The Best Music in Gaming: Part 1
It's not that long...just read and listen!
Video game music is timeless. Some of those 8-bit tunes still hold a special place in our hearts over twenty years later. I’m obsessed with music, so much so that I feel compelled to add various tracks and tunes from video games onto a special playlist on my iPod. This will be my first entry in a (hopefully) long running series of blogs, detailing my favorite music from a variety of video games. Feel free to recommend tunes for me in the comment section, and keep an eye out for more of these blogs in the future. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Yes, this song can originally be traced back to Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, but Dawn of Sorrow put a much more…gothic twist on it while still retaining that retro essence. Starting off with organs while adding a few interesting instruments into the mix makes this version feel very fresh and just a joy to listen to…despite its rather gross title. If I’m ever hunting down Dracula (for some strange reason) I would want this song cheering me on.
When ODST came out, I wasn’t sure what to think about it. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot a few weeks after its release. I became instantly hooked, and that was mostly due to the atmosphere and music presented throughout the campaign. You’re a lone soldier with little to no resources at your disposal, and the piece “Deference for Darkness” (specifically the first half which some dub “Rain”) makes this terribly evident. Martin O’ Donnell and Michael Salvatori display a lot of talent in this subtle piece that manages to make you feel very, very alone. After walking around in the rain looking for comrades that may or may not be alive, I was overcome by the soft piano and stirring orchestra that seemed to haunt my every action. Deference for Darkness is an excellent piece that is overlooked by many.
Along with the song “Guilty,” “(I Always Kill) the Things I Love” is one of the best songs in L.A. Noire, because it perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Los Angeles in the 1940s. Claudia Brucken’s sweet and sexy voice lends itself perfectly to this style of music, and the jazz band that constantly supports her every note is extraordinary. Also, her first lines, “Well, I love the chase till the minute I win it,” are done nearly perfectly. Well done L.A. Noire! That’s how you do music!
Prince of Persia, released back in 2008, was a fantastic game in its own right, but it wasn’t just the gameplay and animation that made it such a joy to play. The music was simply phenomenal with all sorts of beautiful wind and string instruments creating a sort of mystical vibe. “Healing Ground” is a perfect example of this. Once you had healed a place of corruption, this peaceful melody would serenade you as you leaped through each area (that is, until you reached more corruption). It’s stirring orchestral peaks as well as its soothing valleys help keep this piece firmly grounded within the context of a colorful and interesting world.
When I finished Bastion and was greeted by this theme along with the credits, I was simply blown away. For a downloadable game, this song is simply unparalleled. Even if it weren’t a downloadable game, “Setting Sail, Coming Home” is a truly emotional and powerful song to end such a fantastic adventure. I immediately bought this song once the soundtrack was released, because of how simply amazing it sounds. Kudos to Supergiant Games for going that extra mile; creating one of the best songs I’ve heard in a video game for quite some time.
Did any of us really know what we were getting into when we started up Ico? I found myself thoroughly engaged in its rather vague narrative and interesting handholding mechanic, and after finishing the game, I sat and watched how it would actually end. This song…this song was the perfect way to end it. It’s mysterious, it’s vague and it’s rather haunting. “You Were There” is exactly what Ico is all about. It starts off rather mysteriously, then builds to something amazing…yet still pretty weird…in a beautiful kind of way. Make sense?
“Listen to my story. This…may be our last chance.” The screen fades to black as the title presents itself in the center of the screen. Final Fantasy X is one of my favorite games of all time. The story, the scope, the characters. Everything about this game was done magnificently. But the song, “To Zanarkand” is without a doubt one of the best pieces of music from any video game I’ve ever heard. It conveys a sense of sorrow and loss; two themes that play heavily into Final Fantasy X’s story. Yet, it’s so beautifully done that it’s almost peaceful at times. “To Zanarkand” is also perfectly titled…for reasons I won’t spoil.
The Kirby franchise is blessed with some of the best music from Nintendo, and I don’t think enough people truly recognize this. There are literally dozens of songs I could include onto this week’s list (which will most likely appear on later blogs) but I’ll start off with a recent favorite. The Super Copy Ability music that’s played when you…super copy an ability, is without a doubt an epic and heroic Kirby theme that’s a ton of fun to listen to. It’s even more fun to listen to when you’re actually wreaking havoc with the ability in the game. Again, there are plenty of Kirby classics out there, but this one is definitely one of Nintendo’s best tracks made especially for one of its best mascots.
More blogs on the topic fairly soon! Thanks for reading!