This article examines the music of the Pokémon franchise through the concept of nostalgic potential—a newly coined term defined as music’s capacity to evoke, enhance, and exploit wistful sentiment through specific and identifiable musical elements. The nostalgia identified here is childhood brand nostalgia, a concept identified by A. B. Shields and J. W. Johnson, a particularly potent form of this emotion of reminiscence for a person’s youth upon exposure to a brand or franchise. This article will illuminate how we can identify specific musical elements as contributing to the nostalgic potential of musical material by using newly adapted gestural analytical techniques. In identifying such elements, analyses will point to how we can determine the locus of the nostalgic potential, in this case, as being located in the sense of adventure, a key ludic component of Pokémon video game iterations. This article will outline two case studies that greatly contribute to the generation, evocation, enhancement, and exploitation of the nostalgic potential located in two video game music texts—namely the Pokémon Center theme and Route/Wild Area music across multiple franchise iterations. This research substantially contributes to our understanding of nostalgia in relation to musical texts whilst providing a new, workable, and sufficiently adaptable framework for identifying how childhood brand nostalgia—and by extension, other forms of nostalgia—can be evoked and enhanced by video game music texts and their franchises.
On the Trail of a Nostalgic Adventure: Identifying and Analyzing the Nostalgic Potential of Video Game Music in the Context of the Pokémon Franchise
James Ellis is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway University of London. His interests in ludomusicology include musical analysis and player interaction and engagement with audiovisual texts. James is also an active pianist who teaches and regularly performs.
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James Ellis; On the Trail of a Nostalgic Adventure: Identifying and Analyzing the Nostalgic Potential of Video Game Music in the Context of the Pokémon Franchise. Journal of Sound and Music in Games 1 July 2022; 3 (2-3): 77–114. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jsmg.2022.3.2-3.77
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