Video games have helped define generations of kids and young adults. From the early 1970’s with the Magnavox Odyssey, through to current day PC and PlayStation titles, video games have been a part of home entertainment for nearly 50 years. In that time, we’ve seen plenty of great titles and plenty of terrible ones. There have been a share of controversies, amazing stories and more. To say video games are not amazing is to put down the work of thousands of people globally. That’s why today, I wanted to look back at some games and get all nostalgic at their amazing soundtracks. At the end of today’s article, I’d encourage all of you to share your favourite video game songs with us.
Final Fantasy IX – You’re Not Alone
Starting with one of my favourites, Final Fantasy IX was a title I played until I knew every little trick and secret. I obsessed with finding Ozma, the treasures and more. But the game is a lot mroe than just the side-objectives. It’s one of the most pure fantasy stories in the Final Fantasy series, insofar as it’s true to the element of fantasy. Indeed, when they made Final Fantasy IX, it was originally going to be a side-game, with Final Fantasy X being the next game in the series. By going back to their roots, the team created a game that was high on the fantasy – and with composure Nobuo Uematsu at their side, the soundtrack was equally fantastic.
When the game reaches it’s final stages, you get to see the protagonist in a slump. The originally upbeat Zidane Tribal has a startling realisation about what life is, about what his life is and has been, which sends him into a mental downwards spiral. The game goes into a story of friendship, which is exactly what this song represents. He is in a dark place, he is stuck – He wants to fight alone, he doesn’t want to be a burden. His friends, however, have decided that they stick with him because they know how he feels, or if they don’t, they want to know. They wanted him to know he was not alone – and that’s why this song has always stuck out to me.
Carnival Night Act I & II – Sonic the Hedgehog 3
This song isn’t particularly special, per se, but this was one of the strangest changes to a soundtrack and indeed pace of a game to me. I remember only really wanting to play up until I had completed this zone, even though the whole of Sonic 3 was excellent. In all honesty, this is by far my favourite title of the speedy blue hedgehog. But, encapsulated by that was the amazing OST the game had. Then, when this point of the game hit, I always felt happier. It was so out there, so strange, that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.
If you’ve never played a Sonic game before, then you’re missing out. One of the trailblazers in changing up the platforming genre, Sonic the Hedgehog was a game all about going fast. The game liked to take you in loops, metaphorically and figuratively. Sometimes the maps would zip you back and forth, until you reached the far right hand side of the map, where it’ll come to an end. Carnival Night was a zone that switched that up, matched only by it’s humorous and often frustratingly clownish music. If you ever got frustrated in this zone, you were taking the “gotta go fast” part too seriously.
Porky Means Business – Earthbound
Porky Minch was one bad dude. He was so bad, he would even taunt you as you were about to fight the end boss of the game, Giygas. Just before that final fatal fight, you face Porky alongside his brand new best friend, Giygas, who was keeping himself completely safe. Porky, being the greedy kind of guy he is, takes full advantage of the fact you’re about to face a tough challenge and steps in. With a new power suit, it’s fair to say that Porky Means Business – Which is also the name for this track.
I don’t have too much to say about this, except for listen to it! It’s genuinely an incredible moment in the history of SNES. It opens up in a very usual SNES-like way. It’s bippy and boopy, it’s happy and silly… And then the guitar hits. It throws me off, even to this day. It was an incredible trick thrown in to an already amazing game full of deception and trickery. Have a listen, it’s a belter of a tune.
Title Screen – The Curse of Monkey Island
I could have chosen any of the songs from Monkey Island as they are all really fun to listen to. It takes on a heavy Caribbean influence, using marimba’s and woodwind instruments to really get across the feeling of the Caribbean. Further to this, with light drums, the music is basically a perfect feeling of what you’d want from any pirate-based video game. Indeed, you could argue that Pirates of the Caribbean uses a similar concept to the Monkey Island series.
But, there’s another point I wanted to raise other than how fun and jolly this song is. I mentioned how I could have chosen any of the songs from The Curse of Monkey Island and that’s because every song, technically, is super complex. No, I don’t mean it goes into massive arpeggios arrangements or anything like that – But rather, every element is precisely soft at the right moments and hits harder at exact parts. If you have a real listen to the music, it was one of the first real moments when video games started really bringing in real instruments over typical MIDI instruments of the past. Beautiful, I think many of you could agree.
Before we finish this up, I want you to vote for one of these four. Which of the four aforementioned songs is the best?
Thanks for joining me on this fun trip down memory lane. I won’t lie, I now want to re-re-re-re-replay most of these – And I say that many re-‘s because all of these games I’ve returned to on numerous occasions. As ever though, these articles wouldn’t be written without your feedback and comments – So come along and share with me some of your favourite video game songs. Tell me why my musical opinion is objectively good or bad and share a link. Let’s enjoy video games for another 50+ years! Share your thoughts below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.