Hello and welcome to the next edition of Game Legacies; a brief look at the history and development of franchises and much loved elements of games.
In this edition we will look at a few of the stand out gaming themes and songs that have me personally reminiscing on my long past of gaming.
I myself have two great loves, one being gaming and the other being music. After studying music at university it really gave me a new way of viewing the game soundtracks and this development has left me appreciating music in games so much more, to the point that one of my final assignments was on the history of 8-bit game music.
So enough about me, lets get into the joy of game music. This is a top ten of my personal choices of songs that have a strong connection to my musical and gaming history, so I wonder how many of these tracks will have you lovely readers agreeing with me?
Lets get to it!
10 – Doom – At Dooms Gate
One of the first full soundtracks that I would listen to in full that I found great to listen to while working.
This steady driving beat and the addition of a minor key in the music truly emphasised the dark and quick pace of this top game. Although I can listen to the full soundtrack, my favorite has to be ‘At Dooms Gate.’ This tempo truly matched the step of the main character and became an integral element to the full Doom experience.
9 – Command and Conquer Red Alert – Hell March
In a similar approach to Doom, Command and Conquers track ‘Hell March’ has the tempo and rhythmic elements to thank for this being in my top ten. The inclusion of the marching sound in the song in a 4/4 time signature with the triplets of the bass line gave the gallop that kept you focused on Commanding and indeed Conquering. The extra benefit of it sounding very industrial in its composition added to the dynamics of the game.
8 – Pokemon Red/Blue – Opening Theme
This iconic intro theme has a similar formula to the previous songs but with much more of major key structure and higher pitch to make the inevitable gaming adventure a positive one. The descending arpeggios in the background add to excitement while the main line sets a heroic feel to the whole piece.
7 – Street Fighter II – Guile’s Theme
This is by far my favorite track from any fighting game and a fan favorite, the reason I believe to be the way the song is structured. We can hear at least five layers of sound at one point, the clear drive of the drums that have set times for off beat snare and the slap bass both give an element of excitement and drive while the main line of the song gives you a grand feeling of heroic accomplishment, this could easily be in an 80’s action movie montage.
6 – Mega Man 2 – Dr Wily’s Castle
Now this is a game music masterpiece in my honest opinion. The simplistic drum snare that hold the whole piece into a set pace, the gallop of the bass and the incremental layering of three melody lines taking turns and weaving in and out of each other gives a sense of urgency and drama. To top off this great piece of music the use of envelope filters and echo adds to the futuristic theme that Mega Man is all about.
5 – Legend of Zelda – Theme
I feel this is another theme that tells a story of it’s own, in a similar way to ‘Wily’s Castle,’ Zelda’s theme has a simplistic beat running through the song with a much slower paces melody that gives more of an element of folk fantasy, with a similar major set melody that the Pokemon theme brings, it gives is a positive vibe to the adventure that will unfold.
4 – Super Mario Bros – Theme
Well, we couldn’t have a top ten without this little ditty could we? An iconic melody that can be hummed anywhere in the world and you are assured a nod of approval from someone in the vicinity. This piece gives us less of the drive, and heroic fantasy that many of the other tracks on this list but it’s the fact that it has a sense of whimsy that has made it a favorite among gamers.
3 – Final Fantasy VIII – Balam Garden
As a stark contrast to all the other tracks on this list, I have decided to go with my favorite song from my favorite Final Fantasy. The relaxing tones and long, drawn out notes really emphasise the mood that this part of the game is trying to show. The contemplative joy that the instruments project really instills the element of learning game mechanics and developing the plot.
2 – Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone
After the slow and gentle sounds of the previous track, lets get back to a fast paced song. This is another iconic song which will bring fond memories to many. The driving beat is amplified by the solid 8th note pattern played by the bass and high pitched synth line that gets you pumped and ready for action.
1 – Tetris – Type A Theme ‘Korobeiniki
Finally we are at the end of our list and of course it’s the grandfather of theme music, Tetris Type A Theme. This song was originally a 19th century Russian folk song called ‘Korobeiniki’ a song about the courtship between a girl and a fabric seller. this pulsing 4/4 beat with a folk feel is the most iconic soundtrack to any game and truly deserves the top spot in this list.
So there we have it, my personal favorites of the game soundtrack world. If you ever get stuck with what to listen to, try an official soundtrack from a favorite game, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Any tracks that you think deserve to be in a list of the best game songs? give us a comment and we will see you next time.