The Pokémon franchise is chock-full of music, even when ignoring spin-off titles. However, these games were not the only titles Game Freak have worked on. As such, sometimes a few tunes here and there have been referenced, borrowed, or practically reused across different titles. We’re not talking about how every Pokémon game has the Pokémon Centre or “Follow Me” theme – there are songs that have cropped up first in non-Pokémon titles or works! Junichi Masuda is the main person responsible for these – but he is not the only one, either.
In this article we go through the games that have songs reused in the Pokémon games, in order of game release. We’re restricting it to games where games or media are common between the composer, rather than listing potential similarities where there is no common composer, and also ignoring official remixes – so there’s no Harmoknight or Super Smash Brothers tunes here.
Smell ya later, boss
Mendel Palace is the very first title that Game Freak worked on – an action/arcade puzzle title about a boy fighting to save his kidnapped girlfriend from the girlfriend’s sister. This was also Junichi Masuda’s first game – the man who composed many Pokémon tunes and later became a director and producer of later titles.
It is clear Masuda worked on Mendal Palace – not only is the music style similar, but in the Boss Stage tune, we can hear the original version of Blue’s encounter theme (Rival Appears)! There’s a deviation in the tune, but the backing melody was heavily borrowed from, and the intro is identical.
Another classic Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow (RBY) song shows up in Mendel Palace. 16 seconds into Walkman Stage, you can hear the same melody used in the second half of the Game Corner theme (about 0:27 in).
Ride that bicycle, or Yoshi
Yoshi, or Mario and Yoshi in some regions, was a puzzle game for both the NES and Game Boy, featuring the Mario characters. While the song used here does not have a direct relation in melody, this particular example is evidence of the similarities in style. There’s even something common to be said about the general song structure between this Yoshi tune and the Bike theme in RBY.
Welcome to the world of Mario and Wario
Mario & Wario is a game where you help a sight-impaired Mario navigate across a stage through the help of a fairy. In one of the stages, ‘Sky’, a tune crops up that has parts that were repurposed for one of the route themes in RBY, Route 24 and 25, otherwise known as Nugget Bridge. Both similar parts are at the beginning of the song.
The song is also used as the introduction theme during when Professor Oak gives his opening spiel (“Welcome to the world of Pokémon!”). This is one of the very first tunes a new Pokémon player will hear – funny that such a tune ends up hailing from another title! But Mario & Wario has lent itself to the second generation games as well. 0:37 into the Staff Roll, we can hear what undeniably sounds like Professor Elm’s Lab (0:21) theme in Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal (GSC).
Would you like to heal your Taruruuto-Kun?
This particular case has appeared in every Pokémon main series title to date – it’s the Pokémon Centre theme! Yes, one of the most recognisable tunes first debuted 41 seconds into a stage theme for the Megadrive game Magical Taruruuto-Kun, which in turn was based upon a comic series. It’s hard to miss for a seasoned Pokémon player even when they listen from the start of the tune. It even repeats twice!
From a calming tune associated with a place of safety and recovery, we also hear a snippet in the final Boss theme (at 0:27) that can be heard at the start (0:09) of the Vs Lance Battle theme in GSC – albeit a bit slower in the latter.
Battle in Team Rocket’s Hideout
The recycling of tunes by Masuda continued to go beyond the generation one games. Next in the game list is one for the Super Famicom, Bushi Seiryūden: Futari no Yūsha. A variation of this tune reappears in the second generation games. It’s the new Team Rocket hideout theme! Now we know where they were between the events of RBY and GSC.
Going back to RBY, we hear the very basic tune that comprises the Indigo Plateau tune. There’s a different variation to be heard in the Bushi Seiryūden rendition (Battle with Cyclops Monster) – and rendition it is, because in this case, RBY came first. That’s right – Pokémon tunes have not only in cases come from earlier titles, but have been passed off as separate and new tunes in later games as well.
Bushi Seiryūden gave us more than it took, in the end. The beginning of the Good Ending tune also is used for the start of the title theme for GSC.
It’s lent itself to the third generation as well. The beginning of the Boss Battle with Shionchou is very obviously used in the Vs Team Magma/Aqua Leader theme from Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (RSE). It even uses trumpets!
