Our Weekly Ten: Game Songs

05/11/2012 20:24

The time to curl up under a woolen blanket, turn up the heating and dust off the old consoles for some classy ownage is getting slowly upon us. Even if you're not necessarily fond of playing video games, but still seek ways to spend the upcoming long winter evenings, the following compilation may turn out to be to your liking. And who knows, maybe it won't be the Jingle Bells that will play at your home during this year's Christmas Eve. Are you ready? 3, 2, 1 … press any key to continue with this article (but ideally just scroll down and read on).

 

The expectations of players have been growing ever since Table Tennis appeared on the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 (and got shamelessly ripped off and commercially stomped into the ground by Atari's Pong). Thus the creators have been trying to push every gaming experience a little further.  Since music constitutes a considerable portion of the overall gaming experience, it's only natural that it couldn't completely escape the tendency towards badass either.

 

Those 40 years of video game craze have spawned quite a few spectacular soundtracks notoriously known throughout the internet for the various ways of their interpretations, regularly included into recitals, and even reproduced by whole symphonic orchestras. The following is a list of 10 such amazing soundtracks that provide that little extra something to their respective games. Although numbered, this is not a top ten list.

 

Note that hyperlinks are included right into the text. Most of them are music, and all are SFW (probably).

 

10. Bastion

 

From the artwork by JenZee through the narrator, setting and unexpectedly dark and compelling story to the soundtrack by Darren Korb, Supergiant Games' Bastion is worth every second of its gameplay. The music was put together with great care and manages to capture the right feeling in every single situation that arises whilst you try to put together the pieces of a broken world.

 

9. Castlevania

Developed by Konami and released in 1986 for the NES, Castlevania was the beginning of a successful series of games stretching over various platforms. It came with a cracking 8-bit soundtrack well tailored for the setting of an eerie vampire-infested castle. As shown in this amazing compilation, the electronic baroque on speed with different degrees of power metal flavor managed to maintain its trademark character throughout all the coming incarnations (something that cannot be said about the gameplay and character designs), which stands proof that the creators did a damn good job at capturing the right tunes to go with whipping vampires into oblivion. If you like the kind of tunes that keep playing round and round in your head robbing you of sleep because of their sheer awesomeness, Castlevania sure is a safe bet.

 

8. Dear Esther

Now that you've come back after listening to that above compilation for at least eleven times, we may proceed to something completely different. Dear Esther is not so much a game as it is a triggered catharsis. This first person adventure lacks most things one would expect of a proper game. There are no objectives to be fulfilled, no choices to be made, and no enemies to be slaughtered. Just triggering a collection of voiced over letters while exploring uninhabited scenery. Games just got very close to art (is that a good thing?).

 

7. Donkey Kong Country

Back in the days where games actually offered real challenges, it was important for a track to be able to loop infinitely without overly irritating the player, who is frustrated enough by playing the same impossible passage for the 60th time. Whilst Donkey Kong Country was not the hardest of games, it still managed to keep you stuck at places. Fortunately enough, the music part was well handled.

 

6. Fallout 3

Imagine living in a survival shelter (let's call it Vault 101) after a nuclear fallout. Given the situation, things are going relatively well. But suddenly, circumstances force you to leave this safe haven and enter the bleakness of the Capital Wasteland to face – and with that we mean minigun the sad post-apocalyptic souls out of every last of the – myriads of enemies. Let's say you look sort of like the guy in the picture up there. Your enemies look something like this. Congratulations! You just basically experienced what Bethesda Game Studios' ultra successful Fallout 3 is about.

And the music that you hear when you tune into the game's Galaxy News Radio in the middle of carnage? Yeah, baby! Strangely topical “Anything Goes” by Cole Porter. Its contrastive character earned Fallout 3 a place on this list.

 

5. Final Fantasy VI

It seems that apart from being world leaders in conceiving ridiculous weapons and, irrelevant of gender, eerily attractive characters Square Enix are equally great at scoring wonderful soundtracks for their star series Final Fantasy. We went with the sitxth, to pick only one.

 

4. Mafia

It's probably impossible to create a perfect game. However, you still have the possibility to do everything right. Illusion Softworks did just that with Mafia, filling the niche in the open world genre. There is nothing more rewarding than finally learning how to pick a lock of a fancy 30s car, cruise the streets of the City of Lost Heaven with trademark tunes sounding from the speakers of your radio as you head towards a brilliant story.

 

3. Red Alert 2

We all knew this was inevitable. Red Alert 2 was Westwood's masterful return to the alternate World War II. Fast paced and well balanced with units that really felt like they could throw a punch, the strategy game is a gem among its genre. Accompanied by the amazing soundtrack by Frank Klepacky, who ever since must be regularly waking up into bleak futures wetting his bed in the knowledge that forever unsurpassed it was the best thing he will have ever created. Listening to this, you couldn't escape the feeling that things were going to get intense, and with RA2, you were almost never wrong.

 

2. Rez

This game apparently does something that is scarcely seen, and we don't necessarily mean the stylized graphic solutions (which certainly contribute to the overall confusion). The music in this game actually changes every time you level up becoming richer as you progress, and it overlaps with the in game sound effects and produces the very same results which you expect upon looking at the game. We are not sure what it is either.

 

1. Shogun 2

The Total War series provide a complex experience, painfully rooted in reality for the more demanding player. It is just a bonus that the games sometimes come with excellent music that makes you feel like you are really in the middle of everything, even though you maintain the classic hovering perspective (and certain distance from the Asian stereotype).

 

Afterwards, all that's left is the moving outro. The camera slowly sways away from the protagonists, offers one last glimpse of the lands slowly disappearing in a mist of nostalgia, and everyone dies a bit inside. The credits start to roll and you are finally able to see the names that made all that beauty possible (or alternatively, you can finally aim your curses at concrete people who ruined your favorite game series).

 

This is the place where I would also like to thank all the gamers whom I managed to bother whilst seeking to populate this list. Especially the guys at Polykarbon who came up with a brilliant stock to choose from. I owe a great thank you to Elfka too, for providing me with the results of her survey. It's still ongoing, so if you feel there is something I shamefully ignored, just go ahead and fill out her questionnaire.

 

I am also grateful to you for reading up to this point. I'm afraid there is not much left, but be on the lookout for further titles.

Boris Rédli

 

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