My Top Music Games – Part I


Video-games are pretty amazing. We all love it, play it, blame it, cry over it of anger and then we play it again. But, between a lot of things inside a game that make us keep playing and talking about it is the music.

Back on 70’s when the first game came out, the music was horrible and we all know that. That was because of the lack of technology and, most of the time, programmers were the designers, writers, developers, etc. So, we cannot really blame them. Some of the games didn’t even had music. We had to use our imagination. Consoles, PC and even Arcades. The magic happened in your mind.

The 80’s we had more companies that started to use the technology to develop better sound effects and introduce music to the games at that Intro, end stages, bosses, start games, dead characters, etc. Still nothing really good, but, for the time, it was a huge development. You could even “feel” the game. Still, there was just one problem: All the songs were repetitive. It was an infinite loop over and over again. Not to mention that, if you search better, at 90’s you may find some games with the repetitive song like The Simpsons: Bart Vs The Space Mutants. Nice game, hard as hell, pretty fun, made me a lot anger at a time. But that was okay, because it was what we had for the time. 🙂

Then came the 90’s. This is where I grew up. My whole childhood was inside of some games from 80’s, a few from the 70’s, but most of them from the 90’s. And here is where I will talk about the most. Most games here had amazing soundtracks and I also have a lot of them on my MP3 player, because they are so good to listen again and again.

Now, when I’m talking about the music, I won’t just talk about how well they were created, how many instruments were used, if the composer is famous or not, but how deep the music put you in the game, the atmosphere that it creates and the feeling that you had to keep at the same stage just to hear it again and again. Some soundtracks were so good that I had to learn how to play on the guitar or piano.

Over the Internet you can find a lot of fans and different opinions about it. I checked over 10 websites and listen to a thousand of musics on Youtube to understand why some songs are good and others are now. The main thing is that, if you don’t like the game, you may not like the soundtrack either. However, this is not a rule, but it may happen. What could also happen is that, you may like the game, but the soundtrack is garbage. That is most likely to happen and/or vice-versa.

I also picked up some nice songs that marked my childhood. Every time that I listen to it, I start remember those hours that I spent invested on my game knowledge and, man, that feels good!

All right. Here is my list, and probably I will have to divide into 2 or 3 posts…

GUILTY GEAR X2

Guilty Gear X2, also know by some people as Guilty Gear XX, is a fighting game developed by Arc Sytem Works and published by Sammy Studios. You may find it for Arcade and Playstation 2.

Release on May 23rd, 2002, this game mix an amazing heavy metal riffs and double drummers with a fighting style game. It’s just amazing. If you like heavy metal and games, this is the perfect combination of both. The speed of the music and the movements fluency keep you in a constant adrenaline rush which you can only stop at the end of the fight. I thought the combination fit nicely and was almost like a game that I made on Mugen, mixing fighting characters from other video-games with the soundtrack of Iron Maiden, Stratovarius, Angra, Sonata Arctica and more. Definitely, an add for the game music soundtracks that you want to have on your mp3 player.

PARASITE EVE

Have you played this game? For me it was one game that really marked my life.

Developed by Square, the game is an action RPG Survival Horror on the same style as Resident Evil. Released on March 29th, 1998, you will find it only for Playstation console. And the soundtrack? The intro soundtrack really put you into the game and goes from slow notes to fast ones, alongside the piano and the guitar. Also, the ending vocal song “Somnia Memorias” uses influence of both opera and electronica. Performed by Shani Rigsbee (no clue of who she is), it is known as one of her more original soundtracks.

An amazing game with a great soundtrack, the game received positive reviews from critics and also received a score of 76.72% according to GameRankings and 81/100 on Metacritic.

Z.O.E. – Zone of The Enders

I’ve never played this game and didn’t even know about it until now. However, a lot of people say its a good game and you should play it. I’ll work on it later.

Zone of The Eders (Z.O.E.), created by Hideo Kojima (another reason to play it for some reason like, I don’t know, METAL GEAR SOLID), published by Konami and expanded on by animation studio Sunrise, it was released for Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Game Box Advance and Xbox 360. Not going to talk about the plot or the game itself, but the soundtrack.

