The Playstation celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year. That’s 20 years since its brand took hold of us and released a whole bunch of games which we bought, loved or had mixed feelings on. Hey now, it wasn’t all roses. But these 20 songs from 20 various games of the Playstation era are.
Every console needs a mascot, right? Nintendo has Mario, Sega has Sonic, and Sony, well they didn’t have any when the PS launched in Japan. Actually, they did have one… Toro Inoue, y’know that cat that appeared in PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale.
Yeah… cats were too mild for the 90s. Luckily Naughty Dog came around and presented the world with a bandicoot. A what now? It didn’t matter if no one knew if he was a real animal or not, for Crash took the platforming world by storm.
He was rude, crude and had some great dance moves. He needed them to rock the upbeat themes signature for the series.
A favourite game which we wish would be released to the jungles of the PSN. Ape Escape was amazing for its utilization of every aspect of the Playstation controller. That was its claim to fame from Sony’s marketing standpoint, anyway. What was most impressive was Ape Escape’s pure blissful fun. Spike didn’t give a damn about laying his filthy hands on any monkeys, and scooped them up in his net with a quickness. Monkeys didn’t give a damn that they were infiltrating time and re-writing history for their kind to rule supreme.
One of the best parts about the game was how sneaking around affected Ape Escape’s music. Not only were the compositions outfitted to match the atmosphere of the various eras and locations throughout your time travelling journey, but when your character Spike went into stealth mode, the music quieted down to protect your covert operation. It was interactive ear candy that was mind blowing.
Spyro The Dragon
Who doesn’t want to be a fire-breathing, rough-housing, head-butting tiny dragon? Spyro the Dragon’s soundtrack sounds a bit like being at the casino. Some of it’s flighty, fierce while at other times mysterious. Typical locations such as the desert aren’t as depressing or stifling but they maintain a sort of chance and risk sounds, more like an exciting wild west than anything. “Dark Hollow” is one of the best, showing a lot of range and starts with an interesting sound like one seeking a little bit of trouble.
Castlevania Symphony of the Night
What can be said that hasn’t been said about Symphony of the Night? Lauded as the turning point of the series, and easily the best Castlevania game ever. With iconic areas, new gameplay elements, and of course, an unforgettable soundtrack - Equal parts upbeat and moody, SotN didn’t shy away from the style that defined the series.
Chrono Cross has some of the best music ever, which elevate the game in ways only Yasunori Mitsuda can do. Since the last retrospective on its breathtaking soundtrack didn’t include one of the staples the last time, let that mistake not be made again. “Dream of Another Shore Bordering Another World” is filled with the somber uncertainty which defined Cross’ heavy narrative.
PaRappa the Rapper
So many great songs, and we can only chose one. Is it Chop Chop Master Onion rap about Kick and Punches? Or maybe we should step on the gas repeatedly as we steer around the city under the tutelage of Instructor Mooselini.
In the end, we couldn’t pick just one master. Instead we went for the only song that featured them all, The All Masters’ Rap, also known as The Toilet Song - Because after all these years, poop jokes still make us laugh.
Final Fantasy Tactics
“Of all sprites I’ve come to know in any game, these are some of my favourites. They’re very “stabby”, thanks to their overly-complicated relationships in a complex story. Coming off the high of finishing Final Fantasy VII, didn’t mean I could take on the world of video games. A 7 day rental of Tactics and being unable to clear the first board sent a clear message: SRPGs were a whole other beast and Squaresoft trolled me. I spent several years learning the joys and hardships of SRPGs, beating the likes of Final Fantasy: Revenant Wings and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 1, to name a few. It was after I finished Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together that I decided it was time to tackle the monster that one-upped me back in 1999.
I’m happy to report that I got to experience one of the finest video games to ever have existed, and with it some of the finest themes and battle pieces with intrigue and anxiety all in one. If “The Pervert” isn’t nightmare fuel, then I don’t want to know what is.” — Zarnyx
It’s Resident Evil, isn’t it? True video game music horror? Who here can listen to “Moonlight Sonata” without shuddering after experiencing the first game. The once beautiful composition by Beethoven has been forever ruined. The zombies of Resident Evil past may have been slow and ridiculous when you think about it now, but so were we. Our bullets limited. The dialogue unintentionally hilarious. But even that didn’t help with the shivers down our spines from being in that terrible mansion with its zombies, and creepy atmosphere carried on foreboding ivory notes.
Resident Evil 2
After going through the terrors of Raccoon City, and recalling “Moonlight Sonata”, safe rooms never felt safe to us. It had a lot to do with the pianos trying to put us at ease when they had so often before betrayed us.
Few songs can express the same feeling of despair and melancholy we felt as we achieved the bad ending of the original Silent Hill. Esperándote composed by Rika Muranaka and performed by the Argentinean singer Vanesa Quiroz, reflect the spirit of Silent Hill in a unique and touching way...
