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Sound Check [01]

A select list of certain video game songs that many of them are my all-time favorites from each game, but are memorable and interesting to me in many ways. It’s been awhile since I wrote a fun, interesting GB list outside of the GOTY list, so I hope this is a fun read. Here’s a link to listen to all of the songs straight through via Youtube playlist, or individually below.

Order of games are in rough chronological order of when they were first released.

List items

  • Beyond the Galaxy

    I never played this Sega game, but I came across this unexpected awesome funk jam through Data Discs’s release of the game’s soundtrack on vinyl. This track not only has that future sci-fi sound that matches the game’s setting, but also composed in a way that likens it so much with those great 70s era funk songs. It checks off so much of the funk checklist: funk bass, smooth synthesizers, a drum solo, and cowbell! I cannot attest for the quality of the game, but I can attest to the quality of this song.

  • I Am Man

    I AM NINJA MAN! *plays condensed offkey cover of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”*

    I never played the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden. Just like the entry above, I came through this surprise through purchasing Brave Wave’s vinyl box set of the original NES Ninja Gaiden trilogy and arcade soundtracks.

  • Silence

    F-Zero was not only the first Super Nintendo game I owned and played, but was also the first video game where I noticed the cool sound and presence of the bass guitar. Oddly enough, my favorite song from the game’s impressive soundtrack is the Silence race track theme. Though the track’s song is not that long in actual length, but I love how the first half is serene with the the keyboards/synths riding on top of a running hi-hat and standard bass, then it bursts out with this groovy bassline along with blaring synths and trumpet aloneside. I also found the song meshing in with the track’s setting, even if there’s this kick-ass song playing on a race track titled Silence.

  • The Great Petal

    Part elegance, part madness. That’s what I always feel listening to the Sir Richard Rose’s theme in one of Konami’s line of classic side-scrolling shooters. The “Spanish guitar” is the elegance, as you see the final boss standing on some sort of mansion with his attire and flarish attitude; then the thumping keyboards comes in representing the madness of fighting him and his numerous henchmen. The song isn’t that long in length, but the repetitiveness of this music mixed in with the context brings more out of the song. I not only like the song for what it is and what it served, but it always brings back strong memories surrounding this boss fight.

  • Circuit C

    Everytime I hear this song, I’m always imagining the guitar riffs played are mimicking a duck’s quack for some reason. I realize that ducks don't quack in quick succession, but I still can’t shake those riffs as quacks. Adding to the absurdity of this song is the keyboards playing a countermelody against the guitar. It’s a weird song, but I’m equally as weird being oddly enthralled with the song’s composition.

  • Castle of Ninjas

    This song stuck out to me for a number of odd reasons, the oddest one being that this section of the game was the farthest I ever got in this game. The composition of the mournful, sustained synth/pan flute notes with the prominent bassline meshes in so well with in testing the player’s skill in infiltrating through a challenging ninja castle. It’s also groovy in its own odd way. Someday I’ll return back to this game and finally pass through this section that I never overcame as a kid.

  • Requiem in D Minor K-626 Dies Ire

    I never realized as a kid that everything around the country setting, the orchestra background, this song, and the character name revolved around Mozart. Back then, I thought it was a fitting song for a hard-ass final boss battle. Now, I found this piece more fascinating know the origins behind Krauser’s character and stage. Though the compressed 16-bit sound may not capture the dynamics of an orchestra recording, it’s awesome that a musical composition from the 18th century can still set the setting so well around a fighting video game.

  • Moon World / Raphael

    This particular theme from Tetris Attack is where I first took admiration on light, sublime music. The harp is the star of the show in this song, but the surrounding sustained synths and the mechanical percussion all combine to an impeccable theme that not only matches the stage setting in the game, but also listenable in its own right. The critical music for this stage is also chill with an added darker tone.

