Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Top 5 Most Memorable Video Game Music


Video games and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can't have one without the other. Well I guess you could but why would you want to? Some of the best video games have music that sticks in your head for years and years. It's also a great memory trigger.

So is the music memorable because it sounds so good or because you remember it from a game? I don't think you can seperate the two. Imagine Sonic with no sound. Not quite the same is it?

But how do you measure something that means different things to different people? What exactly is good video game music? That's simple, the music has to come from a great game and the music has to be something that gamers identify specifically with that game. If you hear the music to a game, you should be able to identify it. If I ever get on Jeopardy (something I've wanted to do for 20 years) and I pick the category Video Game Music for $200 and hear the Crash Bandicoot theme - I'd recognize it immediately. Of course the only way I'd probably win at Jeopardy is if all the categories were video game themed and I played against 2 contestants with arthritis.

Just to clarify, I didn't limit this category to just theme songs. If we're talking theme songs, that's a whole other story. I'm talking about music in the game, which is why the title of this post is so weak. I couldn't think of a better way to word it.

Top 5 Most Memorable Video Game Music (in reverse order)

5. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Rockstar, 2002)- Music has played a big part of this series since GTA III but Vice City took music in a video game to a whole new level with the addition of tons of licensed songs from the 80's. While licensed songs were not new to video games at the time VC came out, the way Rockstar used them in the game were unique and the sheer number of tunes was unprecedented.

4. Halo (Bungie, 2001) - Not only is the Gregorian Chant-type music perfect for the setting of Halo but the sound effects are perfect. Throw in the drum banging music that comes in during dramatic sequences and you have a game whose music stays in your head long after you've played it.

3. Spy Hunter (Bally Midway, 1983) - This arcade classic had one of the coolest songs ever, lifted straight from the late 50's TV show Peter Gunn. It was written by Henry Mancini when he had future Star Wars composer John Williams in his orchestra.

2. Metal Gear Solid (Konami, 1998) - There isn't another game I can think of that does a better job of setting a tense mood with its music. The music, all done by in-house muscians and composers, helps give the game the cinematic feel its so well known for.

1. Super Mario Bros (Nintendo, 1985) - Did you really think I could pick something else? Even people who have never played this game before recognize the catchy music from this game. The music at the start, the Bowser levels, the swimming levels are all distinct and are so addictive that I can still pull them from my memory banks 21 years later. Don't believe me? Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9prN69j8vk&search=theme+songs+played and watch this dude play the Mario theme song blind folded and see if you can get it out of your head. It just won't happen. The music from Mario has made it one of the greatest video game franchises of all time and is still popular with kids and adults today, as its sales numbers of New Super Mario Bros. on the DS demonstrate.

4 comments:

Alex Krasny said...

You totally omit RPGs from this list or what? Final Fantasy 6 and 7, and Chrono Trigger easily have some of the best original sountracks in history. That explains why they have been sold as stand alone CDs.

You should make this list top ten, and include the brilliant work of the RPG musicians.

JohnX said...

I would personally put the music from the original Descent game on the list. I do admit that I may be the only one who would do so. I probably spent alot more time playing that game than the majority of game players around. Actually I still play it. I just played a game last night :D

Terry "coloradojoe" Terrones said...

I didn't purposefully omit any RPG's, I just couldn't think of any with music that's as powerful as the Top 5 I selected.

The original Legend of Zelda would be somewhere in my top 10 but FF wouldn't. For some reason I just can't get into the FF series.

Music is a very subjective topic, I expected some people to have other opinions and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few great games.

Anonymous said...

Umm... Tetris.