It is actually really nice and makes you feel like you are in a gym or doing some kind of hard exercise. Of course some parts are thrilling and build an environment of mystery, tech stuff and the feeling like “I can do that!” – as you listen to songs that has a chorus with the notes C – D – E on this same sequence….. well, sorry for the miss direction of the thoughts, but musicians will understand me…

Anyway, nice soundtrack alongside anime, robots, Japanese, Hideo Kojima, etc.

EINHÄNDER

Another game, developed by Square and published by Square, Sony and Square Enix, Einhänder was first released on Nov 20th, 1997. The game is a shoot’em up game in which the player controls a Fighter Spacecraft. Pretty interesting.

Now, lets talk about the soundtrack. At first I didn’t really put some faith in it. But, as I continuous listening, I realized that it’s actually good. A futuristic theme that makes you believe that you are in a Rave Party. Some of the songs remind me also of Matrix, another of old futurist movies. Anyway, it makes the job and you feel right at the middle of the fight between the Moon and the Earth.

Mixing techno and electro, several tracks make use of subgenres of techno, such as progressive house, or other genres like hip hop, piano-based music or opera. Also interesting to mention that the musics was composed by Kenichiro Fukui that also helped on the Arrangers of several Final Fantasy games and others.

STREET OF RAGE 1 AND 3

Now, lets go back a little bit and change our console. Does any of you remember the Sega Genesis? Nice console with hard and cool games. I changed my Super Nintendo for one when I was young because SNES games weren’t hard enough. Yeah, I did it.

Anyway, there were a lot of games for the Sega Genesis and some cool soundtracks behind them. One of them is Street or Rage 2, developed by Sega (AM7), Ancient, H.I.C. and Shout! Designworks. (lot of folks!) and published by Sega.

A little space in here, we could also talk about Street of Rage 1 and 3. I didn’t play them as much as the 2nd one, but they also have a real nice soundtrack. In a nut shell, the 1st one has some kind of techo and Jazz that moves along electronic and swaggering house music, just like the 2nd one, but not as good as it. The 3rd one comes in a more synthetic and dance kind of music. Much more like a crazy high notes that gives you headache if you listening too much of it.

Lets keep it with the 2nd one. Its better for my mental sanity.

 

STREET OF RAGE 2

 

A really fun game on the style of beat’em up, released on Dec 20th, 1992. I myself played a thousand times. The controls are fluent and greats, enemies are in some kind good to beat and the stages are also difficult on its own way.

The soundtrack is also something that really catch into you. It was influenced by electronic dance music, specifically house, techno, hardcore techno and breakbeat, it was considered revolutionary for its time. The blends of swaggering house synths, dirty electro-funk and trancey makes you feel in a nightclub or a Jazz club. I’d definitely download it and put on my list of great songs. You should try it too. 🙂

MEGAMAN X4

Megaman was always a great game since the beginning. You can find a thousand of games for mostly all the consoles on the market. But I’ll talk about a specific one. Megaman X4.

Released on Aug. 1st, 1997, developed by Capcom and published by Capcom and Virgin Interactive, Megaman X4 can be found on Sega Saturn, Playstation, Windows, mobile phones, Playstation Network (Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita).

I could talk a lot about this game. Is one of my favorites and, even after so many years, I’d stop and play it all over again, because it just amazing. The controls, the plot, the way you update Megaman into a better character, enemies, useful tool inside the game, the way the game teach you how to play without you knowing it, etc. But, lets focus

The soundtrack was composed by Toshihiko Horiyama and he also worked on several others Megaman games as 7, X3, Battle Network 4, X and other games. The opening song – Makenai ai gai kitto aru – gives me chills even nowadays.

CASTLEVANIA: SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT

Now we are talking games and soundtracks. This is another game that I did enjoy A LOT playing and would keep playing it for more 20 years.