  • Stickerbush Symphony

    It’s funny that this fantastic David Wise composition is set to one of the most aggravating stages in DKC2. I guess the stage being set high in the clouds with the only means of transportation is knowing which revolving barrels to go to while avoid the spiky vines and enemies has an alluring affect why the stage and the song are so memorable to me. Many years later, I appreciated the juxtaposition of stage difficulty and beautiful, melancholic soundtrack as like a pyrrhic victory. It took a lot out of me to finally beat the stage, but at least I got to listen to this great song during the entire ride while dying a lot. It’s also a great song that stands up well outside of its context.

  • Great Britian

    Out of all the games and songs from this list, the inclusion of this song and game is probably the most far-fetched out of them all. This came about from not playing the game myself, but witnessing another player playing this game, that it took my friend over an hour to beat this stage that is only a couple of minutes to beat, the hilarity of my friend retrying the stage over and over while this song played over, and that I still have a fond recollection of this memory are all signs why it wins most far-fetched. The song isn’t that long and just goes back and forth normal to octave higher then back again with the same frantic synths, galloping bass and percussion, but in context with my memory of watching my friend play and joking about the song continually until he finally persevere is something that was strangely memorable to me back when it happened a few years ago and still is to this day.

  • Arashi no Saxophone 2

    The first song where I immediately say it had STYLE. Everything about this song, the saxophone around the rocking guitars, synths, and drums just oozes style. It’s no surprise that this stylish theme belongs to Iori’s team, where Iori, Mature, and Vice are pretty stylish themselves in this game. I realize that I linked to the arranged version of this theme and not the original version. The original is great and what I was first exposed to, but the arranged brings the STYLE TO THE MAX.

  • This is a Test

    Some songs amaze you with how involving is composition is, other songs amaze you on how much it can bring out with its simplicity. I found the repetitive banging percussions (I love how loud and upfront the drum snare hits are in the song’s mix, it’s a mood setter), the groovy bassline and speaking parts evokes going top speed riding down the mountain slope like a bullet train that no other song in the game’s soundtrack can match. Hell, this song is great to listen to while experiencing some sort of top speed sensation.

  • Swordsmen

    Some of the best songs in a fighting game’s soundtrack is its character select theme. The Last Blade 2’s character select theme is more than just a simple composition of digitized violins and pan flute, but really sets the mysterious, uncertain fate that awaits the sixteen/seventeen characters in the under-the-radar SNK fighter. The one-two punch of the dramatic intro score then transitioning over to this sublime theme sets the tone that this journey is going to be hell and the outcomes that await the cast may not be the ones that are fulfilling to the causes they are fighting for.

  • Them and Us by Bad Religion

    Sega did an impressive job selecting four licensed songs that matches the chaos of driving from location to location as fast as you can, barrelling down sidewalks, off-road, and through traffic. The Offspring’s “All I Want” gets all the glory with the start of each game with the Ya Ya opening, but my favorite is Bad Religion’s “Them and Us.” I always held the notion this song was the best song to play along with, particularly with the song’s tempo going meshing well with the driving sensation. I never listened to the song’s full song years later, as in the game they fade the song out after the guitar solo, which is an excellent edit cause it segways nicely to the next track lined up.

  • That's Enough

    Jet Grind Radio’s soundtrack is electric with an excellent mix of hip-hop, rock, and other genres that matches the heavy art theme the game is going for. I love the game’s entire soundtrack, but if I had to choose one song that telegraphs the game’s mission statement of reckless skaters doing what they do, it would be That’s Enough. It has that excellent mash of the hip-hop percussion, the funky tempo, and excellent vocal cuts that best represents the outlaw attitude of the GGs while skating around Tokyo and graffiti up territories and against rival gangs, the police force, and the evil Rokkakuu Corporation. It’s also an excellent song to break out your awkward dance moves out to, or at least imaging dancing to the song.

  • This is True Love Makin'

    An immediate standout of CVS2’s soundtrack with its commonly misheard lyrics of True Love Makin as Tuna Bacon, it’s also a standout because of making a soul/disco song really work in a fighting game. Most fighting songs would want to hype you up with strong, forceful, aggressive compositions to match the violent nature of two combatants battling. Instead, Capcom throws out this left-field song that feels like a celebration of two companies celebrating their deep fighting libraries and legacies at the time that also is awesome fighting music. Whether it’s fighting for love, or fighting for a tuna bacon something, it’s an mighty accomplishment that this would be the song most remembered for fans of this excellent cross-company video game.

