I used to be a music snob. Yep. One of those “the sounds I listen too are better than the sounds you like”. Yep. One of those arses.
You see 20 or so years ago I loosely worked within the industry and thought I knew music what was good and what wasn’t, better than most. Of course I didn’t, but that was kind of me back then. I bought and listened to everything the NME and other mags told me to. I went to all of the coolest gigs as again the NME and others called them, and spent time playing badly in bands across The Midlands and Sheffield.
When that didn’t work out I turned my hand to the delights of spinning Vinyl. I DJ’ed breaks and dubstep (1999 – 2004) at a semi pro level across the UK and Europe and also owned and operated a small record label. While I did this in the evenings I could be found a few days a week doing much of the IT support for one of the biggest independent labels in the UK. Hey I even used to help out with their smaller up and coming bands by way of working in the evenings and weekends as a band driving amp shifting guitar tuning roadie.
In doing so I made some life long friends including my wife, a member of one of the bands the label looked after. At our recent 15 year wedding anniversary get together I found myself actually saying out loud “and to think we might have never met and I not driven the van that night up to Liverpool and then leave it unlocked at the service station. We never did get most of the kit back, did we?”
By the end of 2004 Mrs GIG had left the band. Their 5 or so album deal didn’t really come to much despite plenty hard work and lots of touring. Come the end of the summer of the same year I gave up DJing and making music as well. I’d lost the motivation to play and create the things a few years ago I dealt loved. My last gig was at a festival in Belgium where after only a 10 or so mins into the set, I rather unprofessionally chucked a mix CD into the Pioneer and calmly walked out of not only working in the business, but taking an active part in anything to do with it.
Fast forward (pun intended) to late ish 2019 and I’ve not bought anything music wise from anyone I didn’t know back in around 2004. I’ve always figured at some point I’ll get round to listening to anything that’s considered massively culturally significant although for now, I seem to fall back on the things I already know.
I was completely unaware of Sayonara Wild Hearts until a month or so ago. I’d seen a press release and thought the neon colour scheme and premise looked kind of cool. Soon after I noticed a ripple of noise and positive energy on social media and in the games press – Sayonara Wild Hearts was getting decent traction with people saying how great it was to play but even better, its soundtrack was probably one of the best of it’s kind in years and it easily sits on my recent must buy video for games on the Switch.
Here we have a game that’s honestly best thought of in terms of being part interactive music installation and part game. All told it took the team at Simogo, a developer based out of Sweden around four years to develop and it shows. There’s so very much going on here and not just in how the levels and accompanying music are set in a similar journey like way as used by artists while curating an album.
The tunes are expressive catchy pop with techno chiptune elements that work hand in hand with the overall artistic aesthetic. The neons and balls and blues are visually impressive as are the character designs largely based on the “teddy girls” subculture and 1950s stylings.
While you’re on rails the whole time there’s almost always a feeling of speed and graceful movement. It effortlessly leaps from genre to genre with one moment you’re playing a rhythm based dance fight off to a side scroller to a semi first person shooter and more besides. The levels are brief and intense and offer a great sense of accomplishment when Queen Latifa hollers “Gold Rank!” at the end of the level.
When the end comes after in my case around 90 or so mins of playtime, your hit with something so wonderfully wholesome that took me quite aback and yes, I’ve played through the last few levels roughly half a dozen times since and the feeling each time is the same.
Much like Journey, Sayonara Wild Hearts is gorgeous from the get go. It’s art style, the animations and accompanying soundtrack make this what it is and also like Journey, I’ll be playing this from time to time for as long as I’m playing games.
- Sayonara Wild Hearts can be played on the iPhone, Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4
- Developer: Simogo
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
- Release Date: September 19, 2019
- This review is based on Switch gameplay with a retail copy bought from the Nintendo eShop Store.