Archive for the ‘Video Game Music’ Category


Taking My Baby to School

January 28, 2009

Today is my first day of school after a year long break.  I’m sitting in the classroom right now and while I feel misplaced, I’m glad to be back.

I’m majoring in journalism and for my reporting classes I was planning on covering video games.  Sadly, my professor has already stated in the syllabus that video games is a beat we cannot cover (insert frown here).  So I’m going to broaden it to technology and pitch it to him.  Hopefully he’ll accept.

I’m also taking a required music class.  For our first assignment, the professor wants us to bring in a song that we like and represents our music taste.  I’m going to bring in the main theme to BioShock, “The Ocean on His Shoulders.”  It’s such a beautiful song and I can’t wait to present it.

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Video Game Music For The Soul

April 17, 2008

A game’s soundtrack is one of the most important elements that make up the entire masterpiece. Indeed, music sets the mood and can fill the verbal void when no words are available. Imagine two characters about to engage in a passionate kiss – the soundtrack will tell the player whether the kiss is either for a permanent goodbye or a joyful beginning.

Video game soundtracks have evolved just as much as graphics and gameplay have. This generation is delivering music that hypes us up for boss battles, gears us up to play against our friends, and soothes us during periods of calm. Here are my favorite songs so far for this gen that remain embedded in my ears for how much they move my gamer soul.

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BioShock – Main Theme (“The Ocean On His Shoulders”) [By Garry Schyman] This song is absolutely beautiful. It speaks of the game’s themes of struggle between man and morality, survival and isolation. The song starts off a bit eerie, but then picks up into orchestral music that soars throughout.

Mass Effect – Criminal Elements [By Jack Wall and Sam Hulick] Conspiracy! Murder! Embezzlement! Whatever the villain’s at, this song sums up their treachery and the battle to take them down. It’s upbeat enough to generate excitement in taking down the baddies.

Mass Effect – Main Theme [By Jack Wall and Sam Hulick] You might as well call this song “Hero’s Theme” or “Damn It Don’t Worry, Help Is On The Way.” This is the track that plays when we first meet our Shepard. As Shepard walks through the ship with attitude and determination, this song lets players know that help has arrived, and we are the universe’s savior.

Half-Life 2: Episode 2 – Strider Battle [By Kelly Bailey] I don’t know if there’s any better feeling in the world than shooting a Magnossun Device at the belly of a Strider. At the peak of the battle against the Striders, this track gets you amped and gives you that extra shot of adrenaline you need to protect the silo. (I don’t know the correct title for this song, so if anyone out there can help me that’d be great).

Portal – Still Alive [By Jonathan Coulton] A wildly popular song already, GLaDoS serenades us at the end of Portal with her delightfully sarcastic, yet sweet voice. Sweet… just like the cake she promised us.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Hyrule Field Main Theme [OST by Koji Kondo,Toru Minegishi, and Asuka Ohta] I can think of no better song to ride a horse to than this one. Its beat is so similar to the pounding feet of a horse, it’s lighthearted and almost remixes itself throughout the whole track. This is the best version of the song I could find because it has the battle theme mixed into it.

Super Mario Galaxy – Bowser’s Star Reactor [OST by Koji Kondo, Kenji Yamamoto, and Mahito Yokota] This track has a militaristic feel to it; I almost feel inclined to march along to its beat. It represents everything that is Bowser – aggression, power, leadership and villain-ess… villainity… or whatever. Just evil.

Super Mario Galaxy – The Story Begins [OST by Koji Kondo, Kenji Yamamoto, and Mahito Yokota] I’m a big fan of songs that sound like they are supposed to be accompanied by a twirling plastic ballerina in a jewelery box. This song is very lullaby-like, and matched perfectly with the game’s storybook.

And now, I’m enjoying the music to Lost Odyssey. And it’s no wonder; it’s composed by the same man, Nobuo Uematsu, who did the Final Fantasy X OST.


Games No Match For Music? Pfft.

February 28, 2008

I was bored earlier this afternoon and decided to google the words “video games” through the Google blog search engine. I came across an article by an MTV columnist. Titled, “Are Video Games More Important than Music?”, writer James Montgomery compares the two mediums all the way from sales to how they impact our culture. After all his rambling he finally concludes that music will always be more important than games. Here’s why:

“So, are video games more important than albums? Well, both the factual and the emotional seem to be saying yes, but when have I ever listened to either of them? I’m going to say no, if only for one simple reason: I have never heard anyone say that a video game saved their life.

There is an emotional attachment with music. It becomes your friend. It helps you through tough times. It is, for all intents and purposes, the soundtrack to your life, the thing that’s with you at every moment of every day. A good album stays with you for a week, a month, maybe even a year. A great album stays with you forever. I cannot think that any of these things are true of a video game, which, by its very nature, is basically created to be disposable. You play for a while, you vanquish some foes, you emerge victorious, and then you move on to the next one. There is no emotional attachment to speak of. Even the best games aren’t going to stay with you for life — for example, I swear by “Tecmo Super Bowl.” I also swear by Radiohead’s OK Computer. But guess which one I reach for at least once a month?”

Now, from the start the guy claims to know squat about games and that’s honestly where his article should have ended. To know so much about music and so little about games, and then to compare the two is downright unfair. So in the defense of video games and all their glory, here is my rebuttal.

Video games, through script, music and graphics, have the power to create everything music can. It’s an assault on your senses – visuals of tragedy, the sound of destruction and a depressing soundtrack, and perhaps the slight rumble of impact trembling your fingertips can have an emotional effect. Gaming is not a passive medium; it becomes an experience. As music would be nothing without instruments and lyrics, games are nothing without a storyline and gameplay. The storyline will set the stage for the performance and the gameplay dictates how you will act in it. And just as we have our greatest artists in the music industry, we have icons in the games industry whose faces and voices are known worldwide.

So many games out there allow the player to feel emotionally connected because of immersing environments, stories, and characters. Some of the best ones have characters you bond with over the course of a series, because we know that a lot of great games don’t just stop at one release. And what are the greatest stories without a little tragedy: imagine witnessing the death of an ally with his daughter crying and screaming beside you, the execution of your girlfriend by the hands of your uncle, or a love you thought you would have forever simply vanishing before your eyes. Of course, music speaks to us and remains with us over our lives because we connect it with certain memories. But video games have the power to make us relive memories, or experience situations we never will in reality.

So many music artists have become household names, and whether it’s because they make good music or shave their heads out of nowhere doesn’t really matter. The point is they managed to touch millions of lives. Video game icons have managed to do the same, becoming the heroes of the companies their associated with – like Mario with Nintendo, Master Chief with Microsoft, and well, Sony is just all over the place. These icons are symbols for so much – they represent a time in our youth when we gamed with little plastic controllers, or saved humanity from an alien onslaught. We became heroes ourselves, even if for a moment, and even if all we got for it was a little pop-up worth 100 points we can’t use in the real world. But these experiences matter to us because we worked so hard to create them.

Video games and music shouldn’t be compared at all. They’re different and they have their advantages over each other.

So while I can’t say that a video game ever saved my life, I can say this – I never got an achievement for listening to a song and liking it.