Video Game Soundtracks

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Mastadge, Feb 27, 2011.

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  1. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    The old video game score post died three years ago or more, so I thought I'd start a new one, in which I'll irregularly or regularly post my thoughts on video game scores as I listen to them. I'll start off with one that deserves a proper release:

    In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, composer Óscar Araujo took over for regular series composer Michiru Yamane. And boy, did he do a great job. I'm unfamiliar with older Castlevania scores, though they've been recommended a few times, but this one's a real knockout. It stands proudly aside Debney's Lair and Shore's Soul of the Ultimate Nation as a huge dark fantasy score, employing a 120-piece orchestra and an 80-person choir. Massive and energetic and lots of fun, and it actually has some structure, the lack of which ruins my enjoyment of many otherwise impressive video game scores. This score won the IFMCA's award for Best Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media. Highly recommended.

    Here's another review.

    Availability: Unfortunately, despite the acclaim, this score is only available packaged with the limited edition of the game. If you can find a cheap used copy of the game or a seller on eBay unloading the score by itself, I definitely recommend snapping it up.
  2. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    That sort of limited availability is a bit of a shame, but at the same time I think it's awesome that the publishers include the soundtracks now in non-standard editions. I wouldn't have hunted down the music for Darksiders or Civilization 5, but they included it, so I threw it into my Winamp playlist. (I use Winamp for things I don't want in my iTunes library ;))
    Before that it was Mass Effect 2, though I hear it's not the complete one. Still, it's in my shuffle.


    Overall though I'm not that much into newer ones. Maybe I'm playing the wrong games, but I haven't come across anything overly impressive in a while. The last one was Trine, which is just as gorgeous as its visuals, if equally medieval-fantasy-cliché. But it's very melodic, and that's what I want from my music. Zimmer-esque action-chords are fine for a lot of games, but not exactly great music.


    The most impressive "recent" pieces of music were orchestral arrangements of Nintendo classics. I practically wept the first time I heard this even though it's not the first arrangement of Terra's I heard - there is an older official one, after all.
    There have been two concerts in Cologne, Germany (...) in the last two years. The first one, Symphonic Fantasies, was endlessly beautiful - and I didn't even know half the music they played. Of course it helped that it included Secret of Mana, probably my all-time favourite game music of all time. I have the CD, of course, but sadly it didn't include the Boss Music encore :(
  3. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    That's a big part of why I started this thread. I keep hearing people going gaga over game score after game score, and I find that a lot of them are loud and aggressive but assembled without any overall structure, which makes it very hard for me to stay interested, or are otherwise disappointing. So I wanted to start a thread where I can keep track of the ones that really do impress me, and hopefully point other people in interesting directions as well.
  4. halibut Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2000
    star 8
    I fell in love with the music from Zork Grand Inquisitor back in the day, but it was unavailable.

    So I sent an email to the composer's agent to say how much I enjoyed it, and he sent me a signed CD :)
    Barriss_Coffee likes this.
  5. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Another very fine recent score: Joe Hisaishi's first foray into video games, for the Studio Ghibli game Ni no Kuni (Second Country), about a young boy, a magic book, a parallel reality and an attempt to save his mother. Or so I gather from wikipedia. The game has not, to my knowledge, made it out of Japan yet. But the music has, and it's exactly what you'd expect from Hisaishi: it's gorgeous, full of beautiful themes and playful melodies. This game score is on par with his music for Miyazaki's films -- though not quite on par with the best of them. Still, definitely a welcome respite from aggressive action scores, and a very pleasant surprise.

    Availability: The CD is only available as an import, but the music's also available through iTunes.
  6. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    That's awesome. I love composers who love their fans. Chris Young is also very generous with his music.
  7. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    I'm a big fan of the Super Mario Galaxy score:
    Comet Observatory
    Battlerock Galaxy
    though you really don't get the full effect of the latter unless you're actively guiding Mario through the game's stellar (no pun intended) gravity physics.

    And of course there's the gold standard against which all orchestral game music is rightly judged:
    The Legend of Zelda - Overworld
    A Link to the Past - Dark World
    Ocarina of Time - Gerudo Valley
    I must at this point restate my eternal complaint that OoT elicits the worst case of listening "blue balls" I have ever experienced - we get hints and false-starts of the classic Overworld melody, but the track nor the entire game contains not a single statement of the damn thing. On its own, a very nice piece of game music, but it kills me that it gets my brain going in one direction and then turns around:
    Hyrule Field

    Since I mentioned Mario and Link, I might as well include Samus
    Metroid - Brinstar
    Unlike Mario and Zelda, I had little-to-no exposure to Metroid growing up (I knew it was the game where Mother Brain from the Captain N cartoon came from, but that was about it), so I feel even more secure in my championing of this music because I know nostalgia has nothing to do with it.

