Directly after the completion of Land of the Gods, Ben started development on a second volume for the series, meant to elaborate on events in the story of the first album. After completing a few tracks, he realized that he needed a break from the dark, epic style of the first album, and Cojiko’s Quest was born. Written in a fairytale style, Cojiko’s Quest tells a brand-new, light-hearted story in the Land of the Gods universe. Cojiko’s Quest was released on Christmas Day, 2013.
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Notes from Ben: Since I wanted Cojiko Quest to be a fairytale story in comparison to Land of the God’s epic style, I decided to make the opening track very sleepy and simple. For inspiration, I looked to the king’s of fairytale music, Richard and Robert Sherman (composer and lyricist for Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, and many other Disney classics). I wanted to make sure that Cojiko’s Theme was clearly established out of the gate, so that the impact in its final occurrence would be more significant.
Notes from Ben: This track is easily one of my favorites from the album. At the time, I had been blazing through Luigi’s Mansion 2, and the awesome soundtrack clearly had an effect on the piece. For the witch’s theme, I wanted something mischevious and lively, and looked to Joe Hisaishi’s work in Spirited Away for inspiration. In particular, the track Sootballs had a big influence on the style of the track.
Notes from Ben: One of the more simple tracks on the album, First Steps was written while I was still designing the Cojiko Quest game prototype. The track was meant to be a bit low-key and under the action, and drew heavily from the various works of Grant Kirkhope. This initial dive into his work ended up deciding the feel for most of the album.
Notes from Ben: Home was one of the last tracks written for the album. After writing Home Again, it occurred to me that there had never been a theme for “home” in the first place. So I took the theme written for Home Again and reworked it into a more simple, quietly pleasant piece. Out of the whole album, it probably draws the most stylistically from the Viva Piñata soundtrack.
Notes from Ben: This track was created mostly for story purpose. While the basis of Cojiko Quest’s story is comical, I wanted to make sure that the emotional ark addressed the fact that a main character (chicken or not) died. The track was meant to break up the sweetness of the album and had some melancholy. While most of the tracks in the album are Zelda-inspired, this one draws mostly from the style of the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood soundtrack.
Obviously, this track has a much darker tone than the rest of the album. Initially there were going to be a couple of these dark tracks on the album, but I felt that for the most part, they interrupted the flow of the story. Consequently, the others were all removed before completion. The removed tracks include a villain’s theme and a battle theme.
Notes from Ben: Once the project truly began, I knew I wanted to take another crack at the Land of the Gods village theme. The theme was one of my favorite parts of working on the first album, and I was excited to arrange the theme in a different style. This is most likely my favorite version of the theme.
Notes from Ben: This track was one of the first written for the album. I wanted a variation on a fields theme that still had the wonder of exploration, but didn’t have the epic scale of The Great Fields from Land of the Gods. To achieve this, the piece uses a smaller style of orchestration, and focuses more on individual instrument voices as opposed to the wall-of-sound mentality from the first album. Initially I wanted to use the actual melody from The Great Fields as well, but decided in the long run that a new theme would suit the style better.
Notes from Ben: Quite frankly, this track was me goofing off. I liked the tiny little piano melody I had written, and decided to make a just-for-fun track out of it. It has become one of the most popular tracks on the album. This was one of the first tracks that I really felt I was able to properly use the Sibelius 7 brass samples. The style was heavily influenced by the Super Mario Sunshine, Yoshi Story, and Banjo Kazooie soundtracks.
Notes from Ben: The concept for this piece is one of the more bizarre ones for the album. I wanted to combine the classic feel of the Ocarina of Time Market Theme with the wonder of the music from Main Street, Disneyland. This was the most brass-heavy arrangement I had done at the time, and learning how to get the most mileage out of the Sibelius 7 samples took a lot of trial and error. The melodic content is actually borrows from the Grand Castle track from the first Land of the Gods album; though the styles are severely different, I wanted to make sure there was a continuity to the world.
Arrangement-wise, the music of the Super Mario Galaxy series was immensely helpful in bringing this track to life.
Notes from Ben: This track has a very long history. It initially started out as a score for an animated film I was creating about a clumsy tree spirit. While I loved the music, the animated project eventually fell through, and the music was lost in time. Almost a year later, I rediscovered the piece and thought it might be a good fit for Cojiko Quest! I rewrote the piece from the ground up (the only part that went unchanged is the solo-piano phrase in 6/8) and got the brilliant guitarist Mochi Robinson to record for it. I drew a lot of inspiration from traditional American folk music, particularly Oh Shenandoah. The textures of the score for the Pixar short Blue Umbrella were also very influential.
This is the first Land of the Gods piece to ever feature live instrumental performance.
Notes from Ben: Cojiko’s Farewell was actually the first track written for the album. I had been programming a level in RPG Maker VX and had created an absurd scenario in which the main character’s pet chicken would burst into flame when fed. I felt that the moment needed music, and took about 45 minutes to write the piece. As I wrote, the idea evolved from a simple gag into a much more complex story, and the nature of the piece changed. What had started out as a song mourning the death of a chicken became the inevitable farewell one must say to a friend. While the context was silly, the emotion was real, and the success of the piece inspired me to continue the story and take it to new, ridiculous heights.
The style set forth in this piece helped to define the sound for the rest of the album. I drew a lot of inspiration from the Final Fantasy Piano Collection series, especially Masashi Hamauzu’s beautiful arrangement work in the album for X. Fi’s Theme from Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was also a big inspiration.
Notes from Ben: As in the first Land of the Gods, I wanted the closing track to emotionally seal the journey. My favorite kind of video game ending is the kind where the main character’s journey returns them to where they first started. Musically, it offers a lot of opportunities to revisit previous themes and expand upon them. This track has my favorite callback to Cojiko’s Theme (with the pizzicato strings at the 1:36 mark). The Home theme established in this track is one of my favorite in the series.
It should be noted that this track was actually written prior to the track Home. This is also the only Cojiko Quest track to reference the original Land of the Gods theme.