This games is awesome. And I not talking about the graphics or something like that. The gameplay is amazing, character movement is smooth, bosses and secrets are pretty good and you have a lot of items, places to go and discovery and upgrade Alucard (the son of Dracula) to hes unlimited powers. It a miss of side scrolling game with RPG and Platform-adventure.

Published by Konami on Mar. 20th, 1997, you can find it for Playstation, Sega Saturn, Tiger Handheld, Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. And the game also has an amazing soundtrack. Now I am telling you, I downloaded most of the songs and, still today, I listen to them. They are just good.

Composed by Michiru Yamane (its a woman! okay, I didn’t know that until I Google her name…), the music contains elements from classical, techno, Gothic, rock, new age, jazz and sub-genres of metal – including black metal and thrash metal. (not talking about the final credit song which made me feel weird after all the Dracula’s stuff, dies, blood, heads rolling, etc…)

Each song has it own way to bring you to that specific moment of the game. Fighting Dracula in the beginning with Richter has a rock model song, going into the library has an intellectual and literal style. Bottom line, you have to play it, enjoy the song, download it into your PC, than play it again and again. This is one of the games that I will never get tired of playing.

PORTAL

This game is just awesome. Its a true proof that you can build a great games without enemies, killing, blood, rolling heads, etc.

Portal is a FPS + Puzzle Platform game developed by Valve Corporation released on Oct. 09, 2007 for Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, OS X, Linux, Shield Portable where in order to move to the next stage, you have to solve a series of puzzles with the only gun in the game: The Aperture Science Handheld Device, or you may call the boring way, Portal Gun. With this gun you can create two kind of portals which you use to go through from a place to another. In a short, it creates a visual and physical connection between two different locations in three dimensional space.

Okay, but enough about the game. Lets talk about the soundtrack. All the musics of the game are simple electronic and have no vocal at all. But what makes it really good to be on this list is the final song: Still Alive sung by GLaDOS (the artifical intelligence that wants to kill/help/kill/trick you the whole game) with pieces of data from the game. The song got so famous that even a version for the Rock Band was released. Also, another one that I have on my mp3 and I never get tired of listening.

FINAL FANTASY VII

 

A quick fact: The reason that this game is called Final Fantasy is because Square was about to go bankrupt and the designers believed that it would be the last attempt to keep themselves on the game company. The Final Fantasy (or game creation) that they could do. Well, it worked and like those Christmas Specials, we still have a lot of FINAL fantasies around. Thank you, Square!

Now, not specific this Final Fantasy, but I guess all of them has an amazing soundtrack. I used to listening to it on my afternoon nap. Yeah, nap! I like to take naps! Deal with it! 🙂

Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Final Fantasy VII was the first game of the series to include a track with digitized vocals. One of the songs, “One-Winged Angel”, has been described as Uematsu’s most recognized contribution to the music of the Final Fantasy series.

 

Overall, they are well elaborated mixing all kind of styles going from slow and melancholic to fast and energetic ones that, most of the time, keeping you at the same place just to hear it again.

One of my favorite tracks is not from FF VII, but from Final Fantasy IX – A Face Unforgotten – simple, beautiful, touching…

All the songs on this one mix a kind of medieval style with techno and others styles dealing a lot with flutes, pianos, harps and all the medieval things. Just pretty good and you should go after it to listening, download and listening

 

DOOM I AND II

Alright, and what about this one? Who on the realm of video-games has never played Doom?

Originally released for MS-DOS computers in 1994 and also Macintosh in 1995. This FPS game developed by ID Software and Nerve Software was released on many platforms due to its huge success. You may find it on DOS, Macintosh, Game Boy Advance, Tapwave Zodiac, Xbox Live Arcade, Xbox 360, Playstation 3.

And what about the soundtrack? A beautiful work from Robert Prince that, for some people, put him on the map of video-games musics. The songs from the game grew extremely popular among gamers that you can find a huge number of versions and remix projects so many years after it. He also worked on Doom, Duke Nukem II, Duke Nukem 3D and many other games.

