I think it's safe to say that music have played a huge role in video games throughout the years. From the 8-bit era's blips and blops to todays fully orchestrated soundtracks. Personally are music one of the most important aspects of a game for me - heck, why would I remember all these tunes if it weren't?
Yea, we all got our favorite Mario, Zelda and Megaman tunes, but I'm gonna take you guys through my personal top 20 of all time. A list that's quite varied, but common for them all, are that they gave and still gives me 'The Feeling' - or in other words, a wave of those good old times. Check it out.
2001 : Guess theres no introduction needed here? Well, on the 20th spot do we have the original Halo theme, and yes, this is undoubtly one of the best newer theme songs out there. Composed for Bungie Studios by Martin O'donnell (who's also behind the music from Myth 1&2), with the goal of providing a feeling of importance, weight and a sence of the 'ancients' is it really one of the most recognizable video game tunes.
Whatever he tried to do with that song, does it really deliver on all aspects. It has everything really... Starts slow, but quickly gets some up-tempo drums going, along with some hectic 'violins'. I can't really describe it, but this song has something mystical to it and it had me spellbound from the moment I heard it for the first time those many years ago. It makes you feel part of the Halo world, a world thats both beautiful and dangerous at the same time... Good from the core.
2001 : You can't make a list like this without having the Metal Gear Solid theme on it in some form or another. I decided to pick the one from one of the best game ever, Metal Gear Solid 2. It sends chills down my spine, its epic and its one of the newer tracks on this list that really hit me where I'm weak - and that's in a good way.
Being a reorchestrated version of the original did it take everything that was amazing about the first and made it even more fantastic. Well I don't even know what to say here... It's just legendary and fits the game, both in mood and in memories. We're all familiar with it, so why not let the music speak for itself.
1996 : Next up do we have the Command and Conquer : Red Alert series. The C&C series has always been one of the coolest when it comes to bringing the atmosphere of war into the game, and one of the reasons to that is the music. A lot of the music aren't really that rememberable, but there is one tune that everyone knows and that's of course the Hell March.
Composed by Frank Klepacki back in the mid 90's, is it one of the most amazing adrenaline "lets go kill something" songs out there. Klepacki joined Westwood Studios when he was only 17 years old, and have made music for almost all of their games, including their C&C, Dune and Bladerunner series. With it's heavy guitar riffs, sound of marching soldiers and "shout-outs" does it deliver on all aspects... Building up a base and go to war with this one in the background never fails.
1989 : It's oldschool and it's awesome. Released all the way back in 1989, is Duck tales one of the oldest games you will find on this list. But hey, what does age matter, when what's inside is absolutely fantastic? Yup, 'The Moon' level from Duck Tales features one of the most recognizable video game tunes from the NES era. While it's so simple on one hand, is it also a tune that holds a place in the heart of many gamers.
Duck Tales was made by Capcom, and the musical score was composed by none other than Yoshihiro Sakaguchi. The guy who's also behind the legendary music found in Mega Man 2. As one said: "This tune stands out in my mind as the theme of the eight-bit era. When you listen, you first hear a small tune, like the leftovers of the video game crash in '83. It gets momentum with more tunes, and it explodes, just like the NES' popularity by '89". Flatout awesome.
1996 : On the 16th place do we have one of the more "personal" picks on the list, and one of the finest compositions to ever be in a video game... Yes, im foreseeing the future here, it's that good. The Tristram theme from the original Diablo, composed by Matt Uelmen is so fitting that it's almost unbelievable.
I can't count the hours I've spent playing Diablo. The world is just fantastic, and one of the reasons for that was indeed the music. The Tristram theme plays when you enter, you guessed it, Tristram. A city threatened by evil forces. It takes you on a journey of fear, darkness, wonder and calmness at the same time, and manages to catch the dark, gritty mood of the game perfectly. From the small 'pricks' to the countless echoes, and finally the awesome guitar part starting at 2.30. Yea, this song sure does bring some good memories with it.
