YouTube and watch when Cornelius played “Count To Six” on Yo Gabba Gabba! Then watch the battle of the bands sequence in the Scott Pilgrim movie where Cornelius provided the music for the Katayanagi twins and Beck provided the music for Sex Bob-Omb and acknowledge that you’re basically watching a kaiju battle between Cornelius and Beck. Then watch all the music videos from Sensuous (there was a DVD released with a conceptual video for each song. Some of them are really great!). Then probably eat something because its been, like, a full day of Cornelius. Then move on to Omodaka…

      • Chalkdust says:

         Then start digging into the archives and find The First Question Award and his previous band, Flipper’s Guitar.  Upbeat psychedelic pop goodness.

        Then, start following leads into other corners of Japanese electronic music and discover Denki Groove, Ken Ishii, Boom Boom Satellites and Yellow Magic Orchestra.  Keep following new leads and investigating side projects, collaborations, labels, video game and film composers, back catalogs of bands that had theme songs in anime.  Keep doing that for more than a decade and then you’ll be me.

  4. Chalkdust says:

    I recently discovered the Bit Generations series while clicking around Wikipedia.  I want them!  Lovely, minimal puzzle games with equally lovely, minimal packaging.

    I want these on my shelf, and now that I know Cornelius was involved, I want them even more!  I found a complete collection on eBay going for about $300… right now it seems worth it, even if I can’t afford it at the moment.

    (And yes, I know many of them have been remade and released on the eStore on DS, but I like physical media!)

  5. Jackbert says:

    Hey @DerrickSanskrit:disqus, I’ve seen that your GTT picks have been based on commenter suggestions before, but I’m not sure where suggestions should be put. So I guess I’ll put it here! I was reading old GTTs the other day, and I noticed there has yet to be a The World Ends With You installment. If you’re able, it’d be super rad if you featured it! My top picks are “Give Me All Your Love” and “Déjà Vu”, but the whole soundtrack is amazing.

    • I think I’ve used two so far, one from a comment (like yours!) and one from an email (the contact link at the bottom of the page!). TWEWY has been on my longlist since the beginning, but I wanted to make sure there was enough space between it and Persona 4 (which, I suppose, there has been since that was November), I even mocked up a Neku silhouette around the same time but opted for Yosuke that week. I was thinking “O-Parts” or “Hybrid,” but thanks for reminding me that “Déja Vu” is flipping fantastic! Might have to go for that one now!

  6. This is highly reminiscent of the work of Oskar Fischinger and also the video for “Cerulean” by Simian Mobile Disco.

    • I would say both videos are to some degree inspired by Fischinger, though the Coloris video was also closely aligned to the trend of visual step-sequencers rising in the mid-aughts, a trend that broke into the mainstream with Toshio Iwai’s Tenori-On in 2008 (a musical instrument/interface that had evolved from another experimental Nintendo title, Electroplankton, which was released over a year prior to Coloris). I doubt there’s any connection to Simian Mobile Disco, though, as their video is more clearly derived from Fischinger’s work and was released six years after the game, which is fairly obscure for having never seen release outside of Japan.

  7. Braxton Mott says:

    This game is actually how I found out about Cornelius, and later Yellow Magic Orchestra. That’s pretty cool!