Music

This is my first “In Depth” Where I delve into a particular aspect of the gaming world and have a bit of a poke around to see what’s there and generally cause a bit of trouble. This week is MUSIC!! Du Du duuuuu!

We all like music, well I do know a couple of people who say things like “I don’t really care about music” or “I’ve never really go into music”.  First of all people, if you ever come across a person who doesn’t like music run the other way and tell the authorities! Quite clearly these people are either aliens/mad or or quite a lot of both.  So I have that out of my system lets talk music/theme tunes in games.

Now we all know a least one score or piece from a game somewhere, even if it’s just the SSSEEEEGGGAAAAAAA from years gone by, but do we really know the impact of how important this is to the overall aspect of the gaming experience? I remember when I was a child and became frustrated with a level (The Sky fortress level from Sonic 2 springs too mind GGgrrrrrrr) I would turn the sound off and I could complete the level.  Don’t ask me how, I just found it easier.  Now this it seems means surely that the music is just a distraction? No because hen I did complete I wouldn’t feel that sense of achievement or relief at getting past that boss or completing that level that took all 8 of my lives before.

The sonic level I mentioned earlier is a good example actually as it has to be one of my favourite musical moments in a game as a kid. Don’t get me wrong it won’t probably have the same effect now but that was cutting edge back then and has stuck in my memory solely because of that score!

Moving forward in time I have to mention two absolutely brilliant game scores otherwise I’d be insulting you all. Firstly Super Mario Galaxy’s score was simply amazing. No other word for it! All performed by their own Orchestra! (Yes It’s called the Mario Galaxy Orchestra!) The best piece in my opinion is Battlerock, I remember playing the game and stopping just to listen to that… at which point I promptly died and stuck it on mute! But this is my point, the music stopped me in my tracks! It was probably the first time I’d been stunned by a games music since my next mention

The second mention is obviously Final Fantasy. Now I know that the games themselves are a divisive topic and that Square Enix has kind of lost it’s way with the franchise BUT the music in them has always been some of the best in any gaming genre… just listen to this for instance

Every time I listen to that (which is a lot I am ashamed to admit) I find a smile appears on my face.  I can’t begin to even describe the level of quality of those scores. Nobuo Uematsu is one of my heroes.  Final Fantasy alone has spawned an orchestra that tours the world playing all the hits from the games, Called Distant Worlds, here’s their version of the Final Fantasy VII opening sequence for your ear pleasure.

I really could prattle on all day about Final Fantasy alone but fear not I won’t! (Do check out the Jenova theme & Vincent Valentine’s theme also)

These are two shining examples of the importance of music in games (not that you doubted it I’m sure!).  More recently celebrities like C418 have sprung up out of the quality of their music in the games.  While I personally think his work on Minecraft is iconic as such I do think it is perfectly created for the game.  It’s subtle, almost dream like qualities are perfect for the sheer vast loneliness you experience in Minecraft.

Gaming (especially indie developers) recently has become a great platform for artists to show off their musical skill and often different styles of music. C418 was a musician in his own right before Minecraft came along but that game certainly put him in the spot light more. Other games like Gran Turismo also would showcase up and coming artists alongside some famous names.  Wipeout is one that sticks in my mind with Prodigy – Fire Starter being one of their tracks alongside some mind blowing dance music from the early 90s.

So with the above examples it is clear to me that music is as much a part of the game as the plot and the characters and sometimes plays a bigger part. Can you imagine playing Super Mario World without it camp little ditties in the background.  for the purpose of this article I tried and it was just awful! Even the colours seemed to be duller and frankly I got bored. That’s right.. I was bored! of Mario! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE! So I did the sensible thing, turn the music back on, jumped on to Yoshi’s back and went to kick some Bowser butt!

So next time you play a game just listen to the soundtrack and think of the hard word that went into it. I shall leave you with one more from Final Fantasy VIII called “The Man with a Machine Gun”

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