One day this past spring, I decided to dust off my old Nintendo DS and pop in “Professor Layton and the Curious Village,” the first installment in a six-game series about Hershel Layton, a gentlemanly archaeology professor in London, and his young apprentice, Luke, who solve puzzles and mysteries together.
It had been eight years since I last played it, but I immediately remembered why I loved these games so much—the charming art style, the fun puzzles to solve, the engaging mysteries. Quite frankly, I think I enjoyed the game just as much as I had when I was younger. That’s not just the nostalgia talking. I ended up playing through the entire series and, oh my, was it an adventure. I laughed, I cried (at the end of the third game specifically) and I probably solved 1,000 puzzles.
One thing that I always remembered and loved from the series was its beautiful instrumental soundtrack. So, during one particularly late night this fall, I decided to listen to some of the Layton music while I was doing homework.
Maybe it was the fact that Professor Layton is a puzzle game, but I became incredibly productive after putting on the soundtrack. I indeed slept well that night.
The series is made by a Japanese video game company, so the ending song for most of the games are actually written by a Japanese artist (the U.S. versions of the games replaced the original version with an instrumental, however). Now, there is one song from the end of the fifth game that sounds pretty different from the rest, so out of curiosity, I tried to find out its genre. One YouTube comment said something about “Japanese city pop,” so I looked that up to see what I would find.
City pop is a genre of music from the late 70s and 80s that combines elements of R&B, jazz, soft rock, etc., and wow, is it good. It has become a staple of my study playlists this semester. The genre has gained quite a lot of popularity over the past several years, especially through YouTube, and I was just the latest to catch on. It’s upbeat, fun and I find myself throwing it on as study music from time to time. I’m really glad I discovered it.
There is something really cool about the fact that something new in my life came out of something old. Professor Layton was a part of my childhood, and bringing it back into my life ultimately led me to finding something new: this music.
I have experienced other, similar situations over the past year. While on the topic of video games and music, something else I did last year was take a look back at the soundtracks for old video games that I used to play. A lot of the games I played when I was younger had notoriously small soundtracks with a dozen songs at most. In fact, my brother and I had heard those songs so much when playing that we often sang along in intentionally terrible voices while purposely botching the lyrics.
One band I found through this process was Wolf Alice, an English alternative rock band. After hearing one of their songs on the soundtrack for “MLB the Show 16,” I proceeded to listen to a ton of their music and realized just how much I liked them. Coincidentally, they released a new album this year, and I absolutely loved it. I’ve found myself listening to it a lot lately.
I was basically on a full-on nostalgia trip from last spring until the end of the summer. When you’re home for an extended period of time like I was (I was remote my entire first year), you have to find ways to entertain yourself. Rediscovering and further exploring various parts of my childhood was one way in which I did this. I’m glad that it not only helped me get through some tough times last year, but that it also provided me with new things that will be part of my life moving forward.
Andrew Cohen is a member of the Class of 2024.