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Symphony celebrates 20 years of Pokémon through music

Photo // Colorado Public Radio

NATIONAL TOUR STOPS IN DENVER

Pokémon celebrated its 20th anniversary in Feb. 2016. When drawing from that many years of video games, television shows, and more, there’s a lot of music to go with it.

From the moment Pokémon Red and Blue’s title screen came up, the series has been filled with memorable tunes: battle music, Pokémon-centered soundtracks, and the iconic jingle that accompanies a Pokémon’s evolution. Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions celebrates these 20 years of iconic soundtracks with a live orchestral rendition that presents these old songs in a whole new way.

A collaboration between The Pokémon Company and Princeton Entertainment, Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions tracks not only the development of the music, but the series as a whole. The Denver performance began with the series’ iconic main theme, while the title screens of the games scrolled past on large screens overhead. The progression showed audiences not only the music in the performance, but how far the games have come as well. Nearly all eras of Pokémon were represented, from the simple pixels of the first-generation, all the way up to the fully 3D sixth-generation games.

After the series-spanning overture, the concert began with a suite of music from the Red and Blue versions. It started with the game’s beginning in Pallet Town, and finished with a medley of music from the battles with the Gym Leaders, Elite Four, and Champion. While the music was performed, matching scenes from the games played on the screens above, beginning with the player’s character waking up in their home, and finishing with the entry of their Pokémon in the game’s Hall of Fame.

The rest of the performance followed a similar theme of memorable music and iconic scenes from each generation of games. The Gold and Silver suite showed the game’s lore and the iconic battle with Red, while the music from Ruby and Sapphire focused on the clash between the legendary Pokémon. Selections from Diamond and Pearl opts for music heard while exploring the world, and the Black and White suite focuses entirely on meetings with the mysterious character N.

The X and Y music suite was the longest of all, starting with the origins of the game’s plot and ending with a medley of the game’s Gym Battles, Elite Four fights, and Champion battle—mirroring the selections from Red and Blue. It concluded with the game’s closing moments before the credits scroll and the performance came to an end. However, the encore quickly followed, consisting of the original theme from the Pokémon anime (the audience was encouraged to sing along) and a heartfelt melody from the post-credits scene of X and Y. What better way to end the show than with the game’s final moments?

Notably, music from the series’ latest installments, Pokémon Sun and Moon, was omitted from the performance. Given that the show’s tour began in 2014, it’s odd that additional music wasn’t composed for the show. Despite this exclusion, Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions is still a great way to celebrate over 20 years of memorable music from this iconic franchise.

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