Yes, Bushi Seiryūden has strong links with the Pokémon series, probably more than any other. Drum-based songs such as the Ghetsis Battle theme and Arceus Battle theme may have some basis within this tune too, although there’s no definite melody being reused.
I’ll fine you a million dollars, Pulseman!
A couple generations later, Game Freak revisited an old favourite of theirs in Pulseman. In the music department, Barry’s battle theme has a clear reference to the Neo Tokyo theme from Pulseman, such as around 0:36 and 0:34 respectively.
This short song segment isn’t the one thing from the Pulseman game that got referenced in Pokémon – there’s a whole lot, from criminal teams to Rotom! Check out our other article about those similarities.
Click the Medic
You may have noticed all the above is attributed to Masuda, by and large. Well, here we have a game by Game Freak whose lead composer is not him – rather, it’s Go Ichinose, whose first Pokémon titles as composer were Pokémon Pinball and GSC. The niche game Click Medic was on the Playstation (yes, Game Freak have not been Nintendo only), and was about treating people via fighting viruses from inside the body. The character art style is certainly similar to Pokémon!
In the 7th song found for the game, at 1:14 we hear the closest to the beginning and motif of the Ending Credits theme of RSE, although earlier parts do also strike a similar chord (pun unintended).
Other similarities exist within the soundtrack of Click Medic, such as the background beats of BGM 01 matching that in the tune that plays in many Kanto cities in GSC. 0:40 in the former does deviate while still sounding similar to 1:02 of the GSC tune – and as said, the timing of the harmony matches.
This drill will pierce the heavens
Drill Dozer is one of the more known spin-off Game Freak titles, in part due to the Assist Trophy it got in Super Smash Bros featuring the protagonist, Jill, chasing opponents in her… well, Drill Dozer. This Game Boy Advance title not only shares the same soundfont as the Hoenn titles in the music department!
We have arguably the catchiest tune from the game, Sunken Kuru Ruins, which invokes memories of the Diving Underwater theme in tone. But in the melody itself at 0:47, we can hear a snippet that has been added to the Hall of Fame tune since the generation three games (albeit at a faster pace). The Hall of Fame tune has had its motif presist into even the generation eight games (and even into Champion Leon’s Battle theme – see our soundtrack review), but in RSE the motif has a new part added to it, heard at 0:19. This same new part also shows up in the Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen games, and furthermore in the Pokémon Black and White Hall of fame theme. It’s evolved into a secondary motif for the same relatively short song – and while Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire released first, it also appeared in Drill Dozer. Go Ichinose worked on all these tunes.
Another Drill Dozer tune, Skullker Hideout & Factory (Area 1), also has clear Sinnoh vibes mixed in with the above Hall of Fame familiarity. Once you hit 0:53, you can hear what appears to be a sped up version of Route 203 (check 0:46 – and try changing the play speed), or perhaps closer yet 0:35 into Route 210, particularly the rising notes at the end of the segment.
Pocket Card Jockey – no Ponyta here
Another spinoff title that featured Go Ichinose is the curious Pocket Card Jockey, a cross between solitaire and horse racing. It has some wacky songs, including one track that would not be out of place in a game like Jet Set Radio. But that’s not why we are here – there’s two particular songs to highlight.
One is the chill In the Underworld track. The melody and tone is certainly different to the Team Magma/Aqua Hideout remix that shows in the Hoenn remakes, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. But the percussion used in the background is quite similar.
But then we come to Where Hope is Born, specifically 0:14. It’s a nice enough track, but it certainly gives reminders of nice wild open spaces that horses might like… or any kind of Pokémon for that matter. A Wild Area, if you will – look at 1:20 in the ‘Version 1’ Wild Area theme. The general tone of both songs are similar as well, including the mix between calmer and more energetic parts.
The Baby is Reused
Yes, Pokémon Sword and Shield has another reference. It comes from the guest composer for the Battle Tower Battle theme, Toby Fox. Known for his work on Undertale and composition for many tracks for the webcomic Homestuck, it’s a fan album for the latter (The Baby is 2 – Homestuck Vol. 11) which features the introduction to the Battle Tower song. It’s a weird album image and… album overall, by the way, if you follow the link, but here’s the song segment that’s common to the generation eight Pokémon track.
Which is your favourite song that appeared later in Pokémon (or vice versa)? Do you know of any others we missed? Let us know your thoughts and findings!
Edited by Aldo and Corviknight.