Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Award-Winning Composer Wataru Hokoyama, Video Game Composer, etc.
Wataru Hokoyama has been composing and staging scores for TV shows, movies, and video games for decades. Thanks to the music he created for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, along with his mentor of six years, Mark Mothersbaugh, he is now the official award-winner of the Composers, Composers Association. American publishers and publishers.
That’s because Hokoyama received the Video Game Score of the Year award for Rift Apart at the 2022 ASCAP Screen Music Awards. Of course, Mothersbaugh also contributed to the opening goal, but he didn’t participate. ASCAP, so the award, on paper, goes only to Hokoyama. In a new interview with Game informanthowever, the composer, who also has credit on Thor: Ragnarok, Resident Evil 5, Knack, Halo Wars 2 and Halo 2: Anniversary, etc., said winning this award would not have been possible without Mothersbaugh. It was because Mothersbaugh was the reason Hokoyama had a chance to score for Rift Apart in the first place.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Composer Wataru Hokoyama
“We worked on it for about a year and a half, but I want to mention something extremely important before I talk about anything else. [and that] Hokoyama says this project was originally brought to me by my mentor, Mark Mothersbaugh. “I’ve worked with Mark for the past few years – at least six years – and he’s been my mentor so when Sony suggested [Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart] With Mark, he put me on the boat as a co-writer, which is very important and good to him because it’s a huge title. He brought me on board as a co-author to share the credit with me and to work with me on this has been an absolute honor. I just wanted to show my appreciation for Mark.”
Hokoyama and Mothersbaugh worked together in 2017 Thor: Ragnarok, but apparently, they had the opening goal before. He said in 2016, right after finishing Ragnarok, the Rift Apart chance has landed on their plate. In Hokoyama’s heart, today’s award belongs to both of them.
“I’m glad I’m getting all these accolades and attention now, compared to 10 years ago, because I’m more mature, I don’t get bogged down or jump out of my chair or have a big head or false ideas about myself,” Hokoyama said. “I feel so calm and just have this feeling, ‘wow, so grateful that the world really sees this as a special soundtrack that we’ve been working on for a long time.’ I just feel grateful calmly.”
During the interview, Hokoyama emphasized that he is grateful to be working with Sony. He said they gave him, Mothersbaugh, and the rest of the music team total creative freedom to create the best music possible for Rift Apart.
“The Sony team is really great,” said Hokoyama. “They are incredibly easy to work with and very, very collaborative and creative. And they just support us to any extent possible. I think it made the whole creative team really happy and it allowed us to do wilder things. ”
Hokoyama says that creative freedom remains throughout the process, even as the pressure and hype surrounding Rift Apart, which was one of the first major first-party exclusives for PlayStation 5 launched less than a year earlier, is still in development. When asked about the pressure of composing points for such a big title, Hokoyama said that feeling is less pressure and more like excitement.
“I know the name Ratchet & Clank because I used to play it, and I loved it,” he said. “When I heard the name, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Of course, I felt the pressure, but we were all very excited. Instead of pressure, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to hit this big title.’ They’re basically just saying, ‘Hey, I want you to be creative, and whatever idea comes to your mind, we’d love to hear it’. That allowed us to expand our creativity and I truly believe it was a team effort… that led to this score. ”
Ratchet & Clank is one of the PlayStation’s oldest franchises, and when asked how the Rift Apart score contributed to that legacy, Hokoyama explained that’s because the last new entry in the franchise is 2013 Go to Nexus (since 2016 Ratchet & Clank essentially a remake with the existing soundtrack written for it), he and Mothersbaugh were able to create a new sound for the series. He said Sony specifically encourages them to create something new. They want to hear what happens to us,” he said.
Thus, Hokoyama and Mothersbaugh didn’t have to find a way to bring in old themes – everything created was new. However, the duo were aware of the legacy behind Ratchet & Clank, and the history fans draw from playing the game, so they also made sure to honor the earlier sounds of the series.
The premise of Rift Apart, which tasked Ratchet and Lombax with a new alternate space, Rivet, with fighting across multiple dimensions to stop Emperor Nefarious, also gave Hokoyama and Mothersbaugh plenty of space to write creatively. On the other hand, Rivet gives them a new musical scene to play with as she will need her own defining theme and music. On the other hand, since both Ratchet and Rivet jump from dimension to dimension throughout the game, the protagonists are always visiting a new planet – and a new world means a new path.
“It’s like a multiverse of one world,” said Hokoyama. “So we keep that in mind, and we’re going to use more electronic music to create a sense of Rivet’s world compared to the original Ratchet’s world. I think that helped us sort, not split, but generate dimensions. “
Hokoyama says Sony has also been helping the musical duo, guiding them by taking them to the next level or planet so they can write down their mission, aesthetic and more.
“When we look at the big map… we see all the planets in this world and the first impression is, ‘Oh my gosh, so many.’ At the same time, the idea of Sony [with the game] is having different characteristics on different planets, and while this is a multiverse, it needs to maintain coherence at the same time. Energy has cohesion, but sounds and colors must be different so we always keep that in mind as we move on. It really gave us a lot of freedom to look for new tools and writing styles. We used different types of instrumentation, sometimes orchestral heavy or electronic orchestral heavy, to create the feel of each planet.”
An example of a collaboration between Hokoyama’s creativity and Sony’s freedom can be found in Y’Ardolis, the game’s pirate-themed level in the second half of the game. When it comes to pirate music, and how audiences can listen to a song and go, “sounds like pirates,” he said at first, they overestimated the pirate’s score on the planet, and Sony thinks it can be boosted down. That’s where many of its electronic sounds come in – they’re space pirates, after all. That’s also how instruments like the broken accordion are used. These pirates probably don’t have a fully functioning accordion, so why should the track have one? The score is necessary to reflect the world and that is why the planet score contains the noises of the broken accordion.
Speaking more broadly about video game music, Hokoyama says games present their own unique challenge in scoring. A player can zoom through an area in just a few minutes. It might take another player 20 minutes, but both will feel equally affected by the score at the right time. Hokoyama’s composition is necessary to be able to handle both types of players.
“The biggest difference [between games and movies or TV] will be the way the gameplay is set,” he said. “Players listen to our music a lot longer than they do in a scene from a movie. You only see… and hear… it once [in a movie] but for video games, sometimes they’re in there for hours, so we always keep that in mind.”
According to Hokoyama, something that is easy to hear and understand is important. It’s also important to note that players will listen to this track longer than it does from the TV series or movie, so it needs to be fun and interesting enough that they don’t mind listening to it for too long.
Hokoyama is the winner of the Video Game Score of the Year award for the 2022 ASCAP Composers’ Choice Awards, itself part of the ASCAP Screen Music Awards 2022, which is a special honor as it is an award given by the ASCAP Screen Music Awards. ASCAP members decide. This means that Hokoyama has been selected as the winner by fellow composers in the industry. Other nominees are Austin Wintory for Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Wilbert Roget II for Call of Duty: Mobile Season 5: In Deep Water, Lena Raine for Chicory: A Colorful Tale, Tom Salta for Deathloop and Pedrom Bromfman for Far Cry 6.
You can see the full list of nominations for other ASCAP categories, including TV Score of the Year, Movie Score of the Year, etc. this. For more, read Review of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart by Game Informer to find out why we give it a 9 out of 10.
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