Greetings, folks. I hope you all like music, because that’s what I want to talk about today!
I love music, and have been an aspiring musician for.. quite a few years. Let’s say, more than 10 years of my life has been at least in part, devoted to the craft of music and it’s creation.
I also love gaming, an activity I have enjoyed since before I could even comfortably hold a guitar.
So then, when we combine music with video games, we are combining 2 of my favourite things which have been rather influential in my life thus far, and what we get are unique gaming memories intertwined with a very specific pieces of music, that are often interdependent to the point it’s hard to seperate the two.
Join me, friends, as I reminisce about some of the defining moments in my gaming history.
1 - Final Fantasy VIII - Liberi Fatali
This song was my first experience with Final Fantasy, as part of the epic intro video sequence, which was in fact the most impressive CGI I had ever seen. At the time, I could only dream of games looking as good as the CGI did. The fluid movement of the characters, the near (enough) photorealism of it all.
The pseudo-latin chants, the tempestuous symphony perfectly accompany the vicious rivalry between Squall and Seifer, and genuinely piqued my interest in classical music. All composed by the venerable Nobuo Uematsu, who is (probably) the greatest composer in the videogame business.
2 - Times Scar - Chrono Cross
Strangely enough, until I started writing this, I can’t help but notice the similarities between this song and the video of Liberi Fatali. Both start with some sort of dialogue and a beach. But they couldn’t be more different.
Well, maybe a little similar. They both start off gently, but once the beat drops it is clear that the percussive elements are dominant where they are all but absent from Liberi Fatali
The bassline is pretty groovy, and we are treated to a colourful video with all sorts of characters and things going on. It’s hard to make much sense of it all, but the music is exotic-sounding enough which fits the tropical theme of the game. I could, and possibly will, in future, write an entire article on the music from Chrono Cross. It is, for lack of a better word, sublime.
3 - Inn Theme - Digimon World 3
Probably one of my favourite games of all time, and I say this with the nostalgia-tinted goggles firmly on my face.
This game had some catchy and memorable tunes, with the Inn Theme being quite special in that it heralded a brief respite in a game where save points were often few and far between. Gatomon would be there, ready to check you in for a rest, and Guardromon would be nearby - he handled save data. So, “rest” assured, this song was always the one you wanted to hear!
4 - Ace Of Spades - Motorhead (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3)
This is cheating a little bit, but who cares? It’s Motorhead! In a game where grinding took on a completely different meaning than usual, we were treated to one hell of a soundtrack, which was often half the fun.
What song would be more appropriate for tearing up whichever area you happened to be skating in?
This is one of those intro videos I was not in a hurry to skip. Great music, and some rad footage of some great skaters.
5 - Dragonborn - Skyrim
Ah, Skyrim. One of the greatest open world experiences ever made. Upon loading up the game, this song would get my pulse racing as I prepared to dive into the world, loot some dungeons and maybe do a few quests while playing the role of my Khajiit warrior.
Let’s backtrack a bit, several months before I got into the game, I wasn’t even that keen on gaming. One of my gamer buddies ranted and raved about the upcoming release of Skyrim, telling me I’d likely not see him again for weeks once it came out, and how he was planning to trade in a whole stack of games for that one game. Huh. Okay.
Once he eventually got the game, I started watching him play it, to see what the fuss was all about - and no sooner than I had watched him wander the seemingly infinite world, I had resolved to buy an Xbox 360 for the sole purpose of playing Skyrim. To that end, I saved for a few months and bought one, and never looked back. This song was probably playing in my mind as I saved and saved, and I had thought that my gaming days were over when the PS2 died out.
I am quite jaded towards the game after putting a few hundred hours into it, but this was undoubtedly the song I wanted to hear when I got home from work for the better part of a year post-release. I remember it playing away in the background, as I got ready for a nice long session immersed in Skyrim. Maybe one day I’ll re-play the game.
6 - Majula Theme - Dark Souls II
Somber and melancholy, yet strangely comforting. It’s really one of the only pieces of music I remember from the game.
This song, much like the Inn Theme from DMW3, was a sign of brief respite. The player was treated to a gorgeous ocean view, and beautiful sunshine in what was effectively a hub area, mostly void of hostile elements. There wasn’t much to do here, except spend your souls leveling up, repairing your broken weapons, maybe buy a ring or 3 from the talking cat, and be on your way again to get shot, stabbed, squished, impaled and bludgeoned to death by the inhabitants of Drangleic.
A haunting song, that captures the wretched, specatacular world of Drangleic. It evokes a sense of hopelessness, sadness, resignation and even desperation. A song that basically wants to die. Beautiful, yet so incredibly tragic
7 - Victory Road - Pokemon
This is it! You’re reaching the end of your journey (as well as this article) You have collected all 8 gym badges. You’ve taken down Team <Insert Name Here>. All that’s left is to take on Victory Road, an arduous path littered with strong trainers, and you will reach the Pokemon League at long last!
The Victory Road theme captures the urgency of your mission, while letting you know getting this far is a victory in itself. “Go Get ‘Em, Trainer!” is what this song would say, if it could speak. Inspiring stuff!
8 - Red Sun - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear Rising had some excellent music, one of my favourites being this song that plays when you fight Sundowner near the end of the game.
A bit of techno, and a bit of heavy metal. Very appropriate. It’s almost got a D&B feel to it.
The song is fast paced and as OTT as the characters of the game, and is largely what made the fight memorable for me. A runner up would be the one that plays when you fight the final boss. I’d really like to re-play this game, but sadly, I lent my copy to a friend and it magically never returned. He also seems to have magically forgotten that I lent it. Hm.
Anyway, I’ve noticed that many people, probably most of them fans of the Metal Gear series proper, do not share the love I have for this game. Thats OK, you might hate this song too. Music and video games are subjective like that.
9 - Gerudo Valley Theme - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The version I like best is from Super Smash Bros. 4, but the original is as much of a treat with an almost flamenco quality to it.
As an avid guitar player myself, I genuinely appreciate the strong rhythms and melodies, as well as the percussive elements that seem to be played on the guitar itself for the most part. Neat!
I’ve even tried to learn this song on guitar. It’s really catchy, and quite memorable. I can picture the sandy Gerudo Valley in my mind as it plays.
10 - Final Fantasy Tactics Intro Theme
I feel like I can get away with this because it’s not a mainline Final Fantasy, and also, the music of the series is just so fantastic. It’s also one of my favourite games of all time, the first and greatest sRPG I have played.
The game itself made me feel like some sort of armchair general, commanding my troops through various situations. Permadeath was no joke. I felt genuinely aggrieved in the event I lost one of my troops. The stakes were high, I had the choice to either continue playing or reload in an attempt to save the lost unit.
The song itself is somewhat emotive and gentle at first, lofty and epic, gentle again, culminating in what sounds to me like a gallant marching song of sorts. In my mind, it is the perfect introduction to a truly excellent game.
And here, as we end off our musical adventure, is someone playing the Pallet Town Theme on note mats in OR/AS. Thanks for reading! Feel free to drop a comment with some of your favourite videogame music, I’d love to have a listen!