Just like Ms. Quiroz, said in her own words - We wonder why do they keep on torturing us, what do they want from us… It may never happen, but we’re still waiting...
There was no other choice for our pick, Eddy Gordo changed everyone’s life, for better or for worse. Every single time his theme came up a vein in our heads would pop up. Eddy was easily the cheapest character that has ever graced the series - his unpredictable moves and exaggerated reach gave him a ridiculous advantage over the slower characters. The Kapoeira-dancing-Brazillian will always have a special place in our hearts…
Eddy, we will always love to hate you.
Tekken, we’re gonna let you finish but Soul Blade had the better soundtrack. Musically, as noted before, it told stories that were keen character studies which were mostly tragic backgrounds. The coolest thing about Soul Blade’s soundtrack was its arrangements on all the themes, adding new spins and variations to some already great tracks.
Brave Fencer Musashi
Brave Fencer Musashi had everything our younger selves could want in a game: a rude punk-ass protagonist, adventure, vambee bowling, and virtual action figures for purchase at the local toy shop.
It also has a soundtrack that you could easily listen to from start to end. It’s delightful, adventurous, and grand: a perfect fit for Brave Fencer Musashi’s action-packed story. The game hardly felt as though it could be contained, no matter how tiny its hero or its world. Something the music expressed wonderfully too.
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Tenchu is a strange game. On the surface, it’s a stealth game with ninjas doing shadowy ninja like things, such as sneaking up behind unsuspecting enemies and ridding the world of them. Later on, your missions become even more bizarre, such as destroying cultists who dance in the funniest ways, and who look disgustingly demonic. It’s fitting, then, that the game has a soundtrack that’s just as peculiar. Traditional Eastern sounds meet violins, jazz influences and more. Breaking into vocals isn’t unheard of for Tenchu’s oddball yet melodic sound.
What makes Suikoden II great? Just about everything. As for its music, it has the same deceptive qualities as its game. You don’t actually know how great it is until it’s well under your skin. Sweeping themes balance thoughtful character moments. Yet, there’s still time for hilarious situations reflected best in its music. Suikoden II’s soundtrack may not have immediate favourites throughout but the tracks are meaningful—characteristic of its territories, inhabitants and all the moving parts that make this game the Epic that it is.
Final Fantasy VII
Another iconic game where its soundtrack is just as iconic as the game itself. Playful, moving, enthralling and memorable. We could choose any track and it’d trigger a memory for someone. This is a feature that many of the Final Fantasy games have with every one of them unique in their own way. A lot of Final Fantasy VII is marked by these occasions, with its soundtrack enhancing every single set piece, character interactions, major event or new discovery.
Final Fantasy VIII
It’s quite possible many of us bought Musashi just to get our hands on the demo for FFVIII. Whether the full game lived up to expectations is dependent on who you ask. One thing’s for sure though: it has one of the most amazing soundtracks to ever grace a video game.
Everything about its music hits just the right level of insane. It’s a rock opera at times, too off-kilter to be taken seriously but very much demands to be respected. And somehow it commands that with ease, giving you a break here and there to its softer side in ballad like compositions. The final tracks to close out Final Fantasy VIII’s non-sensical journey, are some of the best compositions and send-offs to any game.
Final Fantasy IX
The entry that brought the traditional fantasy back to “Final Fantasy”. This is reflected heavily in its extremely great soundtrack. It’s one that’s full of theatrics, gloriously ranged and compositions which weave the story when listening to it on its own. It likely has the best villain’s theme too for Kuja, for being so cutting and beautiful at the same time. Overall, it’s a forlorn soundtrack with hopeful moments within.
Would it be okay if we just left a song here without comment? That’s the impact Xenogears’ soundtrack has… so, here you go.
Metal Gear Solid
Back in 1998, before the existence of nanomachines, **Spoiler** and scantily clad women who breathed through their skin**End Spoiler**, and way before we knew the existence of The Boss; the Playstation introduced us, or well re-introduced us to Solid Snake. The Metal Gear series was revived under the direction of a rather unknown producer. We were so naive back then…
Seventeen years later, and the cycle has finally ended, but we should always remember the game that started it all. We salute you, Kojima.
These 20 songs are hardly representative of The Playstation’s fantastic run, nor are the games the only definitive ones in Sony’s library. There are hundreds more songs that captured emotions which we could share. There are many more brilliant games which we could still talk about.
Happy 20th Anniversary, Playstation. Thanks for keeping us company then and forever, just by putting in our headphones to re-live all those moments through music.
Feel free to share your favourite songs and games in celebration of Playstation’s 20th anniversary too.
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Follow Nach on twitter @Nach212 . It might come as a surprise, but he play games that aren’t made by Nintendo, you just didn’t know it.