Music, as they say, is food for the soul. Or is that KFC? I’m a vegetarian, so I hope it’s the former. I once tried to see how many Bargain Buckets I could feed my friend Damian before he exploded. That was good for my soul, I must say.
Music is a big part of games. It can make or break them, really. Just play Streets of Rage 3 if you have any doubt. So I’ve decided to list my top five (uh, maybe six or seven) “Best Game Songs”. Very creative name for the list, I know. I might rechristen it as I go.
I’ve decided to exclude chiptunes, or as we called them back in the day, tunes. This is simply because there’s just too many great songs to choose from and I’d be here all day. I think that once consoles started being able to play recorded music, it leveled the playing field and no-one could say that one console was better than the other because it had a better sound chip inside. *cough* Master System *cough*
TOP 6 MUSICS WHAT WERE IN GAMES ONCE
Magical Sound Shower
Let’s face it, there’s only three reasons anyone drives a red Ferrari. They either want to look like Thomas Magnum, yearned to pull off a Ferris Bueller when they were in school, or they played OutRun at the arcade.
I had this on the Spectrum, y’know. The 48k version, which I’m told doesn’t actually have sound. I am quite concerned, as I clearly remember playing this not too long ago, and I certainly heard Magical Sound Shower. Perhaps the long loading times made me go insane.
Anyway, great game (in the arcade, at least) and great music. I’m especially fond of the 2006 version, which I’m including here over the original to get around my “no chiptunes” rule.
I always thought it was great that you could put Sega Saturn discs in a CD player and they’d play music. You obviously couldn’t do that with Mega Drive games. You can’t do it with modern consoles either, as they’re all DVDs or Blu-Rays or whatever. But you can buy the soundtracks on iTunes or as paid DLC, you lucky sods!
Anyway, I’ve long had a love affair with NiGHTs, although not the kind that results in me writing fan fiction or going to dodgy image websites. YOU KNOW THE ONES.
NiGHTS is like 10% gameplay, 40% ideas that could be used in a better game, and 50% soundtrack. It somehow manages to be more than the sum of its parts, as the other two people who played it in 1996 will agree, but it would be long forgotten if not for the ever-changing, dreamlike soundtrack.
Sweet Sweet Sweet
Everyone who was a gamer in the early Nineties knows this tune. It’s the ending theme to Sonic 2. It’s funny, because I can probably count the times I heard this as a kid on the fingers of one hand, yet it stuck with me forever. You see, my parents enforced very strict rules on my gaming, and it was rare that I had the time to sit down and play Sonic 2 through to the very end. That is, until I learned the numbers 19, 65, 09 and 17.
Many people don’t know that this tune had words, and was originally composed by (or maybe for) Japanese pop sensation Dreams Come True. It’s a little slow to begin with, but when it kicks off it makes my heart swell and my spine tingle. Tails, you little furry bastard, what would Sonic do without you…? *sob*
You’re My Hero
Good old Richard Jacques. I heard somewhere that his last name is pronounced “jakes”. I’ve been saying “Zhock” for all these years like a fool. Anyway, he’s left his mark on a fair few gaming franchises, most notably Outrun, Jet Set Radio and Sonic, for which he composed the score for Sonic 3D Flickie’s Island and Sonic R.
The whole sountrack for Flickie’s Island is amazing, but I chose the end credits theme above them all. It’s a little saccharine, maybe, but a good song nonetheless. It conjures up images of blue skies and green hills, the kind we used to find in games before the industry fell in love with non-colours grey and brown.
Bonus Game – Sonic R
It’s quite fashionable to laugh at poor old Sonic R, to compare it to Mario Kart or Forza or something. But those who mock it obviously didn’t play it the first time around. It wasn’t the best racing game ever made, but in the years before Sonic Adventure it was for a great many gamers their first taste of Sonic and chums in 3D. The soundtrack – with vocals by TJ Davis – was especially brilliant, and had a sort of 70s pop/R&B feel to it. The game isn’t a classic by any means, but it played well, had good visuals and sounds, and left a positive impression on me.
Super Mario Galaxy
A lot of people mistakenly believe Galaxy’s music to be composed by Koji Kondo, but in fact Nintendo newcomer Mahito Yokata did seventy seven of the game’s 81 pieces of music. That’s not to say Kondo’s contribution is to be ignored, of course. He did Good Egg Galaxy, and you can tell. Can you imagine the frustration of being able to compose this kind of music, but only having 8-bit or 16-bit hardware to play it on? It was nice to hear at last what Kondo had inside of him.
The star of the show is Yokata, though. The quality of Mario Galaxy’s music is indescribable. Listening to it, you can feel Yokata running his bow across the strings of your very heart. If you didn’t cry a little when you heard this the first time, you’re a filthy liar.
The folks over at Retro Studios did an excellent job of bringing Metroid into the 21st century and into the third dimension. It’s one of my favourite games of all time, but from what I hear Lord Shigsy had to flip a few tables to get the game up to scratch.
For the soundtrack, Nintendo sensibly decided to entrust it to Super Metroid composer Kenji Yamamoto. It’s absolutely stunning, and captures the atmosphere perfectly. At times, you’re unaware that what you’re hearing is even music, it just seamlessly blends with the environment to become ambient noise. Wonderful.
That is all. If you have an opinion or want me to include a specific sountrack on my next list, then please say so in the comments or write to my PO Box, where once filtered out from the huge pile of strong pornography that I’m too afraid to have delivered to the house, will be replied to in all haste.
“Yearned to pull off”