The whole soundtrack was directed by Stephen Rippy, and aimed to have bits from all the different cultures in the varied music, and let me just say that it really turned out awesome. I had quite a hard time deciding which song to pick, since there's so many I love from the game, but I ended up with Shamburger as my overall favorite piece. As with the Halo theme does this song bring something 'mystical' with it, the drum beat is spectacular and it's just soothing to have in the background while you build your town up from scratch. Trust me, it immerses you right into the game like no other.
2003 : SIMCITY - A series that in my opinion have a flat out awesome soundtrack behind it, especially the 3000 edition, takes it's place on the 14th spot. Composed by one of the, in my opinion, best in the industry - jazz musician Jerry Martin (JM joined Maxis in 1996 and is also behind a lot of the music from 'The Sims'), does it bring a cool array of New-Jazz songs that just fits the mood of the game perfectly.
I absolutely loved both Simcity 3000 and 4, but one of the things that really got me hooked was indeed the soundtrack. There were a lot (A LOT) of awesome songs to choose from, but one in particular stood out to me, and that was 'Metropolis' from Simcity 4. And hey, this is actually one of the non jazz tunes in the series. Building a city and watch it at night with this mellow, dreamlike tune was just fantastic. It calmed you down and sucked you right into the whole world like few tunes have ever done to me.
1985 : Pick one Mario tune... And only one. That ain't easy, trust me. Yea, this one was actually the hardest one for me to decide on. I went trough the Mario Bros 2 overworld theme, Birabuto Kingdom and Dr. Mario's Fever (and a whole lot more) before finally deciding to go with none other than the original Super Mario Bros. theme that we all know and love. Yup, the classic choice.
And let me be honest with you - I'm not sure if I picked right, cause it feels like I could fill this spot with 20 different Mario tunes and they would still all be awesome. Guess that tells a little bit about the quality of the music in this series. However, you can't go wrong with the original masterpiece from before I was born. Koji Kondo is one of the most acknowledged and best video game composers out there, and this timeless piece will undoubtly go further down in history as one of the best.
1992 : Kirby's Dream land. One of my favorite games from my childhood, and one of my most played games of all time. The simplistic platforming spiced up with Kirby's different abilities was really something that I found straight out awesome as a kid. It wasn't that hard to pick a song from this game, since I've always loved Green Greens, but King Dedede's theme almost went with the nomination.
The soundtrack was composed by Jun Ishikawa back when Kirby was still white, and sports some up-tempo tunes that really gets the flow of the game going. Green Greens stands out to me, as one of the best songs on the Gameboy platform, and takes me way back to the countless hours i've spent playing this game in my younger years. Just like the Mario theme above is it on one hand very simple, but on the other hand so well put together that you can't help but love it. A true masterpiece.
2002 : As with the Tristram theme does this one feels very "personal". I find it way better than Oblivion's praised theme, and one of the hardest to place on this list. It reminds of those "good days" where there was put a lot of feeling and spirit into the games, or atleast that's what it feels like.
Anyways, the Morrowind theme is flatout epic. It's a very touching song composed by the award winning Jeremy Soule, but at the same time does it also makes you want to saddle up and go out and explore the world. It's filled with adventure and heroism, but also sorrow. It tells a story of a land with a great history behind it, both in good and in bad. It's not often I get these kinda relationships to a song Iv'e heard in a frikkin' video game, but this one have always stood out to me as one of the finest... And hey, I'm not even that big a fan of the games.
Lets end it here for now. Whew, definitely found out that it's kinda' hard to explain why you really like a song. Guess that's one of the cool things about video game music - it's more than just the music, but also the situation at the given time, both in the game and your real life that influences why you really like it.
It's easier to just let the music speak for itself... and sometimes that is all that's really needed. Hope you like what you've read/heard so far. What's your favorite video game music? Let me know!