    Moving past Nintendo's "Holy Trinity"...

    -I've never even played the game, but I listen to Michael Giacchino's soundtrack for The Lost World: Jurassic Park all the time
    -In Goldeneye 007, every single track is just a different riff on the classic movie theme, but there's enough variety and skill in the execution that it never gets old. And the synthesized effects that made Eric Serra film score the black sheep of the franchise experience a bit of redemption as they work really here.
    -LucasArts' The Dig has some great moody stuff.
  8. skywalker_san Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2010
    star 1
    To me, there's nothing like the Final Fantasy scores. Nubuo Uematsu is a friggin genious, and I can say almost without a doubt that he is the John Williams of the videogame world. Though what I probably like the most in his scores, is that they strike as nostalgic, as in the nostalgy of life and bonds forged during it. You listen to his stuff, and you have the idea that these characters remember their adventures fondly, the friends they've made during that time, and how life is is to be lived to the fullest. It's wonderful. A perfect example:
  9. _dArTh_SoLo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2002
    star 4
    The Mass Effect games have some pretty good music; totally fits the feel of the universe. I love it.

    Mass Effect Main Theme
    Sovereign/Reaper Theme Theme

    Also, as far as all-time favorites...I'd have to say that the Ocarina of Time is amazing, along with Yuki Kajiura's work on the "Xenosaga" series. Xenosaga III especially has some amazing music.
  10. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    It's too bad a lot of good video game music isn't really available outside of the game. :(
  11. Stepher Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2011
  12. Jedirockstar1138 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 1
    i always found the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack as a gem. Good piano melodies and operatic fight scenes that give me chills.
  13. Silasas Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2011
    The trend of the playing games is decreasing day by day, it all just because of the internet use.. Video games play a vital role to develop the mind..
  14. halibut Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2000
    star 8
    Valve have released the soundtrack to Portal 2 free of charge!

    http://www.thinkwithportals.com/music.php

  15. Silasas Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2011
  16. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    E3 News:

    Ocarina of Time will get a soundtrack for the launch of the 3DS remake

    and for the 25th anniversary there will be an orchestral Legend of Zelda soundtrack


    ... I think. It's been a few hours since I watched it and I didn't take notes :p
  17. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    Thank you for getting that perky happy theme at the beginning of Ocarina stuck in my head.

    IT. DOES. NOT. LEAVE.

    ARGGGGHHH.
  18. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    Link to the Past and Wind Waker being the only Zeldas I've played, and Saria's Song rarely if ever appearing as an orchestral arrangement, that one is never the first to pop into my head. Boringly enough, that'd be Zelda's theme - very forlornly whistleable - but it's hardly my favourite.
  19. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    Oooo -- nice!

    Unfortunately I've only played Ocarina, so I immediately associate "Zelda music" with that silly song. I do plan to rectify this matter someday and get around to playing those others. But for now they're on my Bucket List of Videogames.
  20. JediMasterMark Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2010
    Star Wars wise, I've really gotten into Mark Griskey's soundtracks for TFU 1 & 2. Cinematic, certainly gets you pumping in game as well as out of game. KOTOR2 (another Griskey triumph) is epic in it's soundtrack - was difficult to listen to outside of the game itself, unless you passed them through WinAmp. I was able to process them through Creative Studio and turn them into .wma files for play on any Windows app, so that helped a lot.

    Jeremy Soule's soundtracks for Dungeon Seige were epic as well, from the 'windblown' mountain passages to the battle scenes.

    I don't know if anyone has used it, but one of the radio channels on WinAmp is 'Radio Rivendell', which plays game soundtracks as their regular programming. Definitely one of my bookmarks!!!

    AnakinColodin likes this.
  21. CoolUsernameHere Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Funny, I was just having a discussion about this with my cousin the other day.
    The theme for Luigi's Mansion is excellent.
    Animal Crossing always has catchy tunes, they perfectly fit the mood of the game.
    Zelda, obviously.
    Pokemon Red's music always makes me emotional.
  22. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
  23. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    ... I haven't been able to find my WarCraft 2 CDs in forever (soundtrack as plain old audio-tracks on them), so I miss that one the most. And they don't have it.

    Why does this world hate me so much?
  24. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I'd imagine they'll be expanding their library as time goes on.
  25. halibut Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2000
    star 8
    I assume that's rhetorical.
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