A real gamer definitely would, at least, listening to it to know. A real good work even for the time where not so many technology was available. Tip: You may check the MIDI version of it. 😉

TETRIS

Yes! Tetris is the one I am talking about. You may be asking “What? How? Where?”. I’ve to say that the soundtrack of this game is not just contagious, but also really famous around the world. Check it out at youtube and you will find an infinite variation of this song, from dance to heavy metal going through Jazz, Opera, hard rock, etc. I myself had played a couple of times when I had a band!

 

The soundtrack is based on the Russian folk song Korobeiniki, a nineteenth-century song. Now, Russians may not be so into the Tetris song, but outside Russia, this song is widely known because of Nintendo, by the hands of Hirokazu Tanaka in 1989. He re-arranged the song and, in 2008, UGO Entertainment listed the song as the 3rd best video-game music of all time.

 

A little about the game, the design was made by Alexey Pajitnov and Vladimir Pokhilko and the first released of the game was on June 6, 1984. The game is not that mystical or full of stages and quests. The objective is to place the blocks on the bottom of the screen as aligned as possible on the horizontal way. Each line completed, it disappear creating room for another one. And that goes on and on. Some people may say that the game has no end, but it has indeed. Google it and you will find.

SUPER MARIO WORLD

Another game that made my childhood a happy time. Even today I have it on my computer to play when I’m looking for a game to relax and not think about anything.

Developed by Nintendo and published by Nintendo alongside Mattel, Super Mario World was released on Nov. 21, 1990 and you can find it on SNES, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console (Wii and Wii u). Other Super Mario games you can find around the world. Really. Mario has been around for so long that have, beside the games, foods, clothes, toys, cartoons, drinks, cosplayers and others parallel universe versions.

 

The soundtrack was composed by Koji Kondo using only an electronic keyboard. A real prove that the most important thing you need to get success is your imagination. All the music heard in the game, with the exception of the title screen, credits, maps, castle and fortress, and fighting Bowser, is a variation of the same melody. It goes from regular and standard melody, to slow, with echos, quick and energetic and more.

 

Now, some of you may think that “due, the whole music is based on a same melody variation! That’s not creative!”. Well, what if I tell you that, the simple things are the best? And to get to a simple thing like that you have to study and understand a lot of that? Simple check the concept of Design. It’s “easy” to create something complicated. Just keep adding parts, instructions, notes, instruments, etc. But for something simple – as the song that Koji could work with – you have to blend everything into one thing to make it fit…. You better go after later for a better understanding….Anyway, that’s what Super Mario World and other theme songs from Mario, is on the list. Like Tetris, you can also find a lot of variations of Mario’s theme on the internet, some of them, pretty amazing.

KILLER INSTINCT

I remember playing this one on the Arcade when it first came out. Amazing graphics, game play, character and music. Well, it was back in 1994, so for the time and my age, it was pretty awesome.

Killer Instinct was first released on Oct. 28, 1994, developed by a bunch of studios as Rare, Double Helix Games, Microsoft Studios and Iron Galaxy Studios and first published by Midway Games. Its basically a fight game one-o-one combat. Some says that its a mix of Street Fighter with Mortal Kombat.
The soundtrack of this game is also really nice and good to hear if you like dance music, techno, drum n’ bass style. Composed by Robin Beanland (also worked on another Killer Instinct titles) and Graeme Norgate (worked on games like Golden Eye 007, TimeSplitters and Donkey Kong Land), some of them are like futuristic trance and other deep and creepy style. But this is for the first one, 1994.
Years later, in Nov. 22, 2013, Microsoft Studios released a new version of the game with an even better soundtrack, with good guitar riffs, hard hit and more like a metal style. Of course they didn’t lose that dance and techno style which can also be found in some songs. Anyway, both of them have their unique type of songs and are a valuable contribution to our list.
Well, for not this is it, but this is just the first part of what will probably be more than 2 or 3 parts… There are so many games to check and so many songs to listening to. Hope you guys can keep it up with us following the blog and enjoying the reading.

See ya on the next post!

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