Reading Response #4
Leyth Toubassy
October 24th, 2022
Music 256a / CS476a, Stanford University


Reading Response: Programmability and Sound Design
I'm gonna try to keep this relatively brief this week (apologies for the late submission). In chapter 4 of Artful Design we learned about some principles of sound design, and were given a lot of programming techniques we can use in creating our own sound. Since many of these were very technical I'm gonna discuss my single favorite sound design.
If you've ever played Pokémon you know that once your Pokémon's health gets in the red the game starts playing this super annoying beeping noise every few seconds. Now this is definitley an effective way of making children realize that the little creature on their gameboy is about to faint but I wouldn't consider it particularly artful. Even in the newer games when it's a fancy new Nintendo Switch the implementation is exactly the same, loud annoying beeping. In fact in every single generation of Pokémon it's worked this way, except for one, Generation 5. The Generation 5 games, Black and White, were absolutley dunked on when they came out, they were almost universally hated, as a 9 year old child, I very much fell into this bandwagon. It wasn't until years later than people realized these games were the most polished Pokémon games ever. Every single detail of these games was painstakingly created, and in my opinion, they're the pinnacle of Pokémon. They demonstrated a mastery of the 2D art style that simply isn't present in the 3D games yet, and are fantastic to look at. "But Leyth, you're supposed to be talking about sound design right now!" Yes! Very true! Coming back to the beeping I was talking about earlier, the Gen 5 games did not have this annoying beeping when your Pokémon's health was low, instead there was a whole alternate battle theme which triggers whenever your monster is below a certain level. This is an AWESOME touch, it really ups the stakes of the battle and instead of being an annoying reminder of your failure in the form of some incessant beeping, it sucks you into this really intense showdown.

Truly a banger. Gen 5 is full of really awesome sound design, I could probably write a 10 page paper on the little details this game incorporates with its music, many of which have made it into the newer games. Unfortunately the Low HP music was left behind, stuck forever in 2011.