Hello dear readers, the other day I watched a video of a band playing the entire soundtrack of a classic video game and it got me to thinking about how much video game music has affected me over the years. Settle in and enjoy my two part recounting of the best video game music ever and the influence it had upon me.
Ok, so if you are anything like me video games pretty much defined your youth. I remember when the Nintendo Entertainment System debuted…it was like looking into the future. All of a sudden games went from this:
I mean LOOK AT IT! The NES was a breakthrough and I remember when I got one that was it, life had changed. I would hound my mom to go to Blockbuster (remember that place, kids?) to rent game after game after game. I played so many games: Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3, Duck Hunt, Final Fantasy, Castlevania 1 and 2, Marble Madness (the original insane mode game), Contra, Duck Tales, Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers (Dinsey came out the gate guns blazing with these two titles, both were epic and excellent), Ice Hockey, Tecmo Bowl, and on, and on, and on. But it wasn’t until I took the role of a little blue robot out to stop an evil scientist that something else about the video games started to stand out for me: the music.
This game changed everything for me, not only was it a marvelously well designed platformer but the music just kept me energized to play: The first time I played Megaman I opted to start in Cutsman stage, feast your ears on the first bit of Megaman stage music to hit me directly in the face:
BAM! It opens right out with a POP, and then you are off and running battling your way through the stage to face the evil robot master at the end. I was in love, this music had energy and it effectively immersed me in Megaman’s struggle. Music when done properly in any form of media can really make or break the gravity of the experience. For example, do you remember this scene from Empire Strikes Back? Really focus on the music this time:
The magnificent content of this scene has since been ruined by Midi-Chlorians anyway, but we can still enjoy the music so suck on that George!
Now click this link, close your eyes and imagine that scene with that as the background music
Music matters and this is no different in video games. When Megaman 2 hit the shelves I was all sorts of excited to see what kind of new robot bosses and especially what new music would accompany it. What I got was un-real; to this day it remains some of my favorite video game music ever made. There are so many good tracks to choose from, nearly all of them really. For my money the top three are Woodman, Metalman and Heatman’s stages.
As a kid I was done. The end, no video game will ever be as epic, will ever effect me as deeply as the music in Megaman 2. Megaman 3 came along and had some great tracks, most notably the Snakeman and Hardman stage. But by Megaman 4 the love affair with the music had come to an end. The time had come to turn to the new guy in town: The Super Nintendo…and Ho-Ly Shit did it come to play:
Street Fighter 2 changed console gaming, for the first time a HUGELY popular arcade game was available in its full quality at HOME. Arcades are all but dead today, but back in the early 90’s…THIS WAS AWESOME! And the music, THE MUSIC! It was epic, the fights were challenging and the music kept you energized the whole time. I remember we would all fight over our favorite stage music so much that eventually it became part of the victory package; you win the match you get to pick the stage music for the next one:
Boy did we hear this one A LOT.
The SNES didn’t stop there; after SFII wore off Megaman came back and in a big way… – CONTINUED in PART 2.