  • Black Hole Super Power

    You always hated to hear this song while playing Nintendo’s excellent (and sadly locked up collecting dust inside Nintendo) strategy military RPG game. It’s an excellent battle cry of the enemy Black Hole military force, the heavy metal-esque song blasting out of the Nintendo Advance system telling you that your forces are going to get very hard, progress severely halted, and hoping that you can regroup quickly to mount a counterattack. I love how strong yet straightforward the song is, just a nice heavy dose of guitar, synths, bass and guitars to signal the pain the AI is going to dish out, and headbang along with too.

  • City of Radiant Ruin

    The perfect composition of seeing the light at the end of a long, grueling journey. I love how the sound evokes both a melancholic and triumphant tone (that trumpet) of making it this far into the game. The lovely sunset setting of the labyrinth where this song plays adds onto the mixed emotional feelings, traveling through the final set of floors with the final boss awaiting at the end of this dungeon. I was surprised to learn after the fact that Yuzu Kashiro composed the game’s soundtrack, the same person who composed the classic Streets of Rage trilogy soundtracks.

  • Gathers Under Night

    Throughout this list, there are some entries where I felt a certain musical instrument really takes the limelight on making the song. Here on another fighting game selection theme, the piano really takes it home from the beautiful introduction to how upfront it is on the mix with the synth and steady bassline carrying the piano through a catchy theme. In a game with an unusual cast of characters (Merkava!), the hint of sci-fi sound and the mesh of the piano and synths is perfect song to represent them on the character select screen.

  • Blue Bear

    I never expected to get so many chilling feels playing through this sad mini-game, an original to Megamix. As someone who continues to struggle mightily with self-confidence and had many episodes of eating to get through stress, this mini-game hit close to home. I love how this mini-game builds up, starting up light with the flute and piano. Once the heartbreak moments arrives and THAT TRUMPET kicks in, that’s where all the emotional force comes rushing through. Though at the end the bear was only dreaming, the damage was already done. It was nice to see this type of song and mini-game snuck into the game whereas all other games have an upbeat, energetic style and feel.

  • Challenge

    Another left-field song where this one goes uptempo and energetic against a simple, methodically paced song that is the norm for puzzle solving games. I love how emphatic the saxophone is over this uptempo jazz composition over the piano where it plays what it sounds like the Super Mario star power-up theme. Add in some flourishes here and there and what you got is a groovy tune to pulsate your mind into while solving a complex puzzle. Compiling this list now, I wonder if this tune was a nice precursor to Super Mario Odyssey’s “Jump Up Superstar.” (Probably not, who knows.)

  • Mourning

    Not a standout from Automata’s outstanding soundtrack, but it lands on my list solely on how this song was employed. It comes at the conclusion of the side quest of repairing a fellow android’s damage pod, where the truth about the android and the fate of her friend comes to unfortunate light. It was one of the numerous little interesting and unexpected experiences that added to my fascination with Automata, which eventually landed as my favorite game of 2017. I was thrown off on how sudden this overly dreadful song came in upon completion of the side quest. I did not know what to do for a good couple of minutes as this song played, I just stood there until the song ended and I moved on to continue on my game.

  • Forbidden Knowledge

    There are compositions that just matches their characters to a tee, and this song definitely highlights the multiple personalities that Sandra evokes throughout your journey through the Downside. You’ll never know what Sandra you’re going to get as you call upon her entombed in the crystal, sometimes she’ll be happy that you stopped by, other times commiserating over her state and your quest, and sometimes not so delighted to see you. The music adds to her personality: mysterious, haughty, omni-present, elderly, etc. There’s a feeling of air of both Sandra and this composition that makes you feel like your in the presence of someone of high importance that you listen to and not mess with.