Wednesday, January 06, 2010

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 1

So here's something I meant to get out ages ago and left all but forgotten in my "Blogging Stuff" folder. There's been a lot of attention given lately from nostalgia reviewers at Channel Awesome and it's respective associates to game music of late so I thought I'd dig back through some of the game soundtracks I loved.

A few preliminary things first. You're not going to find Halo 3 or Metal Gear Solid 4 or Assassins Creed 2 on here. I've not played any of them, nor sat through someone else playing them. I'm an old school gamer and I'm not sure I've purchased a game since I picked up Soul Caliber 3 way back when. My first systems were an Odyssey 2 and an IBM computer with two 5-inch floppy drives (you used one to run the operating system disk!) and my last system was a PS2. That's basically my range, give or take, and I certainly haven't covered everything between. I occasionally will sit back and watch a play through, and at least one of these was selected as a result of that, but this is an old school list, composed of games I grew up on or was blown away when later exposed to, and by top eleven, I basically mean top eleven favorite. It's a fuzzy eleven as well, with thought put into the arrangement, but some back and forth about which are better even after completing them. And one thing I really can't stress enough this is a soundtrack/score list, not a best song list. Which means some seemingly obvious choices might not make the list just because they have the greatest song in video gaming history. I'm listing games that have multiple songs (at least three, and even that's pushing it, with an ideal minimum of four) where multiple selections (again, if not all) from each are solid. When I'm done I'll address as few honorable mentions that just didn't make the list and I think you'll see this was somewhat of a reoccurring factor. I'm really not looking to get into a heated battles over which is better with any of these. If you know them, great, if not, I recommend giving them a listen.

Credit also should be given to Garudoh for his amazing youtube channel covering the history of video gaming music. I will link to it among others extensively throughout this.

#11. Dragon Spirit (NES)

Many games have changes in music quality and style from console to console so I'm going to at times stress which version I mean. In this case I found the NES version vastly superior to the arcade versions I found online.

As much as I love Spinal Tap, this is why it's a top eleven list. Perhaps my superior overall love of the other games on the list is a major reason I couldn't knock one out to put this in, but this is a game that's music is too good for an honorable mention in my book. The game while not bad is relatively easy and a little underwhelming, but my god, the music! It captures the scope and adventure of being a dragon flying over vast landscapes like nothing else, sucking you into the action, and making a mostly solid (the boss fights are a little too easy most of the time) but routine top-down flying game feel like a Peter Jackson epic.

Check out this 4-part playthrough by KamilDownna. I think listening to how the music plays with the action will really make clear how amazing an environmental score this is.

# 10. Maniac Mansion (NES)

Again, I only had access to the NES version, and while I'm told the PC was a better game all around I'm going with what I know. And what I know is that this is dripping with 80s bliss. Lucas Arts pulled out all the stops to give this soundtrack every ounce of umph the NES could muster. It evokes everything great about suburban horror. From The Burbs, and Goonies, to Night of The Creeps and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 80s were a good time for fun sci-fi influenced horror adventure comedy and this is one of the great examples of that asthetic, both for it's goofy in-game antics that would set the standard along with the Monkey Island games for that long lost golden era of Lucas Arts, but also for its soundtrack, which fully realized and embraced its every jock, geek, hairmetal rocker and leather jacket wearing hero.

I think I'll stop there for now, let people take in the video links and crank these out gradually. For some of these entries I don't have much to say, but others I have quite a bit. In total I think this will be a five or six part series depending on how much I choose to add to what I've already written.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd better have Katamari Damacy on your list. :-P

7:45 PM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...


While I don't want to spoil everything, I am sad to inform you that no, Katamari didn't make it. It's a personal list and horror of horrors... I've never played it, nor do I really have any affiliation with it through others that have. More so, this is an old school list and that's still a fairly new game. I'll address this more part 2.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

Actually,technically it would count on the old school front as the most recent game on this list (though included more through a technicality) came out the same year and I already pointed out the last game I bought was Soul Caliber III, which came out the following year!

It's a great game soundtrack, but one which I don't have a connection with. Still, I'll probably count it as an honorable mention.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, OK, I guess if you haven't actually played it, it shouldn't be on the list.

Speaking of which, you should totally try it. It's a wonderful ball of craziness, and one of the only console video games I find enjoyable.

10:33 AM  

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